VISUALGUI

Should Print Design Principles Apply to the Web?

Jan Middendorp, Shaping Text, (p.36):

Yes and no. Much works differently on the web, yet the basic principles of classic and modern (typo-)graphic design have not become worthless. Proven guidelines for good layout and typography are still relevant, but they must be applied intelligently and adapted to the new environment.

Middendorp on Reading Skill

Jan Middendorp, Shaping Text, (p.12):

Not only is reading one of the most fascinating human skills, in our society it is also a vital one. People who have difficulty reading—a newspaper, a warning sign, a letter for the tax authorities—are socially vulnerable and more likely to get into trouble.

Sounds like the forty-fifth president.

Unger on the Essence of Reading

Gerard Unger, While You Are Reading:

The printed letters dissolve in your mind like an effervescent pill in a glass of water. For a short moment, all those black signs disappear off the stage, change their outfits, and return as ideas, as representations, and sometimes even as real images and sounds.

Rendle on the Futures of Typography

Robin Rendle on the nature of the web:

[T]he web will always be a wild and finicky canvas for us to work with; we’ll have to be creative in the ways that we help older browsers that don’t support these features. So although I don’t believe that the web hates beautiful typography, there certainly is a tension between the web and the old typography, where control over every element on the page was relatively easy and absolute.

Rendle on accessibility:

What about accessibility and the preservation of the text? Making sure that everyone can simply read the text in every browser is more important than just about any typographic flourish that we can implement. And so with that in mind, whenever we stumble over a new feature for the web we have to question whether it will truly improve the reading experience.

He concludes:

There are infinite futures of typography, and the opportunities only expand when new browsers, new features, new devices become available to us. All that’s required is a little patience and a healthy dose of curiosity.

Loxley on Type and Communication

Simon Loxley, Type is Beautiful, (p.2):

Typefaces communicate moods and feelings: some are considered elegant or refined, while others seem bold, radical or whimsical. Typefaces can reflect the fashions or the zeitgeist of an era, often to a surprising degree. Some typefaces were created for a specific purpose. Some are easy to read and draw little attention to themselves; others are meant to grab your attention, but only for the purpose of a few words. Which font is chosen for any given communication matters a great deal, since it conveys a whole world of meaning, both blatant and subliminal, and much time, thought and money continue to be spent to try to get it right.

Loxley on Italic

Simon Loxley, Type is Beautiful, (p.23):

Without the italic, typography would be visually the poorer, and in practical terms, in its primary aim of communication, severely compromised.

Legibility for Children

Ann Bessemans, Digital Fonts and Reading, (p.29):

A remarkable finding from the objective legibility research is that children with normal vision read with reliably fewer errors when the serif typeface DTL Documenta was used, rather than the sans serif Frutiger. This result is somewhat surprising because children (especially beginning readers) mainly read with a sans serif in primary school.

Notes From the Palatino Book

The following notes come from Robert Bringhurst in Palatino: The Natural History of a Typeface.

On the beauty and structural clarity of letterforms, (p.10):

Human language appears to serve, in human cultures, a role not entirely unlike that of sexual reproduction in plant and animal biology: it is evidently a primary vehicle of exogenetic heredity. It appears to me that The beauty and structural clarity of letterforms, and their profligate, luxurious economy, are of real and practical use in this regard, just like the beauty, structural clarity, and profligate economy of flowers.

In short, it seems to me that the art history of letters and the natural history of letters can and should be understood as essentially one and the same.

On serif, (p.245):

Serif—those little entry and exit strokes through which the writing hand and the reading eye like to find their way into and out of a letterform—are also a means by which letters tie themselves into a line: a form of graphic social bonding.

On Zapf, (p.265):

In type design, as in literature, music, and painting, some of the great names—Baskerville and Caslon will do as examples—belong to people with one persistent style. Zapf was more like Picasso: an artificial highly unusual range and inventiveness.

On the remaking of type, (p.269)

Because typography is a practical art no less than it is a fine one, type has to be constantly remade.

On classification, (p.271):

We need to forget the classifications and look at the thing itself, but in order to understand the thing itself, we also need to see how it is related to everything else. And that is the point—really, the only point— of taxonomic classification.

On the ecosystem of type, (p.274)

Language, like a cello or piano, can give the savor, just the savor, of physical existence to visions that the heart can never tell and the eye can never see. Type, as a bearer of language, can do the same—not any better, but over a broader space and longer time than spoken language. That is to say, it enlarges the ecosystem.

Open a book, the performance begins. Close it, it ceases. There is nothing to watch, nothing to hear, but something happens. The mind reaches into the heart, the gut, the throat, and dances with the body. It also dances with a voice speaking out of another body: one as close as your inner ear through it might be at the same time several centuries, oceans, and mountain ranges away.

Type, unless no one uses it, never exists in isolation. The more it is used, the more it is part of its cultural watershed. Letterforms and fonts can be studied, measured, and observed, like animals and plants. But as soon as we isolate or dissect them for closer, more methodical comparison, they cease to be what they were when they were functioning parts of system to which them belong.

Yi Ding on the Roles of Type

Yi Ding, It’s My Type, (p.14):

People love seeing beautiful things, because it’sa spiritual enjoyment. There’s no right or wrong, pretty or ugly typeface. Typefaces themselves are like costumes, which are made for different roles and different sets. It is best only when it fits.