Some information that I pulled from 'How to Design a Typeface' (2010) written by Elizabeth Willhide for the Design Museum:
Legibility Matters. If you are reading a report, a newspaper or a novel, or working on screen, you don't want to have to work too hard to decode the information you are trying to absorb.
I agree with this to a certain extent. I believe that this applies to things such as medical forms, newspapers, advertisements selling a product. However I believe that in some cases type that is hard to read can become interesting, on a more illustrative approach.
Typefaces speak in different toes of voice. For example the word 'murder' written in Courier may appear to have Police/official document connotations. However the same word written in an Old English typeface could have Victorian/Gothic/horror connotations.
I believe that even with a plain sans-serif typeface, teamed with good graphic and layout in consideration, almost any message can be conveyed. I do not believe that the typeface necessarily always has to reflect the topic of the word completely.
The relationship between type and the surface on which it is displayed operates both at the smallest scale, in the spaces within and between letterforms, and at the largest, in the context of the whole page or double page spread.
Without changing any of the text/content but merely rearranging the layout of the content on the spread can have a huge impact on the message being conveyed. For example a rightwing broadsheet newspaper is more likely to use a very simple an minimal layout, whereas a design magazine may overlap the content/have some elements floating.
Every typeface is in some sense a revival of what has gone before, even where the historical narrative is challenged or reinterpreted. The earliest type copied black-letter, or Gothic, handwriting, the standard script of the medieval period. Subsequent typefaces have reflected their own specific medium, from metal type to screen. Even today when digital processes have seemingly divorced type design from the physical world, the past is still present in letter forms.
This is true as it could be argued that nothing is original - everything is a regurgitation of something else. Even is that exact thing had not been done before, there are sure to be elements of that piece that have been featured elsewhere. This is not a bad thing however, people will always recycle old ideas and within this process we can continue to produce exciting imagery.
© Victoria Malgorzata Grout, all rights reserved