Broadly speaking, there are three important stages when working on your design’s typography: type matching, defining hierarchy, and refining.
In the first stage, you find typefaces that convey the message, mood and feeling you want. More importantly, you find multiple typefaces (or styles from the same family) that work well together in a design.
In the second stage, you use the fonts you have to create, well, a hierarchy. You define which specific size, style, weight, placement, etcetera you will use for each level within the hierarchy. Maybe you use an extremely large, but light version of a font for headlines, and a regularly sized one for body text. And perhaps you decide to use blue italic text for comments, or red condensed text for emphasis.
Then, in the third stage, you refine the parameters and properties of your typography (together with design elements around it) to make it fit within a specific design. This means slightly changing the amount of space, or size, or placement, or alignment of the text to make it fit perfectly – like a glove – within a certain part of the design.
None of these stages is more important than the other. Even though refining may seem quick and easy to you, or matching typefaces may seem like a breeze, they should all be executed with the same amount of care and professionalism.
To give a specific answer to this chapter’s main question, typography is the act of using a set of symbols (our alphabet) to convey not only the information they describe, but also the mood and feeling of the content, to strengthen the relationships with other elements within the design, and to improve the aesthetics.
Design, in general, should never rely on arbitrary or whimsical judgments. The words you choose to put in your design are equally important as how you put them into the design. Now, the rest of this course will teach you fundamental concepts and strategies to properly execute all these stages. At the end, when you’ve become all excited about typography, I’ll give some more tips and tricks and outline the whole design process. When it comes to the evolution and history of type, I won’t discuss that; there’s a gigantic amount of information regarding this topic, but it’s not absolutely necessary to know.