Sign Stories Blog

Design Element: Typography - How Signs Happen

Posted by Frank Murch | May 2, 2014 11:31:00 AM


Typography comes from the Greek words typos (“form”) and graphein (“to write”). This means that typography is the art or form of arranging how a message is written in order to make the message more appealing to the audience. Typography is much more than just making words readable and pretty; it’s an art of making your message work with your layout, color scheme, images, and layout by choosing the correct font, size, point, color, order, line spacing, leading, kerning and tracking.

The first uses for typography can go back to the first punches used to manufacture coins and also the first brick stamps found in the ancient Mesopotamian cities dating from the 2nd millennium BC. There were also Babylonian cylinder seals that were used to create an impression or mark on a surface by rolling the cylinder on clay.

Movable type, which is the system of printing and using typography that uses movable components to reproduce certain components of the design, was invented in the 11th century in China by Bi Sheng, his system was made of Chinese porcelain. Bi Sheng’s fragile types weren’t that practical for large-scale printing, so the government of official Wang Zhen innovated the types by using wood and this increased the speed of the whole process. Metal type was first invented in Korea around 1230 and Hua Sui introduced bronze type printing to China in 1490 AD.

Modern movable type, along with the mechanical printing press, was invented by Johannes Gutenberg during the mid-15th century in Germany. His type pieces from a lead-based alloy suited printing purposes so well that the technology is still being used nowadays. Gutenberg developed techniques for casting cheap copies of letter punches in the large amounts required to print multiple copies of text. This started the Printing Revolution and helped print the first book ever printed with movable type, the Gutenberg Bible, which was printed during the 1450s.

The Information Age began and computer technology revolutionized typography in the 20th century. Computers gave designers the ability to create, from traditional to more experimental typefaces using graphic and design software. The cost for designing type was dramatically reduced becoming available for a wide audience making new designers more opportunities to enter the field. 

serif sans serif fontsLegibility is the first concern of a typeface designer, this is to ensure that each character is distinguishable from other characters in the font. Readability is the first concern of a typographer or graphic designer, this is because it is the typographer’s and/or designer’s job to present the design’s information appropriately in order to communicate the message to the target audience.

Typography has been one of the most important elements in a promotional design or advertisement. Designers often use typography to set a mood and theme to the message of the design. Type, combined with the efficient uses of color, imagery, shapes and type font itself, is used to draw people’s attention to the design.

Typography is the message your client will read when they look at your sign or printed advertisement. They will get your company’s name, your phone number, email, website, social media page, etc., by reading the message through the typography choices you, as a designer, have made. So remember to use typography effectively and if you feel typography is not your thing, let Signs for San Diego take a look at your message, and we will get your message delivered across effectively.     

Topics: signs, Signs for Oceanside, Signs in Vista, signs for Carlsbad, signs for San Marcos, Signs for San Diego, oceanside, carlsbad, vista, Design, Graphic Design, Typography, Imagery, Color, Color Scheme, Hierarchy, Layout


Whether you need a channel letter set, a monument signs, ADA signs, wayfinding signs, lobby signs, or any other type of commercial building signage, we can help! Signs for San Diego is the best sign company for building signs.


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