18 Resources to Learn Typographic Design

Frida GarzaFrida Garza | 4 minute read | October 15, 2014
typography design courses

In this article

Great typography is like a great story — it makes you want to keep reading. Typography refers to the science (and really, the art) of formatting words on a page, and it’s an invaluable skill for anyone who works in graphic design or publishing. Imagine if the text on this screen were bright neon green, or a font size 36, or if the font was simply too thin to make out at all.  These creative decisions affect how you read an article — if it’s beautifully done, you might feel a warm, fuzzy feeling when you’re done; if it’s bad, you might not read it all. For anyone writing or creating for an audience, a knowledge of typography design can help you better communicate your message.

You don’t have go to art school or be a designer to learn about typography — here are 11 great resources to help you learn the ins and outs of type:

Start with the essentials

  1. What’s the Difference Between a Font and a Typeface? Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the font-typeface debate, so that you can pick a side.
  2. Typography is how text looks. This tutorial from Typekit explains what exactly the science of type is. It introduces the idea that how type looks matters and how great typography design can make a story or a message more enjoyable to read.
  3. Practical Typography: Consider this website an e-book of sorts — click through every section under “Type Formatting” or “Page Layout”, or just around in the Table of Contents. Either way, you have an excellent no-nonsense primer for learning about how to work with type.
  4. The Typographer’s Glossary: A straight-forward glossary of need-to-know typography terms — learn your ascenders from your descenders, and where you can find a bowl, ear and shoulder in different characters.
  5. CodeSchool: Fundamentals of Typography: This interactive tutorial teaches you the proper way to pair fonts and layout type. Free if you’re a member of CodeSchool; limited access if not.

Get fancy

  1. Beautiful Typography: A Crash Course: This hour-long video lecture gives great advice about how to choose and use fonts to create stunning typography with Adobe InDesign. Those the version of InDesign that they use here is a bit outdated, the stylistic lessons given are still relevant.
  2. Tools, Techniques and Innovation in Typography Design: This slideshow from a Gerry Leonidas from the University of Reading provides a practical guide to creating beautiful typographic design.
  3. Using Shade: This beautifully designed tutorial (again from Typekit) shows you how to create shadows in your typography so that it stands out — in a good way.
  4. Better Web Typography With a Few Simple Steps: Building a website or interested in creating great typography online? This article from Creative Bloq is a great resource for learning about web fonts and how to structure text online.
  5. Best Practices for Combining Typefaces: This article from “Smashing Magazine” offers great advice on how to properly pair fonts together, and gives examples both good and bad along the way.

Get To Know Other Design Students

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Get inspired:

  1. Typographica: Push your design aesthetic to the next level with inspiration from blog Typographica. Typographica can feel a bit niche — it reviews typefaces and books about type — but the website also looks great and can fuel your own sense of creativity.
  2. The Dieline: A blog dedicated to really great packaging design. Started in 2007, Dieline is the most popular website on package design, creating a space to design enthusiasts to learn about and critique the latest packaging trends.
  3. TypeWolf: Looking for the perfect font of your next web project? TypeWolf can help. Instead of showcasing fonts by using filler text, this website shows fonts being used “in the wild”, on actual websites.
  4. The FontFeed: FontFeed offers daily recommendations on fonts and typography techniques, and the website features hundreds of beautiful handpicked fonts.
  5. Typeverything: A collection of beautiful, cool, gutsy hand-lettering. Yep, it has endless scroll.

Test your Typography skills

  1. KernType: The Kerning Game: Kerning refers to the spaces between characters — this game tests your eye for perfectly kerned type by challenging you to adjust individual letters in a word until they’re evenly spaced.
  2. ShapeType: The Shaping Game: ShapeType is similar to KernType, but more frustrating. Pull the handles at inflection points in a letter until its shape looks about right — it’s harder than it sounds. Still, the game shows you just how much thought goes into the construction of a typeface, and how much the little things matter.
  3. TypeConnection: The Typographic Dating Game: How well can you pair fonts together? This game shows you one font and asks you to pick from other options to find its perfect “match.” Very cute and very clever.

Check out these posts, if you’re interested in UX design and want to learn more about what UX designers do.

Since you’re here…
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Frida Garza

About Frida Garza

Frida Garza is the marketing and editorial intern at SlideRule. Previously, she covered tech and entrepreneurship for Technical.ly Philly and worked as a Copy Writing intern at Viacom's in-house ad agency. She likes reading, writing, cooking and learning new things. Frida received her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, where she studied English. You can follow her on Twitter @fffffrida