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Lesson Navigation IconLayout Design Settings / Graphical Semiology

Unit Navigation IconMap Size and Scale

Unit Navigation IconDefinition and Organisation of Map Elements

Unit Navigation IconTypography

LO Navigation IconBasics of Font and Typography

LO Navigation IconLegality of Map Fonts

LO Navigation IconTheory of Lettering Maps

LO Navigation IconTypography and Readability on the Screen

LO Navigation IconComputer-Aided Lettering of Maps

LO Navigation IconPlacing Type on a Map

Unit Navigation IconColour Design

Unit Navigation IconReadability Rules

Unit Navigation IconMap Critics

Unit Navigation IconSummary

Unit Navigation IconRecommended Reading

Unit Navigation IconGlossary

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Basics of Font and Typography

After the use of symbolic characters around 3000 BC and the development of syllable fonts in Japan, the first letter fonts in phonetics were used by the Phoenicians around 900 BC, with 22 consonants. The next big step in the development of fonts happened with the up-coming Greek alphabet around 500 BC that also included vowels. Here lies the origin of our alphabet consisting of 26 characters. Following the rapid sequence of epochs, today’s known font style identification and variety were created. As a result of the long history of printing, a separate language was able to be built, which we would like to introduce to you, and remind you of every now and then.

Timeline of Typography

For more detailed information on type history and development see the following optional link that offers a *.pdf file: Klassifikation_Typographie.pdf

You, the designer might chose the font out of a huge amount of types available. Each of them has its own character and its individual expression build on its own aesthetic form. For creating maps you should choose one font family and vary just in-between this specific one. Take into account that type underlies a copyright and that the right of use needs to be acquired.

A detailed and official classification is also available. Please find this information in the attached DIN 16518 norm. Klassifikation nach DIN

If we want to use type, then we also need to be able to identify the different styles of type that we use. An analysis of the type helps direct visual attention. In the animation below, you can examine the different concepts we need to keep in mind in consideration of each letter. Move the mouse over the arrows to get the details of the letter’s anatomy.

Type Notions

To make you able to juggle with letters of different fonts and its terminology, you also need to know the basics of the letter composition and its positioning system. In the following, we will inform you about its notions, measurements and the varying basic forms a font can adopt to meet the complex demands.

Letter Measurements

For official topographic maps, there are specific instructions, which need to be followed on which fonts or type variant is to be chosen. You will need to make a type concept for your project to make sure that the various types will fit together.

Generally, we have to divide fonts by their character into two main groups: The serif or non- or sans-serif. Beneath this we can disregard the remaining group containing other font groups that are not significant for cartography.

In the following we won't concentrate on the type's type's time of origin as in the beginning, but on the attributes of it helping you to identify and differentiate the different types. This detailed treatment should prepare you to use type wisely:

Attributes of Type

Now you will probably be wanting to know when it is best to make use of one or the other type we have just shown you. Optimising the appearance of your product by choosing a special font has the advantage of reaching the customer at the right moment with the right impact.

Font style Usage Effect
Renaissance Roman Classic Literature
Representative printouts
Business reports
Very readable on paper
Hard to read on screen
Baroque Roman Newspapers
Pocket books
Indexes (Times)
Quickly readable on paper
Hard to read on screen
Classicist Roman Certificates
Art books
Decorative brochures
Rich in contrast
Optical strenuous to read
Roman with emphasised serifs = Slab serif Instructions
Brochures (Rockwell)
Short texts
Roman without serifs Forms
Technical books
and brochures
Hard to read on paper
Good to read on screen
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