Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

The magic of typography

Published in Nov-Dec 2016
Why it's important to look at typography as not just words but as elements of design and a tool to express art.
There are no graphic images of people wounded by pellet guns or children crying, yet the typography grabs attention and delivers the message.
There are no graphic images of people wounded by pellet guns or children crying, yet the typography grabs attention and delivers the message.

What is typography? It is the art and technique of arranging type to make the written word legible, readable and appealing when displayed. The arrangement of type involves selecting typefaces, point sizes, line lengths, line spacing (leading) and letter-spacing (tracking), and adjusting the space between pairs of letters, blah blah blah…

Before you turn the page, this is not what we are going to talk about. You won’t feel like you are in a classroom in your art or business school, and nor am

I going to be the professor who reads out excerpts from a ‘famous typography’ book giving you the most ‘ratti rataiee’ lines you have been listening to since the day you became familiar with the term. What I will do is go through what most of us might not know or have been neglecting about the magic and the power of typography.

According to Emil Ruder, the distinguished Swiss typographer and graphic designer,

“Typography has one plain duty before it, and that is to convey information in writing. No argument or consideration can absolve typography from this duty. A printed work which cannot be read becomes a product without a purpose.”

Regrettably, since the day I entered into this field, almost everyone I came across admired the work of world famous typographers by uttering comments limited to “Check kar yaar... ye hota hai kaam... goray buhat agey hain yaar”.

Yet, when it comes to applying this to the work we do for our clients, what we hear is “Yaar ye buhat acha hai, but hamari industry ready nahin hai is kay liye.”

What really gets on my stress-deteriorated nerves is that for some people, typography is just the mere rearrangement of Helvetica – the one and only font our industry knows.

Typography is way beyond Helvetica, or any other font for that matter. It is not about the arrangement of letters; it is about how one shapes and uses them to express an idea. This reminds me of a quote by Eric Gill, an English typeface designer, widely known as the man behind the world-renowned font ‘Gill Sans’. He said, “Letters are things, not pictures of things.”


Typography (also called wordplay) gives you the freedom to do what we have always been told to do by our bosses and our clients, which is to “think out of the box”. And the best part is that our industry has not explored this aspect much, therefore any interesting step taken towards typography will definitely receive a thumbs up from our bosses and our clients as well.


We look at typography as words and not as elements of design, a tool to express art.

When we get to our canvas to design the elements for a campaign, the only role we assign to type is to play with the caption or body copy. Yet, the role of typography is much broader and we literally do not need a visual if we play with a type or a letter well.

Take the example of ‘KASHHHMIR’ (see illustration); there are no visual or graphic images of people wounded by pellet guns, or children crying. Yet, it has sufficient impact to grab one’s attention and deliver the message in a minimalistic way. (Talking about minimalism, for those of my friends who like saying “yaar yeh layout buhat khali hai, thoray colours daal, image daal, yeh daal woh daal... sorry peeps, it’s time we evolve. I am here to remind our masterminds what they know, but haven’t practised yet.)

Typography (also called wordplay) gives you the freedom to do what we have always been told to do by our bosses and our clients, which is to “think out of the box”. And the best part is that our industry has not explored this aspect much, therefore any interesting step taken towards typography will definitely receive a thumbs up from our bosses and our clients as well.


“Typography needs to be audible. Typography needs to be felt. Typography needs to be experienced.”

— Helmut Schmid, Germany-based typographer


One does not have to be a master craftsman of calligraphy to manipulate typography. All you need is a good eye, a creative mind and the imagination to come up with your own masterpiece.

A quote from the German typographer Helmut Schmid suddenly popped up in my mind. He said, “Typography needs to be audible. Typography needs to be felt. Typography needs to be experienced.”

Typography is all about catching the drift and spotting an idea that already exists.

You may all have heard the saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words,” yet when it comes to typography I can bet that if played intelligently a single letter or a word could be worth a hundred thousand words. All you have to do is believe and work with the “magic and power of typography.”

I would like to sign out with a quote from one of this era’s bestselling authors, Seth Godin, “If you are willing to do something that might not work, you are closer to being an artist.”

Owais Riaz is Senior Creative Manager, Circuit DraftFCB. owais.riaz01@hotmail.com

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Bupi Feb 01, 2017 11:27pm

Kashmir ? What to say when Other part of Pakistan have no faith on each other. Only to probe Pakistan's Unity . Regarding pallet Guns they are not as harmful as the way men In uniform use angast