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Display type vs. text type

From: Foundations of Typography

Video: Display type vs. text type

An important distinction in typography is the difference between Text Type and Display Type. Here's what you need to remember. Text Type is type that is designed to be read in large quantities at small sizes. For example, the bulk of the text in any newspaper, magazine, or book is Text Type. It's also called Body Type or Body Copy. Display type, on the other hand, is type that 14 point or larger, and it's typically used in small quantities for emphasis and effect.

Display type vs. text type

An important distinction in typography is the difference between Text Type and Display Type. Here's what you need to remember. Text Type is type that is designed to be read in large quantities at small sizes. For example, the bulk of the text in any newspaper, magazine, or book is Text Type. It's also called Body Type or Body Copy. Display type, on the other hand, is type that 14 point or larger, and it's typically used in small quantities for emphasis and effect.

The vast majority of the 200,000 or so typefaces now available are Display typefaces. Display Type encompasses an enormous variety of letterforms. But first let's talk about Text Type. Depending on the type style, Text Type is typically between 8 point and 10 points in size or possibly 12 point type, depending on the typeface. Because Text Type is small it has to be easy to read.

The most famous essay on text typography was written in 1930 by Beatrice Ward. Beatrice Ward used the metaphor of a crystal goblet. She said that the goblet should be clear so that its contents would be what you see, not the goblet itself. She was making the point that clarity in typesetting allows the content to be easily appreciated, suggesting that printing or typography should be invisible. Smooth reading is the goal. It may seem effortless when we're in the process of doing it.

But in reality, when we're reading, we rely on many tiny cues to help us take in words and passages of text in fractions of a second. Letterforms need to be super clear so that it takes as little effort as possible, in fact, no conscious effort at all to see the shapes of the letters. Typefaces that are designed to be read in large quantities at small sizes share some important qualities and characteristics. If you look at these examples of widely used text typefaces, everyone has open spaces inside the letters.

The body height of the letters is tall, compared to the capitals. They have rhythmic and repetitive shapes and they are a medium weight. And it's easy to identify letters immediately because of their details. Some of the most popular text typefaces used today are digital versions of typefaces that have been around for hundreds of years because they still work perfectly well, such as the first three in this example. What about Display Type? Display Type is just the opposite.

Display Type depends on its unique form to announce and amplify its content. It is not supposed to be invisible and in the vast universe of display typefaces available, there is something for every possible use. For example, in the category of typefaces that look like handwriting, hundreds of typefaces are available, here are just a few examples. Something else to keep in mind about Text Type and Display Type, Text Type can function as Display Type by being made larger. But Display Type can rarely be used to function at small sizes like Text Type.

Later in this course, we're going to cover when and how to use Text Type and Display Type to make your design projects look professional. I want you to think of display typefaces like the icing on a cake. Display Type should be used in small quantities and with restraint. A little intense sweetness goes a long way.

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This video is part of

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Foundations of Typography

46 video lessons · 33736 viewers

Ina Saltz
Author

 
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  1. 9m 5s
    1. Welcome
      1m 58s
    2. Why good typography matters
      1m 55s
    3. The power of type
      1m 53s
    4. The theory of typographic relativity
      1m 53s
    5. Getting the most out of this course
      1m 26s
  2. 23m 49s
    1. Serif vs. sans serif
      3m 27s
    2. Display type vs. text type
      3m 39s
    3. Type history
      2m 48s
    4. Type classification
      4m 8s
    5. Other type categories
      3m 24s
    6. Guidelines for combining typefaces
      3m 49s
    7. Using cases
      2m 34s
  3. 18m 28s
    1. Anatomy: Parts and shapes of type
      4m 35s
    2. Size and measurements of type
      2m 18s
    3. Type families: Widths, weights, and slopes
      3m 53s
    4. Reviewing the terminology of type, based on function
      3m 27s
    5. Working with color and tonal weight: Exercises
      4m 15s
  4. 20m 27s
    1. Kerning and kerning pairs
      3m 33s
    2. Tracking and leading
      3m 49s
    3. Exploring variations in type alignment
      3m 55s
    4. Hyphenation and justification
      3m 13s
    5. Indents, outdents, and hanging punctuation
      2m 26s
    6. Other typographic best practices
      3m 31s
  5. 10m 3s
    1. Where type begins: The mark of the hand
      2m 28s
    2. Related parts and shapes: Family resemblances
      4m 35s
    3. Designing a typeface
      3m 0s
  6. 22m 19s
    1. How legibility and readability differ
      3m 48s
    2. Examining factors affecting legibility
      4m 46s
    3. Hierarchy and functionality
      4m 29s
    4. Systematized hierarchy
      3m 52s
    5. Paragraphs, drop caps, and entry points
      2m 41s
    6. Typographic abominations
      2m 43s
  7. 11m 8s
    1. Opposing forces of typography
      3m 8s
    2. The grid: A structure for containing type
      3m 6s
    3. Contrast and scale
      4m 54s
  8. 9m 41s
    1. Typographic expressiveness
      3m 22s
    2. The emotional impact of type
      2m 47s
    3. Three-dimensional type
      3m 32s
  9. 8m 55s
    1. Working with numbers
      2m 10s
    2. Expert characters and analphabetic symbols
      1m 56s
    3. Using typography to navigate content
      1m 51s
    4. Using typography to navigate the environment
      2m 58s
  10. 9m 14s
    1. Managing fonts and building your type library
      3m 14s
    2. Developing your typographic eye
      2m 31s
    3. Breaking the rules
      1m 41s
    4. What's next
      1m 48s

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