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Graphic Design

Fonts & Typesetting

The advent of desktop publishing has provided graphic artists with a seemingly endless collection of digital fonts to work with. Designers can also manipulate these fonts to create additional typographic forms. They can be layered, extended, overlapped or condensed, just to name a few. Although this is a dream for designers, these advanced typographic fonts can make it difficult to comprehend or even read the content of a printed document.

The word font originated from the word foundry, relating to the location that type was cast, and has since evolved to mean that which represents the characters in a font. Fonts or typefaces are collections of characters. Characters are the smallest forms of the written language, in other words, separate letterforms. Whereas a character represents the printed image, a glyph represents the shape of each character.

Fonts are measured in points. Designers can manipulate point spacing using either kerning or leading, or both. Kerning adjusts the spacing between the letterforms and leading adjusts the spacing between the lines. This allows a designer or printer to manipulate spacing or create different effects without changing the font. In addition to spacing, there are three main typesetting styles used when printing -- justified left, justified right and centered.

Wrapping the text around a visual is another typesetting option. Typestyles include two main categories: serif and san serif. Serif fonts have small hats on the letter edges and san serif fonts do not. For example, serif fonts include Garamond, Times New Roman, Palatino, Lucida Bright, and Courier. San serif fonts include Arial, Chicago, Geneva, and Monaco. In addition, both serif and san serif fonts can either use bold or italic styles. In conclusion, a font is a complete set of letters, numbers and punctuation marks. Size, spacing, and alignment provide additional arrangements for the font in a printed document.