In this chatter post, we'll take a look at a few fontastic terms that we think everyone should be familiar with.
Serif and sans-serif
First thing's first. You've probably heard about serif and sans-serif, but just in case you haven't, here's an example of each:
See those little feet? That's how you can tell the difference between the styles. With feet, serif. No feet, sans-serif. Some common serif fonts are Times New Roman, Garamond and Georgia and common sans-serif fonts include Arial, Helvetica and Verdana.
It has been said that serif fonts are best for print, especially in large amounts of small text (as in newspapers) and that sans-serif fonts are best for the Web. However, there are many factors that affect readability. When treated correctly (and when choosing a well-drawn font within those categories), both styles are interchangeable.
A term that is a little less common is kerning. Your turn to answer.
a) taking corn apart
b) adjusting space between individual letters
c) the process of becoming a colonel
d) the same as tracking
if you said b) congratulations! That's correct! If you chose tracking you're partly correct. These techniques are similar but they have one big difference. Tracking is done evenly to an entire word or line of text while kerning focuses on each individual letter and the letters right next to it.
Just so you have an idea of what good kerning is compared to bad kerning and how they both relate to tracking, take a look at these examples. We marked the problem spots in the original:
One more term we'd like to share is leading (pronounce by rhyming it with sledding). Leading is the amount of space between lines of text. Finding the correct spacing maximizes readability. For example:
We’d like to leave you with one final lesson: Don't use double spaces between sentences in print or Web design. You might be asking, "Why?" The answer is simple—we don't use typewriters anymore. Modern font characters are referred to as proportional (each letter has a different width) where typewriter characters back in the day were monospaced (the width was the same whether you typed an 'i' or a 'w.') This might sound confusing, so check out these examples:
Double spaces are acceptable when using monospaced fonts to add a visual separation between sentences. However, just about every font we use today is proportional and eliminates the need for a double space.
So, the next time you talk to your designer, throw a couple of these terms in the conversation and see what they say! By the way, all of the font examples have something in common—can you tell what it is? And all you die-hard typeface lovers—can you tell us all of the different fonts we've used in the examples throughout this entry?