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LECTURE 2 - The shape of text _VDIS10020 Typography 1

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Typography Unit 1: Lecture 2 …

Typography Unit 1: Lecture 2
Tutor Cal Swann

Published in: Education, Technology, Design

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  • 1.  Introduction to Typography 1VDIS10020 : Lecture 2 Tutor Cal Swann The shape of text: How we see the words
  • 2.  The shape of text: How we see the words This lecture is about the shape of text, how we see the general shape as a first impression, what our overall reaction is (based on our previous experience), and to the way perception works, into the detail of the text and how appropriate typography aids comprehension. We are familiar with a lot of conventions from our cultural background, the way that text has been presented to us since the scribes laid out the early manuscripts. Not much has changed over the years but we see text on screens almost as much as on paper these days. Some main conventions as formats are outlined here and I group these into categories based on Professor Michael Twyman’s seminal article in Information Design Journal, Volume 3/1, 1982.
  • 3.  How a reader approaches a text First impressions Expectations Keys to context Interpreting the visual clues Macro level layout Signposts Inside the text Micro level Comprehending typography Analysis When a reader meets a text, they react almost like meeting a person, immediately weighing up who or what is this – how should I respond to this character? The clothes, body language, eyes and face can be seen in a fast process of deciding whether this new acquaintance is worth getting to know.
  • 4.  Here are two publications about much the same topic. We recognise the first as a formal product from a government body, the other is a commercial publication. These are not hard and fast categories, but you get the drift. The way the words are dressed are a giveaway. Pin striped suit or casual gear? Our cultural expectations condition our reception of the message, how we might go on to read the next stage.
  • 5.  Similarly, internal pages will give visual clues as to their origin and intention. Top left, a traditional, centred layout for a conservative academic publication. Next a more modern, asymmetrical page for a contemporary journal. Then, an academic journal is treated with a more deliberately ‘designed look’ to present a visually sophisticated environment.
  • 6.  Symmetrical layout Like the two previous examples, the general layout of most publications follow either a traditional or modern style, providing the first clue. Traditional symmetrical design is synonymous with classical painting style where the portrait appears in the centre foreground Taken from Emil Ruder’s classic publication ‘Typography’ (1969), the relationship between formal and symmetrical page layouts and classical painting are shown very simply. We observe a portrait painting as a foreground figure in a window, which we layout Traditional page see through and into a distant background.
  • 7.  Asymmetrical design uses the frame of the page in more dynamic visual arrangements Asymmetrical layout Modernist design treats a page as a flat surface, what’s there is on the surface, and the edge of the rectangle is an integral part of the dynamics of the design. The variety of modernist, or post-modernist layouts are infinite, often with a sub text that borrows from yet another design genre. (Adapted from Emil Ruder)
  • 8.  Categories of text as visual structures 1 Continuous text 2 Interrupted text 3 Lists 4 Tables 5 Algorithms 6 Forms & stationery Internal text is usually structured in several conventional layouts. Professor Michael Twyman (Reading University in the UK) described textual formats and set up a number of categories roughly as seen on the left – my adaptation of Michael’s innovative observation. Most typographic treatments fall within these general categories. It is good for designers to know and recognise how to deal with types of information and how alternative layouts might suit the work in hand.
  • 9.  1 Continuous text 1 Continuous text We might ask, ‘what is design, and is there a theory of design?’ Definitions of design are notoriously difficult to articulate and vary tremendously both from the people outside the design field, but also between the designers themselves. The Australian Academy of Design, which was formed in 1990 following the Australian Design Summit of May 1989, at one stage used the catchphrase ‘anything that doesn’t happen by accident is a design’. This slogan leaves the field wide open for everyone to have a go at designing, but the object of the campaign was to raise awareness about design, and in particular, how design could play its part in the growth of the Australian manufacturing and economic development. It was intended to identify everyone who was dealing with design in the management arena as designers of a kind – what had been described as the ‘silent designers’ (Dumas, A & Gorb, P, 1987). However, although everyone is ‘designing’ in whatever they plan to do, the particular designing that is performed by ‘designers’ is clearly something else. The Academy then borrowed from Zeisel (1987) a more reasonable, but still very broad definition in ‘design is a process of imaging, representing and testing a course of action’ (Miller, Peter, 1990). Book typography is the classic example of continuous text. We call it continuous because we want to read without interruption what the author writes. 10-12 words per line provides the optimum condition for immersive (continuous) reading.
  • 10. 10 Sturdy Ms Muffet sat on a tuffet Eating a bird of prey, There came a big spider Who sat down beside her And asked ‘Where’s your curds and whey?’ ‘I’m fed up with eating that stuff’ she said, ‘Like yourself, it’s insipid and light, While I’d much rather munch On bones I can crunch, You’ll do for my supper tonight’. Liz Mellon Three years back, the Hinsleys of Dora, Missouri, had a tough decision to make. To buy a new mule. Or invest in a used bug. They weighed the two possibilities. First there was the problem of the bitter Ozark winters. Tough on a warm blooded mule. Not so tough on an air- cooled VW. Volkswagen advertisement c.1970 2 Interrupted text In some situations we deliberately interrupt the reading process, poetry being a good example of such practice. There is a close relationship between the look of poetry and advertising copy. Both writers want to slow the reader down and make us focus on the words.
  • 11. 11 2005 2004 2002 2001 2000 2000 2000 2000 2000 1999 Lists Meeting Olaf Leu In Typographic 62. The Journal of the International Society of Typographic Designers. UK Icons of the Bush In Design Issues, Volume 19, Number 4, MIT Press, US Action research and the practice of design In Design Issues, Volume 18, Number 1, MIT Press, USA Co-editor of the Conference Proceedings for the International Conference ‘Re-inventing design education in the university’ held at Curtin University of Technology, 11-13 December 2000. Convenor of the International Conference ‘Re-inventing design education in the university’ held at Curtin University of Technology, 11-13 December 2000. See http://www.humanities.curtin.edu.au/html/des/DesEd2000/index.html The design process as action research. Keynote speaker at: ‘Thinking outside the square: the technology process’ Conference of the Design and Technology Teachers Association of WA. 4-5 November 2000 Meanwhile, back on the ranch… Conference Paper for Foundations for the Future: Doctoral Education in Design. La Clusaz, France 8-12 July 2000. See: <http://www.humanities.curtin.edu.au/html/des/DesEd2000/ preconference03.html> Facilitating postgraduate interactivity in the electronic channel. Paper and presentation at the Conference on Quality in Postgraduate Research: making ends meet. Adelaide 13-14 April 2000 MDes on line. <http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/quality_in_practice/swan.html> Carpetbaggers and Shamans: or what happened to the twentieth century vision of the architects of visual communication? Paper presentation at Sydney Design ‘99. 27–29 September 1999 at the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre, Sydney, Australia 3 Lists Historians believe that making lists came at the very beginning of the development of our writing system. Jotting notes one after the other on separate lines is a very easy way to find something, especially if it is in alphabetical order (or by date as here).
  • 12. 12 Tables 4 Tables A relative to the list structure, tables are excellent ways to compartmentalise information that can be cross referenced vertically and horizontally. We can’t do this with verbal language.
  • 13. 13 5 Algorithms Algorithms were developed around WW2 and provide a very economical way of processing information. Like a table, but the binary yes/no flow chart allows readers access to only that information which is relevant to them.
  • 14. 14 6 Forms Forms are another way we use the visible language system to collate and exchange information in the modern world.
  • 15. 15 Reading text in different situations Reading a novel is immersive reading, that is, we want to be totally involved in the story, the author’s narrative should be absorbed with as little distraction as possible, the typography invisible, that Crystal Goblet notion. Other kinds of information may not be best served under the guidelines for book typography. There are many different reading situations that require alternative formats. Posters, advertisements, newspapers, notes and short articles, need not follow the twelve word per line rule, for example. Breaking up the text – interrupting the reading activity – is sometimes an advantage; small (bite-sized) chunks of text look more inviting to read, which is why newspapers usually have a bitty look to the page. Poetry is a good example of interrupting the reading with intentional pauses. Text that is intended to attract attention might flout the rules of legibility. Announcements, flyers, advertisements, posters, web pages, and so on, are all competing for attention and such items are far removed from the situation of reading a book. It has been estimated that in a modern city we are bombarded with over 1200 visual messages a day. Breaking the ‘rules’ of legibility is one way of attracting attention, deviation is a way of grabbing the eye. But care has to be exercised, breaking the rules without understanding the purpose can be irritating and counter-productive. Applyin the appropriate format is the designer’s responsibility.
  • 16. 16 Negotiated stages Negotiated stages Stage 1. Choosing a topic – Allocating a supervisor consultation Stage 1. Choosing a topic – Allocating a supervisor – – Consultation and negotiation. Stage 2. Drafting the learning contract – Approx 500 words: and negotiation. Stage 2. Drafting the learning contract – Approx 1 Cover: title and subject code – name and address – title of address 500 words: 1 Cover: title and subject code – name andtopic – signature & date – supervisor's signature. 2 Focus. 3 Rationale. 4 Aims & 2 – title of topic – signature & date – supervisor’s signature.objectives. 5 Format Focus.&3research plan. 6 Aims & objectives. 5Agreement on contract and timetable Rationale. 4 Assessment. Stage 3. Format & research for completion Stage 3. Agreement on contract Stage 4. From plan. 6 Assessment. with supervisor by end of week 3. and timetableweek 4 onwards carrying out the project – Meetings/ 3. Stage 4. supervisor at least for completion with supervisor by end of weekcontact withFrom every fortnight. Stage 5. Progress reports presented for peer week 4 onwards carrying out the project – Meetings/ contact group review three times during every fortnight. times to Progress by week with supervisor at least semester, (sessionStage 5. be agreed reports 3). Stage 6. Final presentation at end of semester– Documented report on presented for peer group review. 3 times during semester, (session the project around 9000 by week 3). Stage 6. Final presentation times to be agreedwords or, 4000 words plus design proposal.at end of semester– Documented report on the project around 9000 words or, 4000 words plus design proposal. Left: This is applying a continuous text book format to information that is not continuous reading material. The book format saves space but it is obviously not reader friendly. The following shows a couple of examples of how those categories may be more appropriately displayed.
  • 17. 17 Negotiated stages Negotiated stages Stage 1. Stage Choosing a topic a Allocating a supervisora supervisor – consultation 1. Choosing – topic – Allocating – Consultation and negotiation. and negotiation. Stage 2. the Stage Drafting 500 learning contract – contract – Approx 500 words: 2. Drafting the learning Approx words: 1 Cover: titletitle and subject code – name and address – title of topic 1 Cover: and subject code – name and date – supervisor’s signature. 2 Focus. 3 Rationale. 4 – signature & address – title of topic – Aims signature & date – Format & research plan. 6 Assessment. & objectives. 5 supervisor's signature. Stage 2 Focus. 3. Agreement on contract and timetable for completion with 3 Rationale. supervisor byobjectives. 4 Aims & end of week 3. 5 Format & research plan. 6 Assessment. Stage 4. From week 4 onwards carrying out the project – Meetings/ contact with supervisor at least every fortnight. Stage 3. Agreement on contract and timetable for completion with supervisor by end of week 3. Stage Stage 4. 5. Progress reports presented for peer group review. 3 times From week 4 onwards carrying out be agreed by week 3). during semester, (session times tothe project – Meetings/contact with supervisor at least every fortnight. Stage Stage 5. presentation at end of semester– Documented report 6. Final Progress reports presented for peer group review 3 times during semester, on the project around 9000 words or, 4000 words plus design (session times to be agreed by week 3). proposal. Stage 6. Final presentation at end of semester– Documented report on the project around 9000 words or, 4000 words plus design proposal. A much better structure is to present this material as a list, where each stage is clearly isolated by a new line and space to make it easier to read. Applying typographic coding by using bold face and /or italic makes for more clarification.
  • 18. 18 Stage 1 Stage 2 Negotiated stages Another example of treating the same text. Stage 3 Stage 4 Stage 5 Stage 6 Not boxed tables but a Choosing a topic – Allocating a supervisor – combination of table Consultation on From week and negotiation. Progress and list format. Agreement Final Stage 1. Choosing a Drafting Stage learning Drafting the learning contract reports – Approx 500presentation topic the 2. contract and 4 onwards contract timetable for carrying out presented for at end of words: Allocating a completion the project peer group semester 500 1 Cover: title and subject codereview 3 and – name supervisor Approx with address – title of Meetings/ topic – signature & date – words: supervisor by times during Documented Consultation end of week 3 contact report on supervisor’s signature. with semester, and 1 Cover: supervisor at (session times the project 2 Focus. negotiation title and least every to be agreed around 9000 code 3 Rationale. subject fortnight by week 3) words or, name 4000 words and 4 Aims & objectives. address plus design topic 5 Format & research plan. title of proposal signature & 6 Assessment. date Stage 3. Agreement on contract and timetable for supervisor’s completion with supervisor by end of week 3. signature Stage 4. From week 4 onwards carrying out the project – 2 Focus Meetings/ contact with supervisor at least every fortnight. 3 Rationale Stage 5. Progress reports presented for peer group 4 Aims & review 3 times during semester, (session times to objectives be agreed by week 3). Stage 6. & Final presentation at end of semester– 5 Format research plan Documented report on the project around 9000 words or, 4000 words plus design proposal. 6 Assessment Visual information – information design – may often be presented in clear graphic structures. Typographic design is more than mere textual layout, it is an important part of information design and requires analytical and creative thinking. Tutor Cal Swann