Do you want to set better type? Are you using Adobe InDesign? Well, then: turn the god-damned Optical Margin Alignment on. Every day I read copy that I know full well has been set using ID, and the mook manning the console did not hang the punctuation. People: it's a check box. Go turn it on now. I'll wait.
Some folk think that hanging punctuation only matters when you're setting a justified text block. Those folk are wrong. It matters all of the freaking time. In range-left setting, using optical margin alignment maintains an even left margin (see above*), and pops punctuation outside the right margin (just as it would in full justification), which makes it easier to set a lively rag. If you happen to be centering something (which you probably shouldn't – who are you, Jan Tschichold?), the setting removes punctuation from play, meaning that the lines of letters are properly centered. In range-right setting – don't use range-right setting. We don't really read punctuation unless it's calling attention to itself, which it will, if you let it.
Optical margin alignment is a luxury. In the old days (QXP 4.11), I had to use positive margins in my text blocks and set up different paragraph styles to accommodate different types of punctuation. Every time I ran into a quote or hyphen, I had to make a hard break and apply the appropriate style to hang the punctuation. The technical term for this is Big Pain In My Ass. Because then there would be copy changes and the flow would go to crap and I'd have to do it all over again.
You may say: "Well, Mr. McIsaac, optical margin alignment is a global setting and if I set it for my text size, it makes my headlines look weird." I'll grant you that. It should work at the paragraph level. But if you care about your craft, it's only a small Pain In My Ass to set the heads separately and deploy them as inline objects.
End of sermonette. Next time, we'll talk about changing the default H&J settings so that your copy doesn't boast wordspacing through which you could slalom an F-650 (Crew Cab with Pro Loader Straight Frame; dooley, standard; Caterpillar C7 Diesel option).
We found Ilya Ruderman on a random Web search for Pinch. It seems that there's a Flickr community of the same name that collects and connects photographers from the world over. They do a little interview series called Five Questions, in which the current subject determines the next interview. It's good. To date, there has been twelve or so of these sessions and early in the series, (the photographer) Ilya Ruderman was one of those subjects. His photos are one thing; quite a beautiful study of people, places, and objects. His Project | Double Shots with Yury Ostromentsky and Panorama sets suggest a colorized time and place long removed. But his typographic work—with Russian type designers for Daily Type and Typoholic—is quite another, and both properties are wholly impressive. We suggest you look around. Follow their leads, no matter where they take you. Like the projects themselves, it's a satisfying exploration.
Today, we welcome the return of The Tuesday Flickr Set. As addressed yesterday, it's been somewhat swept under the rug in favor of less important tasks, like new business and taxes. In an effort to post these each and every Tuesday, I'll work to scale back the commentary supporting our weekly inclusions. But as you know, we have a tendency to ramble on a bit. Or at least I do.
To make up for past omissions, I'm digging you a group pool. Yes, it's like the set that goes to eleven. Folk Typography is administered by San Francisco photographer, Cassidy Curtis. He oversees a nice collection here, from nearly 1,000 sources and largely composed of found typographical references. Spend some time. It'll be worth your while.
About the form, Curtis writes explains "Folk Typography is also known as outsider typography. Surprising, original letterforms created by people who are not designers, typographers, calligraphers, or graffiti artists – in other words, people outside of all traditional schools of typographic influence." The way it should be.
Is the art of typography dead? Look around... Is the ability to use type – correctly – dead? Dying? Hiding in the back of some studio? Or alive, kicking and thriving? Do most people even know good type when they see it? Posted by: Chris Inman, Graphic Design / Communication Design Architect.
Editor's note: Unlike the branding answer we posted a couple of weeks back, the 61 answers provided by the respondents of this question varied greatly. The general idea behind Chris's question pops up among designers on a regular basis, and everyone it seems, has an opinion. And why should we be any different?
I believe that the vigorous response to your question provides at least some insight. While I haven't read every response, it seems that the very issue — while somewhat misunderstood by some in my opinion — is one that many are working to resolve on a daily basis. To be sure, the computer has produced some lazy habits, but I don't believe it is the cause of what might seem a languishing attention to typographic detail. With few exceptions, we simply don't set every character, every word, every line in this day and age, and as such, we allow the computer's limitations to solve problems for us. This can begin with the very construct of the type itself (for which quality, in many cases, has indeed suffered), our understanding of the typesetting tools at hand (more complex than the passive operator might care to master), or the limitations of time and detail that the client has imposed (also a result of the computer's perceived efficiencies). But the computer itself, is hardly the cause of the problem. That is, if you care to look at it as a problem.
Matthew Butterick, having drawn one of my favorite remixes of Bulmer, is now apparently an attorney. It's probably a better living than a type designer makes, and at least he gets to do some good, to wit: Typography for Lawyers, which could be subtitled "(and anyone else in business)", because most of its content applies equally to anyone who has to set type (which is everyone who uses a computer nowadays). I'll take issue with his opinion on hyphenation as it applies outside the legal profession, as sometimes word breaks are necessary to maintain a lively rag, which is more important to comprehension than you might think, but: this is good, well-written, and very necessary stuff. Via Design Observer.
Kris Sowersby has a nice writeup of the late Evert Bloemsma's sans-serif masterwork Balance on I Love Typography today. I admire Balance, and bought it to use in WebTrends' re-brand a few years ago, but wasn't able to make it work. I think that was a shortcoming on my part rather than the typeface, which has an arresting, unsentimental color and a noble underlying principle, to wit: the top halves of letters are the part that people actually use to determine word shape; word shape is what determines legibility. In most typefaces, the upper part of a glyph is smaller, so that the glyph "sits" nicely on its baseline. With Balance, Bloemsma reversed that tradition. The upper part is equal ("balanced") in weight to the lower, and in some cases a little larger. In large sizes, the glyphs can appear almost topheavy. In text, they work beautifully in the service of reading. I need to sack up and figure out how to use it better.
Thanks to my daily e-mail installment of The Writer's Almanac GK reminded me about this little jest from The Guardian. Seems few knew about type then, either.
In 1977, the London newspaper published a seven-page supplement commemorating the anniversary of the independence of San Serriffe, a completely imaginary small island nation located in the Indian Ocean. The article described the geography of the nation — it consisted of two main islands, which together formed the shape of a semi-colon; the northern one was called "Upper Caisse" and the southern one, "Lower Caisse."
The island's natives were of "Flong" ethnicity, but there were also the descendents of Europeans settlers who had colonized the nation: "colons." The two groups had intermarried over the years; their offspring were "semi-colons." The capital of the nation was Bodoni and the national bird, the "Kwote."
In the supplement, there were even advertisements from real companies. Texaco announced a contest whose winner would receive a two-week vacation to the island's Cocobanana Beach. Kodak placed an ad saying, "If you have a picture of San Serriffe, we'd like to see it."
The day it ran, The Guardian was flooded with calls for more information. Travel agents and airline companies complained to the editor because the news had been disruptive to their businesses — customers refused to believe that the islands were only imaginary.
The Guardian has reused the prank on a few other April Fools' Days — in 1978, 1980, and 1999 — and each time the island has changed location, moving from the Indian Ocean to the South China Sea to the North Atlantic.
AIGA has gotten in bed with Adobe to publish a font collection for students. The package, priced at a freaking reasonable $149 (ten bucks off for AIGA members), contains 500 weights from 25 families, and features a couple of frankly surprising choices: Monotype Grotesque (the old 216), for example, and the full optical collection of Slimbach’s Kepler, which I don’t see too much nowadays, but can set with a lovely color, especially over longer texts.
When I was a student, a large chunk of the money my grandmother left me went straight to Adobe; in those days, while I wasn’t opposed to pirating, I never had the chance to practice it because my sources had crappy taste. If I wanted Bodoni Book or Franklin Gothic, I had to put the $149 (late eighties dollars, too) on my Citibank Visa (24% APR). It was worth it, because I got to work with faces I was interested in and when you pay that much (remember: student, adjusted dollars), you value the hell out of it. It’s the way I feel now when the Enschéde folks bend me over the pommel horse for one weight of Lexicon. The value of the product helps me to forget that I can't afford it.
So: today’s kids have it easy, and that’s good. But I gotta have a beef, and here it is: about a third of the faces in Adobe’s student pack are installed free with the standard CS package. Still, that’s a net gain of 17 families, right? Great, and some of them are useful, workhorse choices: Avenir (12 weights), Univers (27 weights). But who the hell really needs Chaparral? And Cochin? Bernhard Modern? What is this, 1988?
At any rate, I applaud AIGA for brokering this deal. It’s good for students. But I’d like to see the national get its weight behind different kinds of targeted package deals with some of the smaller foundries: a book package, for example, using selected weights of Frantisek Storm’s excellent text interpretations of Baskerville and Walbaum with selections from Underware and H&FJ. I’m not talking about a 500-weight package; that’s a problem in itself. But 4 weights each of 6-10 carefully-selected families might put a little in the pockets of the indies, and give students a sharper palate (and palette).
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