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Television: harder on typography than Photoshop…

Text Wrap (+)   23/10/2010

Not only "massive" but "dynamic"Perhaps the greatest crimes against type, aside from those committed by graphic designers who use Photoshop to do page layout, are devised by the producers of television programs. I recently viewed a science fiction series (+)


Now that’s some cold type…

Text Wrap (+)   22/09/2010

Any bold font can be flocked with snow, or iced.When we needed a cartoonish, frozen-styled font, we were stymied by the lack of selection. We were shooting for that, “ice-machine” look — the “typefaces that are frosted or chilled or iced,” in the words of (+)


Sex change for Anna…

Text Wrap (+)   20/07/2010

Before surgeryWe wanted a retro look for our client and we decided that a modified version of Anna would do the trick. Anna also offered a fluid-looking S that was perfect for the glyph. The extended crossbars and pointed terminals were too decorative for (+)


Annals of overused fonts…

Text Wrap (+)   22/05/2010

A Chop Suey font for massage therapists?We were barely aware of the existence of Papyrus when we arrived in Eureka (rural Humboldt County, California) in 2003, but it’s omnipresence caught our attention. We dubbed it “the Humboldt Font.”Papyrus was design (+)


No italics? What sort of “friend” is Facebook?

Text Wrap (+)   27/03/2010

Facebook has had perfect pitch in creating and adapting their popular social networking interface, but they are typographically tone-deaf. They still haven’t made italics available to their users.The pithy posts and comments that tend to dominate Facebook (+)


The man from uncial…

Text Wrap (+)   13/03/2010

Text from the Book of KellsWhy do we trundle out the Gaelic fonts, along with the corned beef, for St. Patrick’s Day? Perhaps it’s the association of uncials with the Book of Kells. Uncials are majuscules (all upper case) a script form which was developed (+)


Letterpress is for lovers…

Text Wrap (+)   13/02/2010

Our wedding invitation: printed by Just My Type, Arcata, CaliforniaThe status of Letterpress printing has made a complete one-eighty since I worked at Trebis Printing in National City, California in the 1970s. Letterpress jobs were common and inexpensive: (+)


Xmas is no dis…

Text Wrap (+)   20/12/2009

Bickham Script Pro (which sports a dazzling array of alternate characters)“Holiday” comes to us from the Old English hāligdæg (holy day). “Christmas” is also from the Old English Crīstes mæsse (Christ’s mass).“Xmas,” on the other hand, derives from a... (+)


Free versal…

Text Wrap (+)   20/10/2009

erhaps nothing brightened old manuscripts like a versal, or illuminated large, initial cap. Jessica Hische offers a beautful array of fancy lettrines along with code that will create a mortise and place a drop cap in your blog. Go ahead, illuminate your n (+)


Indecorous type..

Text Wrap (+)   11/07/2009

This font does not include ligatures, and predates the symbol for Euros.Bernard “Hap” Kliban (1935–1990) offered Barf Bold in one of his cartoon collections in the late ’70s. Kliban created a cartoon genre that consisted of a single panel with a droll thi (+)


Chop suey fonts…

Text Wrap (+)   04/07/2009

Typographic stereotype (hey, the chef loved it).Probably the most recognizable and ubiquitous of “ethnic fonts” are the faux Asians: Ginko, Kanban, Mandarin, Rickshaw, Wonton, et al. Also available are cliché fonts for Greek, Arab, Yiddish, African... (+)


Georgia on my mind…

Text Wrap (+)   19/04/2009

It occurred to me recently that we’ve seen increasing instances of old-style figures (lowercase, non-lining numbers) in graphic design in the past few years. Typographers have always used text figures, but graphic designers have been largely ignorant of t (+)


The fleurons are lovely this time of year…

Text Wrap (+)   19/04/2009

Just as some of us use italic ampersands in order to liven up dreary type, designers sometimes turn to ornaments in order to embellish text. In the past, red was the preferred color for fleurons, because red was so often set up as the second color on a tw (+)


A quiet character…

Text Wrap (+)   08/02/2009

The pilcrow is a typographic character largely unknown to the general public, though it may look vaguely familiar. This venerable glyph marks the beginning of a new paragraph, and is present, though unseen, in modern page layout programs, unless “show inv (+)


Icons and needlepoint, one pixel at a time…

Text Wrap (+)   27/12/2008

I recently created two bitmap ornaments for our website. Instead of the usual fleuron as a typographic decoration, Lynn Harvey, our resident electronic design expert, asked for a standard 16 x 16 pixel gif of something new. I settled on a scallop. I reduc (+)


Don’t be out of sorts…

Text Wrap (+)   22/11/2008

 Our wedding invitation: printed by Just My Type, Arcata, California “If I were to be sat down at a computer and told, ‘here, you can do whatever you want,’ I wouldn’t know what to do. There would be too many choices,” says John Kristensen, of Firefly Pre (+)


Wayward typography…

Text Wrap (+)   28/09/2008

Visible ink traps and a fill fontThe headlines in the well-designed entertainment section of our local paper are set in a font which was specifically created for use in small sizes on newsprint. The ink traps are distinctly visible. Ink traps keep the ins (+)


Make mine curly…

Text Wrap (+)   27/09/2008

Quotation marks: they’re used to enclose direct speech and quotations. In most programs, the keyboard will give you double primes, which are used to mark inches. Graphic design programs default to typographic or “curly” quotes. In Britain they are called (+)


What’s your sign, and how much does it weigh?

Text Wrap (+)   03/08/2008

Currency symbols are almost invisible. We see them everywhere, but we rarely give them a thought, so let’s take a look at two of them.Why is the symbol for the British pound sterling a stylized italic upper case L? It’s an abbreviated form of libra, Latin (+)


Optimal result…

Text Wrap (+)   22/05/2008

The names sandblasted into the dark granite of the Vietnam War Memorial were set in Hermann Zapf’s Optima. The elegant, humanist font is tightly leaded in all upper case. It’s sublime, perfect.Maya Lin’s design inspired bitter controversy when it was unv (+)


My rich uncial…

Text Wrap (+)   02/03/2008

Why do we trundle out the uncials, along with the corned beef, for St. Patrick’s Day? Perhaps it’s the association of uncials with the Book of Kells.Uncials, also known as majuscules, are a script form which was developed during the early Byzantine era ( (+)


At’s what I’m talkin’ about…

Text Wrap (+)   23/02/2008

The ubiquitous, iconic at symbol leaves a mysterious etymological trail. It was included on typewriters as early as 1885, and the roots of the symbol may go back to 16th century Europe. There was no place for @ in traditional typesetting, and there was n (+)


Hey, keep it down in there!

Text Wrap (+)   07/01/2008

I’ll get straight to the point here: all caps should hardly ever be used in text and bold should never be used. Never, ever. If you want to emphasize something, use italics. You’ll end up with a more polished-looking finished product.Graphic designers wh (+)


Whither Palatino?

Text Wrap (+)   10/11/2007

Graphic designers have punished Hermann Zapf’s beautiful 1948 design, Palatino, for over a decade by avoiding it. It’s crime? Ubiquity. It was everywhere after the desktop publishing revolution put it into the hands of the hoi polloi in the late 1980s. I (+)


Latin: it’s all Greek to me…

Text Wrap (+)   05/10/2007

A device graphic designers employ when they’re working on a layout that includes blocks of text, is greeking. It can be accomplished by simply sketching horizontal lines with a pencil, or, with the advent of design software, by dropping indecipherable p (+)


An oblique stroke of genius…

Text Wrap (+)   26/09/2007

The “slash” that we all have on our keyboards, is known as the virgule. The name comes down to us from Latin through French. It served medieval European literature as a comma and still performs this function in English language poetry. We also use it (+)


Don’t forget the widows and the orphans…

Text Wrap (+)   06/09/2007

Pity the poor widow on the upper right page. Either give her a companion line, or move her back in with her family on the previous page. Ignore the orphan on the lower right. His future is assured on the next page.Widows, as illustrated above are single, (+)


Upper & lower case, next exit…

Text Wrap (+)   13/08/2007

A piece in the New York Times Sunday Magazine, describes (and illustrates brilliantly) the process by which a new typeface, Clearview, has become positioned to replace Highway Gothic as the specified standard for highway signs.Erik Spiekermann has recentl (+)


Yo, bang, it’s a screamer!

Text Wrap (+)   05/08/2007

The etymology of the exclamation mark, according to the brilliant, amateur classicists, Alexander & Nicholas Humez in their book ABC et Cetera goes like this:“…the exclamation point—a.k.a., ‘screamer’ or ‘bang’— is derived either from an (+)


Quaestio non disputata…

Text Wrap (+)   02/08/2007

What is the etymology of the question mark ? It’s hard to imagine life without it, but, of course, there was a time when this useful punctuation was not available. Medieval scribes indicated a question by adding the interrogative quaestio to the end of (+)


Ligatures

Text Wrap (+)   16/07/2007

Illustrated above are the five Latin ligatures. Some fonts offer more extensive ligature families.The reason for ligatures is that the terminal on the lowercase f tends to run into the letters which follow it, so type designers created elegant solutions t (+)


Ampersand…

Text Wrap (+)   08/07/2007

The ampersand is a ligature, which combines e and t to form the Latin et, which means and. The array of typographic designs for the ampersand are wildly varied, but in most of them, one can still make out the e and the t. (+)


F. W. Goudy Broadside…

Text Wrap (+)   04/07/2007

While browsing items typographic on eBay, I happened upon a 1921 broadside from the Marchbanks Press in New York. It advertises foundry type designed by Frederic Goudy. It’s a stunningly flawless work. The border ornamentaion is mitered perfectly, and t (+)



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