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Typography for web

There are many books and articles on typography, but only some of them reveal the choice and combination of fonts. Due to the emerging opportunities and prospects for free use of many fonts on the Internet, designers will have to master another important skill – the ability to choose the appropriate fonts that complement the layout designs they develop. You can also study popular typography trends or ready-made beautiful examples from other professionals.

Until now, the use of fonts other than those installed with the operating system has meant using images, flash or other workarounds. However, the creators of browsers gave map designers a hand by introducing the @ font-face CSS property, which allows you to register a link to any font file, as a result of which it will be used on the pages of the site.

Immediately there was a problem with companies, developers and distributors of fonts: most of them refused to issue licenses to use their raw-fonts on web pages, for fear of piracy. The introduction of the @ font-face feature has heightened such concerns, forcing both sides to look for solutions that are satisfactory to everyone. Some of them are already available, some are still under development. These include extended end-user license agreements for fonts, as well as third-party services that provide embedded fonts, such as Typekit, Typotheque and Kernest. Web designers are more free to choose fonts, and font companies and developers get paid for their work. Problem solved? I guess, yes.

We are spoiled. Until now, the use of any font on a web page has been legal. Moreover, all the subtleties of the fonts that had to be used were known. Many of the fonts that will soon be available for use, are not intended for the screen because of their difficult perception or obvious unreadable.

The technical difficulties of using fonts on the Internet are also aggravated. These may include unequal display in different browsers and platforms, as well as problems in processing a font file or even a font family. Page sizes can easily go up to 100k and up. However, let’s imagine for a moment that these problems will be solved soon and focus on what we are going to do.

There is a serious possibility that, by gaining access to world font libraries, we will open a Pandora’s box. Many people working in the Internet today have some knowledge of typography, however, most designers may be puzzled by new features.

The webdesign profession will soon require a deeper understanding of typography and the use of fonts. As this trend develops, opportunities may first be limited, but further the choice will steadily increase. And, as you know, great opportunities lead to great responsibility. If you can use a font that looks like a battered leg, this does not mean that it should be done.

Widely used system fonts, for example, Georgia, Verdana and Arial, are so omnipresent that they are no longer associated with anything other than the “web”. Being unable to achieve the desired aesthetic effect due to the meager selection of fonts, we had time to focus on readability. Largely because of this, the work for the web was based on the principle of “make and forget”, partly due to the rapid development of printing, and also due to the fact that web design does not have such precise typography rules as in the design of printed products. Do not follow the rules – a great luxury, but sometimes it is quite realistic, for example when creating creative illustrations or desktop wallpaper with text or letters.

Of course, sometimes using a font just because it looks interesting can produce acceptable results, but the real art of typography requires an understanding of the fonts and their meanings. Choosing a good enough font is not difficult, but choosing the right font, taking into account societal and technical aspects, can be a difficult task.

The famous type designer Zuzana Licko once said: “Everyone reads better what they read more often.” These are acquired skills. This explains why choosing the font is the typograper’s most difficult task: reading is a subjective relative action. To read a long paragraph written in a gothic font that was considered “readable” a century ago, it will take much longer than if a simple font from the Serif or Sans Serif family were used, regardless of whether we read from the page or from the monitor.

In addition to readability, typography significantly affects the issues of contrast and form. Font features are capable of filling a design with meaning: smoothness and saturation of lines, for example, can convey the fragility of a material or the atmosphere of elegance and nobility. The same elements, combined with unexpected textual content, are capable of conveying irony.

The following is a list of features and methods that should be kept in mind when dealing with the growing world of web fonts.

When thinking about buying new fonts, it should be remembered that famous fonts will be a profitable acquisition. Choose those that fit the general concept of readability – those that we use and see daily. Let it be fonts lying in the “readability range” (perhaps you should use a rectangular coordinate system). The further away, the harder it will be to read the design. By the way, do not forget that many fonts are intermediate between readable and unreadable.

This is probably the most important thing to remember. When combining it is important to make it clear that two different fonts are used, however this is not the only use of contrast. Very different fonts can both complement each other, and shade, creating a kind of tension. Very similar in appearance fonts can weaken the message and change its visual component.

Many fonts are associated with a cultural period or subculture. Depending on what the designer is working on, this can be an advantage or a disadvantage. It is best to find out where, when and for what purpose it was created when choosing a font. Sometimes the font can “look” right, but cause incorrect associations. For example, Trajan is used in epics, thrillers, romantic, comedy and other films, although this is a Roman font, which is about 1900 years old. Gothic fonts have long been an attribute of heavy metallers and everything that should look “frightening” and “dark.” Understanding the cultural identity of fonts helps to avoid incorrect associations and use them wisely, making your choice clear to the reader.

We are so used to using system fonts that many web developers are frightened by the need to pay. However, even using the fonts originally installed on the computer, we do it for free: the cost of the license is included in the cost of the operating system. There are many free fonts, but most of them are free for one reason: they often look great when used for highlighting, but kerning and hinting may not be great, and many of them are not sufficiently developed and functional to be used for serious purposes. . Solid fonts, like almost all quality, usually cost money.

Sometimes two fonts look good together, although there is no apparent reason for this. This is rather a recommendation, not a rule: fonts have many types and styles, and it happens that an amazing combination is formed by fonts that, logically, should not be combined.

The number of available fonts is increasing every day. If your favorite font is not yet available, in all likelihood this will change soon enough, although the problem of licensing, receiving and selecting web fonts will not be solved in a day.


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