Skip to main content

Typography Fundamentals

Lesson 13 of 13

Typography Misdemeanors - Part 2

Ilene Strizver

Typography Fundamentals

Ilene Strizver

Starting under


Get access to this class +2000 more taught by the world's top experts

  • 24/7 access via desktop, mobile, or TV
  • New classes added every month
  • Download lessons for offline viewing
  • Exclusive content for subscribers

Lesson Info

13. Typography Misdemeanors - Part 2
Ilene cautions against the last type crimes regarding improper type sizes, letter-spaced lowercase, and inappropriate styling.

Lesson Info

Typography Misdemeanors - Part 2

Inappropriately size type now we're going to something that a lot of people don't know about okay, so this is this is ah good want to pay attention to um as we know there were text typefaces and their display typefaces while some typefaces work well at both texts and display sizes others don't okay, so you need to be careful of this for instance cazalot open face is a display tight face that should not be set small and I have seen the set small many times or the thins might break up when printed. Okay again you're looking at something on a large screen, but if this was set thirty six point and look great um and then this was said I mean, I had an instance where, um somebody called me with a problem they had had a designer to an invitation for a funder, a big fundraiser event and the person used castle on open face for you know you're cordially invited and it looked fine, it was said and I don't know twenty four thirty six forty eight point it look good, but on the other side of the pag...

e they had listings of donors and patrons and they were all said an eight point or ten point it all fell apart looked horrible and she called me and she said, look at this, what do I do I said, well, unless you're going to reprint this typeface, as I'm telling you should never have been used to set that small, and one of the problems that can happen that could lead to this happening is if you're looking at something on an ink jet printer that's the absolute worst wayto look a tight because an inkjet printer expands the tight makes everything look heavier, okay, even your at home laser printer will make type look a little bit heavy, so none of that is really that not that accurate a representation. So this client might have approved something off of a laser writer or inkjet printer, which I still don't think would have looked good even if they did see it, and then they saw the final piece and it was terrible. Okay, so so this goes back to what I said earlier. When you're selecting a typeface, make sure you look at it at the largest and soulless, smallest size you're going to use, use it. Okay, um the other side of that coin is there some type faces that look good it's small sizes, but they really don't look so great large. Okay, this is a typeface called fine hand and it's meant to look like a handwriting, so when you blow it up, it looks clunky. There's not a lot of weight. Contrast, you see very bumpy edges, which looked natural at smaller sizes like with a panda repent, sel, but don't look natural at all, so this is something you wouldn't want to use for a big poster or a headline, or sometimes, you know, you're making a like I said before, no all the uses you might be doing a business card for somebody, and then all of a sudden they wanted on their storefront. You know, you need to consider because this was not going to look so good. Set large in a storefront compared to a business card, here's another one could flee script is a wonderful adobe font that is meant is a handwriting it's, a handwriting design that looks great, it small sizes, but it just looks blurry and loses all its charm and character when it's set large, so be careful setting in appropriately sized type. As I said, be sure to check how the typeface looks at both the largest and smallest of your intended it's points I settings or size settings, even on the web, you know, okay, letter, space, lower case is a pet peeve of a lot of more traditional typographer sze but esso I still have to talk about it because I just don't like it and I was taught it's wrong I don't agree with it I don't think it is easily but you still can't see it okay uh letter space laurie what I mean is tracking out lower space up, tracking out lower case just to give it that open look, I'm not talking about something I'm going to discuss tomorrow, which is how to use tracking to improve and expand the usage of certain typefaces I'm talking about doing something like this when this is what it normally looks like okay, so this is considered to be poor typography by more traditional people in the business okay, including myself um going back to this illustration that I showed you earlier we recognize words by their shapes, but when you let her space something out all of a sudden you don't your eye doesn't see the shape because there's so much space between it so it does reduce readability because the typeface might be ledge a ble but the way you're setting it makes it less readable because it disturbs and distorts word shapes, making it harder for the eye and brain to recognize words okay have any of you read? Are you familiar with the wonderful erik speak woman's book? Stop stealing sheep I haven't heard that ok he's an awesome typographer designer has done a lot of public speaking and this book is in its umpteenth edition on dh it's called stop stealing sheep and find out how type works so what a funny name why is it called stop stealing sheep well the american type designer frederick gowdy is attributed with saying anyone this is a famous quote it might be really a famous misquote but as most people understand it anyone who would let her space lower case would steal sheep okay, so when he says in his book stop stealing sheep he's basically saying don't commit this type crying a lot of others now actually a lot of people believe what he really did say was anyone who would let her space black letter which is that germ kind of german heavy writing would steal sheep then some people you might read that he said this is a little off color anyone who would let her space lower case or black letter would shag a sheep but then other people say, well, how could that be right? Because he's an american designer and that's a british idiom so we don't know what he really said but all I'm telling you is don't let us space lower case okay computer generated styling this is a real no no I should have put this earlier in terms of severity but no it's it's more of a reminder never scale horizontally or vertically or slant your type is it distorts the shapes and proportions of cliffs. Ok, the problem is, uh you should be using the appropriate typeface inversion for your particular needs and designed accordingly without resorting to distorting type. The reason I say that as I've come across many people in my class who say my boss told me I have to do this of it could be a book cover and people you know, it's like they want to philip every square inch of a page thinking that that's more effective. So instead of leaving some white space or designing with mohr with appropriate typeface, they're told to stretch it slanted, squeeze it whatever they're supposed to dio okay that the problem is that today's software gives you enough functions you so you can hang yourself typographic lee speaking, so just because you can do it with your software doesn't mean you should do it because this is what happens, okay? This is often gordo, which is a perfect circle often guard actually does have a condensed version, which has a little bit of weight contrast okay, so this is the condensed version this is what happens when you aren't when you computer generate a slanted version, so it doesn't it doesn't have a smart way of doing it all it does if you're condensing something is it's squeezing the horizontal tze and it's leaving the verticals the same so that looks awful okay and the more you get used to seeing its awfulness the the more you notice it and these things become like a fun house mirror you know and you get all distorted okay these are things that should be designed by the designer and not distorted by thie user because there they they just look awful here's what happens when you stretch it another example of more characters of the same at the same typeface case so the avant garde um this is the true join condensed and this is the seventy two percent condense so you can you can compare letter for letter the comparative proportions change as well as just that look how thick the horizontal czar and then this you know they're skinny or nothing much has happened to the verticals and here everything is is actually thought we'll see how the here becomes real skinny and here they read you because the relationship here is that the h is a lot wider than the so this was kept here this was actually altered so that the wider but if you take this and condense it I mean you can see so that's a real no no don't let anyone tell you to do that quit that job that same thing we just saw these air different typefaces um future bold condensed I called it bold squished ok future a bold oblique slanted can you see even on that right you can see the distortion universe black it was extended that's the the actual this is stretched the lease to two of them okay, so this is black black stretch this is an extended version this is an actual different typeface it's wider than that so don't do it. A good designer will use the tools at hand and used the fonz without distortion and work that way. Okay um wrong right? You might not have noticed that but what happens is as you start to notice these as you start to pay attention you notice them or it becomes you get like a second sense especially with rounds okay? Because if you look at that you can start to see this is the correct this is the un adulterated version okay? And this is the stretched okay and, um finally over stylized type don't let the features off your software seduce you into over decorating your type. I'm sure nobody does this here but somebody does it because I do see it um all around okay, so this is this is this is illustrator I mean, look at all the things you could do with your type just because you can doesn't mean you should okay too much style izing dilutes and muddies the message okay, so and you do occasionally see that I see it on the web. I don't want to point fingers, but I see it a lot on the web and sometime one that maybe not so much in motion, but it's, mostly by people in the business. Now who don't have the design training. Okay. And so they were never told that it's not correct to do that. So they do it. And sometimes clients wanted. So it's also it's. Very amateurish. It's, hard to read. Eso be careful. And don't do that. Avoid the overuse of outlines, shadows close special effects. Okay, you get the message not to be done. Okay, so no more type criminals in the house. Right? Uh, how you guys feeling? We're criminals prior to this segment. A few. Right? Come on. Okay. Do you guys have any questions? I have no idea. Had it access and n or an m dash on my mac command option. Okay, you have to look that I say I know when I'm on the kitten on the keyboard, okay, but it's not hard, it's. Something like command hyphen and command option hyphen. Something like that. But you have to play around with it or you have to look it up. But I'm glad you mentioned it because my suggestion regarding an and and ashes and things like they're some of the things I'm going to talk about tomorrow is that you learned the keyboard command and put a sticky you know, a digital sticky with all these things because you're gonna wind up using them all the time so once there are eventually you're going to memorize them ok but all the little things that you don't know where they are you don't wanna have to go to the cliff palin go where is that? I don't know where it is it might be a trademark a register okay you might even want to do that with dumb quotes with primes because if you're using smart courts all the time and you need to change it to ah primor footer an inch mark the easiest way for me is to find it in the cliff palate so but there might be a keyboard command for that so any of these little things that you you start using or you want to start using find out what the keyboard command is keeping on a little sticky and get used to using it and then it will become second nature okay uh when it comes to typeface for the web would air sand sarah is better than sarah ifs to sarah's need to be larger they little harder to wait web sponsor a whole nother thing but in general I would say if you're talking about a display, it really could be either okay, and general rule is san sarah's will probably be more ledge a bowl and readable on the web, but I will also say that there are some sarah if typefaces, whether they've been specifically, some have been specifically designed for the web. Okay, um and so they're designed in a way so that they can reproduce in accordance with the the the limitations of the pixels so you can sew so they are easier to read. And there are also suppliers and designers of web pontes who do make specifics, serif typefaces that you can use. There also are some existing print versions that have been adapted for web that work well, but you have to look at them very carefully and test them in every environment, every resolution to make sure. So, you know, so yes, sand saref is a little easier to read, but sara's could work. You also have to consider a lot of people are using high resolution monitors, um, and smartphones and other things where resolution is isn't as much of an issue.

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.