10 typography tricks every designer should know

06. Forget about small caps

typography tricks

Never just shrink full-size caps down and call them small caps

John D Berry knows his stuff – after all, he's written several books on type and typography. His top tip? Unless you know the difference between true small caps and fake ones, it's best to just forget that your design app's Small Caps command exists. 

Never just shrink full-size caps down and call them small caps: they aren't. If you're willing to go to the trouble of using real small caps, be sure to letter-space them properly – that is, a little looser than lowercase.

07. Keep the font count low

typography tricks

Using fewer fonts helps create a cleaner and sharper result

It's important to think of your type as a whole in your project. When you use more than three fonts in your project – say a slab, a serif and a display – it can sometimes become difficult to read and understand; the project can lack order. 

Usually, one font has different weights and you can create a stunning and simple design solution using these in the correct way. The result will be cleaner and sharper. So think about whether you need many fonts or a better job can be done using different weights of just one. Thanks to Hey Studio for that one.

08. Rental revolution

typography tricks

Skyfonts allows you to try fonts for five minutes before you buy them

There's a new rental service in town, and it rectifies the age-old problem of not being able to try fonts to their full capacity before you pull the trigger and purchase. The service is Skyfonts from Monotype, and you can try any font from its library for five minutes, for free.

You can also use credits to rent a font for a day or a month, depending on your needs. Sure, many foundries enable you to test out characters on their site, but it's not the same as trying them out in your preferred layout/design app. After all, the feeling of a particular font can be hard to establish until you start combining words.

09. Don't push it (unless you really have to)

typography tricks

If you're going to edit a font, make sure it's with good reason

Unless you're after a specific effect (or working on an illustrated piece) don't stretch, skew or otherwise alter fonts by messing with its dimensions after turning to outlines. 

You wouldn't stretch a photo or refined vector piece and you can often end up with an ugly, amateurish result. If you're going to edit a font, make sure it's with good reason. You don't want to ruin hours of the type designer's work.

10. Think of type as a voice

Here's an interesting tip we picked up from Hoon Kim of Why Not Smile: "To deal with type is much the same as to control one's voice: [think of] selecting typefaces as voice quality; having a relationship with type in size, amount and degrees as vocal tone; and setting layouts of type as voices in space and time. Typographic design is visible as well as audible. If you have a great scenario, now it is time to cast good actors."

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