Stay True To Type: 7 Quick Guides That Tell You All About Typography

Saikat Basu 29-01-2014

Typography isn’t hyped. Sometimes, it is such a subtle part of good design that we don’t appreciate it in isolation. A good example – Apple, which shows us the effect of typeface on the user experience. Then, there’s the whole legend on Steve Jobs and the calligraphy class he attended at Reed College. Beautiful typography had existed before Mac’s typefaces, and so have the ugly ones. Thanks to a renewed focus on great design, the art of type is in the foreground now.


Learning about typography isn’t only for designers. It’s for anyone who deals with the written word. So, if you would like to know more about the written letter, head to these seven places for a quick no-effort primer class on what makes for great fonts and type.


Typographic Guide - Typoguide
If you are looking for a quick and easy introduction to type design, then this concise guide with the basic guidelines on usage could be your first port of call. It defines itself as — A Pocket Guide for Every Day’s Typographic Adventures. The first thing you can look up is the difference between fonts and typefaces (two terms which beginners often confuse). The ongoing project is hosted on GitHub and the developer has this to say about the ideas behind the project:

This little guide is for everyone who is facing typographic adventures or just wants to do things right. Mastering this craft will not only earn you the respect of the typo nerds, but eventually help you to get your message across more successfully.

Type Is Sexy

Typographic Guide - Type is Sexy

This well-designed website is another concise look at the art. It takes you through the chapters, from a quick introduction to several tools (like the kerning tool) that hold your hand through the design elements needed for good type. The site is well-illustrated, and it shouldn’t take you more than 20 – 30 minutes to grasp the basic rules of typography. It just might make you appreciate that type when done right is sexy.

Type Fun01

Typographic Guide - TypeFun


The site is true to its word – a fun and engaging lesson on typography. The “quick” guide is even briefer than the one above and you can complete it with one scroll of the browser. That’s not to say that your typography education will be complete – the page points to a few more resources at the end which you can click through to understand more about the subject.


Typographic Guide - Typedia

This, of course, isn’t our first brush with the design topic at We have covered fonts and typography applications 10 Cool & Interesting Web Applications On Fonts & Typography I have always been intrigued by how thick and thin lines, angles and shapes can come together and form beautiful fonts. Just a shift of pressure on a stroke and you can get something entirely... Read More before, and Typedia has found a previous mention. It deserves another mention because it takes a more deeper look at the anatomy of a typeface and the few classifications that typefaces fall into. The compact website also links to a few foundries and profiles of type designers that should make you appreciate the work they do and how careers can be made with something so seemingly simple as fonts.

Practical Typography

Typographic Guide - Practical Typography


Read the five typography rules in five minutes and see if you can stand as a testament to the writer’s claim – follow these five typography rules, you will be a better typographer than 95% of professional writers and 70% of professional designers. I hope so, because that’s the reason behind these quick to learn tutorials. Practical Typography is basically a book in an ad-free web format, and the writer hopes that his work is worh your time. The best practical takeaway is probably in the section on “Sample documents” which demonstrates the value of typography in resumes, research papers, presentations etc.

Web Typography

Typographic Guide - Web Typography

The Elements of Typographic Style Applied To The Web is a bit more detailed than the others on this list. But you can complete it in one sitting. It is basically a re-working of Robert Bringhurst’s definitive book The Elements of Typographic Style for the modern requirement of web browsers. It is also more technical than the other resources as it focused on HTML and CSS for rendering the typographic elements. The site is a work in progress as new information is constantly being added according to the author.


Typographic Guide - Typophile


Finally, you can take your questions and doubts to this very active forum that’s a melting pot for type enthusiasts. Like all forums, you have to create an account before you become part of the community. You can give and ask for recommendations on anything font related. Questions like – 20 typefaces to start a design career and good books for a typophile are just two I picked up with a casual browse through the threads. We have covered Typophile before when we curated it with four other typography resources to help with your designs 5 Typography Resources To Help With Your Designs We all know that fonts are important, right? I mean, when there's a website bashing Comic Sans exclusively, we know it's obviously important enough for someone to care about font usage. However, what makes a... Read More .

Web trends are constantly changing. Social media is also forcing us to increasingly find ways to personalize our communication. An understanding of typography is essential for more elegant written communication. We have earlier seen that typography can be fun A Test Of Character: 10 Font Games That Prove Typography Can Be Fun Playing around with typography can be fun. You will love these games if you like the sound of the quick brown fox who jumped over the lazy dog. Find out what we are talking about. Read More and it doesn’t take much to learn the basic principles behind it. Is there a spark? Or would you rather stick to the Arials and the Verdanas? Tell us if you have found a use for learning typography.

Image Credit: Willi Heidelbach (via Wikimedia Commons)

Related topics: Fonts, Typography.

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  1. Robyn McIntyre
    January 31, 2014 at 12:22 am

    Thank you! At least one site that knows the difference between a typeface and a type font! Even a lot of designers don't know that - guess they aren't interested in the days before they were born.

  2. Matthew H
    January 29, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    I didn't know you were into your Typography, Saikat! If only you were a Twitter user. Then I could introduce you to some pretty cool people in that field. :)

    Excellent article as always man!

    • Saikat B
      January 30, 2014 at 4:46 am

      Oh, I am interested in visual thinking and anything related to information design. And typography is a little part of it. We haven't met on Twitter? Sacrilege! I shall correct that omission today itself. Thanks Matt :)