Typography is an essential element of graphic design and visual communication. Practicing typography skills through targeted exercises can help designers gain proficiency with using type effectively. Here are some helpful typography exercises:
Manually adjusting the spacing between letters is known as kerning. Find a lengthy paragraph of text and go through it slowly, tweaking the kerning between problematic letter pairs like "AV", "To", "Yo" etc. The goal is to improve overall readability and make the spacing appear optically consistent. Pay close attention to how the negative spaces between letters are altered with subtle kerning changes. Keep making micro-adjustments until you are satisfied with how balanced and easy to read the paragraph appears.
Tracking refers to the uniform spacing between all letters in a word or line of text. Take a headline, short sentence or even a list of single words and manually adjust the tracking across them. Widen the tracking for a more elegant and spaced out look. Tighten the tracking to make it more energetic and punchy. Get a feel for how tracking can change the vibe and impact of the same set of words. Experiment with extremely wide or tight tracking for dramatic effect. Evaluate which settings work best for different situations.
Choosing complementary typefaces is an art. Start by selecting two fonts with contrasting styles - for example, a formal serif and a casual script. Design a simple poster or flyer using these fonts together. Style the fonts differently with variations in color, size and arrangement to create visual interest. Try out different combinations, like using one for headlines and the other for body text. The goal is to find pairings that work harmoniously while providing enough contrast between elements. Pay attention to balance, hierarchy and the overall impression created by the font pairing.
Establishing a clear visual hierarchy allows readers to navigate and comprehend designs easier. Practice this by designing a brochure, webpage or report layout. Use different fonts, weights and sizes to differentiate various elements like headers, subheads, body text and captions. Experiment with more drastic as well as subtle typographic variations to indicate levels of importance. Strive for clear organization between headline, supporting text and supplementary content. Evaluate if the typographic hierarchy lets readers understand immediately what is most important. Tweak font choices and sizing as needed to improve the presentation.
Type as Image
In this exercise, use typography in creative ways to make letters and words represent objects, concepts or emotions. Design a poster, advertisement or other image primarily through inventive use of text. For example, manipulate letters to depict forms, overlap words to show depth, vary weight for shading etc. See if you can tell a visual story or convey a message using just clever arrangement of type. Avoid relying on actual images. Focus on making text graphical. This exercise stretches your imagination to think of typegraphically rather than just as words.
Pick fonts that are commonly considered unreadable like Comic Sans, Impact or other overly decorative typefaces. Set a long page of text using these fonts. Evaluate how well each one allows reading long form text. Now try setting the same content using a simple, readable font like Georgia. Compare the experiences. The key learning is to identify what makes some typefaces poor choices for extended reading and others effective. Consider factors like clarity, spacing, kerning. Finally, design an editorial layout using an appropriate readable font that allows smooth reading without fatigue.
Tone and Voice
Write two versions of the same product description - one with a formal tone using precise words, another using casual vocabulary with conversational voice. Set both versions in different fonts that complement the tone. For example, use a traditional serif for the formal description and a friendly sans-serif or script for the informal one. Observe how typography choices can reinforce the tone of the words and shape the reader's emotional response. Through exercises like this, think about how you can use type to reflect desired voice and tone.
Practice composing typographic layouts by designing an event poster or flyer. Play with the placement and arrangement of text elements like event details, location, timing etc. Use alignment, proximity, contrast and white space creatively to make the layout visually engaging. Strive for clean organization and an aesthetic look while ensuring readability. Experiment with different compositional ideas. Creating appealing typographic compositions takes practice in spacing, structure and visual rhythm.
Doing targeted exercises across various facets of typography boosts your skills significantly.
Always evaluate aesthetics, readability, tone and functionality together when making typographic choices.
Consistent practice strengthens intuition for using type effectively.