Typography and Meaning

In a recent workshop we covered Typography, and the use of it to visually enhance text. As shown in this post on 1stwebdesigner, some examples of typography can be extremely visually striking works of art constructed almost entirely out of the use of words.

After the workshop in my own review of the session I considered the uses of typography, and began considering the effect typography has on meaning that the viewer constructs. Through semiotics one can construct meaning out of symbols, patterns and features in an image or piece of media that is not necessarily word-based, and this is also true for typography – however typography is used with words which also carry their own linguistic meaning.

As such I find typography interesting as there can be different layers to the meaning that the viewer interprets from a piece of typography, assuming they have understanding of both the words and the artistic typography. The design and typography can be used to enhance the meaning of the words that are there through attempting to match this stylistically – a simple example of this below:


However, beyond this typography can also be used to contradict the linguistic meaning of the words used, which can creatively conflict the viewer’s opinions and feelings from a particular piece of typography. A common example is with the use of color as such:


The color on the left contradicts the word, whereas the right side matches color with the correct word. The viewer is to be subconsciously confused by this as their mind interprets both the meaning of blue and red when reading one of the words that is in the incorrect color. I find this to be a more interesting use of typography, where the semiotic meaning the user derives from the typography actually contradicts what the text says.

contradiction2I think use of typography like this is well worth using to achieve a striking or memorable marketing or advertisement campaign due to the contradictions that one can pose by using typography like such.

Reference: Torbjonsen, H. 50 Great Examples of Extremely Awesome Typography [online]. 1stwebdesigner. Available from http://www.1stwebdesigner.com/inspiration/awesome-typography-examples/ [Accessed 19 November 2013].


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