I’ve been fascinated by the way in which we set sort since I did my first packaging forty years in the past. It’s a mix of tech, artwork, methods, tradition and most of all, deciding to place within the effort to get it proper.
[This is a long post, it would have been a podcast, but it doesn’t really lend itself to audio.]
When airplanes first began flying passengers, there was a necessity for labels. Labels for passengers and pilots. WEAR SEATBELT WHEN SEATED. Why is it in all caps? My guess is that on the daybreak of aviation, the machine that made the little metallic indicators solely had the capability to simply deal with 26 letters, and so they select all caps. Actually, over time the labeling tech obtained higher, however we caught with all caps as a result of that’s what airplane indicators are supposed to be like, despite the fact that they’re harder to learn that method.
Typography is a sign not only a method to put letters on a web page.
Earlier than mechanical sort was set by pressmen within the basements of newspapers, sort was handwritten by monks. Consequently, we see the attractive kerning of letters, nestling the ‘a’ below the ‘W’. That takes effort and in consequence, it merely seems proper. It’s not proper as a result of your mind calls for kerning, it’s proper as a result of the sign is one thing we affiliate with confidence and care.
As soon as we see the magic of kerning, it turns into unattainable to keep away from how careless individuals who don’t use it look like…
There have been many golden ages of typography, however the 60s and 70s noticed a mix of high-stakes mass manufacturing (in adverts and media) mixed with improvements in typesetting that meant that as a substitute of utilizing handmade metallic sort, entrepreneurs might merely spec no matter they imagined. It additionally meant that as a substitute of 1 individual engaged on a doc, a committee would spend days or even weeks agonizing over how an advert seemed, or whether or not the brand new format of Time journal would ship the fitting message to tens of millions of individuals every week.
Pundits had been certain that the launch of the Mac would destroy all of this progress. Now that anybody might set sort, anybody would. So resumes ended up trying like ransom notes, Comedian Sans turned a joke that was taken significantly by some, and people like David Carson set sort on hearth.
As a substitute, the Mac and the laser printer pushed one of the best examples of sort high quality ahead. As soon as once more, tradition mixed with tech to create a brand new cycle. Now, small groups of individuals engaged on small initiatives might additionally agonize about sort. Now, as stunning typefaces elevated in availability and variety, it was potential to set extra sort, extra superbly. When you labored in an trade or phase the place the usual demanded cautious expression by sort, it was potential and it was anticipated.
Extra good sort, much more lazy sort.
After which sensible telephones arrived.
And the sort tradition modified in response. When you don’t have a mouse or a keyboard, in case your display screen is the scale of a deck of enjoying playing cards, you’re in all probability not being very cautious with typography. No matter is in-built is what you employ. Folks create a lot content material that there’s no time for conferences, for care, for consciousness. Speech to textual content, sort along with your thumbs, take an image, hit ship.
The tradition shifts. Now, the looks of authenticity issues greater than ever. And a method to try this is to not placed on airs with fonts that remind us of craft, or kerning that reminds us that you just took the time to do one thing greater than the automated minimal.
And this gained’t final, as a result of the cycles proceed.
They are saying you may inform loads about somebody from their handwriting. For my skilled life, my handwriting has at all times concerned a keyboard. I do know that even when individuals don’t consciously know that they’re judging the way in which our phrases look or sound, they’re.
Culture, care and typography | Seth’s Blog