Photoshop: Typography Do's and Don'ts
Some Basic Rules of Typography
By Damien Andrews
First, a brief word about the history of Typography. Typography has come a long way since the days of the hand-turned letterpress. Back then, only highly experienced artisans and craftsmen practiced the then cumbersome, time consuming, physically demanding art of typography. At first, letters were handmade from blocks of wood, later metals were used. The physical areas required to store all the letters necessary to create a small newspaper, for example, made the idea of having different typefaces in different sizes a daunting concept.
When phototypesetting came along, typographers were ecstatic. Typographers now had easy access to multiple fonts in multiple sizes. This lead to a glut of typographers and the blossoming of an industry: typeface designing. Today, even a small computer has instant, easy access to more typefaces in more sizes than all the newspapers in North America and Europe before 1900. This is all fantastic and wonderful, but somewhere along the way the basic rules and concepts of typography got lost to the masses.
Photoshop has excellent type creation and handling capabilities. Changing fonts, sizes, colors, line spacing and letter spacing in Photoshop are only a click away. Photoshop lets you center type, flush type left, right or justify it.
Serif and sans serif type styles
Serifs are the tiny strokes that extend off of the ends of some letters such as the capital T. The most well know serif typeface is Times or Times Roman. A sans serif typeface has no serifs. Popular sans serif typefaces are Arial, Helvetica and Tahoma. If you go to a library and walk through any aisle opening books at random, you'll note that almost every book uses a serif typeface for its body text. This is because it is generally agreed that serif type is easier to read. The internet, contrary to printed material, uses sans serif much more often than serif. This article is printed in sans serif. When you are going to create something you want people to read, use a serif typeface whenever possible. In Photoshop, you can change between serif and sans serif with a single click.
Line length and type size
Here's a basic rule of thumb: the longer the line of type, the larger the type needs to be. Note that long, pre-printed legal documents almost invariably do not oblige this rule. This abuse of typography basics makes reading the contract or loan agreement an unpleasant task – one that often requires a straight-edge to accomplish without going blind or crazy. In Photoshop, you can alter the line length and text sizes easily using the Character dialog box and the handles in your text box.