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Design with Type

Design with Type

Carl Dair
Copyright Date: 1967
Pages: 162
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  • Book Info
    Design with Type
    Book Description:

    Takes the reader through a study of typography that starts with the individual letter and proceeds through the word, the line, and the mass of text along with their application to the typography of books, advertising, magazines, and information data.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6909-3
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. preface
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. 1 beginnings
    (pp. 1-5)

    The use of written or printed symbols as a basic element of design is not a discovery of our era; it is not even a result of the invention of movable type by Gutenberg. It reaches back into the dawn of civilization, to wherever and whenever man took up a tool and attempted to inscribe on a receptive surface a message to be preserved. It would seem that there was something of an instinctive urge in the dark recesses of the pre-civilized mind towards an orderliness and a pattern in the grouping of the symbols which were to convey this...

  5. 2 the nature of type
    (pp. 6-13)

    Good design in any field demands that the designer know the materials with which he is working. It is an unfortunate product of today’s industrial methods that the man who knows typographic material most intimately because he ‘sticks’ type day after day is no longer the designer of printing, and that, on the other hand, the designer is usually a man who knows his material only at second hand, and could not execute, by himself, the work which he plans.

    The information which follows is no substitute for the actual ‘feel’ of type; the best this account can hope to...

  6. 3 starting from a
    (pp. 15-19)

    The basic element of typography is the individual character–letter, numeral, or punctuation mark.

    The matter does not end there–it starts there. Without a fundamental and deep appreciation of the form of individual letters, no designer can be effective, any more than a bricklayer who does not know the heft of an individual brick can build a wall. Typography starts with the letter and builds from there; it is the basic unit of all printed communication.

    Most typesetters and graphic designers have an innate appreciation of a letter’s structure; they are sensitive to the well-drawn curve, the subtle proportions,...

  7. 4 a plus b
    (pp. 21-25)

    Letters are like molecules when they combine with one another; each arrangement of the individual components in combination creates an entirely new result. Molecules of hydrogen and oxygen, for example, can combine with each other, and with other elements, to make a gas, a liquid, or a solid, each substance with characteristics all its own, unlike any other substance. In each case, the essential characteristics of the original elements are completely lost in the new product; when the gases hydrogen and oxygen are combined in the ratio of two hydrogen molecules and one oxygen molecule the result is not a...

  8. 5 a string of words
    (pp. 27-33)

    Just as the letter is a unit which enters into the aggregation we call a word, so words themselves become simple units in the larger relationship of the phrase or sentence. But, unlike letters, the individual words do not lose their identity in this new relationship; visually, they merge as part of the general pattern of the typographic line, but they retain their own pattern and meaning through their separation from other words by space.

    It would thus seem that two objectives are in conflict–on the one hand we create a line which is a homogeneous design unit and,...

  9. 6 the whole cloth
    (pp. 35-44)

    The line is to the mass what the threads are to the whole cloth. Like the weaver, the typographer has the option of knitting his lines together tightly, or loosening them up by ‘leading’ to let the horizontal movement of his lines create a different textural effect. The texture of a type face derives from the distribution of weight in each individual letter and the design of the letter itself. In the mass, each type face has its own textural and tactile individuality, as recognizable as the weave and feel of different types of cloth.

    The decision whether or not...

  10. 7 relationships
    (pp. 45-48)

    Up to this point we have been discussing the ‘elements’ of typography: those forms, or aggregations of forms, which cohere in a visual unit. The basic element was the single character, and when it entered into definite relationships with other characters, a new element was created, the word. The words, in turn, combined into the line, and the line into the mass.

    Each of these elements has so far been considered in isolation; they have been studied for all their intrinsic and individual qualities and characteristics. The time has now come to study them in relation to each other.


  11. 8 relationships of concord and contrast
    (pp. 49-53)

    The basic form of the relationship between typographic elements is determined when the designer decides whether there is to be uniformity of appearance and form or a contrast of one element with another. Between complete concord and complete, stark contrast there are, of course, many intermediate stages, and an ability to achieve concord in general effect while introducing subtle contrasts in specific effects gives a designer his greatest opportunity for typographic variety.

    What do we mean by concord and contrast in the context of typography?

    Concord is the result of the blending of typographic elements to give a uniform impression;...

  12. 8a contrast of size
    (pp. 55-57)

    The very fact that we have the typographic terms ‘display size’ and ‘body size’ indicates the integral role in design of contrast of size. Gutenberg cut the first type in a single size, but he employed scribes to set in large initials with his body type: he thus achieved contrast of size. The technique has been employed ever since, right down to the modern tabloid newspaper whose front page lets out a 144-pt. scream to tell the public about the event which has unnerved the editor that day.

    As with contrasts in all dimensions, contrast in size is only effective...

  13. 8b contrast of weight
    (pp. 59-61)

    When we speak of the weight of a letter, we are speaking, of course, of the thickness of the lines that compose it; or, to put it another way, of the relation between the printed area and the white of the paper. If the printed area is much less than that of paper which shows through and around it, the letter is considered light; on the other hand, if the area of ink which it deposits almost fills the total area it occupies, as a Futura Ultrabold letter does, it is considered heavy. Light and heavy are contrasts as effective...

  14. 8c contrast of structure
    (pp. 62-64)

    Here again a definition is in order, so that there may be no confusion between ‘structure’ and ‘form,’ which is taken up in the next section. To clarify the difference between them, take the example of a capital T and a lower case g, both of the Futura family. Their forms are entirely different; one consists of straight lines at right angles and the other of rounded forms: the forms are in contrast. But each of them is composed of lines of the same weight throughout; structurally they are in concord.

    Basically, all types fall into either one or the...

  15. 8d contrast of form
    (pp. 65-68)

    The ability to perceive form, or to create form where it does not already exist, is one of the dominant traits of the human mind, which the science of psychology is just beginning to analyse and understand. Why, for example, did ancient man, staring up at the sky at night, group isolated stars together into forms until the whole sky was a procession of men and animals wheeling in their nocturnal paths night after night? Why does a child see pictures of familiar things in the clouds? Why is it that the three dots in the margin of this page...

  16. 8e contrast of colour
    (pp. 69-73)

    It is significant that the first printed book, the Gutenberg Bible, provided rectangular spaces at the beginning of each chapter for the insertion by hand of coloured and ornamented initials; the second book, the Mainz Psalter, had these initials printed in red or blue. This tradition of employing colour as a contrast on the printed page was carried forward from the manuscript into printing, from the hand-made book into the machine-made product.

    Unfortunately, the economy of modem book production does not often allow the use of colour in books except for special editions, and then it is usually restricted to...

  17. 8f contrast of direction
    (pp. 74-76)

    A human being orients himself in vertical and horizontal terms; he is vertical in his waking hours, horizontal in sleep; he orients himself by the horizon (hence the word ‘horizontal’), and the things he erects on the earth’s surface are true verticals established by a plumb-line. This being the established order of things, he is disturbed by anything which does not conform to it. He has a sense of insecurity when he looks at the Tower of Pisa. Conversely, when he himself is in an off-vertical position in the seat of a climbing train, the telephone poles that pass him,...

  18. 8g contrast of texture
    (pp. 77-82)

    Texture, to recall the discussion on the subject in chapters 5 and 6, is the pattern created by the repetition of certain characteristics inherent in the individual letters of a type face. Texture can therefore only exist in a line or a mass, wherever there are enough letters in an area for a textural pattern to take form. Textural contrasts involve the interplay of two other contrasts–those of structure and those of weight. The structure of the letter determines the kind of texture; the weight determines the relative coarseness of the ‘weave’. Both of these characteristics can be emphasized...

  19. 9 multiplying the contrasts
    (pp. 83-86)

    The seven basic contrasts which are possible with typographic material have already been compared to the notes of the musical scale; if a designer knows how to use them, he can create music. The comparison is not as fanciful as it may sound, for the effective use of typographical contrasts depends on the ability to strike chords. Individually the contrasts are perhaps visually interesting, but in combination they achieve heightened effects. Most basic contrasts need other contrasts to reinforce them; for example, contrast of size alone does not have the visual vigour of a combination which includes contrasts of form...

  20. 10 it happens in space
    (pp. 87-90)

    A blank sheet of paper lying before the designer, defying him to make something out of it, is a space. Space is meaningless until something happens in it; anyone who has travelled through prairie country will vouch for the monotony of unbroken expanses of flat land stretching to the horizon; the most welcome sight is a tree.

    Why? A tree serves to interrupt the space and give it meaning; there is a point of reference for the spectator; he is able to establish relative position in space by reference to the tree; the space has been ‘articulated’ by a division...

  21. 11 relationships in a two-dimensional space
    (pp. 91-105)

    In the enthusiasm of discovering how three-dimensional effects can be achieved typographically, the designer must not overlook the fact that the layout sheet in front of him insists that he has a two-dimensional surface to organize. He can, of course, organize this surface the way even a pigsty is organized – by putting a fence around it. This is very effective in keeping what’s inside, inside, and keeping what’s outside where it belongs. Typographically, it is called a border. Within this containing outline it would be possible simply to put letters and words at random and the space would certainly...

  22. 12 integration
    (pp. 107-114)

    Up to this point our attention has been directed to the study of materials. Like an architect, we now know the intrinsic character and qualities of the brick and glass, the stone and wood of the typographical structure. But we have scarcely begun to build.

    From here on, the challenge of typography, like the challenge of architecture, is the integration of the materials into a structure which will perform a desired function. The architect must delve into the activities of the people who will live or work in his building. He must organize the space at his disposal to fit...

  23. 13 typography for publishing
    (pp. 115-127)

    The basic principles of typography, if they are basic and if they are principles, will apply to all forms of communication through the printed word. The emphasis in these pages so far has tended to be on the application of these principles to advertising and other display typography. Because the typography of commercial messages must be such that they are able to reach out and demand attention, with the minimum of resistance from the reader, the designer is called upon for a special effort of ingenuity and inventiveness.

    Yet the designer of a book can never simply rely on traditional...

  24. 14 of typographic schools
    (pp. 129-144)

    The history of printing, in its span of half a millennium, is the history of the impact of new schools of typographic thought on the traditional forms, and the absorption of the new ideas into the tradition. The Gutenberg Bible had only been off the press for eight years when Adolf Rusch of Strasbourg cut a ‘new’ type face based on humanist handwriting – the style we now call ‘roman’. In 1464 this was a daring thing to do in Germany, where the black letter was the traditional letter form. Aldus Manutius of Venice,circa1500, commissioned the cutting of...

  25. 15 epilogue
    (pp. 145-151)

    Four major developments have come to the writer’s attention over the past year in the course of performing jury duty for several exhibitions, or through the helpfulness of fellow designers in drawing attention to them. Curiously, all of them have taken place in the field of literature and book publishing; one might be led to infer that commercial advertising is now becoming a conservative force, preferring to stick to what is safe, while the book, once tightly hedged in by strict observance of the rules of legibility, is becoming a fertile field for experimentation.

    Silence,by John Cage, was perhaps...

  26. bibliography
    (pp. 152-153)
  27. appendix
    (pp. 155-163)
  28. Back Matter
    (pp. 164-164)