Expressive Typography

One of my favorite things about design is typography. One can do so much with it–and yet so many pay little attention to it. John Berry’s Dot Font column on is a great source for those of us who love typography. This particular article shows great examples of how type and type alone can be used to compose a great design. I like that he opens with a piece by Herb Lubalin, who I think is great. he looked at type like nobody else did before or after.

Examples from newspapers, books, advertising, and fine art show amazing uses of expressive typography. In these examples it’s hard to imagine the type placed anywhere else or doing something else. Expressive typography can inject meaning to the design, offer visual puns, be used as texture, reinforce the meaning of the words in the design, or simply exist as art.

Although there is no specific standard to using type in an expressive way, the result looks like it was very easy to do because it looks so natural. This is not the case. Designs that use type in an expressive way can range from requiring a modest assessment of the purpose of the design in order to take a direction with the expressive type–to requiring extensive research and experimentation to meet the goals of the design. It can be a lot of fun too. Expressive type allows us to use (sometimes) type in ways that type is traditionally not used. We can use principles like repetition, anomaly, placement, and kerning.

Sample courtesy of

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