Typeface is essential in most if not every creative/graphic project and certainly for every brand identity one, therefore it is essential to master it or at least understand the basics of putting together a typeface palette. It helps avoid mistakes that are quite easy to spot and could cause confusion regrading the message you are trying to convey.
Before we dive into the heart of the matter, I want to clarify the distinction between typeface and font. It really isn’t complicated and these days it’s mostly a vocabulary difference, so in order to simplify and not get into too much history of the design industry, we can define a typeface as a family composed of variating fonts (regular, bold, italic,…). I have heard of the single record vs the album analogy before and I think it explains perfectly the relation between the two: a typeface is the album and the fonts are the records making it up.
Today, I want to take you through the process of creating a typeface palette for your creative projects and for educational purposes, let’s pick a style to work with: ‘Modern Editorial’ – I love that style and it allows for a dramatic example.
It all begins with choosing the right typeface and within that which font to focus on. They are a plethora of options out there and it cancan confusing especially when some of them look so similar, so my advice is once again go back to the ‘feel’ and creative direction. Decide on the category, the style of the typeface and just pick one. Now some typefaces have interesting glyphs or special characters which might be relevant for a specific project or brand identity (a need for a memorable ampersand for example), that could help dictate your pick as well. Don’t fall into the paralysis analysis of plenitude.
In our case here, ‘Modern Editorial’, the leading typeface should be a bold, extravagant script or serif font. It should convey elegance and a certain confidence. It should be full of personality and not afraid to ‘walk the runway of typefaces’ in a way.
I went ahead with the stylish Jitsu, specifically the swash font, which is an italic mix of a calligraphy and a classic serif font. Jitzu allows for dramatic layouts as you will see below some of the options I created.
My second choice for supporting typeface is Rosarina, which is a free front (you’re welcome). Rosorina is a rounded sans serif typeface and has that no fuss, clean lines attitude with some very pretty, simple but memorable features. It conveys that ‘modern’ feel from our creative direction without overpowering our leading typeface. It gives it the space it needs to be extravagant with being airy and very legible for important titles. You can still use it in a playful way of course but it’s a great foundation for communicating key concepts through your copy.
Our last typeface to choose is the one for the body text. In our case we have a couple of options, a clean, very easy to read sans serif font that is differentiable to your supporting typeface, or you could also play with kerning to achieve that if you preferred to use the same one. Alternatively we can find a classic serif font to keep the ‘editorial’/ magazine vibe which would further emphasize the ‘editorial’ direction. I selected Miller Display for this one. Miller is a big family and offers a wide array of options for various purposes – this is the display version. A fun fact about this typeface is that it was designed by Matthew Carter who also designed Verdana and Georgia for Microsoft. I like that Miller is a good mid ground between our first two picks. It’s elegant and graceful, but also quite simple for a serif font and also very legible. It has that magazine, classic publication vibe, once again perfect for your ‘Modern Editorial’ concept.
Selecting the different typeface is really just the bare minimum or the first step I should say. Having nice typefaces is great but arranging them together efficiently is even better. I do believe each typeface palette should include a hierarchy pointers, a guide to use if you will – otherwise pairing and layout mistakes will be made which then cancels the research work done above. By hierarchy I mean what, when and how to use the typefaces all across the project.
Still in our ‘modern editorial’ case, I have assembled a few examples of great combination and pairing of the typeface we selected above. They each convey something different and bring yet another layer of personality to the project/brand and add up to telling the story. Once again showing that it takes every little detail to create a full brand identity or to put together a creative project. With the same typeface, the same creative direction, we can create endless hierarchy options (I am sure we could number them if we tried, ha!).
It does that a list of various elements to successfully create a beautiful brand or a design project which requires copy. Everything from the colors, the typeface and the textures among other things play a key role. Within each decision there is the potential to share your (right) message.
If you are now dying to create a typeface palette yourself after reading this article, here are a few links of where to find some lovely and high quality typeface: