LESSON 13Type Size and SpacingTOPICS COVEREDPoint size of type phase. Spacing. Display phases.OBJECTIVESBy the end of this chapter you should know:. What is a point size.. How to give linespacing.Size Various rules govern the selection of the proper type size. The size of a type, you know, refersto its body not its face, so be careful about the term “„size”. A face with a bigger x-heightappears to be larger than other face with a smaller x-height. Compare Garamond and TimesRoman. Bigger size faces are more legible than smaller faces, because they show clarity of typedesign. But the consideration of clarity alone should not dictate the use of bigger size faces.Larger size type occupies more space. Fewer words come within the eye span, requiring moretime to read the copy. Very small faces too are difficult to read. They lack an invitation, muchless a warm one, to the copy. Coordinate your decision about size, therefore, with other legibilityfactors such as line width, space between the lines, and readers‟ educational level and age. In general, newspapers use 7 to 8 point size; other long copy publications, 9 to 12 point(newspapers in Devanagari, 8 to 10 point; other publications in Devanagari 12 to 14 point).Larger line length demands a bigger face. Designers often exploit readers: where the readingmatter is very interesting, small size type is used for economy of space. Tender notices andincome-tax forms are examples of this. Size will also depend on the surface, on which the impression is to be made. Coarse grainand coloured paper demand bigger sizes. Reverse-letters, fancy and handwritten faces should beset in bigger sizes. A condensed face in small size is difficult to read. Normal width types are atall times acceptable faces for text-matter.PointsThe size of a typeface is measured in points: One point = 1/72 of an inch. Hence 72- point type isone inch in hight—as measured from the top of the ascender (e.g., the rising stroke in “l”) to thebottom of the descender (e.g., the plunging stroke in “p”).
Thus, for instance, the word lip in 36-point size will print out to exactly 1/2 inch from the top ofthe “l” to the bottom of the “p.”This is 18-point Times New Roman.This is 14-point Arial.This is 12-point Gil Sans.This is 10-point Courier New.This is 8-point News Gothic.Generally speaking, readers prefer to read documents in 12-point type. As a rule, anything largerthan 14 points seems loud and aggressive (like reading page after page of headlines). On theother hand, anything smaller than 10 points looks tiny and forbidding—like the small print on alegal contract or insurance form. (By the way, the fact that very few people ever really read fineprint is precisely the reason for its existence: its whole purpose is to effectively concealinformation while ostensibly publishing it; indeed it is print specifically designed not to be read).SpacingThere are four types of spacing in type composition, namely letter spacing, word spacing, linespacing and paragraph spacing. The type designer takes care of natural letter spacing whilecreating a letterform. This letter spacing is quite adequate for most of the running text. There areseveral options to achieve various moods of the type composition. Spacing of type compositioncan be obtained mechanically and optically. Optical spacing is, of course, more pleasing than themechanical one. The type body itself determines the letter spacing. This was especially true inthe days of hot metal composition, which was basically mechanical. Efforts were made to avoidthis rigidity by cutting the metal body to bring the wide shoulder letters closer and manufacturingsome of the letters jointly such as ae, fl, fi and fie. They look apart, if set individually. Thesejoint faces are known as ligatures. But now the digital typesetters can control the letter spacing asnormal, loose or tight by making the spacing X unit more or less. The kerning facility (placingtwo adjacent characters so. that one is positioned within the space of the other) offers a morepleasing composition. Based on their dominant strokes, Roman letters can be categorized intovertical, curved, a combination of vertical and curved and oblique. Letters within each grouphave similar characteristics and are more likely to be confused with one another. So, give morespace between two vertical strokes; less space between two curved and oblique letters. As forDevanagari script, designers should better be more careful in spacing the letters. Loose spacingsets apart the letters because of the distinct white space between mean lines.
Word Spacing: Word spacing is always influenced by letter spacing. Tight-spaced lettersneed tight word spacing: loose and normally spaced, loose and normal word spacing. Atraditional practice for word spacing is the width of a lower case face, e.g. e in Roman and if inDevanagari. Sometimes, word spacing looks too much to bear. Expert designers will specifyword space according to the purpose of the composition and type design. For example, Fournieris a narrow set type, whereas Baskerville is a wide set type. They need narrow and wide wordspacing respectively. Since the mean line of Devanagari holds letters together in a word, narrowword spacing is often sufficient for a text copy. Bold faces and medium sans serifs are easier toread if set with slightly looser word spacing.We should be a little flexible in word spacing for justified composition. The word space isreduced or increased to accommodate the last word (without breaking) in the line or to take thisword to the next line. Sometimes this may lead to an undesirable white gap in the page. Thisoccurs when word spaces come one above the other for a number of lines. To eliminate thiswhite river it is necessary to adjust the space between the words. In general, spaces should beoptically even within the words. Too much uneven space reduces legibility.Line Spacing: Like letter spacing, type designers also take care of natural line spacing. But mostof the time this natural line spacing is not adequate for type composition. If set naturally, thecomposition looks very tight and most people may skip a line or read the same line again,reducing the reading speed. Therefore, we need to decide how much space to use between thelines of text-matter. The space between lines is termed as leading in the printing trade. This term was born in thehot metal era, when a thin strip of lead was used by compositors to space out type lines.
Surviving, it has entered the computer era and continues as an essential element determining theappearance of a type composition. Line spacing decisions come from the size of the type being used, style of the face, linelength and setting of the composition. Smaller size type in long line length needs more leading.A type style with small x-height needs less leading, as its ascenders and descenders naturallytake care of then white space between the lines. Word spacing also has an influence on linespacing. Wide set word spacing needs more line spacing. In general, white space between the x-height of the two lines should be more than the word spacing, so that the texture formed by thewords in a line is easily identifiable; this helps the eye traverse the line smoothly. Longer linelength needs more leading. Typographers recommend 8 to 10 point size type with up to 22 picaline length and 1 to 3 point leading; and 11 and 12 point size type with up to 30 pica line lengthand 2 to 4 point leading. Justified setting needs more leading than single side aligned or centeredcopy. These line spacing rules apply to Devanagari type as well. Paragraph Spacing: A paragraph is the writer‟s concept. The designer cannot tamper with it.Paragraph spacing is, however, the designer‟s area, by which he can „increase the legibility oftype composition. There are several ways to separate a group of lines from the other group,maintaining the harmony of each group. According to the traditional separation practice, theinitial line is indented and no additional space is provided between the paragraphs. This lookssometimes uncomfortable, especially when the last line of a paragraph fills almost the completemeasure. When line spacing is 2 to 5 point, 6 point paragraph spacing is acceptable. A paragraph witha sub-head needs at least a one-line space at the top. A separate section in the running text mayalso be offset by a one-line space. In an advertising or a magazine copy, using oversize initialletters known as drop letters also sometimes does this job.Line Length While discussing line spacing,. we have already touched upon line length. The latter needs,however, a bit of elaboration, as the length of a line influences legibility quite a bit. Luckily
enough, several formulae are at hand for determining the line size. The most common is that linesize should be (in picas) twice the type size (in points) being used, i.e. 8 point size and 10 pointsize type should have 16 and 20 pica line length respectively. Small size type requires short linelength; bigger type, a longer line. The argument for this formula is that, while reading, at least four inches (24 picas) are withinthe eye span of the reader. One can read a line of this length without changing the focus of theeye. These rules may vary from type style to type style. A large x-height face needs more linespacing and longer line length also. A line may contain 12 to 14 words on an average; inDevanagari, 14 to 16 words, as Devanagari uses long words sparingly. Italic, light and bold faces have low legibility. The line measure should be shorter tocompensate for this. Justified setting may have longer line size than unjustified. Line size shouldnot be shorter than 11 picas, as the flow of reading would be constantly interrupted by breaks andhyphenized words. A line set in condensed letters can be of short measure, as it may contain anadequate number of words.Setting Format The manipulation of space by type is the format of a typesetting. The most common settingformat is justified, where the type composition is aligned both on the left and the right. It isconsidered the most legible format because of uniform line length. The reader‟s eye moves fromleft to right and between uniformly. This format has some drawbacks as well. Often, word spacing is squeezed or stretched toaccommodate the last word or to take it to the next line. Of course, the reader hardly notices thisand it has little, if any, impact on the total gray tone of the composition. Therefore, for a serious-looking, conventional page, prefer a justified setting. The next most legible format is left flush and right ragged. The reader‟s eye movement ishere almost as uniform as in the justified format. An additional advantage of this format is thatthere are few hyphenized words at the end of a line. Even so, use this format with caution, forwhite space between columns looks quite wide and irregular. !fit is used for a long copy, thereader may even skip the message; for a short copy, this format looks, however, dynamic andmore contemporary in style.
Two other setting formats are ragged left and centered. Better avoid them for a long copy,because they impede the reading speed. The reader takes time to find the beginning of the nextline because of the uneven starting point. There is, however, no bar on their use for specialpurposes. For example, a right aligned short copy creates unity with a rectangular illustration. Acentered format for an invitation card and a poetry book will be more appropriate than any otherformat. Selection of a setting format depends greatly on the type of layout and other elements beingused in the layout. Books, magazines and newspapers follow the traditional justified setting.Glossy magazines and Sunday Supplements of newspapers occasionally use a right raggedformat, which goes well with other visual elements. Art directors of advertising layout andpromotional literature play with the setting format to achieve their communication goals bycreating unity between the content and the format.WeightTypes come in various weights - bold, medium, light, etc. The weight of a type creates tone andtexture of the type composition. There is no set „standard for the weight of a typeface and weightvaries from manufacturer to manufacturer. We identify type weight by the relative lightness anddarkness of the face. This is very subjective, there being no instrument or formula to measurethis weight. A long copy set in light and bold is tiring for the reader‟s eye. Both these faces arecommon for a short copy, especially where emphasis and variations are needed. Medium weightfaces are most legible, so they are in use in almost all publications. Selection of the face weightdepends greatly on the layout of the visual element. Designers develop a layout by laying a tint(parallel lines or specimen copy block) and then decide, which weight or face is the best. Like light and bold faces, italic (slanted) faces are also used for variations or emphasis. Theseare normally not used for a long copy, as they are not quite as easy to read as normal (upright)faces. Italic faces are also available in various weights. While using these faces in a runningcopy, harmonize their style and weight with their counterpart upright faces; else the harmony ofthe composition will be disturbed, impairing legibility.Mix Type Style It is not used in a typographic design, especially for text. Modern typographers call this therule of typographic harmony. This harmony is achieved by using one family of type throughout adesign. Contrast and variations can be obtained by using type from different series of the samefamily. In extremely unavoidable cases, a slight mixing might be OK, but be very cautious.Mixing different families from the same race (group) may cause confusion, unless they are of astrongly contrasting design.
Reverse Type It means white (or light) letters against a dark background. This arrangement of type hasless legibility, because white letters on a dark background shrink optically. So if you use reverseletters in a design, they should be slightly bigger in size. Reverse type on tints or colours is evenless legible because of lack of contrast. In any case, do not set a long copy in reverse or on tint orcolour.Type in Colour It too appears to sink into the page, losing much legibility. Since contrast and clarity are themain factors of legibility, take care to print the type composition. Never use a long copy incolour. Should you decide to use colour for a heading, subheading or a blurb, use a bigger andbolder type. Black type on white reads 40 per cent more rapidly than type reversed out fromblack and grey. The poorest legibility: black on red or red on black; the best legibility: black onwhite or yellow.Display Faces “When we see the text-matter, we see words; when we see the headings, we see letters”.Therefore, the type style is the main consideration in selecting display faces. The purpose of aheading is to invite the reader into the design and to tell him the. message in a very short andsubtle form. Here also the designer‟s role is as important as the copywriter‟s.‟ There is no set type style rule for headings. The harmony rule may not always work, as thedesign may look very passive and monotonous. Lineal and traditional faces are widely acceptedheading type styles. A slightly fancy style is not bad at appropriate places. Some decorativestyles may, however, even sabotage the message. For example. Old English or Script faces set incapitals are too difficult to read. Every display word must be thought of as an individual shape in its particular context, as itoffers a slightly different problem according to the relationship of the curves and straight lines,of which it is composed. Be sensitive in creating shapes from every word in display byincreasing letter spacing or selecting capitals and lower case. Setting of types spaced out of acapital word sometimes appears to be leaving too much space between two letters, which havewide shoulders (RA). Set solid curved lines, coming one after another space out, however, twovertical strokes together. When set solid, lower case faces look more pleasing than the looselyspaced ones. Again, spaced out headlines are not uncommon in special circumstances. Preferspaced out capital letters to lower case faces, as two imaginary parallel lines hold the letterstogether to make the word legible. Do not set long headlines in capitals, for lower case letters canbe accommodated more than the capital ones and are hence less likely to be confused. In display, prefer irregular line length to the justified one. It may be centred, flush left orflush right or free set according to the nature of
a job and the designer‟s task. Centred settings are very formal and go well with formal designand justified body copy. Flush left is an all -purpose display setting. It looks less formal andcreates contrast even when set in the same family of text copy. Ragged left settings arecomparatively dull. They are often used to balance with other elements. Free setting is the mostdynamic composition used mainly in advertising or type format which serves the purpose ofadvertising. Do the heading alignment optically, not leaving it to the typesetter to do the jobmechanically. Of course, it will depend on how you handle your job. Physical appearance of theheadline composition is quite often a function of the arrangement of lines and the division ofphrases. With a view to accentuating and enhancing the meaning of your composition, groupyour words logically. White space around a headline is another creative task for you. Headlines with wide whitespace are more legible than those surrounded by other visual elements. Short lines need morewhite space to read sentences downwards. Comparatively less surrounding space is needed forhorizontal lines, as the eye moves horizontally. In any case, do relate the length of a line visuallyto the space around it and other elements that may be there in the design. In display, space between lines can also be handled freely. Optical spacing is often used for apleasing composition. The general rule for type is that a capital needs more spacing than type setin lower case faces. Sometimes, to create a compact and more pleasing composition, the designerreduces the line spacing so much that the descender of one line comes within the area of theascender of the next line. The white spaces between ascenders and descenders are reduced in thisway. See that line spacing is more than word spacing when you use capitals with other letterspacing. The weight of display faces is an important factor. The eye moves from dark to light, big tosmall and unusual to usual. So attract the reader to the headline by using a bigger size type. Thesize and thickness of type will also depend on the seriousness of the message and your wishes.Sharp contrasts result, if the typeface is large in size and heavy in weight. It looks less formaland opens up the design. Avoid this by using tint or colour for the oversize head. Otherwise, theheads are likely to overpower the text. Slanted or vertical displays are unusual. In case you are to use them, orient the characternormally. Upright letters in vertically or diagonally set type are never legible, so, for unusualsettings, prefer bold faces to light ones. Modern typesetting equipment and graphic software of computers have opened opportunitiesfor designers to type in various artistic ways. Getting a heading in a spiral form, curve or in someother form has become now a matter of just computer commands. Earlier many designers used instant lettering to create headlines according to their ownstyles. Instant letters are still available in various type styles in different sizes. Since the displaytypes offer little, if any, option in Devanagari script, designers try to meet their individual needsby using instant lettering or hand-drawn lettering. For illustration, we give here some displayfaces from Letraset‟s Graphic Materials Handbook.