Emotional Type

In the book Mastering Type, Denise Bosler teaches you everything you need to know about the art and science of typography. You’ll find this book along with Bosler’s independent study on the topic, design tutorial 6 Steps to Better Web Typography, Type Idea Index and Typographic Milestones all for one low price (save 66%) in the Mastering Typography Ultimate Collection.

 Enjoy this excerpt from Mastering Type that dives into the emotions conveyed by type choices. 

Emotional Type

Emotions that spring from seeing words can be quite powerful. Sometimes the emotion moves someone to buy a product. Other times it causes them to feel a personal connection to a brand or to feel confident in a service. When this occurs, it’s called utilizing the font’s connotation. Connotation is the idea or feeling the typography invokes in a person, as opposed to denotation, which is the literal meaning of the word. For example, the denotation of the word cat is a small animal with four legs, whiskers and a tail. The connotation of the word varies depending on the font choice. The words kitty cat set in Spookhouse conjure up a vision of a black cat on Halloween, while the same words set in Bellevue give the feeling of a sophisticated Persian. Fontesque conveys a fun-loving alley cat, and Pizzicato reminds a viewer more of whiskers in general than any particular cat.

Conveying the correct connotation for words is just as important as the words themselves. Choosing the wrong font can be disastrous. A bakery would no sooner use a grunge-inspired sans serif than a heavy metal band would use a swash-laden script. It would convey the wrong meaning. The bakery could be assumed to make cakes that are ugly and tasteless, while the heavy metal band might be seen as a group that plays more ballads than rock.

Connotation, however, is subjective. “Happy” to one person may be best represented by Curlz, but to another person it may be Baskerville. You may have a client who wants the design to have a professional feel. In the designer’s eyes, professional may mean a sans serif typeface that is very geometric, whereas to the client, professional may mean a serif typeface with an architectural look. It is important to clearly understand the connotation a client wants to convey before beginning a design to ensure you meet the client’s goals.


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  • Mastering Type by Denise Bosler
  • Mastering Typography Independent Study Workshop
  • 6 Steps to Better Typography Design Tutorial
  • Books Type Idea Index and Typographic Milestones

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