The position of type and graphic elements on a page will be the focus of this session. We will explore the impact of manipulating layout and techniques for ensuring legibility and infusing meaning. Use of the grid as an organizing principle. Here is a recap of the language of typography.
Before we jump in, I have to share this excellent example of why typography matters. Below is the T Shirt of Alaska write-in candidate for U.S. Senate, Lisa Murkowski. A terrible type choice if her goal is to teach her supporters to spell her name correctly, which, by the way, she apparently has trouble with herself.
A recent article in the NY Times discussing the use of typography in this midterm election is worth a read
Legibility, spacing, kerning, consistent texture and size are important factors for readability. Designing with Type provides an excellent resource for understanding and appreciating the nuances of measurement, size and spacing including the type layout options and pitfalls. Most experts agree that lower case are more legible than all caps. Many New Yorkers however don’t agree that it is $27.5 million dollars more legible and are outraged by a signage replacement program this is now underway to replace all New York City street signs from all caps to title case.
The point is used to measure the size of a font. One point is equal to 1/72 of an inch. When a character is referred to as 12pt, the full height of the text block, and not just the character itself, is being described. Because of this, two typefaces at the same point size may appear as different sizes, based on the position of the character in the block and how much of the block the character fills. Type is measured in Points. A document is set in 12pt type on 15 pt leading, or sometimes referred to as twelve over fifteen, means that it is a 12 point font, with 15 points between the baselines of two successive lines. Thus there are 3 points of additional space between lines. As a general rule of thumb for optimal readability, leading should be about 120% greater than character font size.
Tyepfaces come in a wide range of weights. To achieve variety and impact within a composition but work within a single type family but using a variety of weights.
Kerning refers to the space between letters and in advanced design tools can be individually adjusted. Adjusting the spaces between groups of letters is referred to as tracking. It is not hard to find examples of bad kerning.
The vertical height between lines of type is called leading – the name references the time pre-digital printing, when lead weights were used to hold characters on the printing press. generally a leading of 125% is considered optimal for readability. Here is a somewhat astonishing example from Philly.com of bad leading and how hard it can be on the eyes.
Here are some wonderful examples of creative uses of typography:
Thank You for Not Smoking Movie Trailer
Catch Me if you Can Movie Trailer
Project Thirty Three
Fifteen Years of Paula Scher’s Design work for the Public Theatre
Trajan is the Movie Font
Jessica Hische’s Letter Posters
and an interesting discussion about what we don’t see when we read.
The class slides from this week are here.
Assignment: Design a business card for yourself. Consider typography and layout carefully. Post a digital copy to your blog but also bring 18 actual size cards to distribute to the class. Card size is 3.5″ x 2″, unless there is a good argument for a different size or format. Please use both sides of the card. Some inspiration here.