Lesson Ten

When working on your yearbook, typography should be thought of as part of the design. It’s easy to focus primarily on photography and page layout without realizing the importance of typography. Understanding when different styles of type should be used can be a challenge, so we’ve gathered some information to help you and your yearbook committee succeed in the world of type!

Getting to know type

In order to understand how to use type, you first need to understand the basics.  Here are a few terms and descriptions relating to typography.

Four primary classifications of type – serif, sans-serif, script, and decorative.


1. Serif – Serif type is type with small lines attached to the ends of each letter or symbol. A well-known serif font is Times New Roman. Serif fonts are often used for large bodies of text because they are thought to be easier to read. Serif fonts are commonly used with print materials, like yearbooks, to increase legibility.


2. Sans serif – Sans serif type does not have projecting features at the end of each letter or symbol. In French, sans means without; just remember, “without” serif.  A well-known sans serif font is Helvetica. Sans serif fonts are commonly used on the web because they are more legible on low resolution screens than serif fonts. In print forms, like yearbooks, sans serif fonts are commonly used for headlines.


3. Script – Script type is based on the fluidity of handwriting. Script ranges from loose handwriting fonts to flowing elegant fonts. Script fonts are mostly used for headlines, as they can be difficult to read in large bodies of text. Recently, script fonts have become more popular.


4. Decorative – Decorative type is used for ornamental purposes. You can find several free decorative fonts on websites like dafont.com and fontsquirrel.com. Decorative fonts should also only be used for headlines. Decorative fonts have the ability to add an extra special touch to designs if they are not overused.


Type Families – Type families consist of variations of a typeface. Some typefaces have variations of weights within them, creating type families. Using a type family that has different variations of weights will allow you to have diversity in your design while also retaining unity. Variation is important in typography, but ideally it’s best to use no more than 3 different fonts on a page or design. This can be challenging, so using a font family with different variations is an easy solution to fulfill your need for diversity.


Kerning – Kerning is adjusting the space between letters. Sometimes the automatic spacing of letters is a little off or unbalanced depending on the word you are using. Kerning the letters will allow you to fix that unbalance. In the image above the kerning was adjusted between letters so that the r and the g no longer touched the n’s.


Tracking – Tracking is adjusting the space evenly through a whole word or line of text. Tracking performs the same job as kerning, but does it evenly through the word instead of adjusting the spacing of individual letters. Tracking like the image above would be done for headlines rather than body text. Tracking a body of text like the image might decrease readability.


Leading – Leading is adjusting the space between lines of text. Adjusting the leading of lines of text is important when lines need to be spread out or compressed together in order to increase readability.

Keep these basics of typography in mind and your yearbook committee will be pros in no time! Don’t forget to follow us on pinterest, where we continuously pin tips on typography and other yearbook designing knowledge.

Here’s a Typography Quiz your students can take on the terms we covered and a Key for you  to check their answers!