LESSON 12TypographyTOPICS COVEREDArt and Science of Typography. How typography is used in visuals.OBJECTIVESBy the end of this chapter you should know:. How to use appropriate type phase for layout.. Different type Styles.Think of type as the clothes words wear.’.As a craft, typography shares a long common boundary and linkages with writing andediting on the one side, and, with graphic design on the other.Add to that:· Basically, typography exists to honor content. To that end, I teach my studentsthat well-chosen words deserve well-chosen letters.· Typography makes up the lion’s share of space in our publications, and in ourprint media, and it can have tremendous impact in other media.· There are literally thousands of different faces. Some are designed for differentpurposes, uses, media, or to create different images or moods. Most are multi-functional.· Type often begins to communicate before we actually read the words, themessage — the content.· Part of this communication is a result of coding, which is to say that manytypographic faces carry historical, cultural and other baggage.· Two very important things that type have in common are anatomy and letterstructure; e.g. what it is that makes an E an E.· We often forget that type is designed, and - in fact - typography is created via thefive basic principles of design: balance, proportion, sequence, emphasis, and unity.Despite all of the above, what is both surprising and ironic is that typography is one ofthe most overlooked design elements of all. This is especially worriesome in an age whenall of us are — in effect — typographers and designers, because the computer and digital
technology has opened up roles and possibilities to us that formerly were the exclusivedomain of designers, art directors, creative directors and typographers.· Crossing heads· Variation in point size· Extra leading· Subheads, decks, teases· Exploding the opening paragraphMixing type faces? There is no surefire tenet, except that less is more. Some faces arenearly fool-proof. Many old-style Romans can be used for just about any job: Caslon,Garamond, Goudy; as can almost all transitional romans - Times-Roman, Palatino,Baskerville, New Century Schoolbook. Some designers vary the weights and widths ofthe same face to get an array of affectations without endangering unity. Two or threefaces per job is plenty.Typography may be defined as the theory and practice of letter and typeface design. Inother words, it is an art concerned with design elements that can be applied to the lettersand text (as opposed to, say, images, tables, or other visual enhancements) on a printedpage.In the broadest sense, typography is as old as the most ancient alphabets, ideograms, andhieroglyphic images. Even today, some of its terminology and a few of its styles go backto techniques of lapidary inscription that were popular in ancient Rome and Athens. Butstrictly speaking, the art itself belongs to the history of printing, for it was only with theadvent of the print era—and the development of the standardized, reproducible sets oftypeface styles, known as fonts—that a true craft or practical discipline of typographybegan to emerge.Once a concern mainly of book publishers and newspaper and magazine editors,typography has today become, with the explosive growth of powerful electronic-publishing and word-processing tools, a text feature that no aspiring communicator cantake lightly or ignore. Particularly with the enormous range of font options available inrecent years, the opportunity to facilitate, magnify, impede, decrease, intensify, or subduethe impact of a message by altering typographic variables has never been greater.Choosing a Type Style for Design Selection of the typeface for a design is not a child’s play. You can’t select a face justarbitrarily. David Ogilvy says, “Never use type self-consciously”. Of course, moderntechnology has created flexible options in choosing a typeface in a design. In the days ofhot metal, various families were available: they were limited, however, in size, weight,width and posture. Now a designer can get a face in any size with an increment offraction of a point, and expansion and condensation of width in any percentage.Overlapping, shading, etc. can be done from the same stencil. More flexible kerningfacility (placing two adjacent characters so that one is positioned within the space of theother) helps a designer create a more pleasing composition. For a new face, a designeralso draws one set of characters and creates variations through computer manipulations,
which distort the original face. All this makes correct identification of faces almostimpossible.Appropriateness Some faces are so versatile that they can be appropriate for any job. Others are morelimited in what they can do. They have some special qualities that set them apart.Consciously or unconsciously, these qualities do touch the reader’s mind. Selection of a typeface can no longer rely only on old family names.It is now essential to study meticulously the specimen type catalogue of various printingestablishments. Most of the catalogues carry faces with a number of variations (in size,width, weight and posture). Not only is type development taking place for creative use bya type designer, but the technology available is also changing, affecting the choice oftypefaces in a design. Of course, the aesthetic value of a typeface, personal preferenceand physical personality are the most important considerations. With increasing progress in education and information dissemination, designers havebecome more conscious of the need for creating moods through written matter. The age,education and standard of the reader are the parameters for creating such moods. Forsome languages, hundreds of type designs are available in the market; for some others,very few. While selecting typefaces, designers are really in a dilemma, for there is noobjective formula to guide them on which one to take and which one to reject. Manycommunication messages fail because of lack of knowledge of typography. . We have discussed so far the physical form of the type and typefaces. These facesstart talking, when they are arranged to make words and sentences. In order to achieve this goal the writer and designer should work together. A writer might have writtenan effective communication message but poor design may kill the message even before it reaches theprospective reader. Type selection is important not only for the legibility of a message but also for thecreation of a congenial environment for the idea, which the communicator wants to transmit. Typecomposition can create an environment of help, shouting, calmness, age, newness, delicacy, health,sickness and so on. A shouting message will be more appropriate in sans serif bold type than in Optima(Novelty) medium face. For a booklet on Steel Authority of India square serif will be more appropriate thanlight face Futura. For a computer manual old face Garamond will definitely be out of place.Art and Science Typography is both an art and a science. It is an art, because it touches the heart of thereader. It is also an art because of the flexible nature of types. A designer can arrangethem as per his wish to entertain the reader. Reading is for getting not only a message butalso enjoyment and involvement. Creative typography can achieve this. Typography is a science, because so many technicalities are involved in type designing and creatingtype composition. Different rules have been developed through research and testing. These rules must beunderstood. Therefore, to produce the most effective communication message, synthesize visualimagination, human psychology and graphic skill, which are within the ambit of art, and the logicalsolution of a design problem, which belongs to the domain of science.
Readability vs Legibility Since type is meant to be read, readability should be the decisive factor in choosing atypeface for a design composition. Readability has several aspects. The first is thewriter’s idea. The second is the language. The third is the construction of sentences.Compound and complex sentences, unfamiliar words, improper punctuation and longparagraphs reduce readability. The fourth is the reader’s interest. The fifth is the legibilityof type composition. Designers are mainly involved in this part. Legibility means clarity of letter character in the type composition. While reading,some words fall within the eye span and the reader absorbs the meaning of the words at acertain speed and moves on to grasp the subsequent words. This movement of the eyedepends critically on legibility. Therefore a type composition, which can be read faster,should be considered more legible. Often an individual letterform is beautiful and alsoidentifiable, but in a composition it is not legible. Decorative and script letters areexamples of illegible faces. Letterforms, which are closer to the fundamental shapes ofthe alphabet, are more legible. Readability and legibility are interrelated and should beconsidered as such in selecting typefaces for particular applications. In short, legibilitydescribes a font; readability, its function. Most of the type that is set and read is text; thelegibility rules therefore are basically meant for text matter.Type for Text, Display and Poster For the purpose of design, there are three categories of type style. The first is the text-matter or body copy, which constitutes the main typographic composition. The designer’sultimate goal in each design is to draw the reader into the text-matter and involve him orher in the idea of the communicator. Type sizes of 5 to 12 point (8-14 point in the case ofDevanagari) are considered text-matter. These sizes are visually clear and legible at adistance of 10" to 14" from the eye. The seconds is display matter. Display faces are more than 12 or 14 point and up to72 point size. These sizes effaces are used mainly for headings and subheadings. Text-matter and display faces are governed by separate design rules. The third is posters. ;Poster type may not follow even basic typographic rules, as theirfaces appear in a design composition and as visuals their main purpose is to attractattention.Text-MatterFace Style The primary condition in choosing a typeface for text-matter (pleasant uniform grayarea) is that the reader should read the lines, columns, sentences, paragraphs and pageswith ease. Legibility is thus the main consideration for this purpose.
Roman vs Sans Serif Typographers believe that the right type style may enhance the legibility of the text-matter. They give various arguments for this. Type style with thick and thin strokescreates a rhythm in design and moves faster by spotting the rhythm. Therefore, we findthat most of the running matter is in Roman or Classical faces. Type experts feel that theserif ofthe Roman faces accelerates horizontal movement. Romans are considered the basictypes. Studies have confirmed that a Roman face can be read 10-12 per cent faster thanits immediate competitor, the sans serif type. Medium Roman is more legible than lightand bold faces. Too little and too much contrast with the background are tiring for theeyes.Another argument is the familiarity of the face. Classical Roman faces are much morefamiliar than Lineal faces. We have been reading books, magazines and newspapers inRoman faces since our very childhood. This is challenged by the revolutionary group oftype designers. They believe that familiarity can be changed in no time. According tothem. Lineal faces are more familiar to modern children, as they start writing with a ball-point pen on paper or with a pencil on a slate, rather than with reed-pen or metallic nibsas in earlier days. Most people consider sans serif faces slightly unusual for their monotonal designcharacter. Recognition of letterform basically comes from the shape and dimensions ofthe counter; this is easy in thick and thin lines and letter spacing. Roman face letters lookseparate because of the serifs, yet they also look linked, which helps smooth reading. Theunusual nature of Lineal faces tempts designers to use them in headings and subheadings,i.e. in display compositions. Sans serif faces are also appropriate for children’s books, promotional literature andan advertising copy, when running text-matter is limited. Here, designers want to call theattention of the reader to the copy at the cost of legibility of the composition. Newspapers and magazines use Classical Roman faces. Recently,some Indian newspapers and magazines have started using sans serif faces for regularbody setting. The Hindu is a good example of this. The Hindu had been set earlier inExcelsior (serif face) - a traditional newspaper type which was quite popular in the pre-War era. After Independence, The Hindu had to switch over to Corona, an elegant typeslightly heavier than Excelsior and therefore better equipped to cope with coarse-graingovernment newsprint. With the arrival of photocomposition and facsimile transmission.The Hindu had to adopt a typeface that would be free of the vulnerable serifs and thinstrokes. The serifs and thin strokes of the traditional faces could not stand up well in a co-exial facsimile transmission system. The Hindu has again started using serif faces for itstext matter because of advancement in transmission technology which is now throughsatellite. Like Romans, the Devanagari Classical faces, which are thick and thin, are popularfor running matter. Of course, very few alternative text faces are available in Devanagari.As with Roman faces, the distinct mean line helps in horizontal movement. Mean linesalso hold the letters of a word and set apart the words so that the typesetter gets greater
control over word spacing. The Devanagari face scores over both Roman and sans seriffaces because of this line. But Classical faces have maintained their position in text-matter. The popularity of some faces has been greatly increased due to their availabilityfor Desktop Publishing.From the example of The Hindu we learn that the selection of a face style depends on thequality of paper also. Thin bracketed serifs of Baskerville face look pleasant on smoothart paper. The legibility of this face will definitely be reduced on coarse paper likenewsprint or maplitho.
Special Style for Newspaper The x-height is another criterion in choosing the face style. Body faces are dividedinto two categories: book and news. The faces, which can be used in relativelyinexpensive printing in small sizes, are called news text faces. They are relatively boldwith a large x-height and a bit condensed. Since the larger x-height is more pronouncedin words, condensed faces can accommodate more words in a shorter line length of anewspaper. The most common laces are the book faces, which are used for texts of magazines,books and other printed literature. These are found in a great variety.Magazines and newspapers do not change the type style for body copy with a view tomaintaining familiarity. Familiarity enhances legibility. In order to develop a house style,many publishing houses and institutions use a certain type style. Besides making readingeasy, this makes for instant identification of their publication.Other Faces Preferences of type style in terms of frequency of use are Roman, Lineal, Novelty,Cursive, Script and Decorative. We have already discussed Roman and Lineal sans seriffaces. Lineal square serif faces (for example, Rockwell) have a mechanical appearance.Even textured, running matter is uncomfortable to read. Therefore, this style has notbecome popular for books and magazines. But it looks very elegant for an advertisingcopy and corporate literature. Souvenir is another square serif two-weight, typeface. It has some of thecharacteristics of Roman such as thick and thin strokes, but, for its fancy style, it isgrouped in Novelty. This face is very popular in magazines and other noveltypublications. Among sans serif Novelty faces, Optima is also popular for text-matter forits thick and thin strokes. Some of the Cursive faces are used for running matter but definitely not for a longcopy, where they impair reading speed and cause eye fatigue. Zapf Chancery is a classicexample of this cursive face. Inevitably associated with formal communication media likewedding and greetings cards, it is virtually unreadable for running matter. Decorativefaces are hardly ever used fur text-matter.
Capital Vs Lower CaseWords are recognized by their shapes rather than by the individual letters that make themup. The shape of a word is formed by a combination of the external contours of its lettersand its internal word pattern. That’s why, for greater legibility text-matter should be set inmixed capital and lower case faces: and capital letters should be used sparingly. In amixed composition lower case has more characters per line. The x-height of the face,which has more design strokes, creates two parallel lines with occasional break ofmonotonous uniformity by ascenders and descenders. The texture created by lower caseletters is so pleasing to the reader that it enhances legibility. In contrast, typeset, all incapitals, creates a uniform parallel and almost uniform white space between lines,impairing legibility. Sometimes because of lack of letter spacing, words in capitals areconfusing; for example, two or more vertical lines coming together (NIL), or two roundcharacters like “G” and/or “Q” and “0”. Set the text-matter in capitals. Limit- your linesto two or three at a time with enough space between lines. Remember: your main purposeis highlighting or contrasting the lines. These rules are, of course, not applicable to Devanagari types, as they do not havecapital letters. Remember also that setting text copy in capitals is uneconomical, as thisoccupies almost 50 per cent more space than the equivalent size lower case type.