Typography

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"Typographer" redirects here. For the Typographer brand typewriter, see Typographer (typewriter).
Not to be confused with topography or typology (disambiguation).
In philately "typography", especially in the case of 19th century stamps, refers to letterpress printing.1
Specimen of Trajan typeface, based on the letter forms of capitalis monumentalis or Roman square capitals, as used for the inscription at the base of Trajan's Column from which the typeface takes its name

Typography (from the Greek words τύπος typos "form" and γράφειν graphein "to write") is the art and technique of arranging type in order to make the language it forms most appealing to transparent learning and recognition. The arrangement of type involves the selection of typefaces, point size, line length, leading (line spacing), adjusting the spaces between groups of letters (tracking) and adjusting the space between pairs of letters (kerning2). Type design is a closely related craft, which some consider distinct and others a part of typography; most typographers do not design typefaces, and some type designers do not consider themselves typographers.34 In modern times, typography has been put into motion—in film, television and online broadcasts—to add emotion to mass communication.5

Typography is performed by typesetters, compositors, typographers, graphic designers, art directors, manga artists, comic book artists, graffiti artists, clerical workers, and anyone else who arranges type for a product. Until the Digital Age, typography was a specialized occupation. Digitization opened up typography to new generations of visual designers and lay users, and David Jury, Head of Graphic Design at Colchester Institute in England, states that "typography is now something everybody does."6

History

Printing press, 16th century in Germany

Typography traces its origins to the first punches and dies used to make seals and currency in ancient times. The uneven spacing of the impressions on brick stamps found in the Mesopotamian cities of Uruk and Larsa, dating from the 2nd millennium BC, may have been evidence of type where the reuse of identical characters were applied to create cuneiform text.7 Babylonian cylinder seals were used to create an impression on a surface by rolling the seal on wet clay.8 Typography was also realized in the Phaistos Disc, an enigmatic Minoan print item from Crete, Greece, which dates between 1850 and 1600 BC.91011 It has been proposed that Roman lead pipe inscriptions were created by movable type printing,121314 but German typographer Herbert Brekle recently dismissed this view.15

The essential criterion of type identity was met by medieval print artifacts such as the Latin Pruefening Abbey inscription of 1119 that was created by the same technique as the Phaistos disc.16171819 The silver altarpiece of patriarch Pellegrinus II (1195−1204) in the cathedral of Cividale was printed with individual letter punches.202122 The same printing technique can apparently be found in 10th to 12th century Byzantine reliquaries.2321 Individual letter tiles where the words are formed by assembling single letter tiles in the desired order were reasonably widespread in medieval Northern Europe.2425

Typography with movable type was invented in 11th-century China by Bi Sheng (990–1051) during the Song Dynasty.26 His movable type system was manufactured from ceramic materials, and clay type printing continued to be practiced in China until the Qing Dynasty. Wang Zhen was one of the pioneers of wooden movable type. Although the wooden type was more durable under the mechanical rigors of handling, repeated printing wore the character faces down, and the types could only be replaced by carving new pieces.27 Metal type was first invented in Korea during the Goryeo Dynasty around 1230. Hua Sui introduced bronze type printing to China in 1490 AD. However, the diffusion of both movable-type systems was limited and the technology did not spread beyond East Asia.28

Modern movable type, along with the mechanical printing press, is most often attributed to the goldsmith Johannes Gutenberg, who independently invented the technology in mid-15th century Germany.29303132 His type pieces from a lead-based alloy suited printing purposes so well that the alloy is still used today.33 Gutenberg developed specialized techniques for casting and combining cheap copies of letterpunches in the vast quantities required to print multiple copies of texts.34 This technical breakthrough was instrumental in starting the Printing Revolution and printing the world's first book (with movable type) the Gutenberg Bible.

Computer technology revolutionized typography in the 20th century. Personal computers in the 1980s like the Macintosh allowed type designers to create types digitally using commercial graphic design software. Digital technology also enabled designers to create more experimental typefaces, alongside the practical fonts of traditional typography. Designs for typefaces could be created faster with the new technology, and for more specific functions.8 The cost for developing typefaces was drastically lowered, becoming widely available to the masses. The change has been called the "democratization of type" and has given new designers more opportunities to enter the field.35

Scope

In contemporary use, the practice and study of typography is very broad, covering all aspects of letter design and application, both mechanical (typesetting and type design) and manual (handwriting and calligraphy). Typography can appear in a wide variety of situations, including:

Since digitization, typography has spread to a wider ranger of applications, appearing on web pages, LCD mobile phone screens, and hand-held video games.

Traditional typography follows four principles: repetition, contrast, proximity,disambiguation needed and alignment.citation needed

Text typography

Caslon, William, Roman typefaces (specimen) .

In traditional typography, text is composed to create a readable, coherent, and visually satisfying whole that works invisibly, without the awareness of the reader. Even distribution of typeset material, with a minimum of distractions and anomalies, is aimed at producing clarity and transparency.

Choice of typeface(s) is the primary aspect of text typography—prose fiction, non-fiction, editorial, educational, religious, scientific, spiritual and commercial writing all have differing characteristics and requirements of appropriate typefaces and fonts. For historic material established text typefaces are frequently chosen according to a scheme of historical genre acquired by a long process of accretion, with considerable overlap between historical periods.

Contemporary books are more likely to be set with state-of-the-art seriffed "text romans" or "book romans" with design values echoing present-day design arts, which are closely based on traditional models such as those of Nicolas Jenson, Francesco Griffo (a punchcutter who created the model for Aldine typefaces), and Claude Garamond. With their more specialized requirements, newspapers and magazines rely on compact, tightly fitted seriffed text fonts specially designed for the task, which offer maximum flexibility, readability and efficient use of page space. Sans serif text fonts are often used for introductory paragraphs, incidental text and whole short articles. A current fashion is to pair sans-serif type for headings with a high-performance seriffed font of matching style for the text of an article.

Typography is modulated by orthography and linguistics, word structures, word frequencies, morphology, phonetic constructs and linguistic syntax. Typography is also subject to specific cultural conventions. For example, in French it is customary to insert a non-breaking space before a colon (:) or semicolon (;) in a sentence, while in English it is not.

Color

Main article: Type color

In typography, color is the overall density of the ink on the page, determined mainly by the typeface, but also by the word spacing, leading and depth of the margins.37 Text layout, tone or color of the set text, and the interplay of text with the white space of the page in combination with other graphic elements impart a "feel" or "resonance" to the subject matter. With printed media typographers are also concerned with binding margins, paper selection and printing methods when determining the correct color of the page.

Readability and legibility

Legibility is primarily the concern of the typeface designer, to ensure that each individual character or glyph is unambiguous and distinguishable from all other characters in the font. Legibility is also in part the concern of the typographer to select a typeface with appropriate clarity of design for the intended use at the intended size. An example of a well-known design, Brush Script, contains a number of illegible letters, since many of the characters can be easily misread especially if seen out of textual context.

Readability is primarily the concern of the typographer or information designer. It is the intended result of the complete process of presentation of textual material in order to communicate meaning as unambiguously as possible. A reader should be assisted in navigating around the information with ease, by optimal inter-letter, inter-word and particularly inter-line spacing, coupled with appropriate line length and position on the page, careful editorial “chunking” and choice of the text architecture of titles, folios, and reference links.

Text typeset in Iowan Old Style roman, italics and small caps, optimized at approximately 10 words per line, typeface sized at 14 points on 1.4 × leading, with 0.2 points extra tracking. Extract of an essay by Oscar Wilde The English Renaissance of Art c. 1882.

The two concepts are distinguished by Walter Tracy in Letters of Credit: these ‘two aspects of a type’ are

fundamental to its effectiveness. Because the common meaning of “legible” is “readable” there are those – even some professionally involved in typography – who think that the term “legibility” is all that is needed in any discussion on the effectiveness of types. However, legibility and readability are separate, though connected aspects of type. Properly understood… the two terms can help to describe the character and function of type more precisely than legibility alone. … In typography we need to draw the definition… of legibility… to mean the quality of being decipherable and recognisable – so that we can say, for example, that the lowercase h in a particular old style italic is not legible in small sizes because its in-turned leg makes it look like the letter b; or a figure 3 in a classified advertisement is too similar to the 8. … In display sizes, legibility ceases to be a serious matter; a character that causes uncertainty at 8 point size is plain enough at 24 point.38

Note that the above applies to people with 20/20 vision at appropriate reading distance and under optimal lighting. The analogy of an opticians chart, testing for visual acuity and independent of meaning, is useful to indicate the scope of the concept of legibility.

In typography… if the columns of a newspaper or magazine or the pages of a book can be read for many minutes at a time without strain or difficulty, then we can say the type has good readability. The term describes the quality of visual comfort – an important requirement in the comprehension of long stretches of text but, paradoxically, not so important in such things as telephone directories or air-line time-tables, where the reader is not reading continuously but searching for a single item of information. The difference in the two aspects of visual effectiveness is illustrated by the familiar argument on the suitability of sans-serif types for text setting. The characters in a particular sans-serif face may be perfectly legible in themselves, but no one would think of setting a popular novel in it because its readability is low.39

Legibility ‘refers to perception’ and readability ‘refers to comprehension’.39 Typographers aim to achieve excellence in both.

"The typeface chosen should be legible. That is, it should be read without effort. Sometimes legibility is simply a matter of type size; more often, however, it is a matter of typeface design. In general, typefaces that are true to the basic letterforms are more legible than typefaces that have been condensed, expanded, embellished, or abstracted.

However, even a legible typeface can become unreadable through poor setting and placement, just as a less legible typeface can be made more readable through good design.40

Studies of both legibility and readability have examined a wide range of factors including type size and type design. For example, comparing serif vs. sans-serif type, roman type vs. oblique type and italic type, line length, line spacing, color contrast, the design of right-hand edge (for example, justification, straight right hand edge) vs. ranged left, and whether text is hyphenated.

Legibility research has been published since the late nineteenth century. Although there are often commonalities and agreement on many topics, others often create poignant areas of conflict and variation of opinion. For example, no one has provided a conclusive answer as to which font, serifed or sans serif, provides the most legibility according to Alex Poole.41

Other topics such as justified vs unjustified type, use of hyphens, and proper fonts for people with reading difficulties such as dyslexia, have continued to be subjects of debate. Websites such as Hgrebdes,42 Ban Comic Sans,43 UK National Literacy Trust,44 and Mark Simsonson Studio45 have raised debating opinions on the above subjects and many more each presenting a thorough and well-organized position.

Legibility is usually measured through speed of reading, with comprehension scores used to check for effectiveness (that is, not a rushed or careless read). For example, Miles Tinker, who published numerous studies from the 1930s to the 1960s, used a speed of reading test that required participants to spot incongruous words as an effectiveness filter.

The Readability of Print Unit at the Royal College of Art under Professor Herbert Spencer with Brian Coe and Linda Reynolds46 did important work in this area and was one of the centres that revealed the importance of the saccadic rhythm of eye movement for readability—in particular, the ability to take in (i.e., recognise the meaning of groups of) around three words at once and the physiognomy of the eye, which means the eye tires if the line required more than 3 or 4 of these saccadic jumps. More than this is found to introduce strain and errors in reading (e.g. Doubling).

These days, legibility research tends to be limited to critical issues, or the testing of specific design solutions (for example, when new typefaces are developed). Examples of critical issues include typefaces for people with visual impairment, and typefaces for highway signs, or for other conditions where legibility may make a key difference.

Much of the legibility research literature is somewhat atheoretical—various factors were tested individually or in combination (inevitably so, as the different factors are interdependent), but many tests were carried out in the absence of a model of reading or visual perception. Some typographers believe that the overall word shape (Bouma) is very important in readability, and that the theory of parallel letterwise recognition is either wrong, less important, or not the entire picture.

Studies distinguishing between Bouma recognition and parallel letterwise recognition with regard to how people actually recognize words when they read, have favored parallel letterwise recognition, which is widely accepted by cognitive psychologists.citation needed

Some commonly agreed findings of legibility research include:citation needed

  • Text set in lower case is more legible than text set all in upper case (capitals), presumably because lower case letter structures and word shapes are more distinctive.
  • Extenders (ascenders, descenders and other projecting parts) increase salience (prominence).
  • Regular upright type (roman type) is found to be more legible than italic type.
  • Contrast, without dazzling brightness, has also been found to be important, with black on yellow/cream being most effective.
  • Positive images (e.g. black on white) are easier to read than negative or reversed (e.g. white on black). However even this commonly accepted practice has some exceptions, for example in some cases of disability.44
  • The upper portions of letters play a stronger part than the lower portions in the recognition process.
Text typeset using LaTeX digital typesetting software

Readability can also be compromised by letter-spacing, word spacing, or leading that is too tight or too loose. It can be improved when generous vertical space separates lines of text, making it easier for the eye to distinguish one line from the next, or previous line. Poorly designed fonts and those that are too tightly or loosely fitted can also result in poor legibility.

Typography is an element of all printed material. Periodical publications, especially newspapers and magazines, use typographical elements to achieve an attractive, distinctive appearance, to aid readers in navigating the publication, and in some cases for dramatic effect. By formulating a style guide, a periodical standardizes on a relatively small collection of typefaces, each used for specific elements within the publication, and makes consistent use of type sizes, italic, boldface, large and small capital letters, colors, and other typographic features. Some publications, such as The Guardian and The Economist, go so far as to commission a type designer to create bespoke (custom tailored) typefaces for their exclusive use.

Different periodical publications design their publications, including their typography, to achieve a particular tone or style. For example, USA Today uses a bold, colorful, and comparatively modern style through their use of a variety of typefaces and colors; type sizes vary widely, and the newspaper's name is placed on a colored background. In contrast, The New York Times uses a more traditional approach, with fewer colors, less typeface variation, and more columns.

Especially on the front page of newspapers and on magazine covers, headlines are often set in larger display typefaces to attract attention, and are placed near the masthead.

Evolution of typography

The design of typography has developed alongside the development of typesetting systems.47

Experimental typography

Experimental typography is defined as the unconventional and more artistic approach to setting type. Francis Picabia was a Dada pioneer in the early 20th Century. David Carson is often associated with this movement, particularly for his work in Ray Gun magazine in the 1990s. His work caused an uproar in the design community due to his abandonment of standards in typesetting practices, layout, and design. Experimental typography places emphasis on communicating emotion, rather than on legibility.

Display typography

19th century wanted poster for John Wilkes Booth (the assassin of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln) printed with lead and woodcut type, and incorporating photography.

Display typography is a potent element in graphic design, where there is less concern for readability and more potential for using type in an artistic manner. Type is combined with negative space, graphic elements and pictures, forming relationships and dialog between words and images.

Color and size of type elements are much more prevalent than in text typography. Most display typography exploits type at larger sizes, where the details of letter design are magnified. Color is used for its emotional effect in conveying the tone and nature of subject matter.

Display typography encompasses:

Advertising

Typography has long been a vital part of promotional material and advertising. Designers often use typography to set a theme and mood in an advertisement; for example using bold, large text to convey a particular message to the reader.48 Type is often used to draw attention to a particular advertisement, combined with efficient use of color, shapes and images.49 Today, typography in advertising often reflects a company's brand. Fonts used in advertisements convey different messages to the reader, classical fonts are for a strong personality, while more modern fonts are for a cleaner, neutral look. Bold fonts are used for making statements and attracting attention. In communicating a message, a balance has to be achieved between the visual and the verbal aspects in design. 50 Digital technology in the 20th and 21st centuries has enabled the creation of typefaces for advertising that are more experimental than traditional typefaces.35

Inscriptional and architectural lettering

See also: Epigraphy
A print advertisement for the Encyclopædia Britannica from a 1913 issue of National Geographic

The history of inscriptional lettering is intimately tied to the history of writing, the evolution of letterforms and the craft of the hand. The widespread use of the computer and various etching and sandblasting techniques today has made the hand carved monument a rarity, and the number of letter-carvers left in the USA continues to dwindle.

For monumental lettering to be effective it must be considered carefully in its context. Proportions of letters need to be altered as their size and distance from the viewer increases. An expert letterer gains understanding of these nuances through much practice and observation of their craft. Letters drawn by hand and for a specific project have the possibility of being richly specific and profoundly beautiful in the hand of a master. Each can also take up to an hour to carve,citation needed so it is no wonder that the automated sandblasting process has become the industry standard.

To create a sandblasted letter, a rubber mat is laser cut from a computer file and glued to the stone. The sand then bites a coarse groove or channel into the exposed surface. Unfortunately, many of the computer applications that create these files and interface with the laser cutter do not have many typefaces available, and often have inferior versions of typefaces that are available.citation needed What can now be done in minutes, however, lacks the striking architecture and geometry of the chisel-cut letter that allows light to play across its distinct interior planes.citation needed

See also

Supporting organizations

Notes

  1. ^ Kloetzel 2010, p. 34A.
  2. ^ Bringhurst, Robert. The Elements of Typographic Style, version 3.1. Canada: Hartley & Marks, 2005. pp. 32.
  3. ^ Pipes 1997, p. 40.
  4. ^ Berry, John, Being a Typographer, Creative pro .
  5. ^ Blagodarskiy, Vas, Kinetic Typography and Mass Communications .
  6. ^ Jury, David (2006). What is Typography?. Mies, Switzerland: Rotovision. p. 63. ISBN 2-88046-822-1. 
  7. ^ Marzahn, Joachim (2010). Aramaic and Figural Stamp Impressions on Bricks of the Sixth Century B.C. from Babylon. Harrassowitz Verlag. pp. 11, 20, 160. ISBN 978-3-447-06184-1. ""the latter has cuneiform signs that look as if made with a movable type, and impressions from Assur display the same phenomenon" 
  8. ^ a b Busic-Snyder, Cynthia (2012). A Typographic Workbook: A Primer to History, Techniques, and Artistry. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 4, 123. ISBN 978-1-118-39988-0. 
  9. ^ Brekle 1997, pp. 60f.
  10. ^ Schwartz 1959, p. 107.
  11. ^ Diamond 1997.
  12. ^ Lanciani 1881, p. 416.
  13. ^ Pace 1986, p. 78.
  14. ^ Hodge 1992, pp. 310f.
  15. ^ Brekle 2010, p. 19.
  16. ^ Brekle 2005, pp. 22–25.
  17. ^ Brekle 1997, pp. 62f.
  18. ^ Lehmann-Haupt 1940, pp. 96f.
  19. ^ Hupp 1906, pp. 185f., fig.
  20. ^ Lipinsky 1986, pp. 78–80.
  21. ^ a b Koch 1994, p. 213.
  22. ^ Brekle 2011.
  23. ^ Lipinsky 1986, p. 78.
  24. ^ Brekle 1997, pp. 61f.
  25. ^ Lehmann-Haupt 1940, p. 97.
  26. ^ Needham, Joseph (1994). The Shorter Science and Civilisation in China, Volume 4. Cambridge University Press. p. 14. ISBN 9780521329958. "Bi Sheng... who first devised, about 1045, the art of printing with movable type" 
  27. ^ Tsien, Tsuen-Hsuin (1985). Paper and Printing. Needham, Joseph Science and Civilization in China:. vol. 5 part 1. Cambridge University Press. pp. 201–217. ISBN 0-521-08690-6. 
  28. ^ Ch'on 1993, p. 19.
  29. ^ McLuhan 1962.
  30. ^ Eisenstein 1980.
  31. ^ Febvre & Martin 1997.
  32. ^ Man 2002.
  33. ^ "Printing", Encyclopædia Britannica, 2006  .
  34. ^ Dowding, Geoffrey. An Introduction to the History of Printing Types. London:Oak Knoll Press, 1998. pp. 3.
  35. ^ a b Rothenberg, Randall (July 23, 1990). "Computers Change the Face of Type". New York Times. 
  36. ^ Typogeography of Bangladesh .
  37. ^ Eckersley 1994, p. 22: ‘A page is said to have good color if forms an even mass of gray. Squint at the page, and you will see this.’
  38. ^ Tracy 1986, pp. 30–31.
  39. ^ a b Tracy 1986, p. 31.
  40. ^ Craig & Scala 2006, p. 63.
  41. ^ Poole, Alex, Literature review .
  42. ^ Hgrebdes - Colour Text Readability .
  43. ^ Ban Comic sans .
  44. ^ a b Writing clearly, UK: National Literacy Trust .
  45. ^ Simsonson, Mark, Articles .
  46. ^ Reynolds 1988.
  47. ^ Rob Carter, Ben Day, Philip B. Meggs Typographic Design: Form and Communication -- 2012 Page 125 "It is the earliest mechanization of a handicraft: the handlettering of books. Typographic design has been closely bound to the evolution of technology, for the capabilities and limitations of typesetting systems have posed constraints upon the design process."
  48. ^ Stanley, Thomas Blaine. The Technique of Advertising Production. New York: Prentice-Hall, 1940. pp. 40.
  49. ^ Stanley, Thomas Blaine. The Technique of Advertising Production. New York: Prentice-Hall, 1940.
  50. ^ Glaser, C. Knight, J. When Typography Speaks Louder Than Words. April 13th, 2012.

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  • Warde, Beatrice (2000), "The Crystal Goblet, or Printing Should Be Invisible", in Swanson, Gunnar, Graphic Design and Reading: explorations of an uneasy relationship, New York: Allworth Press, ISBN 1-58115-063-6 .
  • White, Alex W (1999), Type in Use – Effective typography for electronic publishing (pbk) (2.0 ed.), New York: WW Norton & Co, ISBN 0-393-73034-4 .
  • Lexique des règles typographiques en usage à l'Imprimerie nationale Lexic of the typographic rules used at the National press (in French), French: Imprimerie nationale, 2002, ISBN 2-7433-0482-0 .

External links

  • AIGA typography – Articles and interviews relating to typography from AIGA's Voice section.
  • Decode Unicode – A wiki with all 98,884 Unicode characters, including full text search capability.
  • Archive.org – The Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, Typography, pages 509 to 548.