A typography poster is a great way to show off your skills as a graphic designer. It can be used to showcase your typeface choices, layout abilities, and overall design skills. Shortly after graduating from Shillington in 2019, I decided to challenge myself to design one poster a day for 365 days. At the time, I was feeling pretty stuck in my design career in part due to the pandemic. However, I remembered my Shillington teachers encouraging us to do “passion projects” which influenced my decision to take on this challenge.
Not only did this challenge allow me to grow in my confidence and design abilities, but it taught me the importance of showing my process which helped me overcome perfectionism and attract design opportunities. By the end, I got a collective following of nearly 200,000 people online.
Now that I’ve completed my project, I want to share some of the tips and best practices that I learned at Shillington that helped me during the challenge. But first, let’s go over the types of typography and what a typography poster is.
What are the 5 types of typography?
Before we discuss how we can use typography to design the best poster possible, you’re going to need to know the different types of typography. The five types of typography include Serif, Sans Serif, Script, Display, and Monospaced.
Sans Serif fonts have strokes added to the ends of letterforms that go from thin to thick. A popular example of this is Times New Roman.
Unlike Serif fonts, Sans Serif fonts are uniform. They have a consistent stroke and weight. A popular example of this is Arial Bold.
Script fonts are usually cursive and have less structure than the other types of typography. They are seen as more graceful and expressive. An example of this is Brush Script.
Similar to Scripts, Display fonts are often used as headlines and are unique and expressive. Anisette is an Art Deco display font.
Monospaced typography uses a fixed width for each letter. This means that each character within the text uses the same amount of horizontal space. An example of monospaced fonts is Courier.
What is a typography poster design?
A typography poster is a design that uses text as the primary or only element. The text may be arranged in a variety of ways (for example, in a grid or spiral), and may include different fonts, sizes, and colors.
Typography posters are often used to communicate simple messages, such as quotes or slogans. However, they can also be used to create more complex designs that tell a story or convey a specific mood.
Typography posters can be created using a variety of mediums, including hand-lettering, traditional printmaking, or digital design. Regardless of the approach, the key is carefully selecting and arranging the text to capture the viewer’s attention and communicate the desired message.
What makes a typographic poster good?
Now that we understand what a typography poster design is, the more important question is what makes one good?
Like anything in graphic design, optimum visual appeal for a typographic poster requires an understanding of design fundamentals. Some of these fundamentals include contrast, hierarchy, negative space, and tension. But how can these techniques be expressed through typography?
Here are some practical tips on how you can implement these design fundamentals to make the best typographic poster possible.
Choose your fonts wisely
When considering typography selection, there are a couple of online resources you should be aware of.
Wordmark helps you easily find fonts and preview them on your computer. Rather than highlighting a word and cycling through fonts to see which looks the best within your design software, Wordmark displays each font in a grid structure. This gives a much more visually appealing overview of how different types of typography compare to each other.
There are many different places where you can find fonts, one of the best being Google Fonts as it has one of the largest collections of web-ready fonts.
If you’re already using Adobe Creative Cloud, you can use Adobe Fonts. You can also take a look at different Type Foundries where you can find unique fonts for your projects.
Consider how your font thickness and letter case relate to your audience
When I was at Shillington, we had to make meditation pamphlets. Back then, I foolishly decided to use a heavy font and all-caps for the titles.
Some people might like it, but generally, if people are looking for peace and mindfulness, they’re not going to be drawn to thick typography in all-caps. The opposite would speak more to them. Thinking about type sizes and the weight of typography is extremely important for the look and feel of your work, as well as which audience you are speaking to.
Note: Never use all-caps for body text.
Use size to create a typographic hierarchy
Not only is thickness and letter case important when thinking about your audience, but the size of your typography also plays a crucial role to establish visual hierarchy.
Think about newspapers and brochures. In terms of typographic hierarchy, the headline is always the biggest and most prominent. It’s wider than the entire text in the article and attracts the most attention. What word, message, or element within your work do you want to emphasize the most? What kind of hierarchy do you want to establish?
Create contrast by pairing fonts
When it comes to font selection and pairing fonts, contrast is key. A good starting point is by selecting a unique Display, Script, or Serif font in combination with a clean Sans Serif font. From here, you can experiment with different font weights and spacing between words and letters to see what looks best.
Effective font pairing is a key element of typography design. For this, I often go to websites like FontsInUse which showcases different font pairings used in the real world.
You can also take a look at Typewolf, which helps designers choose the perfect typography combination for their next project.
If you are ever unsure of what typefaces you are interested in, you can go to WhatTheFont to find the best typography match for the photo of the font that you upload. You can also download their app on the App Store or Google Play store on your phone to quickly identify fonts with your camera.
Ultimately, the more you study typography styles and experiment with them in your projects, the more you will become aware of what works and what doesn’t.
Establish consistency by pairing your type with other elements
The poster above was a poster I made for my poster challenge that reached the most amount of people on Instagram. Why did it do so well?
There are a lot of factors that go into why this may be: the timing of when I posted it, the message, etc. However, visually speaking, my hunch is that the typography that I chose in combination with the other elements has a lot to do with it.
The thin lines pair perfectly with the lines I used to create a window, plus the 90-degree angles within the font also reflect that of a window pane.
Imagine if I would have used a thick Sans Serif font on this poster. I’m sure it wouldn’t have reached nearly as many people, simply because there is a lack of attention to detail and no pairing of elements.
These may seem like small details, but they make a huge difference. Consider how the typography you choose reflects other elements within your work!
Use tracking, leading, and kerning to create breathability (or the opposite)
Something I was introduced to at Shillington was tracking, leading, and kerning. What’s the difference?
Kerning: Individual spacing between letters.
Tracking: Overall spacing between letters in a word.
Leading: The line spacing between words on different lines.
Experiment with these different techniques to create breathability (or the opposite) between words and letters.
Note: the general rule is that the leading should be two points bigger than the font size for the most ideal spacing between words.
Create contrast with a white background
When designing typographic posters, starting with a white background and black text is always a good idea. Not only does this create contrast right off the bat, but it ensures the legibility of the letters as well.
Once you’ve completed your typographic design in black and white, you can then add color, texture, and other elements.
Create tension with white space
Consider the layout of your design project by using white space to create tension.
Using white space correctly creates focal points in all the right places. So if there is an element or typeface that you want to emphasize, it might be a good idea to use this to your advantage.
Use multiple artboards to compare different versions
Although I would only be creating one poster a day for my challenge, something that I always did was use multiple artboards to compare different variations of my poster.
As you move along, you’ll see your progress and feel encouraged to continue designing. Alternatively, if you see that a previous version was better, you can easily go back to that artboard.
Further your message with movable type
If you want to take your typography poster to the next level, why not experiment with animation? It’s another way to expand your creativity and further your message with type.
You can participate in different typography challenges on social media (for example, 36 Days of Type) and exercise your animation muscle.
When I participated in this challenge, it was the first time I had ever really used Adobe After Effects. To my surprise, it was a lot easier than I thought it would be to create complicated-looking animations. Once I knew the basics, it opened a whole new world of effects I could apply to my typography.
Use unique display typography to draw people in
Display typography captures a specific mood and/or time period. Since each display font is unique, it can be used to attract people to your work.
To choose the right display type for your project, it’s important to understand the message of your work. Once this has been determined, you can use the characteristics of a display font to reflect that message.
For example, bold and round fonts are commonly employed as the visual representation of playfulness and friendliness. Similarly, thin and soft letterforms can be seen as sophisticated and sincere.
Use typography to establish a mood
Typography helps highlight the mood of a poster without the need to explain itself.
Here is an example of how typography can be used as a way to express confinement and anxiety during the pandemic:
These kinds of typographic techniques enhance the emotional aspects of the work.
Effectively combine images and typography to send a message
Another one of my more popular poster designs was one that I made for International Women’s Day. The typography is prominent to reflect the boldness and resilience of women, yet the type takes a bit of a backseat as the woman who is flying is the central focal point.
If you want to send a message that resonates with people, the first thing you’re going to have to do is some self-reflection. What messages do you feel passionate about that you can convey in your work? Once you’ve determined that, how can you combine imagery and typography within your work to create emphasis and further your message?
What’s your favorite font to use in your designs? If you don’t have a go-to typeface yet, find some new and interesting ones online. However, try and avoid using as many fonts as possible in your design. Instead, find the right one or two that will help you communicate your message effectively.
Once you find those perfect fonts, you can use them to establish the design fundamentals we talking about to help make sure your typographic poster looks great and communicates its message effectively.
Guest author biography
Janine Heinrichs is a design & marketing coach, graphic designer, and blogger. She writes about how to become a graphic designer without a degree at janinedesignsdaily.com. Find her as @janinedesigns on Instagram and Tik Tok.
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Typography Poster Design Concepts
A typography poster is a powerful way to showcase design skills and creativity. It involves using text as the primary or sole element to communicate messages, convey moods, and tell stories. Here's a breakdown of the concepts used in this article:
Types of Typography: The five types of typography include:
- Serif: Fonts with strokes added to the ends of letterforms that go from thin to thick.
- Sans Serif: Uniform fonts with consistent stroke and weight.
- Script: Cursive fonts with less structure, seen as more graceful and expressive.
- Display: Unique and expressive fonts often used as headlines.
- Monospaced: Typography with a fixed width for each letter.
Typography Poster Design: A typography poster is a design that primarily uses text, arranged in various ways and including different fonts, sizes, and colors. It can be used to communicate simple messages, tell stories, or convey specific moods. Typography posters can be created using hand-lettering, traditional printmaking, or digital design.
Design Fundamentals for Typography Posters:
- Contrast: Optimum visual appeal requires an understanding of design fundamentals such as contrast, hierarchy, negative space, and tension.
- Font Selection: Choosing fonts wisely is crucial. Online resources like Wordmark, Google Fonts, Adobe Fonts, and Type Foundries can help in font selection.
- Typography Hierarchy: Using size to create a typographic hierarchy is important for emphasizing specific elements within the design.
- Font Pairing: Pairing fonts to create contrast is key. Websites like FontsInUse and Typewolf can help in choosing the perfect typography combination.
- Consistency: Pairing type with other elements and establishing consistency is essential for effective typography poster design.
- Spacing and Breathability: Experimenting with tracking, leading, and kerning to create breathability between words and letters is important.
- White Space and Tension: Using white space to create tension and focal points is crucial for effective design.
- Combining Images and Typography: Effectively combining images and typography to send a message is a powerful technique in typography poster design.
- Establishing Mood: Typography can be used to establish the mood of a poster without the need for explanation.
Conclusion: Finding the right fonts and using them to establish design fundamentals is crucial for creating effective typographic posters. It's important to avoid using too many fonts and instead focus on finding the right one or two that effectively communicate the intended message.
Guest author biography: Janine Heinrichs is a design & marketing coach, graphic designer, and blogger, known for her insights on becoming a graphic designer without a degree.
Feel free to ask if you have any specific questions about typography poster design or related topics!