Jeff Johnson, Designing with the Mind in Mind, (p.69):

  • In alphabetic scripts, patterns of characters form morphemes, which we learn to recognize as packets of meaning—for example, “farm,” “tax,” “-ed,” and “-ing” are morphemes in English.
  • Morphemes combine to form patterns that we recognize as words—for example, “farm,” “tax,” “-ed,” and “-ing” can be combined to form the words “farm,” “farmed,” “farming,” “tax,” “taxed,” and “taxing.” Even ideographic scripts include symbols that serve as morphemes or modifiers of meaning rather than as words or concepts.

Richard Hendel’s On Book Design

The following references are from Richard Hendel, On Book Design:

If printing is the black art, book design may be the invisible one. (p.1)

The more mundane the object (a pencil, a book), the less we think about its design. The more often we use it, the less we think about how it came to be. But the simplest object often has very complicated specification for making it.

Book design us, indeed, an arcane subject. We need context to understand it. Knowing a technical vocabulary does not provide that context; rather, we need to be aware of the specific problems that book designers must consider as they work. (p.1)

Among the many ways a book can be designed there are three main approaches:

  1. typography that is neutral as possible, suggesting no time or place
  2. allusive typography, which is purposely gives flavor of an earlier time
  3. new typography, which presents a text in a unique way. (p.12)

Although some designers claim to be able to design a book in all its essentials before choosing a typeface, I cannot. The typeface I use influences so many other parts of the page that until I can settle on which to use, I am unable to carry on. It is the basis for everything else. Choosing a typeface can be the most vexing, infuriating, time-consuming, and pleasurable part of designing a book. (p.35–36)

The author’s words are the heart of book design. To solve the design problem for a book, a designer needs to know both what an author is saying (what a book is about) and how it is being said (the actual words being used). (p.33)

Assuming I can understand the subject of the book, I usually read the introduction or first chapter, and I read some of every few pages to get a sense of the author’s style. The author’s vocabulary often dictates the typeface I use. (p.33)

Legibility for Children

Lynne Watts and John Nisbet, Legibility in Children’s Books, (p.19):

Legibility as a priority may suffer; but by knowing precisely what diminishes legibility, the designer is in a better position to decide how far reading efficiency should be reduced for considerations of impact, visual experience, ‘atmosphere’, etc.

Capital letters (p.21):

Research studies have shown that children are more familiar with capital letters than with lower case letters. They are able to name correctly more capital letters than lower case, to perceive capitals more easily and to experience less confusion in differentiating between individual letters.

Clarity vs. legibility (p.33):

The geometric design of modern typefaces is appreciated by many designers for its clarity and symmetry. However clarity and legibility may be in conflict.

Type size (p.49):

A type size should be large enough to enable ease of letter discrimination, but small enough to encourage word recognition rather than letter recognition. This would preclude the use of a type size larger than 18 points. Generous leading would appear appropriate for children in the early grades where perception and spatial difficulties are commonly found.

What is a Typographer?

Ruari McLean, True to Type, (Author’s preface):

Type is only a tool. It is one method of communication. Typography is the art, or skill, of using that tool in the most useful way for the purpose intended. The typographer is the person who exercises that art, or skill.

The words do not necessarily have to be read easily, but they have to be read unmistakably, and in the right frame of mind, by the right people.

It is the unique fascination of the typographer’s problem that it involves both design and literature. The designer who has no feeling for words will never make a good typographer.

A piece of typography may be ‘beautiful’: that is to say, pleasing to the eye. But to whose eye? If it is not pleasing to the eye of the customers it is intended to please, it is not a well-design job.

Test of Spacing

Daniel Burkely Updike, In the Day’s Work, writes:

A good test of spacing is to hold a printed page upside down, when, the sense of the words not being caught, the eye more readily perceives whether the spacing of the page is even or not.

Sebastian Carter on Typography

Carter, Twentieth Century Type Designers, (p.9):

Offending readers with distortions of the basic proportions of letters, or even attracting their notice with minor eccentricities of detail, creates a resistance not only to the type but to the message of which the type should be the faithful messenger.

Carter on well-designed type (p.187):

Finally, we should always remember that well-designed type is only the first step towards readable texts and handsome pages: bad setting and thoughtless layout can ruin the best-looking typeface. I hope that this account of the labours of some of the creators of type will increase the respect among users and consumers for these small miracles of art and skill.

Stanley Morison on Unnoticeable Type

Morison, First principles of typography (1930):

Type design moves at the pace of the most conservative reader. The good type designer therefore realises that, for a new fount to be successful, it has to be so good that only very few recognise its novelty. If readers do not notice the consummate reticence and rare discipline of a new type, it is probably a good letter. But if my friends think that the tail of my lower-case r or the lip of my lower-case e is rather jolly, you may know that the fount would have been better had neither been made.

Walter Tracy on Typography as Profession

Tracy, The Typographic Scene, (p.11):

Typography is a professional activity directed towards a practical, and usually commercial, result.

Tracy defends Tschichold (p.56):

But it was unreasonable to criticise Tschichold as though the new typography had the status of religious doctrine and he had defected from it. He had turned away from the style, not against it.

Tracy on the role of typographer (p.60):

Since most typographic work is done in the hope that it will be read (though there is never any guarantee of that) it is not very sensible of the designer to adopt practices that may repel a potential reader.

The competent typographer serves the one by securing the attention of the other. The really good typographer does something more: he invests his work with such visual quality as to persuade us that (whether or not it is true) the words he is presenting to us are going to be a pleasure to read.

Bruce Rogers on Paragraph Leading

Rogers, Paragraphs on Printing, (p.57):

Uneven leading or extra leading between paragraphs may sometimes be necessary in a reference or other special kind of book, but for ordinary text it throws lines out of register, interrupts the continuity of the text, and offends the eye.

Bringhurst on Typographic History

Robert Bringhurst:

Typography history is just that: the study of the relationships between type designs and the rest of human activity—politics, philosophy, the arts, and the history of ideas. It is a lifelong pursuit, but one that is informative and rewarding from the beginning. (p. 112)

Always discovering something interesting with every reread of The Elements of Typographic Style.