Jen Mussari


Oh, you mean Lettering...

Jen Mussari
Typography?!      Oh, uh, excuse me   I think you mean   Lettering...

Typography?! Oh, uh, excuse me I think you mean Lettering...

I made a stupid meme-thing because I have about had it up to here with all the dingbats on the Internet who use the word "Typography" interchangeably with "Lettering." I mean, we're designers so let's get the words right! Words are super important to our profession, right? Guys?

Okay, c'mon, though, let's be real. I almost never correct people to this common mishap in real life. If a client who works in music, for instance, tells me that he loves the fonts I use, I say "Thank you, I'm so glad you like my lettering." Now, if he asks to buy those fonts so he can use them, however, we're going to have a brief info session.

Lettering is not typography. Typography is not lettering. They are related, yes, but different in crucial ways. Internet pal Joseph Alessio did a ton more work than I am willing to do in this essay, Understanding the Difference Between Type and Lettering and so did Stephen Coles in this essay, Lettering is Not Type if you wanted to read some actual, worthwhile information on this issue that so irrationally enrages me. Most people do not need to know this. But if you call yourself a designer, art director, or creative director; if you work in publishing or even fancy yourself a lettering artist, you should probably know what these words actually mean.

I hate analogies because mine are always bad (literally always, every time), but here we go's like paying for an expensive sweater from a designer store, or paying for someone to hand-knit you an expensive sweater. They might cost the same, and heck there's a chance they might even look the same. But the process is crucial. (I told you my analogies are bad. But I swear I know this one chick who basically only wears handmade sweaters. That's pretty much me but instead of handmade sweaters it's handmade lettering...I guess.)

Free fonts are like the nasty sweater made out of who-knows-what in who-knows-what-country that you get from Forever21 which gets holes all in it if you dare to put it in the washing machine. Let's not even go there.

But basically: Lettering = illustrations of letters. Typography = systems of letters.

So don't be a dingus; use the right words! And feel free to send this condescending little gentleman out into the world if you, too, see fit.