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Typography Fundamentals

Lesson 7 of 13

Taking the Plunge with Type

Ilene Strizver

Typography Fundamentals

Ilene Strizver

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Lesson Info

7. Taking the Plunge with Type
Ilene brings you deeper into the world of possibilities OpenType offers, demonstrating the power of glyph substitution. You will see the “intelligence” of OpenType fonts in action, automatically adjusting letter-spacing and x-height depending on the context within a word.

Lesson Info

Taking the Plunge with Type

Cliff substitution what does that mean? Okay, it means well I'm saying here open type funds have a brain what it means is open type funds have a potential tohave a brain if they're programmed to do so okay, so if it's programmed to know certain things it'll know when to insert ligatures swash is beginning or end and other special characters and more depending upon the fun. So let me show you some examples this is champion script pro okay, so the idea here is that there are certain beginning and ending swash is that should not be used in the middle of a word because they take up too much space. So if I type this word interpretation and I go to the open type panel and I select I believe it's washes I might find out in a minute it's alternates because the funds categorize them differently. Okay, so I turned on contextual alternates I don't have to turn on cliff substitution I'm just telling you that's what it is okay, I click on contextual alternates so it gave me a beginning swash and un...

ending swash automatically let's say I changed the word and from interpretation I making plural so when I just type in the s it automatically gets rid of that swash and and gives me an s and that doesn't seem like there was a swash s but I don't have to think it just does that. Okay, now what if I change the beginning of the word and I add ms so with misinterpretation it reverts from this wash back to the standard I and gives me a swash him so it's a really cool, exciting, fabulous feature um that can be used in many different ways by different manufacturers. Um house industries did a typeface based on ed. Ben gets one of ben ben gets typefaces that he did way back in the fifties sixties for photo lettering and they added to it it's called head interlock and this is the standard characters. But if you use some of the extra characters using the contextual alternates and the cliff substitution feature, you can come up with this. Now let me show you how that works there. This is the font that has over four thousand characters, so every just about every two characters has four versions. So this h e they have a top, you know, top left facing top, right facing bottom left facing a bottom right and just about all of them how that so what did I show what I showed you? How does it know what to insert well by somebody spending nine months programming this font to think like a designer, so what it does is depending upon what combination came before it has a selection of what it thinks looks good coming next. So for instance, this is what happens on the screen type in the a standard, eh type in the and with contextual alternates turned on it automatically types in that alternate I standard I em the bottom right for the bottom left facing. See, this is the top left facing bottom, right? Facing a standard a tea again we're doing the one that looks good type in the eye out got a three letter alternate type in the oh doesn't look so good it's a standard oh, but then you type in the end and you have that so this is not to say that you can go and change this but you know what? This was programmed to two position these intelligently in a design appropriate way so that's cliff substitution its programming information into a fought that allows it to make your life easier. Okay, this is something p twenty two just did for fun. Okay, so how many who familiar with the, uh with the black cable? They ask you to quit your okay, so this is a for a fod version of that with cliff substitution watch what happens when I type in a question work? Can this font tell the future? Yes, really? Yes. Can I trust what it says? Please rephrase the the's air randomly popping up I didn't type these in when I typed the question mark these air randomly appearing can I believe you conditions good are you sure? Maybe okay I don't know that you're gonna need this fun but the point is is showing you the power of cliff substitution okay, so finally we're going to talk a little bit about availability which is almost a non conversation these days because all major fund foundries now produce open type fonts most major foundries have converted their entire library to open type so what I tell everyone is, you know, take the plunge but it's not even so much take the plunge it's when you're purchasing afan make sure you get the open type version okay don't get the the older versions unless you have a particular reason you need that four okay, what happened? Let's say with with companies such as adobe is when they first started doing open type they converted their back library to open type but they still sell for their old library they still sell open type and type one and probably to type I'm not sure but anything that was mac you're fat manufactured after that point I believe they only make hope open type that's not true with other manufacturers there were some manufacturers that make other versions of these days there's web funds there's a lot of different things so if you definitely take the plunge, look into your your software on your computer sometimes you're going to see more than one version of the same you're going to see type one and then you're going to see open type try to use the open type when possible but my my my strongest recommendation is that after you watch the session go to your computer look for the open type fonts as I said you could either look for them in your font menu in your software if you're using a software utility um a lot of time such as font agent pros suk am extension that wasn't call suitcase extensive is fusion whatever it is lina type font explorer and there might be some others I'm not sure of font book will do that you can actually see the form that you can actually sort your font library by format so you could actually drag all your open type fonts into a folder to make it easier because that thing is to get used to the fact that open type is preferable to have fun with it play around with it look for all of these features and see what you've been missing is very possible you can go back to your you work and go oh man look what I could do I have send to the printer but I'm gonna I'm gonna fix it I could use a different alternate so have fun with it open type is absolutely amazing esso I hope that kind of simulates your creativity and explains a little bit about the fund technology okay, so that's great I think now's a good time to take some questions from the students and you guys have been quiet we just got a lot of information in a short amount I know open type so now is the time you have eileen here go ahead if you have any questions I have a listen about visitors between open type in true type well true type is that true type and type one don't have any of these features they're the older format generally that only has room for two hundred fifty six characters so typically prior to open type type one was used on max mostly and true type were used on peces now if you want to get really technical as tow, you know I don't what because I didn't mention that some open type font zahra to type for flavor true type fonds tend to have what's called an extreme hinting and hinting is instructions that are built into a font to allow it to display better on the screen okay, so again you don't that's more than you, you know you really need to know, but if you're interested in that aspect true type fonts and including this the system fonts that are open type but dot t t f will have advanced hinting because system fonts are intended to be used on the screen to display type on the screen. So do you know how sometimes in the older days you'd see six, seven or eight point in the letters didn't look right some strokes with ethics? Those strokes were thin and they didn't look good until they got to maybe twelve or fourteen point and even then the spacing was off while hinting allows the developer to go into every single size and say when this letter is said it's six point, turn this pixel on turn this pixel off to make it look as good as possible okay, so that's basically what the feature of true type is in general the advanced features of open type our little by little being able to be supported by browsers okay, what I'm talking about is what you could do with print, okay, as you know, the web follows slowly what you could do in print. Okay, but a number of browsers thie updated versions are now able to support some of these great features and characters that I've shown you. So if you're a web designer, you can you need to be aware which browsers will support those, but the other thing is just because an advanced version of chrome or safari might support it the other thing you have to consider like early on in the day who was your average user? Is your average user going to be using an old computer with an old browser and they're not going to be able to see all those things ok, but those were questions if you use a web font service or you're getting web funds from a foundry all of those technical questions should be posed to them they should be the ones that'll tell you what funds have them what browsers they're going to be able to show up up on and how to apply them okay great any other questions here? Are there any particular open type fonts that you should recommend for us to like look at you maybe a sand well the first thing you will have to look at what's in your library so okay take a look at the differences between minion and myriad okay, everybody should have those okay I'm not going to tell you what one of them has lots of bells and whistles including the font the font feature where they can make automatic on the fly diagonal and one of them doesn't one of them has true drawn small caps and one of them doesn't so though so you know I'm not telling you to go out and buy fonts because that relates to your job but investigate what you have on your computer if you happen to have adobe casslyn pro and if you happen to have adobe gara mon pro check those out see which of those you know, some of the things I've talked about here and others that I haven't look at those look for the the figures look for all the different features you know do a dummy setting and see how differently you know with fractions with small caps with ligatures see how you can set it differently with those for funds and that way and become familiar with the interface and that way you'll be able to become familiar with what they are and then you can look at your other funds but I could tell you if you look at those four some of them have the features and some of them don't okay thank you right now we have a couple questions that came in here from the chat room now can you describe a time when would be good to switch your font to use cliffs is it just sort of a feel on a taste on the preference there switch your font to use gl ifs well I think when we were talking about the glitch substitution earlier could you talk a little bit more creative substitution is not something you choose to use it's something that's either built into the fun or not I know I listed on the bottom but I was just telling you that these actions were happening so basically you you would know if the font had it if things appeared and disappeared in a design context okay, so if this so in other words if you're putting in if you if you're selecting swash is and it has a fancy s wash and all of a sudden you put a different letter after it if it didn't get rid of that s wash on its own because it's in the middle of a word the font that doesn't have cliff substitution so that's something that's a programming that happens behind the scene it's not something you turn on your off it's a feature it's a back end feature of a font that's either there or not great all right and we have some people were coming in a little bit more about online fonts and different types that they're using dan pedley wants to know can you use google fonts for print jobs? Any experience using google? Well, I I believe google foncier meant for the web okay? So they're in general there you need to explore with the particular foundry because there are licensing issues to using web fonts for print and print funds for it webb okay it's all intellectual property the fonts might be the same they might be slightly different but everybody needs to respect that because you don't want the fun police knocking on your door and you always want to be on the right side of doing the right thing because fonts are designed by real people and they are designed for particular uses so although it's easy to not pay attention to those things, if you were the designer, you would want people to respect that as well. So absolutely okay, we had some people who are sharing their own individual usage of how what they're designing and different fonts that they would be using. Now. This question says, how many different fonts should you use in a single flyer poster design? I know we talked a little bit about sticking to the same families and using one particular design, but any rule of thumb there, if people are just designing a simple flyer, if you're not comfortable with mixing font, stick with two with you and it doesn't have to be the same family, just like a beginning examples that I showed you if you're not confident until you get you know, you get your chops where you can recognize what works in terms of using more, then you can use three, okay, if you really if you feel in it and it's working more than that, really takes an experienced designer with a really good eye for typography, so start with two, then go to three as necessary and that you know you might never need more than that.

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.


  • Select the best typefaces for your design
  • Work efficiently with OpenType
  • Think and approach projects like a type designer
  • Identify and remedy common type crimes


Typography is an essential element of design: it should communicate your message effectively, and with purpose. Yet, even professional graphic designers can lack the “eye” and deeper understanding of type aesthetics.

In Typography Fundamentals, author, educator, and expert Ilene Strizver teaches you how to take full advantage of the power of type. You’ll learn not only the fundamentals of typographic design, but also how to “see” type through new eyes - all to make more sophisticated type choices that will open doors and set your work apart.

With your enrollment in Ilene’s class, you’ll also receive access to a webinar hosted by renowned designer Gerard Huerta.

Check out Ilene’s related course, Advanced Typography: Fine Tuning & Finessing.


This class is designed for creative professionals of all levels working with type, whether you are brand new, or just want to build on your existing knowledge and fill in the gaps. In-house design teams, web developers, motion graphic designers, recent graduates, freelancers and illustrators working with type: don’t miss your chance to learn from one of the most respected educators in the field.


Ilene Strizver, founder of The Type Studio is a noted typographic educator, consultant, designer and writer. She specializes in all aspect of visual communication, from the aesthetic to the technical. Ilene has written and lectured extensively on type and typographic design to both students and professionals in the field. Ilene formerly was the Director of Typeface Development for International Typeface Corporation (ITC) where she developed more than 300 text and display typefaces with such respected and world-renowned type designers as Sumner Stone, Erik Spiekermann, Jill Bell, Jim Parkinson, Tim Donaldson, and the late Phill Grimshaw. She “cut her typographic teeth” by working on Upper and Lowercase (U&lc) and other type projects with such legendary icons as Ed Benguiat, Aaron Burns and Herb Lubalin. Her clients include Monotype Imaging Corporation, International Typeface Corporation (ITC), Adobe, Linotype, Time Inc., Whole Foods, Harlequin Books, Somerset Entertainment, Integrated Marketing, Parents Magazine, MeadWestvaco, Nationwide Insurance, Life is good, and Johnson & Johnson. Ilene authors the popular column TypeTalk for, as well as fy(t)i For Your Typographic Information and the Fontology series for Her book, Type Rules! The designer’s guide to professional typography, 4th edition has received numerous accolades from the type and design community. She publishes the popular FREE enewsletter, All Things Typographic, and conducts her widely acclaimed Gourmet Typography workshops internationally. Ilene is an adjunct instructor at School of Visual Arts in NYC. Connect with Ilene online: | Book: Type Rules! The Designer’s Guide to Professional Typography | Facebook | Twitter


a Creativelive Student

Ilene's courses on Typography are jam-packed with excellent information that will elevate the quality of your work in print. She knows what's current, but also what's important in long-time standards, and why. Just an incredible amount of information! you will enjoy watching, but you will want to purchase because of the sheer amount of useful content.

a Creativelive Student

This course is packed full of the answers to questions I've had at the back of my mind for a long time. Ilene teaches with great clarity, her material is well organised, and she teaches at a good pace - with a bit of humor to lighten it up. I found it really useful.


This course taught me very well about Typography. I knew almost nothing before taking it (I barely understood then the difference between Serif and Sans-Serif...). And now, I feel that I really understand a lot. It is a very good starter to learn when, how and why to use type. Plus, Ilene is a great teacher with a big sense of humor and a lot of experience in Typography. A must have for everyone who want to understand something about types and fonts.