About the authors:

The co-authors of Basic Design: Typography (2005), the Graphic Designer Gavin Ambrose who studied a masters degree at Central Saint Martin’s and freelance writer Paul Harris PG DIP, who studied at London College of printing. Ambrose currently designs for commercial practice and this includes clients from the arts sector, elderberries publishers and advertising agencies. The co-author/designer of several books on branding, packaging and editorial design.  He has written for magazines and journals in London and New York, including dazed and confused. He is also co-authored and collaborated on books about packaging design design principles.


Typography can be applied, can be used to express and it has its own forms and functions. By researching into the definition of typography, a point of reference would be Basic Design: Typography (2005) by the Graphic Designer Gavin Ambrose and the linguist Paul Harris. Typography concerns discovering the applications of type, Harris and Ambrose defined type as being ‘…the means by which a written idea is given a visual form’. Nevertheless, type contextualises space. Discussing type is certainly the beginning of a debate. Chiefly type basics range from the spacing, the strokes and the typeface itself (Ambrose and Harris, 2005, p.6).

Type hierarchy:

Gavin Ambrose and Paul Harris mentioned in Basic Design: Typography (2005) that to ‘….achieve clarity and a uniform feel many designers restrict themselves using only two typeface weights from a particular family, as this is enough to establish a typographic hierarchy with out unnecessary elaboration’. In other words the aesthetic of the hierarchy is achieved without hyperbolic detail, but with clarity and variation. Essentially this is ‘…established using two weights of one typeface’. When it comes to the layout, less is more. The reader should be able to immediately identify the information they need. Following this typographical harmony is what supports a clear and assertive grid. This ‘…unattainable if the difference between the two weights is too extreme’. If your designing using a heading typeface that is of the same font family your body copy is part of, but is 4 times the weight of your body copy. Your design will be unprofessional and misleading (Ambrose and Harris, 2005, pp.64-65).


Kerning, not to be confused with leading refers to the space in between two letters. Generally, when using a typeface you notice some ‘…letter combinations have too much or too little space between them’ this is unprofessional and the human eye focusses ‘…on the typographical mistakes’. Rather than looking at information you need, you’re drawn to imperfections. Kerning like other graphic tools can solve problems with ‘…the removal or addition of space between letters’. When dealing with typefaces you notice a pattern beginning. Where certain ‘…letter combinations frequently need to be kerned and are known as kerning pairs. Kerning ultimately alters type to give it a ‘…balanced look practically this is used for larger display type’ which makes a lot of sense because you’re not going to spend time kerning micro body copy (Ambrose and Harris, 2005, pp.96-97).


Leading is a form of ‘hot-metal printing’ this relates to the strips of lead that were ‘…inserted between text measures’ (to put simply) accurately calculate horizontal spacing between ‘…the lines of a text block’. Much like the measurement of type ‘…leading is specified in points’ and these points correlate to the type measurement. By horizontally spacing the text block ‘…leading introduces space’ where characters “breathe” and the readability of content becomes pleasing. Multiple designers have their own ideal leading space (this is left to the designer to decide). In one definition ‘…a balanced and well-spaced text block’ is achieved by ‘…a larger point size down than the text it is associated with’. In other words, depending on the point size, the leading needs to be a greater value than whatever the point size is set to. Optimally not too tight or too loose (Ambrose and Harris, 2005, pp.92-p.93).


Tracking ‘..refers to the space that exists between letters. This space can be adjusted to make characters more or less distinguishable. Reducing the tracking pares back to the space between letters, condenses the text and may allow more text to be fitted into a given area. However, tracking is reduced to much the letters begin to ‘crash’ into one another, equally space should not be added to the extent that letters become separated from the words that they are part of’.

(Ambrose and Harris, 2005, p.94-p.95).

Reference list:

Ambrose, G., Harris, P. (2005) Typography. Lausanne, Switzerland: AVA Pub. SA. p. 6, pp.92-93, pp.94-95. pp.96-97.


Pritchard, T. (2016) Typographic HierarchyVimeo. Available at: https://vimeo.com/13418563 (Accessed: 1 September 2016).





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