Typeface as Clothing

John D. Berry writes about Adobe Kis:

Some writers about type have described the choice of typeface like the choice of clothing. What would you like to dress your words in? Kis is like feeling the weave on a Harris tweed sportcoat, warm and reliable with a distinctive texture and a feeling of tradition and solid craftsmanship. It’s not like the linen jacket of Garamond, the taupe trousers of Times New Roman, the black cargo pants of Helvetica, the evening wear of Bodoni, or the madras shorts of Comic Sans. When your words are dressed in Kis, people will read them.

Lê Hương Mi định nghĩa chữ Typography

Lê Hương Mi viết cho iDesign:

Typography, ở khía cạnh từ nguyên, bao gồm hai từ Hy Lạp cổ là “typos” và “graphein”.

“Typos” là một cú đánh, ấn xuống; là kết quả của một cú đánh (dấu vết, dấu ấn); là dấu và hình tượng nói chung.

“Grapheia/graphein” là viết, sự viết.

Do vậy, “typos” + “graphein” = sự viết xuống những dấu hiệu.

Trong tiếng Trung Quốc, khái niệm tương đương với typography là 版式 (bănshì) – dịch sang từ Hán Việt là “bản thức”, bản trong “bản in” và “thức” trong “cách thức”.

Từ những phân tích từ nguyên trên, ta có thể thấy “typography” hay “bản thức” chỉ việc viết xuống và sắp xếp các dấu hiệu thể hiện ngôn ngữ (ký tự), phương thức để thực hiện những việc ấy, dành cho bản in.

Lê Hương Mi kết luận:

Để kết thúc bài viết, tác giả muốn đề xuất khái niệm “Ký tự pháp” như khái niệm tương đương với typography trong tiếng Việt. “Ký tự” trong tiếng Việt có thể được hiểu là bất cứ biểu tượng/dấu hiệu nào của ngôn ngữ, và “pháp” là phương pháp – đồng thời tương ứng với “pháp” trong thư pháp.

Weber on Italic

Hendrik Weber, Italic—What Gives Typography Its Emphasis, (p.19):

In the meantime, typography has performed a balancing act by combining modern and traditional forms. Italics fulfil a typographic mission. They have to stand out clearly from the typeface used for the main text, without invalidating it. For this reason, italic forms today are not only dependent on the zeitgeist but in particular on their upright counterpart’s design.

He went on:

Upright and italic typefaces mutually depend on each other. Without upright typefaces, there would be no italics—and without italics, the options a designer would have when laying out a text would be rather limited. A modern typeface should have at least one italic, as a minimum. The number of italics was also connected with the increasing formal variety of upright text typefaces. This adaptive behaviour to any typeface construction testifies to italics’ quality. At the same time, it is also the reason italics are difficult to classify into a particular category or group.

Advice From TypeTogether

The following passages are quoted from TypeTogether’s Building Ligatures: The Power of Type.

José Scaglione on type design (p. 18):

That type design is not an island. Type design is connected to languages, culture, history, and also to communication and design. Our history is written with typography.

Veronika Burian on type design (p. 18):

Type design is not about beautiful shapes. It has a reason, it has meaning, it is a part of our culture, our identity. And it will not disappear. It will change like every language changes. There will be new type projects and new fonts, but type design and typography will always be here.

Burian on why we need more types (p. 28):

Many people are unconvinced about the need to create new fonts, but letters are no different, at least from an artistic point of view, from other cultural interactions like poetry or music. Type design is a carrier of our culture and is subject to developments and trends, especially in this world of constant change. The number of individual elements – tones, rhythms, or letters – is quite small but they can be combined in nearly limitless ways.

Trends, technology, media, and even languages evolve. These changes require an appropriate typographic response that becomes an expression of contemporary culture; and each generation has their own expression.

Burian on modern times (p. 28):

One of the main engines pushing type creation forward is technology. Typography is mechanised writing, and as such it must advance together with printing presses, computers, communication devices, and media.

Scaglione and Burian on foreign language (p. 68):

Taking great care when setting text in a foreign language is a sign of professionalism and respect for the audience. Although Europe as a whole has strong cultural ties, its orthographies are still rather unique. Correct diacritics are part of playing nicely together on the international playground.

Fournier on Book Typography

Pierre-Simon Fournier, Manuel Typographique, 1764:

After the first necessities of life, nothing is more precious to us than books. THE ART OF TYPOGRAPHY, which produces them, provides essential services to society and secures incalculable benefits. It serves to instruct the citizenry, to extend the progress of the arts and sciences, to nourish and cultivate the mind, and to elevate the spirit: its task is to be the agent and broad interpreter of wisdom and truth; in a word, it is the portrayer of the mind. Thus one could rightly call it par excellence the art of all arts and the science of all sciences.

Kris Sowersby on Typographical Gender

In sharing his process for creating Epicene, Kris Sowersby writes:

Describing things as “masculine” or “feminine” in design and typography is historically and culturally loaded. Language is powerful, typography makes language concrete. Language has a shared meaning and heritage. The typographic ancestry of “masculine” and “feminine” traces a direct bloodline to people like De Vinne and Loos. When they write “delicate and light” is feminine, “strong and bold” is masculine, they’re really saying “women are weak, men are strong”. It’s that simple. This language is corrupt and bankrupt in today’s society. Gender shouldn’t be used as a metaphor when better, simpler language is available.

He concludes:

The gendering of ornamentation seems borne of cultural amnesia or myopia: decorative fabrics and accessories are commonly worn by both men and women today, especially by non-Europeans; highly-decorated illuminated manuscripts were made when men dominated artistic production; and during the 18th century, lace, leggings, wigs and high heels were worn equally by men and women.

While attentive to history, Epicene is not a revival typeface. It is an experiment in modernising Baroque letterforms without muzzling their ornamental idiosyncrasy nor falling into the trap of gender codifications. It’s a firm statement that fonts have no gender.

All fonts are indeed epicene.

I am totally on board with fonts have no gender. I also believe fonts should support many languages as possible, including Vietnamese.

Kris Sowersby on Physical vs. Digital

In sharing his process for creating Signifier, Kris Sowersby writes:

Fonts once existed as physical things used to make more physical things. Even if they were melted down to make bullets or forgotten like the Fell Types, they still existed materially. Digital fonts only exist fleetingly. They are experienced, mediated by a screen. Once the power is switched off they cease to exist. A craft history with five centuries of physical output replaced by virtual output takes some reconciling. We have retained our sense of line, spacing and form. We have lost the physical, material touch, as Ruskin once railed against. What we have gained is speed, flexibility and reach.

I really wish Signifier designed with Vietnamese diacritics.


Thuy On:

The keening of us
the spaces between
a kerning too distant
your clauses conditional
dashes sprinting away
I didn’t want to be modified
& left dangling
but you trailed into ellipsis
and left me falling through gaps.


Joe Moran on Spacing

Joe Moran, First You Write a Sentence, (p.190):

Every typographer understands that the space between the type matters as much as the shapre of the letters themselves. The letter-carver David Kindersley said that “a bad space is worse than a bad letter.” How much of a gap you leave between the letters, between the words, between the lines, between the paragraphs: it all matters beyond words. Space makes the reader feel cared for, even if she can’t put her finger on why. The way the writing looks is also what is says.

David Berlow on Variable Fonts

David Berlow writes for TypeNetwork:

The web has changed the typographer’s role. Typographers no longer decide on typefaces, font sizes, line lengths, line spacing, or margins; they make suggestions via marks and instructions so that text can make those choices for itself, responding to the context of an unknown reader’s environment.

The entire mini web book is worth a read.