Typography

Typography

Overview
Typography is the art and technique of arranging type
Typesetting
Typesetting is the composition of text by means of types.Typesetting requires the prior process of designing a font and storing it in some manner...

 in order to make language visible. The arrangement of type involves the selection of typeface
Typeface
In typography, a typeface is the artistic representation or interpretation of characters; it is the way the type looks. Each type is designed and there are thousands of different typefaces in existence, with new ones being developed constantly....

s, point size
Point (typography)
In typography, a point is the smallest unit of measure, being a subdivision of the larger pica. It is commonly abbreviated as pt. The point has long been the usual unit for measuring font size and leading and other minute items on a printed page....

, line length
Line length
In Typography Line length is the width occupied by a block of typeset text, measured in inches, picas and points. A block of text or paragraph has a maximum line length that fits a determined design....

, leading
Leading
In typography, leading refers to the distance between the baselines of successive lines of type. The term originated in the days of hand-typesetting, when thin strips of lead were inserted into the formes to increase the vertical distance between lines of type...

 (line spacing), adjusting the spaces between groups of letters (tracking) and adjusting the space between pairs of letters (kerning
Kerning
In typography, kerning is the process of adjusting the spacing between characters in a proportional font, usually to achieve a visually pleasing result. Kerning is the adjustment of the space between individual letter forms vs. tracking which is the uniform adjustment of spacing applied over a...

). Type design
Type design
Type design is the art of designing typefaces.- History :Although the technology of printing text using movable type was invented in China, and despite the esteem which calligraphy held in that civilization, the vast number of Chinese characters meant that few distinctive, complete fonts could be...

 is a closely related craft, which some consider distinct and others a part of typography; most typographers do not design typefaces, and some type designers do not consider themselves typographers.
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Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
Typography is the art and technique of arranging type
Typesetting
Typesetting is the composition of text by means of types.Typesetting requires the prior process of designing a font and storing it in some manner...

 in order to make language visible. The arrangement of type involves the selection of typeface
Typeface
In typography, a typeface is the artistic representation or interpretation of characters; it is the way the type looks. Each type is designed and there are thousands of different typefaces in existence, with new ones being developed constantly....

s, point size
Point (typography)
In typography, a point is the smallest unit of measure, being a subdivision of the larger pica. It is commonly abbreviated as pt. The point has long been the usual unit for measuring font size and leading and other minute items on a printed page....

, line length
Line length
In Typography Line length is the width occupied by a block of typeset text, measured in inches, picas and points. A block of text or paragraph has a maximum line length that fits a determined design....

, leading
Leading
In typography, leading refers to the distance between the baselines of successive lines of type. The term originated in the days of hand-typesetting, when thin strips of lead were inserted into the formes to increase the vertical distance between lines of type...

 (line spacing), adjusting the spaces between groups of letters (tracking) and adjusting the space between pairs of letters (kerning
Kerning
In typography, kerning is the process of adjusting the spacing between characters in a proportional font, usually to achieve a visually pleasing result. Kerning is the adjustment of the space between individual letter forms vs. tracking which is the uniform adjustment of spacing applied over a...

). Type design
Type design
Type design is the art of designing typefaces.- History :Although the technology of printing text using movable type was invented in China, and despite the esteem which calligraphy held in that civilization, the vast number of Chinese characters meant that few distinctive, complete fonts could be...

 is a closely related craft, which some consider distinct and others a part of typography; most typographers do not design typefaces, and some type designers do not consider themselves typographers. In modern times, typography has been put into motion — in film, television and online broadcasts — to add emotion to mass communication.

Typography is performed by typesetters
Typesetting
Typesetting is the composition of text by means of types.Typesetting requires the prior process of designing a font and storing it in some manner...

, compositors, typographers, graphic designer
Graphic designer
A graphic designer is a professional within the graphic design and graphic arts industry who assembles together images, typography or motion graphics to create a piece of design. A graphic designer creates the graphics primarily for published, printed or electronic media, such as brochures and...

s, art director
Art director
The art director is a person who supervise the creative process of a design.The term 'art director' is a blanket title for a variety of similar job functions in advertising, publishing, film and television, the Internet, and video games....

s, comic book artists, graffiti artists, clerical workers, and anyone else who arranges type for a product. Until the Digital Age
Information Age
The Information Age, also commonly known as the Computer Age or Digital Age, is an idea that the current age will be characterized by the ability of individuals to transfer information freely, and to have instant access to knowledge that would have been difficult or impossible to find previously...

, typography was a specialized occupation. Digitization opened up typography to new generations of visual designers and lay users, and it has been said that "typography is now something everybody does."

History


Typography traces its origins to the first punches
Punch (numismatics)
In numismatics, a punch is an intermediate used in the process of manufacturing coins.A punch has its design in cameo, much like on the coins themselves. Prior to the use of punches, each die was individually engraved and when a die wore out, another one had to be engraved to replace it, and the...

 and dies
Die (manufacturing)
A die is a specialized tool used in manufacturing industries to cut or shape material using a press. Like molds, dies are generally customized to the item they are used to create...

 used to make seals
Seal (device)
A seal can be a figure impressed in wax, clay, or some other medium, or embossed on paper, with the purpose of authenticating a document ; but the term can also mean the device for making such impressions, being essentially a mould with the mirror image of the design carved in sunken- relief or...

 and currency
Currency
In economics, currency refers to a generally accepted medium of exchange. These are usually the coins and banknotes of a particular government, which comprise the physical aspects of a nation's money supply...

 in ancient times
Ancient history
Ancient history is the study of the written past from the beginning of recorded human history to the Early Middle Ages. The span of recorded history is roughly 5,000 years, with Cuneiform script, the oldest discovered form of coherent writing, from the protoliterate period around the 30th century BC...

. The typographical principle, that is the creation of a complete text by reusing identical characters, was first realized in the Phaistos Disc
Phaistos Disc
The Phaistos Disc is a disk of fired clay from the Minoan palace of Phaistos on the Greek island of Crete, possibly dating to the middle or late Minoan Bronze Age . It is about 15 cm in diameter and covered on both sides with a spiral of stamped symbols...

, an enigmatic Minoan
Minoan civilization
The Minoan civilization was a Bronze Age civilization that arose on the island of Crete and flourished from approximately the 27th century BC to the 15th century BC. It was rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century through the work of the British archaeologist Arthur Evans...

 print item from Crete
Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

, Greece, which dates between 1850 and 1600 BC. It has been put forward that Roman lead pipe inscription
Roman lead pipe inscription
A Roman lead pipe inscription is a Latin inscription on a Roman water pipe made of lead which provides brief information on its manufacturer and owner, often the reigning emperor himself as the supreme authority...

s were created by movable type printing, but this view has been recently dismissed by the German typographer Herbert Brekle.

The essential criterion of type identity was met by medieval print artifacts such as the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 Pruefening Abbey inscription of 1119 that was created by the same technique as the Phaistos disc. In the northern Italian town of Cividale
Cividale del Friuli
-External links:*...

, there is a Venetian
Republic of Venice
The Republic of Venice or Venetian Republic was a state originating from the city of Venice in Northeastern Italy. It existed for over a millennium, from the late 7th century until 1797. It was formally known as the Most Serene Republic of Venice and is often referred to as La Serenissima, in...

 silver retable from ca. 1200, which was printed with individual letter punches. The same printing technique can apparently be found in 10th to 12th century Byzantine
Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

 staurotheca and lipsanotheca. Individual letter tiles where the words are formed by assembling single letter tiles in the desired order were reasonably widespread in medieval Northern Europe.

Modern movable type, along with the mechanical printing press
Printing press
A printing press is a device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a print medium , thereby transferring the ink...

, was invented in mid-15th century Europe by the German goldsmith Johannes Gutenberg. His type pieces from a lead
Lead
Lead is a main-group element in the carbon group with the symbol Pb and atomic number 82. Lead is a soft, malleable poor metal. It is also counted as one of the heavy metals. Metallic lead has a bluish-white color after being freshly cut, but it soon tarnishes to a dull grayish color when exposed...

-based alloy
Alloy
An alloy is a mixture or metallic solid solution composed of two or more elements. Complete solid solution alloys give single solid phase microstructure, while partial solutions give two or more phases that may or may not be homogeneous in distribution, depending on thermal history...

 suited printing purposes so well that the alloy is still used today.
Gutenberg developed specialized techniques for casting and combining cheap copies of letterpunches
Punchcutting
In traditional typography, punchcutting is the craft of cutting letter punches in steel from which matrices were made in copper for type founding in the letterpress era. Cutting punches and casting type was the first step of traditional typesetting. The cutting of letter punches was a highly...

 in the vast quantities required to print multiple copies of texts. This technical breakthrough was instrumental in starting the Printing Revolution.

Typography with movable type
Movable type
Movable type is the system of printing and typography that uses movable components to reproduce the elements of a document ....

 was separately invented in 11th-century China. Metal type was first invented in Korea during the Goryeo Dynasty
Goryeo
The Goryeo Dynasty or Koryŏ was a Korean dynasty established in 918 by Emperor Taejo. Korea gets its name from this kingdom which came to be pronounced Korea. It united the Later Three Kingdoms in 936 and ruled most of the Korean peninsula until it was removed by the Joseon dynasty in 1392...

 around 1230. Both hand printing systems, however, were only sporadically used and discontinued after the introduction of Western lead type and the printing press.

Scope


In contemporary use, the practice and study of typography is very broad, covering all aspects of letter design and application. These include:
  • typesetting
    Typesetting
    Typesetting is the composition of text by means of types.Typesetting requires the prior process of designing a font and storing it in some manner...

     and type design
    Type design
    Type design is the art of designing typefaces.- History :Although the technology of printing text using movable type was invented in China, and despite the esteem which calligraphy held in that civilization, the vast number of Chinese characters meant that few distinctive, complete fonts could be...

  • handwriting
    Penmanship
    Penmanship is the technique of writing with the hand using a writing instrument. The various generic and formal historical styles of writing are called hands, whilst an individual personal style of penmanship is referred to as handwriting....

     and calligraphy
    Calligraphy
    Calligraphy is a type of visual art. It is often called the art of fancy lettering . A contemporary definition of calligraphic practice is "the art of giving form to signs in an expressive, harmonious and skillful manner"...

  • graffiti
    Graffiti
    Graffiti is the name for images or lettering scratched, scrawled, painted or marked in any manner on property....

  • inscriptional and architectural
    Architecture
    Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

     lettering
  • poster design and other large scale lettering such as signage
    Information sign
    An information sign is a very legibly printed and very noticeable placard that informs people of the purpose of an object, or gives them instruction on the use of something. An example is a traffic sign such as a stop sign....

     and billboard
    Billboard
    Billboard is a weekly American magazine devoted to the music industry, and is one of the oldest trade magazines in the world. It maintains several internationally recognized music charts that track the most popular songs and albums in various categories on a weekly basis...

    s
  • business communications and promotional collateral
  • advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising is a form of communication used to persuade an audience to take some action with respect to products, ideas, or services. Most commonly, the desired result is to drive consumer behavior with respect to a commercial offering, although political and ideological advertising is also common...

  • wordmarks and typographic logos (logotypes)
    Logo
    A logo is a graphic mark or emblem commonly used by commercial enterprises, organizations and even individuals to aid and promote instant public recognition...

  • apparel (clothing)
    Clothing
    Clothing refers to any covering for the human body that is worn. The wearing of clothing is exclusively a human characteristic and is a feature of nearly all human societies...

  • labels
    Labeling (map design)
    Cartographic labeling is a form of typography and strongly deals with form, style, weight and size of type on a map. Essentially, labeling denotes the correct way to label features .- Form :...

     on maps
    MAPS
    Maps is the plural of map, a visual representation of an area.As an acronym, MAPS may refer to:* Mail Abuse Prevention System, an organisation that provides anti-spam support...

  • vehicle instrument panels
    Dashboard
    A dashboard is a control panel placed in front of the driver of an automobile, housing instrumentation and controls for operation of the vehicle....

  • kinetic typography in motion picture films
    Film
    A film, also called a movie or motion picture, is a series of still or moving images. It is produced by recording photographic images with cameras, or by creating images using animation techniques or visual effects...

     and television
    Television
    Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

  • as a component of industrial design
    Industrial design
    Industrial design is the use of a combination of applied art and applied science to improve the aesthetics, ergonomics, and usability of a product, but it may also be used to improve the product's marketability and production...

    —type on household appliances, pen
    Pen
    A pen is a device used to apply ink to a surface, usually paper, for writing or drawing. Historically, reed pens, quill pens, and dip pens were used, with a nib of some sort to be dipped in the ink. Ruling pens allow precise adjustment of line width, and still find a few specialized uses, but...

    s and wristwatches
    Watch
    A watch is a small timepiece, typically worn either on the wrist or attached on a chain and carried in a pocket, with wristwatches being the most common type of watch used today. They evolved in the 17th century from spring powered clocks, which appeared in the 15th century. The first watches were...

    , for example
  • as a component in modern poetry (see, for example, the poetry of E. E. Cummings
    E. E. Cummings
    Edward Estlin Cummings , popularly known as E. E. Cummings, with the abbreviated form of his name often written by others in lowercase letters as e.e. cummings , was an American poet, painter, essayist, author, and playwright...

    )


Since digitization, typography has spread to a wider ranger of applications, appearing on web page
Web page
A web page or webpage is a document or information resource that is suitable for the World Wide Web and can be accessed through a web browser and displayed on a monitor or mobile device. This information is usually in HTML or XHTML format, and may provide navigation to other web pages via hypertext...

s, LCD
Liquid crystal display
A liquid crystal display is a flat panel display, electronic visual display, or video display that uses the light modulating properties of liquid crystals . LCs do not emit light directly....

 mobile phone
Mobile phone
A mobile phone is a device which can make and receive telephone calls over a radio link whilst moving around a wide geographic area. It does so by connecting to a cellular network provided by a mobile network operator...

 screens, and hand-held video games. The ubiquity
Omnipresence
Omnipresence or ubiquity is the property of being present everywhere. According to eastern theism, God is present everywhere. Divine omnipresence is thus one of the divine attributes, although in western theism it has attracted less philosophical attention than such attributes as omnipotence,...

 of type has led typographers to coin the phrase "Type is everywhere".

Traditional typography follows four principles: repetition
Repetition (rhetorical device)
Repetition is the simple repeating of a word, within a sentence or a poetical line, with no particular placement of the words, in order to emphasize. This is such a common literary device that it is almost never even noted as a figure of speech...

, contrast
Contrast (vision)
Contrast is the difference in visual properties that makes an object distinguishable from other objects and the background. In visual perception of the real world, contrast is determined by the difference in the color and brightness of the object and other objects within the same field of view...

, proximity
Distance
Distance is a numerical description of how far apart objects are. In physics or everyday discussion, distance may refer to a physical length, or an estimation based on other criteria . In mathematics, a distance function or metric is a generalization of the concept of physical distance...

, and alignment
Typographic alignment
In typesetting and page layout, alignment or range, is the setting of text flow or image placement relative to a page, column , table cell or tab...

.

Text typography



In traditional typography, text is composed to create a readable, coherent, and visually satisfying whole that works invisibly, without the awareness of the reader. Even distribution of typeset material, with a minimum of distractions and anomalies, is aimed at producing clarity and transparency.

Choice of font(s) is the primary aspect of text typography—prose
Prose
Prose is the most typical form of written language, applying ordinary grammatical structure and natural flow of speech rather than rhythmic structure...

 fiction
Fiction
Fiction is the form of any narrative or informative work that deals, in part or in whole, with information or events that are not factual, but rather, imaginary—that is, invented by the author. Although fiction describes a major branch of literary work, it may also refer to theatrical,...

, non-fiction
Non-fiction
Non-fiction is the form of any narrative, account, or other communicative work whose assertions and descriptions are understood to be fact...

, editorial, educational, religious, scientific, spiritual and commercial writing all have differing characteristics and requirements of appropriate typefaces and fonts. For historic material established text typefaces are frequently chosen according to a scheme of historical genre acquired by a long process of accretion, with considerable overlap between historical periods.

Contemporary books are more likely to be set with state-of-the-art serif
Serif
In typography, serifs are semi-structural details on the ends of some of the strokes that make up letters and symbols. A typeface with serifs is called a serif typeface . A typeface without serifs is called sans serif or sans-serif, from the French sans, meaning “without”...

fed "text romans" or "book romans" with design values echoing present-day design arts, which are closely based on traditional models such as those of Nicolas Jenson
Nicolas Jenson
Nicolas Jenson was a French engraver, pioneer printer and type designer who carried out most of his work in Venice. Jenson acted as Master of the French Royal Mint at Tours, and is accredited with being the creator of the first model roman type...

, Francesco Griffo
Francesco Griffo
Francesco Griffo , also called Francesco da Bologna, was a fifteenth-century Venetian punchcutter. He worked for Aldus Manutius, designing that printer's more important typefaces, including the first italic type...

 (a punchcutter who created the model for Aldine typefaces), and Claude Garamond
Claude Garamond
Claude Garamond was a French publisher from Paris. He was one of the leading type designers of his time, and is credited with the introduction of the apostrophe, the accent and the cedilla to the French language. Several contemporary typefaces, including those currently known as Garamond, Granjon,...

. With their more specialized requirements, newspapers and magazines rely on compact, tightly fitted seriffed text fonts specially designed for the task, which offer maximum flexibility, readability and efficient use of page space. Sans serif text fonts are often used for introductory paragraphs, incidental text and whole short articles. A current fashion is to pair sans-serif
Sans-serif
In typography, a sans-serif, sans serif or san serif typeface is one that does not have the small projecting features called "serifs" at the end of strokes. The term comes from the French word sans, meaning "without"....

 type for headings with a high-performance seriffed font of matching style for the text of an article.

Typography is modulated by orthography
Orthography
The orthography of a language specifies a standardized way of using a specific writing system to write the language. Where more than one writing system is used for a language, for example Kurdish, Uyghur, Serbian or Inuktitut, there can be more than one orthography...

 and linguistics
Linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

, word structures, word frequencies, morphology
Morphology (linguistics)
In linguistics, morphology is the identification, analysis and description, in a language, of the structure of morphemes and other linguistic units, such as words, affixes, parts of speech, intonation/stress, or implied context...

, phonetic
Phonetics
Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that comprises the study of the sounds of human speech, or—in the case of sign languages—the equivalent aspects of sign. It is concerned with the physical properties of speech sounds or signs : their physiological production, acoustic properties, auditory...

 constructs and linguistic syntax
Syntax
In linguistics, syntax is the study of the principles and rules for constructing phrases and sentences in natural languages....

. Typography is also subject to specific cultural conventions. For example, in French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 it is customary to insert a non-breaking space
Non-breaking space
In computer-based text processing and digital typesetting, a non-breaking space or no-break space is a variant of the space character that prevents an automatic line break at its position. In certain formats , it also prevents the “collapsing” of multiple consecutive whitespace characters into a...

 before a colon
Colon (punctuation)
The colon is a punctuation mark consisting of two equally sized dots centered on the same vertical line.-Usage:A colon informs the reader that what follows the mark proves, explains, or lists elements of what preceded the mark....

 (:) or semicolon
Semicolon
The semicolon is a punctuation mark with several uses. The Italian printer Aldus Manutius the Elder established the practice of using the semicolon to separate words of opposed meaning and to indicate interdependent statements. "The first printed semicolon was the work of ... Aldus Manutius"...

  in a sentence, while in English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 it is not.

Color


In typography, color is the overall density of the ink on the page, determined mainly by the typeface, but also by the word spacing, leading
Leading
In typography, leading refers to the distance between the baselines of successive lines of type. The term originated in the days of hand-typesetting, when thin strips of lead were inserted into the formes to increase the vertical distance between lines of type...

 and depth of the margins. Text layout, tone or color of set matter, and the interplay of text with white space
White space (visual arts)
In page layout, illustration and sculpture, white space is often referred to as negative space. It is that portion of a page left unmarked: the space between graphics, margins, gutters, space between columns, space between lines of type or figures and objects drawn or depicted...

 of the page and other graphic elements combine to impart a "feel" or "resonance" to the subject matter. With printed
Printing press
A printing press is a device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a print medium , thereby transferring the ink...

 media typographers are also concerned with binding margins, paper selection and printing methods.

Readability and legibility


Legibility is primarily the concern of the typeface designer, to ensure that each individual character or glyph is unambiguous and distinguishable from all other characters in the font. Legibility is also in part the concern of the typographer to select a typeface with appropriate clarity of design for the intended use at the intended size. An example of a well-known design, Brush Script
Brush Script
Brush Script is a casual connecting script typeface designed in 1942 by Robert E. Smith for the American Type Founders . The face exhibits an exuberant graphic stroke emulating the look of handwritten written letters with an ink brush. Lowercase letters are deliberately irregular to further effect...

, contains a number of illegible letters since many of the characters can be easily misread especially if seen out of textual context.

Readability is primarily the concern of the typographer or information designer. It is the intended result of the complete process of presentation of textual material in order to communicate meaning as unambiguously as possible. A reader should be assisted in navigating around the information with ease, by optimal inter-letter, inter-word and particularly inter-line spacing, coupled with appropriate line length and position on the page, careful editorial “chunking” and choice of the text architecture of titles, folios, and reference links.

One of the clearest distinctions between the two concepts was presented by Walter Tracy
Walter Tracy
Walter Valentine Tracy RDI was an English typographer and writer and designer of books, magazines, and newspapers.- Biography :Walter Tracy was born in Islington, London and attended Shoreditch Secondary school. At the age of fourteen he was apprenticed to the large printing firm William Clowes as...

 in his Letters of Credit. These … ‘two aspects of a type’ … are … ‘fundamental to its effectiveness. Because the common meaning of “legible” is “readable” there are those – even some professionally involved in typography – who think that the term “legibility” is all that is needed in any discussion on the effectiveness of types. But legibility and readability are separate, though connected aspects of type. Properly understood … the two terms can help to describe the character and function of type more precisely than legibility alone. … In typography we need to draw the definition … of legibility …to mean the quality of being decipherable and recognisable – so that we can say, for example, that the lowercase h in a particular old style italic is not legible in small sizes because its in-turned leg makes it look like the letter b; or a figure 3 in a classified advertisement is too similar to the 8. … In display sizes, legibility ceases to be a serious matter; a character that causes uncertainty at 8 point size is plain enough at 24 point.’

Note that the above applies to people with 20/20 vision at appropriate reading distance and under optimal lighting. The analogy of an opticians chart, testing for visual acuity
Visual acuity
Visual acuity is acuteness or clearness of vision, which is dependent on the sharpness of the retinal focus within the eye and the sensitivity of the interpretative faculty of the brain....

 and independent of meaning, is useful to indicate the scope of the concept of legibility.

‘In typography … if the columns of a newspaper or magazine or the pages of a book can be read for many minutes at a time without strain or difficulty, then we can say the type has good readability. The term describes the quality of visual comfort – an important requirement in the comprehension of long stretches of text but, paradoxically, not so important in such things as telephone directories or air-line time-tables, where the reader is not reading continuously but searching for a single item of information. The difference in the two aspects of visual effectiveness is illustrated by the familiar argument on the suitability of sans-serif types for text setting. The characters in a particular sans-serif face may be perfectly legible in themselves, but no one would think of setting a popular novel in it because its readability is low.’’

Legibility ‘refers to perception’ and readability ‘refers to comprehension’. Typographers aim to achieve excellence in both.

"The typeface chosen should be legible. That is, it should be read without effort. Sometimes legibility is simply a matter of type size. More often however, it is a matter of typeface design. In general typefaces that are true to the basic letterforms are more legible than typefaces that have been condensed, expanded, embellished, or abstracted.

"However, even a legible typeface can become unreadable through poor setting and placement, just as a less legible typeface can be made more readable through good design."

Studies of both legibility and readability have examined a wide range of factors including type size and type design. For example, comparing serif
Serif
In typography, serifs are semi-structural details on the ends of some of the strokes that make up letters and symbols. A typeface with serifs is called a serif typeface . A typeface without serifs is called sans serif or sans-serif, from the French sans, meaning “without”...

vs. sans-serif
Sans-serif
In typography, a sans-serif, sans serif or san serif typeface is one that does not have the small projecting features called "serifs" at the end of strokes. The term comes from the French word sans, meaning "without"....

 type, roman type
Roman type
In typography, roman is one of the three main kinds of historical type, alongside blackletter and italic. Roman type was modelled from a European scribal manuscript style of the 1400s, based on the pairing of inscriptional capitals used in ancient Rome with Carolingian minuscules developed in the...

 vs. oblique type
Oblique type
Oblique type is a form of type that slants slightly to the right, used in the same manner as italic type. Unlike italic type, however, it does not use different glyph shapes; it uses the same glyphs as roman type, except distorted...

and italic type
Italic type
In typography, italic type is a cursive typeface based on a stylized form of calligraphic handwriting. Owing to the influence from calligraphy, such typefaces often slant slightly to the right. Different glyph shapes from roman type are also usually used—another influence from calligraphy...

, line length
Line length
In Typography Line length is the width occupied by a block of typeset text, measured in inches, picas and points. A block of text or paragraph has a maximum line length that fits a determined design....

, line spacing
Leading
In typography, leading refers to the distance between the baselines of successive lines of type. The term originated in the days of hand-typesetting, when thin strips of lead were inserted into the formes to increase the vertical distance between lines of type...

, color contrast, the design of right-hand edge (for example, justification
Justification (typesetting)
In typesetting, justification is the typographic alignment setting of text or images within a column or "measure" to align along both the left and right margin...

, straight right hand edge) vs. ranged left, and whether text is hyphen
Hyphen
The hyphen is a punctuation mark used to join words and to separate syllables of a single word. The use of hyphens is called hyphenation. The hyphen should not be confused with dashes , which are longer and have different uses, or with the minus sign which is also longer...

ated.

Legibility research has been published since the late nineteenth century. Although there are often commonalities and agreement on many topics, others often create poignant areas of conflict and variation of opinion. For example, no one has provided a conclusive answer as to which font, serifed or sans serif, provides the most legibility according to Alex Poole.

Other topics such as justified vs unjustified type, use of hyphens, and proper fonts for people with reading difficulties such as dyslexia
Dyslexia
Dyslexia is a very broad term defining a learning disability that impairs a person's fluency or comprehension accuracy in being able to read, and which can manifest itself as a difficulty with phonological awareness, phonological decoding, orthographic coding, auditory short-term memory, or rapid...

, have continued to be subjects of debate. Websites such as hgredbes.com, ban comic sans, UK National Literacy Trust, and Mark Simsonson Studio have raised debating opinions on the above subjects and many more each presenting a thorough and well-organized position.

Legibility is usually measured through speed of reading, with comprehension scores used to check for effectiveness (that is, not a rushed or careless read). For example, Miles Tinker
Miles Tinker
Miles Albert Tinker is an American author. He is "an internationally recognized authority on legibility of print" who published the results of some of the most comprehensive studies on the legibility of print ever conducted....

, who published numerous studies from the 1930s to the 1960s, used a speed of reading test that required participants to spot incongruous words as an effectiveness filter.

The Readability of Print Unit at the Royal College of Art under Professor Herbert Spencer
Herbert Spencer (graphic designer)
Herbert Spencer was a British designer, editor, writer, photographer and teacher, born in London on June 22, 1924, and died March 11, 2002 ....

 with Brian Coe and Linda Reynolds did important work in this area and was one of the centres that revealed the importance of the saccadic
Saccade
A saccade is a fast movement of an eye, head or other part of an animal's body or device. It can also be a fast shift in frequency of an emitted signal or other quick change. Saccades are quick, simultaneous movements of both eyes in the same direction...

 rhythm of eye movement for readability—in particular, the ability to take in (i.e., recognise the meaning of groups of) around three words at once and the physiognomy of the eye, which means the eye tires if the line required more than 3 or 4 of these saccadic jumps. More than this is found to introduce strain and errors in reading (e.g. Doubling).

These days, legibility research tends to be limited to critical issues, or the testing of specific design solutions (for example, when new typefaces are developed). Examples of critical issues include typeface
Typeface
In typography, a typeface is the artistic representation or interpretation of characters; it is the way the type looks. Each type is designed and there are thousands of different typefaces in existence, with new ones being developed constantly....

s (also called font
Font
In typography, a font is traditionally defined as a quantity of sorts composing a complete character set of a single size and style of a particular typeface...

s) for people with visual impairment
Visual impairment
Visual impairment is vision loss to such a degree as to qualify as an additional support need through a significant limitation of visual capability resulting from either disease, trauma, or congenital or degenerative conditions that cannot be corrected by conventional means, such as refractive...

, and typefaces for highway signs, or for other conditions where legibility may make a key difference.

Much of the legibility research literature is somewhat atheoretical—various factors were tested individually or in combination (inevitably so, as the different factors are interdependent), but many tests were carried out in the absence of a model of reading or visual perception. Some typographers believe that the overall word shape (Bouma
Bouma
The term bouma is sometimes used in the work of cognitive psychology to mean the shape of a cluster of letters, often a whole word. It is a reduction of "Bouma-shape", which was probably first used in Paul Saenger's 1997 book Space between Words: The Origins of Silent Reading, although Saenger...

) is very important in readability, and that the theory of parallel letterwise recognition is either wrong, less important, or not the entire picture.

Studies distinguishing between Bouma recognition and parallel letterwise recognition with regard to how people actually recognize words when they read, have favored parallel letterwise recognition, which is widely accepted by cognitive psychologists
Cognitive psychology
Cognitive psychology is a subdiscipline of psychology exploring internal mental processes.It is the study of how people perceive, remember, think, speak, and solve problems.Cognitive psychology differs from previous psychological approaches in two key ways....

.

Some commonly agreed findings of legibility research include:
  • Text set in lower case is more legible than text set all in upper case (capitals), presumably because lower case letter structures and word shapes are more distinctive.
  • Extenders (ascenders, descender
    Descender
    In typography, a descender is the portion of a letter that extends below the baseline of a font. The line that descenders reach down to is known as the beard line....

    s and other projecting parts) increase salience (prominence).
  • Regular upright type (roman type
    Roman type
    In typography, roman is one of the three main kinds of historical type, alongside blackletter and italic. Roman type was modelled from a European scribal manuscript style of the 1400s, based on the pairing of inscriptional capitals used in ancient Rome with Carolingian minuscules developed in the...

    ) is found to be more legible than italic type
    Italic type
    In typography, italic type is a cursive typeface based on a stylized form of calligraphic handwriting. Owing to the influence from calligraphy, such typefaces often slant slightly to the right. Different glyph shapes from roman type are also usually used—another influence from calligraphy...

    .
  • Contrast
    Contrast (vision)
    Contrast is the difference in visual properties that makes an object distinguishable from other objects and the background. In visual perception of the real world, contrast is determined by the difference in the color and brightness of the object and other objects within the same field of view...

    , without dazzling brightness, has also been found to be important, with black on yellow/cream being most effective.
  • Positive images (e.g. black on white) are easier to read than negative or reversed (e.g. white on black). However even this commonly accepted practice has some exceptions, for example in some cases of disability. (See UK National Literacy Trust for their findings in this area.)
  • The upper portions of letters play a stronger part than the lower portions in the recognition process.



Readability can also be compromised by letter-spacing, word spacing, or leading
Leading
In typography, leading refers to the distance between the baselines of successive lines of type. The term originated in the days of hand-typesetting, when thin strips of lead were inserted into the formes to increase the vertical distance between lines of type...

 that is too tight or too loose. It can be improved when generous vertical space separates lines of text, making it easier for the eye to distinguish one line from the next, or previous line. Poorly designed fonts and those that are too tightly or loosely fitted can also result in poor legibility.

Typography is an element of all printed material. Periodical publications, especially newspaper
Newspaper
A newspaper is a scheduled publication containing news of current events, informative articles, diverse features and advertising. It usually is printed on relatively inexpensive, low-grade paper such as newsprint. By 2007, there were 6580 daily newspapers in the world selling 395 million copies a...

s and magazine
Magazine
Magazines, periodicals, glossies or serials are publications, generally published on a regular schedule, containing a variety of articles. They are generally financed by advertising, by a purchase price, by pre-paid magazine subscriptions, or all three...

s, use typographical elements to achieve an attractive, distinctive appearance, to aid readers in navigating the publication, and in some cases for dramatic effect. By formulating a style guide
Style guide
A style guide or style manual is a set of standards for the writing and design of documents, either for general use or for a specific publication, organization or field...

, a periodical standardizes on a relatively small collection of typeface
Typeface
In typography, a typeface is the artistic representation or interpretation of characters; it is the way the type looks. Each type is designed and there are thousands of different typefaces in existence, with new ones being developed constantly....

s, each used for specific elements within the publication, and makes consistent use of type sizes, italic, boldface, large and small capital letters, colors, and other typographic features. Some publications, such as The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

and The Economist
The Economist
The Economist is an English-language weekly news and international affairs publication owned by The Economist Newspaper Ltd. and edited in offices in the City of Westminster, London, England. Continuous publication began under founder James Wilson in September 1843...

, go so far as to commission a type designer to create bespoke
Bespoke
Bespoke is a term employed in a variety of applications to mean an item custom-made to the buyer's specification...

 (custom tailored) typefaces for their exclusive use.

Different periodical publications design their publications, including their typography, to achieve a particular tone or style. For example, USA Today
USA Today
USA Today is a national American daily newspaper published by the Gannett Company. It was founded by Al Neuharth. The newspaper vies with The Wall Street Journal for the position of having the widest circulation of any newspaper in the United States, something it previously held since 2003...

uses a bold, colorful, and comparatively modern style through their use of a variety of typefaces and colors; type sizes vary widely, and the newspaper's name is placed on a colored background. In contrast, The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

uses a more traditional approach, with fewer colors, less typeface variation, and more columns
Column (typography)
In typography, a column is one or more vertical blocks of content positioned on a page, separated by gutters and/or rules. Columns are most commonly used to break up large bodies of text that cannot fit in a single block of text on a page. Additionally, columns are used to improve page composition...

.

Especially on the front page of newspapers and on magazine covers, headline
Headline
The headline is the text at the top of a newspaper article, indicating the nature of the article below it.It is sometimes termed a news hed, a deliberate misspelling that dates from production flow during hot type days, to notify the composing room that a written note from an editor concerned a...

s are often set in larger display typefaces to attract attention, and are placed near the masthead
Masthead (publishing)
The masthead is a list, published in a newspaper or magazine, of its staff. In some publications it names only the most senior individuals; in others, it may name many or all...

.

Experimental typography


Experimental typography is defined as the unconventional and more artistic approach to setting type. Francis Picabia
Francis Picabia
Francis Picabia was a French painter, poet, and typographist, associated with both the Dada and Surrealist art movements.- Early life :...

 was a Dada
Dada
Dada or Dadaism is a cultural movement that began in Zurich, Switzerland, during World War I and peaked from 1916 to 1922. The movement primarily involved visual arts, literature—poetry, art manifestoes, art theory—theatre, and graphic design, and concentrated its anti-war politics through a...

 pioneer in the early 20th Century. David Carson
David Carson (graphic designer)
David Carson is an American graphic designer. He is best known for his innovative magazine design, and use of experimental typography. He was the art director for the magazine Ray Gun. Carson was perhaps the most influential graphic designer of the 1990s...

 is often associated with this movement, particularly for his work in Ray Gun
Ray Gun (magazine)
Ray Gun was an American alternative rock-and-roll magazine, first published in 1992 in Santa Monica, California. Led by founding art director David Carson, Ray Gun explored experimental magazine typographic design. The result was a chaotic, abstract style, not always readable, but distinctive in...

magazine in the 1990s. His work caused an uproar in the design community due to his abandonment of standards in typesetting practices, layout, and design. Experimental typography places emphasis on communicating emotion, rather than on legibility.

Display typography


Display typography is a potent element in graphic design
Graphic design
Graphic design is a creative process – most often involving a client and a designer and usually completed in conjunction with producers of form – undertaken in order to convey a specific message to a targeted audience...

, where there is less concern for readability and more potential for using type in an artistic manner. Type is combined with negative space
Negative space
Negative space, in art, is the space around and between the subject of an image. Negative space may be most evident when the space around a subject, and not the subject itself, forms an interesting or artistically relevant shape, and such space is occasionally used to artistic effect as the "real"...

, graphic elements and pictures, forming relationships and dialog between words and images.

Color and size of type elements are much more prevalent than in text typography. Most display typography exploits type at larger sizes, where the details of letter design are magnified. Color is used for its emotional effect in conveying the tone and nature of subject matter.

Display typography encompasses:
  • poster
    Poster
    A poster is any piece of printed paper designed to be attached to a wall or vertical surface. Typically posters include both textual and graphic elements, although a poster may be either wholly graphical or wholly text. Posters are designed to be both eye-catching and informative. Posters may be...

    s; book cover
    Book cover
    A book cover is any protective covering used to bind together the pages of a book. Beyond the familiar distinction between hardcovers and paperbacks, there are further alternatives and additions, such as dust jackets, ring-binding, and older forms such as the nineteenth-century "paper-boards" and...

    s;
  • typographic logo
    Logo
    A logo is a graphic mark or emblem commonly used by commercial enterprises, organizations and even individuals to aid and promote instant public recognition...

    s and wordmarks; billboards;
  • packaging and labeling; on-product typography; calligraphy;
  • graffiti
    Graffiti
    Graffiti is the name for images or lettering scratched, scrawled, painted or marked in any manner on property....

    ; inscriptional and architectural lettering;
  • poster design and other large scale lettering signage;
  • business communications and promotional collateral; advertising;
  • wordmarks and typographic logos (logotypes)
    Logo
    A logo is a graphic mark or emblem commonly used by commercial enterprises, organizations and even individuals to aid and promote instant public recognition...

    ,
  • and kinetic typography in motion pictures and television; vending machine
    Vending machine
    A vending machine is a machine which dispenses items such as snacks, beverages, alcohol, cigarettes, lottery tickets, consumer products and even gold and gems to customers automatically, after the customer inserts currency or credit into the machine....

     displays; online and computer screen displays.


The wanted poster for the assassins of Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

 was printed with lead and woodcut type, and incorporates photography.

Advertising


Typography has long been a vital part of promotional material
Promotion (marketing)
Promotion is one of the four elements of marketing mix . It is the communication link between sellers and buyers for the purpose of influencing, informing, or persuading a potential buyer's purchasing decision....

 and advertising
Advertising
Advertising is a form of communication used to persuade an audience to take some action with respect to products, ideas, or services. Most commonly, the desired result is to drive consumer behavior with respect to a commercial offering, although political and ideological advertising is also common...

. Designers often use typography to set a theme and mood in an advertisement; for example using bold, large text to convey a particular message to the reader. Type is often used to draw attention to a particular advertisement, combined with efficient use of color, shapes and images. Today, typography in advertising often reflects a company's brand
Brand
The American Marketing Association defines a brand as a "Name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers."...

. Fonts used in advertisements convey different messages to the reader, classical fonts are for a strong personality, while more modern fonts are for a cleaner, neutral look. Bold fonts are used for making statements and attracting attention.

Inscriptional and architectural lettering



The history of inscriptional lettering is intimately tied to the history of writing, the evolution of letterforms and the craft of the hand. The widespread use of the computer and various etching and sandblasting
Abrasive blasting
Abrasive blasting is the operation of forcibly propelling a stream of abrasive material against a surface under high pressure to smooth a rough surface, roughen a smooth surface, shape a surface, or remove surface contaminants. A pressurized fluid, typically air, or a centrifugal wheel is used to...

 techniques today has made the hand carved monument a rarity, and the number of letter-carvers left in the USA
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 continues to dwindle.

For monumental lettering to be effective it must be considered carefully in its context. Proportions of letters need to be altered as their size and distance from the viewer increases. An expert letterer gains understanding of these nuances through much practice and observation of their craft. Letters drawn by hand and for a specific project have the possibility of being richly specific and profoundly beautiful in the hand of a master. Each can also take up to an hour to carve, so it is no wonder that the automated sandblasting process has become the industry standard.

To create a sandblasted letter, a rubber mat is laser cut from a computer file and glued to the stone. The sand then bites a coarse groove or channel into the exposed surface. Unfortunately, many of the computer applications that create these files and interface with the laser cutter do not have many typefaces available, and often have inferior versions of typefaces that are available. What can now be done in minutes, however, lacks the striking architecture and geometry of the chisel-cut letter that allows light to play across its distinct interior planes.

Supporting organizations

  • ATypI
    ATypI
    The ATypI or the Association Typographique Internationale is an international non-profit organisation dedicated to typography.-The organisation:...

     
  • International Society of Typographic Designers
    International Society of Typographic Designers
    The International Society of Typographic Designers is a professional body run by and for typographers, graphic designers, and educators. The society has an international membership and its aims are to establish and maintain standards of typography and to provide a forum for debate.- History :The...

  • Emil Ruder
    Emil Ruder
    Emil Ruder , Swiss typographer and graphic designer, who with Armin Hofmann helped to found the Schule für Gestaltung Basel and a graphic style known as the Swiss Style....

  • Society of Typographic Aficionados
    Society of Typographic Aficionados
    The Society of Typographic Aficionados is an international not-for-profit organization dedicated to the promotion, study, and support of type, its history and development, its use in the world of print and digital imagery, its designers, and its admirers....

  • The Typophiles
  • Type Directors Club
    Type Directors Club
    The Type Directors Club is an international organization for those devoted to excellence in typography in all its forms. Created in 1946, the organization’s mission is to raise the standards of typography and related fields within the graphic arts. The TDC supports research and education, and...

  • Typophile (Internet forum)
    Typophile (Internet forum)
    Typophile is an internet forum hosted at www.Typophile.com dedicated to the discussion of type, typefaces, fonts and typography and the associated software, tools and design practices of people who work with type...



External links