Designing with Fonts & Typography

When you think about the power of words, most people think about what is being said; like in verbal communication. However, when it comes to graphic design, your words are communicated with typography. Graphic designers working electronically use what is commonly known as “fonts” in their favorite graphic design program when working with typography. Normally, in programs like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop the font icon is a “T” and, when clicked, it allows you to click and type on the main artboard of your document. Also, there are usually options for choosing the type of font you want, font size (usually in “points” or “pt”), font style (or weight), font color, etc. Your more sophisticated graphic design programs will allow you to control more advanced features of the font like kerning, line-spacing, slant, tracking, leading, vertical and horizontal scale, baseline shift and text effects.

The letterform of each character in a font has certain unique characteristics in in it that allows it to be observed as that particular letter. Aside from that, the shape, thickness, color and flair of that typography gives the artistic meaning behind that character. For instance, a bold “A” means something much more serious and in your face than a common “A”. For one, the first “A” draws attention to itself because it is different than the other characters around it. Two, it’s thicker so it shouts and carries an importance. 3) the color maroon usually symbolizes wealth and prosperity while the black “A” (in this context) symbolizes elegance & formality.

As you can see, fonts have a lot of power to change perception. Sometimes the difference between a stock design you’ve seen before and a cool design that you end up buying can be the style of font used in in a creative fashion. Common fonts like Arial, Helvetica and Times Roman in a design can subconsciously suggest that this is a design that didn’t take much work or is a generic knock off. Try and take some time and search for fonts that work with the design and reinforce the message that you are trying to get across. A trick that sometimes works is looking for a common word between your message in the design and the name of your font. Example: let’s say you are making a T-Shirt design with the message “The Pen is mightier than the Sword” with some cool graphic on it too. Using our trick we would start looking for a font that starts with “P” for “Pen”. Low and behold, we found a cool font called “Penstyle” that has a hand written look to it that fits our design perfectly! That took us 15 seconds as opposed to 15 minutes paging through fonts. Of course, as most designers know, things don’t always work out that easy but it’s a good place to start.

Installing a Font on a PC (Simple Explanation)

Many people get sick of using the factory installed fonts that come with their new PC but don’t know either where to get a new font, much less install it. In simplified form, here’s how to do it:

1) Getting a new font

There are sites all over on the internet that supply fonts. Some people create fonts and allow you to use them for free, for a fee or free for non-commercial use. Make sure you have the proper licensing for your fonts before using them and putting your designs for sale. If you don’t want to mess around guessing and just want to purchase a good font to use, go to a site like or has a cool feature on it for matching fonts from digital images too, it’s called WhatTheFont and it allows you to upload an image to match the fonts in your image when you don’t know what the font is. It makes a great tool for re-typesetting a poor quality rasterized image of a customer or client.

2) Installing a font on XP or Vista

Once you have obtained your font, you will need to open your control panel (from the “Start” menu) and then find the “Fonts” folder (under classic view). Once you have that window open, you can simply click and drag the new font into the Fonts folder and you’re done!

2b) Installing a font on Windows 7

Once you have obtained your font,
simply double click it and in the window that appears, click “Install” in the upper left corner. It’s really that simple.

If you want to see a list of the fonts installed in Windows 7, click on “Start” in the lower right of Windows and then type “Fonts” into the search and hit “Enter”. The window that opens up will have all of your installed fonts.



Having other problems with your fonts? Check out our article on Common Font Problems

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