So far we discussed the appearance of fonts and how to categorize fonts based on their appearance. Now let’s continue by connecting the visual features of fonts to their actual usage.
Text or display?
Fonts are used in thousands of different ways. Just think about a typical day in your life and count the number of times a day you read something. Not just obvious things like books and emails—think about all the little things! The numbers on your clock, the labels on food packaging, the signs on the street and possibly hundreds of things more you might read on a single day. If fonts were used, someone made a font choice in every instance and it might serve its purpose better or worse than another.
But even with the sheer endless amount of possible uses, there is a fundamental categorization for font uses: Is the font used for short pieces of information like a headline or will it be used for longer texts, so-called body copy? Keep in mind that this differentiation is not a matter of absolute type size. A large sign on a museum wall explaining an exhibition can have the same kind of differentiation as the museum flyer you can hold in your hands. It’s just the difference in reading distance that requires different absolute type sizes. The relationship between longer texts and short lines of display typesetting stay the same.
A use for body copy has usually high demands in regards to legibility and reading comfort. Fonts made specifically for display use often can’t deliver that. Text fonts on the other hand can be used for display use as well, but they might appear rather dull in this case. So understanding these two categories is crucial, especially today where fonts are scalable and can be used in any type size. In the next two lessons, we will discuss the details of text and display use.
Related Terms in our Glossary: