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Now I'll admit it, I am a bit of a type nerd and I found that most people don't really seem to get too excited when they hear someone talking about the theory of just about anything. So if you're watching this, thank you, and I have to tell you that understanding the anatomy of type has made my life so much easier as a designer. For instance, different kinds of types send different messages, either subconsciously or overtly, but either way it's saying something. Also by understanding the basics, you can come up with some interesting solutions for some common design problems.
Like, I don't know, how many of you video folks have ever had issues making a large amount of type more readable on the screen? Well, if you knew about x-height and Serifs you'd know what to do. So enough talking. Let's go ahead and look at what we have here on the screen. As you can see I have a couple of different typefaces here and a font. So a font is the file that you install on your computer that renders a typeface. So the typeface is the actual graphic representation created by the font.
So that being said, let's go ahead and move on and start at the top. At the top we have Sans-Serif, which directly translated means without Serif. Now I was always taught never use the same word in the definition, but since we have Serif right underneath, I can explain what that is. So if you look at the bottom or edges of the letters, you'll notice you'll have these little marks and these marks are Serifs and they're designed to help me type more readable. You may notice it in newspapers or anything else that's rather small and printed.
Now as a video designer you have to be careful of Serif fonts, because if you pick a Serif font where the Serifs are too skinny, they'll possibly ring on the screen and you definitely don't want that. Now to jump to the next one, Slab Serif, and the only difference between Slab Serif and Serif is the fact that we have really fat kind of chunky Serifs. Now I put this in here right now because this seems to be all the rage amongst designers. To be really precise, this is a condensed Slab Serif typeface.
If we go to the next one, Ornamental, pretty straightforward. Anything that has designs on the front of the letters. The next one down is Script. It's pretty straightforward any typeface that creates letters that look like they're scripted cursive. It's script. Now this last one down here is your typical wingdings, weddings, what have you. It's your symbol fonts and those fonts are great to install on systems if you want to have a library of graphic elements that you can pull from to incorporate into your motion graphics.
So now that we've covered fonts and the anatomy of a typeface, let's go ahead and look at some of the terms we'll be using for setting type. So I'm just going to press F5 and open up my layers here and turn on my base group here. Now as you can see we have three lines of type and I'm going to use these lines of type to talk about different terms used in typesetting, which is the process of just putting your type on the screen. So the first thing is leading. This is the amount of space in between the lines of type.
Ascenders are just the top part of letters. Descenders fall below the baseline. Now if you're unfamiliar with the baseline, that's coming up next. The baseline is where each letter sits. Now if you notice, a lot of times letters that have a round bottom actually sit slightly below the baseline. That's to play off the optical illusion that they're all sitting on the exact same point.
Now the x-height is really important, if you look at the x-height obviously that's the height of the letter X, and every other letter in that typeface is based off of that height. So here you can clearly see your ascenders and your descenders, so let's go ahead and keep going. Tracking, this is the space between all the letters in the line of type. Now that shouldn't be confused with Kerning, which is just the amount of space between two individual letters.
Now here's an example of a typeface with a tall x-height. If you notice it makes the type look pretty large. Now let's go ahead and go to the next example here of short x-height. Notice with the shorter x-height, it actually looks like there's a little less type on the page. Now let's go ahead and keep watching and you can see the difference between the two when we zoom in here. So a tall x-height versus a short x-height, and the reason I zoomed in is just so you can see, even these tall letters, they are actually still lining up.
So it's really just the difference in the x-height and that's the best easiest way to fit a large amount on screen. Choose a typeface that has a short x-height. So now it's time for you to go enjoy reading messages in a whole new way and for all you new type nerds, welcome to the club!
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