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Category Archives: Type

The Loveliest Living Fossil

Jonathan Hoefler writing on his blog at Hoefler&Co:

Nº was the number sign before # became a number sign, and it refreshingly serves this one and only purpose. Compare the #, which when preceding a number is read as “number” (“#1 in my class”), but when following a number means “pound” or “pounds”²² If you’re curious what the # symbol has to do with the abbreviation lbs.,here’s one possible missing link. (“70# uncoated paper”), leading to printshop pile-ups like “#10 envelope, 24# bond.” To programmers, a # can mean either “ignore what follows” (as in a Python comment) or “use what follows” (when referencing a page fragment, or a Unicode value in html.) To a proofreader, a # means “insert space,” so in the middle of a numbered list, the notation “line #” does not mean “line number,” but rather “add a line space.” Because of #’s resemblance to the musical symbol for “sharp” (♯), it’s a frequent stand-in for the word “sharp,” and often the correct way of rendering a trademarked term such as The C# Programming Language. The # is rapidly assuming musical duties as well, especially in online databases, leading to catalog collisions like “Prelude & Fugue #13 in F#.” How fortunate a designer would be to have a numero symbol, with which to write “Prelude & Fugue Nº 13 in F#,” or “Nº 10 Envelope, 24# bond.” […]

The Nº is a reminder that typography exists to serve readers, and that readers do not live by semantic punctuation alone.

Why Typography Matters — Especially At The Oscars

My first thought when the wrong film was announced for Best Picture was, why didn’t the presenter’s catch the error? Then the correct card was shown on screen and the reason became clear, incredibly poor design. Here’s a great explanation:

oscars-best-picture-2017Benjamin Bannister writing for freeCodeCamp:

I would imagine there are multiple redundancies so that something like this does not happen — especially at the Oscars! But there’s one thing the Academy possibly didn’t consider, or forgot, for this year’s winner cards: typography. […]

That’s horrible typography. I will emphasize horrible again. Horrible. Or to be nicer, not good. Look at it again. Of course, anyone could’ve made the same honest error!

The words “Best Actress” is on there — at the very bottom — in small print!

You are on television with millions of people around the world watching. You are a little nervous, and you have to read a card. You will most likely read it from top to bottom (visual hierarchy) without questioning whether the card is right. That look on Warren’s face was, “This says ‘Emma Stone’ on it.” Faye must’ve skipped that part and was caught up in the excitement and just blurted out, “La La Land.”

I don’t blame Faye or Warren for this. This was the fault of two entities: whoever was in charge of the design of the winning card (Was it really a design? C’mon), and the unfortunate person who handed them the wrong envelope.

Beyond Helvetica: Type is hot

Lucia Moses at Digiday:

Type is hot. Fonts are a booming business, as evidenced by a rise in font studios, independent designers and demand by brands and normals alike. Blue-chip companies like Ford and Citibank as well as storied publications like The Atlantic are commissioning custom fonts in search of a unique look. […]

At least 203 new type foundries were established from 2004 to midway into 2013, compared with 126 the previous decade, according to a census by Typographica, a reviewer of typefaces.

If you’ve been using the same font for a while, or simply chose a font because you happened to have it on your computer, now is a great time to check out your options. There are some really great typefaces out there from the unusual to modernized classics.

A beginner’s guide to kerning

Janie Kliever at designschool.canva.com:

Have you ever looked at a word or phrase you’re typesetting and something just looked off about it?

It might just be a kerning problem. Kerning refers to the amount of space between two letters (or other characters: numbers, punctuation, etc.) and the process of adjusting that space to avoid awkward-­looking gaps between your letters and improve legibility.

It’s important to note here that kerning is a visual exercise; it’s about the perceived amount of space between letters rather than the actual distance between them. Kerning involves adjusting your typography to look right rather than creating mathematically equal spacing.

Kerning may seem like an unnecessary or unimportant detail, but adding it as a quick extra step at the end of your design workflow can make a big difference in helping typography-­focused projects look polished.

Software has gotten much better at kerning and word spacing but a bit of manual kerning is still sometimes necessary to make it look “right.” It’s also important to remember that not all software is the same. And even if you use the right layout software with the right settings, you can still be let down by a poorly spaced font.

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