Thursday, 29 March 2012

Theory into practice: Typography

Typography (from the Greek words τύπος (typos) = form and γραφή (graphe) = writing) is the art and technique of arranging type in order to make language visible. The arrangement of type involves the selection of typefacespoint sizeline lengthleading (line spacing), adjusting the spaces between groups of letters (tracking) and adjusting the space between pairs of letters (kerning). Type design is a closely related craft, which some consider distinct and others a part of typography; most typographers do not design typefaces, and some type designers do not consider themselves typographers. In modern times, typography has been put into motion—in film, television and online broadcasts—to add emotion to mass communication.
Typography is performed by typesetters, compositors, typographers, graphic designersart directors, comic book artists, graffiti artists, clerical workers, and anyone else who arranges type for a product. Until theDigital Age, typography was a specialized occupation. Digitization opened up typography to new generations of visual designers and lay users, and it has been said that "typography is now something everybody does.
Typesetting is the composition of text by means of types.

Typesetting requires the prior process of designing a font and storing it in some manner. Typesetting is the retrieval of the stored letters (called sorts in mechanical systems and glyphs in digital systems) and the ordering of them according to a language's orthography for visual display.
Type design is the art and process of designing typefaces.

Penmanship is the technique of writing with the hand using a writing instrument. The various generic and formal historical styles of writing are called hands, whilst an individual personal style of penmanship is referred to as handwriting.

Calligraphy (from Greek κάλλος kallos "beauty" + γραφή graphẽ "writing") is a type of visual art. It is often called the art of fancy lettering (Mediavilla 1996: 17). A contemporary definition of calligraphic practice is "the art of giving form to signs in an expressive, harmonious and skillful manner" (Mediavilla 1996: 18). The story of writing is one of aesthetic evolution framed within the technical skills, transmission speed(s) and material limitations of a person, time and place (Diringer 1968: 441). A style of writing is described as a script, hand or alphabet (Fraser and Kwiatkowski 2006; Johnston 1909: Plate 6).
Modern calligraphy ranges from functional hand-lettered inscriptions and designs to fine-art pieces where the abstract expression of the handwritten mark may or may not compromise the legibility of the letters (Mediavilla 1996). Classical calligraphy differs from typography and non-classical hand-lettering, though a calligrapher may create all of these; characters are historically disciplined yet fluid and spontaneous, at the moment of writing (Pott 2006 and 2005; Zapf 2007 and 2006).
Calligraphy continues to flourish in the forms of wedding and event invitations, font design/typography, original hand-lettered logo design, religious art, announcements/graphic design/commissioned calligraphic art, cut stone inscriptions and memorial documents. It is also used for props and moving images for film and television, testimonialsbirth and death certificates, maps, and other works involving writing (see for example Letter Arts Review; Propfe 2005; Geddes and Dion 2004). Some of the finest works of modern calligraphy are charters and letters patent issued by monarchs and officers of state in various countries.
Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg was a German blacksmithgoldsmithprinter, and publisher who introduced printing to Europe. His invention of mechanical movable type printing started the Printing Revolution and is widely regarded as the most important event of the modern period. It played a key role in the development of the RenaissanceReformation, the Age of Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution and laid the material basis for the modern knowledge-based economy and the spread of learning to the masses
Our modern English alphabet is a child of the Latin alphabet or Roman alphabet, which evolved from a western version of the Greek alphabet approximately 2,700 years ago. The profession of typography was essentially born in Germany with Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of a movable metal type printing press in the early 1450s. The individual pieces of metal type that Gutenberg worked with were not letters, but letterforms.
Let me explain. There is a subtle but important difference in meaning between a grapheme, character or letter and a glyph, letterform or sort. A letter, character or grapheme refers to a fundamental conceptual mark that represents a spoken sound. (A phoneme refers directly to the sound.) A sort, letterform or glyph refers to a particular manifestation of a letter or character, one created by a type designer.
phoneme is a basic element of a given language or dialect, from which words in that language or dialect are analyzed as being built up.
A ligature is a single sort in which two or more letters are joined, usually to improve the space between them. There are a few ligatures that are still seen today, such as the connected fi, fl, the triple play ffl, and sometimes even the stylish ct ligature. A typographic diphthong is a glyph of two vowels spliced together, and it symbolizes a phonemic diphthong, two linked vowel sounds. Ligatures and diphthongs are also known as tied characters, tied letters, and sometimes quaints.
ct ligature
long s i ligature type, size 12pt Garamond.

Ligature, loop and stem.

The first typefaces were based on the manuscript handwriting of the time, and were intended to be indistinguishable from it. Typefounders, designers and producers of metal type, have subsequently reached to the Roman lettering of antiquity for inspiration, and now, in an era of digital typography, inspiration and references come from sources that were unimaginable in the past.

Since the invention of printing, typefaces have been classified historically. The earliest type is now known as black letter, blackletter, block, fraktur, gothic or old English. The humanist, or Venetian typefaces followed, a style that more closely resembled handwriting.
Old style, old face, or garalde type. Garalde, a term rarely used now, is a mash-up of the names Garamond and Aldus, referring to the notable typefounders Claude Garamond and Aldus Manutius. Old style typefaces are distinguishable from humanist types by the horizontal rather than oblique or sloping crossbar of the lowercase e.

Italic type is an old style variation developed in Venice around the year 1500 at Aldus Manutius’ foundry. It was cut by Francesco Griffo, and based on handwriting of the time. The dramatically condensed characters decreased the space taken up by the text, and with italic type Manutius produced the first pocket-sized books set in this new italic. The first cursive type also arrived around this time. Like italic, cursive resembles handwriting, but cursive characters are, whenever possible, connected.
Transitional type refers to typefaces such Baskerville, by English printer John Baskerville, and Philippe Grandjean’s Romain du Roi, which was created for the exclusive use of presses allied with the French Crown and then declared the only legal typeface. Transitional typefaces have more vertical stress than old style type, they stand taller, with slighter more contrast between the thick and thin strokes, and feature, not insignificantly, horizontal serifs. Transitional type, named in hindsight, was part of an evolution towards the typefaces of the late 1700s and early 1800s.
New face, modern face, or modern typefaces seemed to appear quite suddenly. Modern type has a very nearly vertical and horizontal structure and much greater contrast between thicks and thins than had ever been seen before. Bodoni and Didot, two representative examples, were created by and named for competing family type foundries. Both of these typefaces are also classified as Didones.
Slab serif and sans serif typefaces appeared in the early 1800s, the 18-teens to be precise. Both are characterized by a fairly even line weight, even into the serifs of the appropriately named slab serifs. The earliest slab serifs were heavy display faces, but these soon evolved into a broad range of weights and styles. Interestingly, sans serifs, easily distinguished now by their lack of serifs, at first resembled nothing so much as a slab serif.
There are other terms that describe not the history but the physical structure of a typeface. The width of a typeface can be described as broad, extended, expanded, normal, condensed, extra-condensed and slim. The posture of a typeface refers to its relationship to an imaginary vertical line. The vertically oriented letters are generally known as roman. Carefully crafted letters that resemble handwriting and lean to the right are generally called italic. Characters that have been mechanically or digitally redrawn to lean to the right—even sometimes to the left—are known as oblique characters.

Case alphabets, such as English, are those alphabet systems in which the letters have two distinct forms. The terms uppercase and lowercase come directly from the slim but heavy horizontal cases of metal type that were indispensable to printers for over 500 years, from 1454 to the 1950s and ’60s. When arranged for the process of handsetting type, the uppercase letters, also known as capitals, majuscules or versals were stored in the upper type case, above and resting at a slightly steeper angle than a second case of letters, the lowercase letters, also known as small letters, or minuscules. The term titlecase refers to the convention, often used in titles and headlines, of an uppercase initial letter followed by lowercase letters in each word.

Case mapping is the designation of uppercase, lowercase or titlecase in the editorial or typographic instructions. When specifying uppercase or lowercase type, designers and printers often use the abbreviations Uc for uppercase and lc for lowercase. When used in combination, the use of upper- and lowercase type is abbreviated U&lc or U/lc, and I have heard second hand of a C&lc, an acronym for, presumably, caps and lowercase.

The expression “mind your p’s and q’s” probably comes to us from the tedious and exacting job of sorting metal letters after printing a page and returning them to the type cases. The raised letter on a block of metal type represents a letter that prints in the opposite direction, so a metal p resembles a printed q and vice versa. P’s and q’s were particularly tricky.

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