How I learned about typography

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I never imagined when I signed up for a required typography course my sophomore year at Massachusetts College of Art and Design how it would impact me. I already had some familiarity with typography. When I was in high school I worked on word posters for a small company. I had to use a thick magic marker to write the words, since there were no computers to do the work. I had to learn to understand kerning and leading without a Mac!

My typography professor was demanding and very detail oriented. We had to repeatedly draw serif and sans serif fonts so we could understand the minute characteristics of each one. The regulars, bolds and italics, the ascenders and descenders, the swashes, whatever characteristic a font had, we learned to draw over and over again. These exercises helped when identifying a good font from a bad font as well as laying out headlines or text. Your website, brochure, email, social media or any other work will benefit from paying attention to the detail. It’s true when you make a tiny change in a word or body of text it makes a big difference in your typography and the look of the piece. The little details he taught me mattered. It was the best course I ever took!

My experience with typography reminds me of Steve Jobs and his first encounter with calligraphy and typography. (I was also fortunate enough to take a college course in calligraphy!) If he never took that class, Apple may not have been so successful. In a speech at Stanford University commencement he said, If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts.” Apple opened up the world of typography to the masses! I am forever grateful to Steve Jobs!

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