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Type is important because it conveys information. But good type choices can also add a powerful boost to the information, making it more visible and easily accessible. The primary goal of good type is to visually communicate its message. I want to show you a couple of examples that prove how the power of type can even be a matter of life and death. Two of my favorite examples are Highway Signage and Prescription Labels. The first example involves very large letterforms that have to be easy to read at 60 miles an hour and from a sufficient distance so that you can read it in time to make a quick decision.
Now imagine that you are driving at 60 miles an hour at night in a rainstorm, the type still has to do its job. The critical information on the highway signage must be legible to the driver, even under the worst conditions. My second example of the power of type involves really tiny type, on the humble little prescription bottle. Its instructions and identifying information can often be hard to read, especially by an older person whose eyesight is impaired.
A designer named Deborah Adler was inspired to redesign prescription packages when a household medication mix up made her grandmother seriously ill. She redesigned the type on the prescription bottle by changing the typographic hierarchy, adding color, enlarging the most important type and using a more legible typestyle. Target was so impressed by her redesign that the new packaging was rolled out at all Target stores and is now being implemented by other companies as well.
So you can see, in some cases, good type can even mean a difference between life and death. Good type usage isn't just a matter of aesthetics, it is a matter of strong, legible communication.
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