A Fount of Knowledge About Fonts

Get ready, we’re going to get a little geeky here — about fonts. Specifically, OpenType fonts and how they add so much flexibility and readability to any project. What’s even better is that you don’t need the latest designer tools or applications to add interest and impact to your work.

Get ready, we’re going to get a little geeky here — about fonts. Specifically, OpenType fonts and how they add so much flexibility and readability to any project. What’s even better is that you don’t need the latest designer tools or applications to add interest and impact to your work.

Got Microsoft Word? Get set to make everything more professional and legible, while simultaneously adding that “Wow” factor. But first, a brief history of font types:

PostScript Type 1 Fonts

Introduced by Adobe in 1984, PostScript Type 1 fonts are encoded outline font specifications used for professional digital typesetting. They were not widely recognized until Apple came out with its first LaserWriter in 1985 — which at that time had fonts residing IN the printer, using bitmap outlines on the computer in different sizes.

TrueType Fonts

After the introduction and implementation of PostScript Type 1 Fonts, Apple and Microsoft developed an outline standard in the late 1980s that has become the most common format for fonts on both Macs and PCs. This generation of fonts is referred to as TrueType Fonts. TrueType Fonts improved upon PostScript Type 1 Fonts by giving developers better control of how their fonts are displayed at all font sizes.

OpenType Fonts

And finally, OpenType Fonts were developed in the early 1990s. OpenFonts improved upon TrueType Fonts by increasing readability, facilitating different writing systems more effectively, and even adding typography tricks! (That’s the simple description. The geeky one is you’ll have more powerful typographic formatting and simpler font management, with better cross-platform support and portability.)

Of course, you knew that already, right? So check out this animated GIF below, detailing some of the features of OpenType fonts:

Play with the above Demo at Ricardo Magalhães Blog
Play with the above Demo at Ricardo Magalhães Blog
  • Ligatures: Simply stated, a ligature occurs where two or more letters are joined as a single glyph. Why use them? They help keep letters from overlapping and can really improve legibility.
  • Oldstyle and Lining Numerals: The default in almost all fonts is aligning numbers perfectly with each other, which works very well in charts, spreadsheets or anywhere math is involved. But there are some Oldstyle fonts with a default perfect for if you are just using numbers within normal text. Why care? You can now choose which number format to use in any font. Lining numbers tend to stand out in body text because they all stand tall like capital letters. Oldstyle numbers look more like upper and lower case characters, creating a more blended appearance within the text. This is one of my favorite benefits of OpenType fonts, as they improve readability and aesthetics. In an earlier post — “3 Type Facts You Don’t Know, But Should“ — I explain both ligatures and Oldstyle numbers in much more detail if you would like to learn more.
  • Contextual and Stylistic Alternatives: Think of these as accessorizing your fonts, like adding cool jewelry to your type with extra letters and swooshes.
  • Fractions: Now you can choose to use true fractions actually designed for the font, instead of squishing numbers together separated by a solidus. A definite plus for look and readability.
  • Ordinals: In the same way as fractions, ordinal characters are designed for the font rather than programmatically created, increasing legibility.

Remember, these added features are only found in OpenType fonts. This means when purchasing any new fonts, it is important to pay attention: TrueType fonts are still sold. Make sure you are buying an OpenType font.

Flaunt Your Fonts

Ready to get in touch with your inner type-geek? Study this tutorial by Magpie Paperworks first on how to turn on these extras in Microsoft Word.

Whatever the project may be, OpenType fonts could make the difference between so-so and so much more impressive.

8 Simple-Yet-Brilliant Copy and Creative Tips That Make a Huge Difference

I’ve had the pleasure of hearing Copywriter/Copy Coach Pat Friesen speak on several copy-centered webinars in the last few years, so I knew I needed to make time for her session: Design & Copy: Little Things You Don’t Want to Overlook.

Hey hey hey, happy March, people of the marketing sphere! The month has been great for me so far. Among other things (cut my Comcast bill in half, SCORE!) just last week I got to spend my day at the annual Direct Marketing Day @ Your Desk Virtual Conference. Did you get to check it out? It was live on March 10, but is available on demand in its entirety starting today, so I’d highly recommend heading over there if you couldn’t make it!

Target Marketing snagged some seriously top-notch speakers (VP of Marketing at Cirque du Soleil, for one, daaang) to share their expertise on a whole slew of helpful and fascinating topics like marketing-first companies, augmented reality, the Internet of Things, and of course — copy and design.

I’ve had the pleasure of hearing Copywriter/Copy Coach Pat Friesen speak on several copy-centered webinars in the last few years, so I knew I needed to make time for her session: Design & Copy: Little Things You Don’t Want to Overlook. Pat, along with President and Chief Creative Officer of DM Creative Group Patrick Fultz, went through some of their tried-and-true design and copy tips to boost conversion and sales.

All the content presented at the show was fantastic, but since this is a copy/creative blog I thought I’d just speed through some of the key takeaways from Pat2‘s copy/creative session. (Hope they won’t mind I just deemed them Pat2.)

  • Specificity makes a difference! “Save $478.88 each year” has much more credibility and impact than “save money” or even “save hundreds of dollars.”
  • Numerals appear more impressive at a glance than numbers spelled out. Tip: Include decimals in money amounts for an extra kick:Ten thousand” vs. “$10,000” vs. “$10,000.00.”
  • Reverse type considerations! This requires the visual they gave, check it out:

reversetype

  • When it comes to photo captions, “features describe, benefits sell.” “Sewn stars and stripes” doesn’t mean as much to a reader as “Sewn stars and stripes look classic and add durability”.
  • Better CTAs stress immediate satisfaction (“Get it now,” “Download now,” “See it in action”) and are clear about what the action is (“Sign up” vs. “Submit”).
  • A/B test your CTAs! Don’t underestimate the difference every element can make, from button copy to text color to button color and shape.
  • Use an email pre-header. When viewing an email with no pre-header in the preview pane, a reader will see something like “To view this email in a browser …” etc. Instead, include a pre-header that briefly elaborates on the subject line or gives a hint what the email is about! They’ll be much more inclined to open and read.
  • Place offer above the fold. A great offer, like “Receive a free _______ for signing up,” should be in the upper half of your email; shrink or eliminate graphics if necessary to pull the offer up.

This is just a quick n’ dirty rundown of what was a fantastic session, I actually had to limit myself to eight so I wouldn’t just post the entire session transcript. Definitely carve out 40 minutes, register and check it out. Once you sign up, you’ll instantly have access to the rest of the show’s sessions and content on demand too, from now until June. It’s all can’t-miss material.

I will see all your shining faces back here in April. À Bientôt!