Tips for Creating Effective Typography

Tips for Creating Effective Typography

What is Typography?

Design-wise, typography is the visual style or stylization of text. It is all around us from the menu at your favorite restaurant to the shampoo bottle in your shower.  Still, it can be one of the hardest things to work and experiment with when you first start designing. The importance of typography is something that designers must understand and learn master over time.


Why is Typography Important?

While most design visually stimulates the brain, the job of typography is two-fold. First, the typography must be laid out as an element of the overall design and seen with the bigger picture. Unlike with other design elements, typography also has to be looked at as something to be read and set up to be comfortable for a viewer to do so. This is why it is important to spend extra time to experiment and perfect typographic elements in any design. Here are a few tips and things to remember when taking on typographic design:


The Basics of Typography Design

It may be obvious, but it is always important to address the details and many of these basics will remind you to pay attention to those details. This strengthens your designs and may even save you from having to change things later. For example, kerning is the space between particular characters and while some fonts have naturally good kerning, others require the designer to go in and make small adjustments. There are so many other basics to typography and Adobe has a great resource for learning them called Typography 101: A crash course of terms to know.


Pair Fonts Wisely

Almost every project will involve the use of two or three fonts and knowing how to pair them is essential. Typically, opposites attract when it comes to pairing fonts and experimentation or trial and error is necessary in my opinion. There are many resources that can be helpful in deciding on what fonts to pair. Websites where you download fonts like Adobe Fonts will sometimes show pairing suggestions. There are also pairing generators like this one on Some websites even have font pairs that you can download together like this pairing called Highrush that I found on Envato Elements.

highrush font

Think About How People Will Interact with Your Design

This tip applies in multiple ways. You must think about what product you are designing for such as a brochure versus a website. This is extremely important because there are specific things to remember when designing for different platforms or assets. One of the biggest factors that dictates typography is whether it is being designed to be digital or printed. Therefore, there are specific things to think about when designing for the web such as color accessibility.

You must also think about what message is behind the content, brand, etc. and what style and personality is associated with it. For example, the “Wake Up Call” design below is for a modern, Bauhaus inspired restaurant so I tried to design the text to convey that. I used a sans serif font as a secondary font and made the main font myself based on Bauhaus art. Both of these fonts portray the modern, structured, and playful style of the restaurant.

The “Dizzy” design might utilize very similar colors to the “Wake Up Call” design, but they send very different messages and convey different vibes. The design utilizes a script font as a callout to the St.Louis Cardinals Logo and pairs it with a serif font to convey the classic feeling and visual associated with baseball.

wake up call

Let Other’s Designs Inspire You

Like I said, typography is all around us and we see it every day so we should pay attention to it and let it inspire us. Besides getting inspired by the world around you, you can also go online to find inspiration. Pinterest is always a good way to get inspired and Envato has an inspiring article listing 50 Creative Typography Ideas and Examples.


Make Your Own Fonts!

Making your own font is something most graphic designers might have done before, but if you haven’t you should definitely give it a shot! There is not one specific way to design your own font. I made the font on the “Trippin” image below by drawing a few letters by hand, tracing them on Adobe Illustrator, and then creating the rest of the letters based on the results. On the other hand, I made the “Wake Up Call” font by using specific geometric shapes to form each letterform in Illustrator.

what are you trippin on

Kelsey, an author on the DesignUps Nashville Design Blog

About the Author

Kelsey is a Graphic Design major at Middle Tennessee State University and is completing an internship with DesignUps. Kelsey has an intense interest in all things branding and loves to listen to 90's rock.