Background Study On Typography English Language Essay


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While designing the most important thing we take into consideration is typography. Typography actually refers to the design and the use of typefaces as a means of visual communication from calligraphy to the development of digital type. Generally typography is the hands-on and artistic organization of type and printing with type. It is sometimes seen as encircling many separate fields from the type designer who creates the letter form to the graphic designer who select the type faces and arranges them.

As a part of the project I would like to do a background study about "TYPOGRAPHY" and would like to discuss about the principles of typography



"Typography is the ability of giving human language with a strong visual form, and thus with an independent existence". Typography makes two kinds of sense, if it makes any sense at all. It makes visual sense and historical sense. The visual side of typography is basically shown on display. The history of letterforms and their usage is visible too, to those with access to manuscripts, inscriptions and old books, but from others it is largely hidden. Originality is everywhere, but much originality is blocked if the way back to earlier discoveries is cut or overgrown. If you use this book as a guide, by all means leave the road when you wish. That is precisely the use of a road: to reach individually chosen points of departure. By all means break the rules, and break them beautifully, deliberately, and well. That is one of the ends for which they exist. Letterforms change constantly, yet differ very little, because they are alive. The principles of typographic clarity have also scarcely altered since the second half of the fifteenth century, when the first books were printed in roman type. Typography is the craft of endowing human language with a durable visual form, and thus with an independent existence. Its heartwood is calligraphy - the dance, on a tiny stage, of the living, speaking hand - and its roots reach into living soil, though its branches may be hung each year with new machines. So long as the root lives, typography remains a source of true delight, true knowledge, and true surprise.

As a craft, typography shares a long common boundary and many common concerns with writing and editing on the one side and with graphic design on the other; yet typography itself belongs to neither.


Greek and Latin manuscripts were usually written with no space between words until around the ninth century AD, although Roman inscriptions like the famous Trajan column sometimes separated words with a centered dot. Even after spacing became common it remained haphazard. For example, often a preposition was linked to another word. Early Greek writing ran in lines alternating from left to right and right to left. This convention was called boustrephedon, meaning "as the ox plows". It was convenient for large carved monuments, but boustrephedon hindered the reading and writing of smaller texts and so the left to right direction became dominant. A centered dot divided words which split at the end of a line in early Greek and Latin manuscripts. In the eleventh century a mark similar to the modern hyphen was introduced. Medieval scribes often filled shorts lines with marks and ornaments. The perfectly justified line became the standard after the invention of printing. The earliest Greek literary texts were divided into units with a horizontal line called a paragraphos. Paragraphing remains our central method of organizing prose and yet although paragraphs are ancient, they are not grammatically essential. The correctness of a paragraph is a matter of style, having no strict rules.

Later Greek documents sometimes marked paragraphs by placing the first letter of the new line in the margin. This letter could be enlarged, colored, or ornate. Today the outdent is often used for lists whose items are identi-fied alphabetically as in dictionaries or bibliographies. A mark called capitulum was introduced in early Latin manuscripts. It functioned variously as a pointer or separator. It usually occurred inside a running block of text which did not break onto a new line. This technique saved space. It also preserved the visual density of the page which emulated the continuous unbroken flow of speech.

By the seventeenth century, the indent was the standard paragraph break in Western prose. The rise of printing encouraged the use of space to organize texts. A gap in the printed page feels more deliberate than a gap in a manuscript because it is made by a slug of lead rather than a flux in handwriting. Even after the ascendence of the indent, the capitulum remained in use for identifying sections and chapters along with other marks like the section, the dagger, the double dagger, the asterisk, and numerous less conventional ornaments. Such marks have been used since the middle ages for citing passages and keying marginal references. The in-12vention of printing made more elaborate and precise referencing possible because the pages of a text were consistent from one copy to the next. All punctuation was used idiosynchratically until after the invention of printing, which revolutionized writing by disseminating grammatical and typographical standards. Before printing, punctuation varied wildly from region to region and scribe to scribe. Although the terms comma, colon, and period persist, the shape of the marks and their function today are different. During the seventh and eighth centuries new marks appeared in some manuscripts, including the semicolon, the inverted semicolon, and a question mark that ran horizontally. A thin diagonal slash, called a virgule, was sometimes used like a comma in medieval manuscripts and early printed books. Such marks are thought to have been cues for reading aloud. They indicated a rising, falling, or level tone of voice. The use of punctuation by scribes and their interpretation by readers was by no means consistent, however, and marks might be added to a manuscript by another scribe well after it was written.

Since the rise of digital production, printed texts have become more visually elaborate - typographic variations are now routinely available to writers and designers. Some recent fonts contain only ornaments and symbols. Carlos Segura's typeface Dingura consists of mysterious runes the recall the era of manuscript production. During the email incunabala, writers and designers have been using punctuation marks for expressive ends. Punctuated portraits found in electronic correspondence range from the simple "smiley" :-) to such subtle constructions as $-) [yuppie] or :-I [Indifferent].


Perfect typography is more a science than an art. Mastery of the trade is indispensable, but it isn't everything. Unerring taste, the hallmark of perfection, rests also upon a clear understanding of the laws of harmonious design. As a rule, impeccable taste springs partly from inborn sensitivity: from feeling. But feelings remain rather unproductive unless they can inspire a secure judgment. Feelings have to mature into knowledge about the consequences of formal decisions. For this reason, there are no born masters of typography, but self-education may lead in time to mastery. It is wrong to say that there is no arguing about taste when it is good taste that is in question. We are not born with good taste, nor do we come into this world equipped with a real understanding of art. Merely to recognize who or what is represented in a picture has little to do with a real understanding of art. Neither has an uninformed opinion about the proportions of Roman Letters. In any case, arguing is senseless. He who wants to convince has to do a better job than others. Good taste and perfect typography are suprapersonal. Today, good taste is often erroneously rejected as old-fashioned because the ordinary man, seeking approval of his so-called personality, prefers to follow the dictates of his own peculiar style, rather than submit to any objective criterion of taste. In a masterpiece of typography, the artist's signature has been eliminated. What some may praise as personal styles are in reality small and empty peculiarities, frequently damage, that masquerade as innovations.

Examples are the use of a single typeface - perhaps a sanserif font or a bizarre nineteenth-century script - a fondness for mixing unrelated fonts; or the application of seemingly courageous limitations, such as using a single size of type for an entire work, no matter how complex. Personal typography is defective typography. Only beginners and fools will insist on using it. Perfect typography depends on perfect harmony between all of its elements. We must learn, and teach, what this means. Harmony is determined by relationships or proportions. Proportions are hidden everywhere: in the capaciousness of the margins, in the reciprocal relationships to each other of all four margins on the page of a book, in the relationship between the leading of of the type area and dimensions of the margins, in the placement of the page number relative to the type area, in the extent to which capital letters are spaced differently from the text, and not least, in the spacing of the words themselves. In short, affinities are hidden in any and all parts. Only through constant practice and strictest self-criticism may we develop a sense for a perfect piece of work. Unfortunately, most seem content with a middling performance. Careful spacing of words and the correct spelling of capital letters appear to be unknown or unimportant to some typesetters, yet for him who investigates, the correct rules are not difficult to discover. Since typography appertains to each and all, it leaves no room for revolutionary changes. We cannot alter the essential shape of a single letter without at the same time destroying the familiar printed face of our language, and thereby rendering it useless. Comfortable legibility is the absolute benchmark for all typography - yet only an accomplished reader can properly judge legibility. To be able to read a primer, or indeed a newspaper, does not make anyone a judge; as a rule, both are readable, though barely. They are decipherable. Decipherability and ideal legibility are opposites. legibility is a matter of combining suitable script and an appropriate typesetting method. For perfect typography, an exhaustive knowledge of the historical development of the letters used in printing books is absolutely necessary. More valuable yet is a working knowledge of calligraphy. Immaculate typography is certainly the most brittle of all the arts. To create a whole from many petrified, disconnected and given parts, to make this whole appear alive and of a piece - only sculpture in stone approaches the unyielding stiffness of perfect typography. For most people, even impeccable typography does not hold any particular aesthetic appeal. In its inaccessibility, it resembles great music. Under the best of circumstances, it is gratefully accepted. To remain nameless and without specific appreciation, yet to have been of service to a valuable work and to the small number of visually sensitive readers - this, as a rule, is the only compensation for the long, and indeed never-ending, indenture of the typographer.



Type is measured by its vertical height, in points. There are approximately 72 points in an inch, so 72-point type is approximately 1 inch in height on a printed page. 36-point type is approximately ½ inch in height, and 18- point type is approximately ¼ inch in height. Text on a printed page is usually 10-12 points in size. Any type below 9 points in size is very hard to read.


Weight refers to the density of letters, the lightness or heaviness of the strokes in a typeface. It is described as a continuum: light, regular, book, demi, bold, heavy, black, and extra bold. These weight descriptions are used in font names to describe the thickness of their lines. Light fonts are composed of the thinnest lines and extra bold fonts are composed of the thickest lines. Not all weights are available for all typefaces and the continuum occasionally varies in some typefaces.


Style refers to options such as bold, italic, underline, and reverse, that you can choose as part of your type specifications.


Leading is the vertical space between lines of type. It is measured in points and is expressed as the sum of the type size and the space between the two lines. Generally, it is at least the size of the type. Type with a generous amount of space between lines is said to have open leading and type with relatively little space between lines is said to have tight leading. Some software programs, including all desktop publishing programs, allow users to adjust leading.


Alignment refers to the shape of the text block in relation to the margins. Most software programs allow left alignment (sometimes called flush left), right alignment (sometimes called flush right), center alignment, justified alignment, and force justify alignment.


Even when printed in black and white, all type has a color on the page. Color here means the overall tone or texture of the type and the lightness or darkness that varies among typefaces and spacing of type.



Sans Serif typefaces do not have finishing strokes at the ends of the letterforms. The name comes from the French word sans, which mean "without." Sans Serif typefaces are also referred to as Gothic. Avante Garde, Helvetica, and Arial are the most common Sans Serif typefaces.


Script typefaces simulate handwriting, with one letter connected to another visually, if not physically. Script typefaces emulate several different types of hand-lettering, including calligraphic, drafting, and cartoon. Zaph Chancery and Brush Script are common Script typefaces.


Character fonts are extended character sets packaged as fonts. To view the character font sets on a personal computer, open the Character Map file in the Accessories folder to view a grid of all of the characters for a specified typeface. Click on the character you want to use and either note the key stroke displayed in the box in the lower right corner of the window or copy and paste it into the publication where you want to use it. Wing dings and Dingbats are common Character fonts.


Decorative fonts are fonts that do not fit into any other group. These typefaces are reserved for novelty, for special effect, or a special approach. Because they are different, they are usually harder to read than standard fonts, souse them sparingly and always as display type - never as text. Bees' knees, Curlz, and Snap are examples of decorative fonts.


Long time ago, newspapers was typeset before they went to cold type composition.


Determine the image you want to project with your publication and choose fonts with personalities that will fit that image.

Limit the number of typefaces you use in a publication. Many experts say to use a limit of two typefaces, but occasionally this will vary. Too many typefaces can create an unprofessional, jumbled image.

Look at various publications for ideas about which typefaces work well together and the images they project.

When using two typefaces, make sure they are very different. One typeface will probably be used for display type, such as headings, and the other for text. Strive for definite contrast between the two.

When choosing only one typeface family, choose one with a lot of variations, so you will have some flexibility with your text design. The typeface Helvetica has many variations such as Helvetica Bold, Light, Regular, Condensed or Narrow, Outline, and Black.

If you are unsure about which typeface to select, choose a common and reliable one such as Garamond, Palatino, Helvetica, Goudy, or Times Roman.

When using a display type that has very strong characters (type that is bigger and bolder than regular type), use a typeface for text that looks more neutral. Very elaborate typefaces can be hard to read. Limit their use to only a few words and make sure the words are legible.

All caps are harder to read than upper and lower case letters. Try to limit the use of all caps to two or three words. Some typefaces, such as Old English, are not designed to be used for all caps.

Use bold and italic type for just a few words.

Avoid setting large blocks of text in bold or italic type. Both styles are generally more difficult to read than regular type. A block of bold type tends to darken a page.


The design and use of typefaces as a means of visual communication from calligraphy to the ever-developing use of digital type is the broad use of the term typography. However, the art and practice of typography began with the invention of moveable type and the printing press. Typography is sometimes seen as encompassing many separate fields from the type designer who creates letterforms to the graphic designer who selects typefaces and arranges them on the page.

Typography, not as in 'the art of printing', but as in 'design and structure of visual communication using written language' remains the most effective way to communicate. Especially on the Internet. Many websites mainly use text and therefore typography. The balance between visual and textual based content is very important. As is the balance between style and design. This balance is ideally based on a concept and the main target audience. If designers were more involved in the concept they wouldn't feel the need as much too just 'copy-paste' a text in after the design is completed. Hopefully, redefining typography will make its role in new media design more prominent and less conventional. The form would follow the function more often. The result would be more usable and it would communicate more efficiently.

After the 'shakeout' that destroyed the hype surrounding the Internet, it is even more important to find the real value and communicative strengths of the Web. Efficient use of type is vital for the success of the Internet as a global medium that communicates to a large target audience besides designers or technology minded people. So this is not merely a design issue; it is a social one as well.

To create effective and usable sites, specially trained 'new media typographers' are required. They have to be educated in the principles of (new media) typography, interaction design and the usability guidelines. Graphic design becomes 'typographic communication design' with graphic styles applied to it.

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