There are thousands of variations between the same letter of different typefaces. Learning to understand and be sensitive to the variations is learning about typography.
BASIC LETTER DISTINCTIONS: size, shape, and slant
Upper and Lower Case: (ie big and small)
These terms come from early practices of setting type by hand. The individual letters were kept in wooden boxes known as type cases. Originally the capital letter cases were located above those for the small letters and since the Renaissance we have spoken of upper- and lower- case letters even though most cases today have spaces for both kinds of letters.
Slant (or oblique or italic): the word italics comes from its frequent use in Italian calligraphy. It is a variation available in most typefaces.
Zones: In basic hand lettering, you draw horizontal lines to help maintain the proportion of the different parts of the letter form. For capitals 3 lines are drawn (think of the letter E) and for lower-case, four zones are drawn. The proportional relationships differ from typeface to typeface and contribute to their individuality.
Coastlines: The top and bottom edges of the letters are called coastlines. Upper-case letters have a straight coastline and lower case has a variable coastline.
PARTS OF THE LETTER
x-height (body) a c e m n o r s u v w x z
ascenders (above x-height) b d f h i k l t
descenders (tails below the x-height) g p q y j
Swashes: Ornamental Details which are used decoratively at the beginning and ending of words and lines.
As is Zapf Chancery typeface
Kerns: Kerning, or the adjustment of space between individual letters, used to be created in printing by creating a kern for letters that projected beyond the body at the sides. A kern is a small piece of metal that projects over the edge of the letter's metal body.
Tracking: the average horizontal space between all of the letters on a line.
Leading: the vertical space between lines of text. Comes from lines of lead placed between rows of text in typesetting.
Ligatures: Single characters that contain two or more letters.
Outlines: or shadowing or shading
Outline with Shading
Strokes of a Letter:
The basic stroke is strong, others are thin and called hairlines.
Serifs: The little cross strokes at the ends of principal strokes. Comes from ancient Rome's use of hand chiselled types to make the line smoother. Also made with ink in Medieval times from the blob at the beginning and end of the stroke.
Without serifs is sans serif.
Loops (also called a letter's stress): The slant of a typeface's loop in the o, c, and e also make it look distinctive.
The Measurement of Type
Points: In the American point system, the height of the face of the type is stated in avery tiny unit called a point. There are about 72 points to an inch.
Picas: Since the point is so small, printers use picas to measure space. Graphic designers use a ruler frequently called a pica rule. There are 12 points to a pica, so 6 picas to an inch.
In Quark , you can use this measurement by typing , for example, 8p.
Ems : This indicates spaces between words and indents. It is a square space as wide and high as the point size. An en is half of an em.
Different sizes of type:
body copy- the text in a book, magazine, ad, or newspaper.
Display Type- another term for headlines and titles poster- extra large type for exhibits, posters, etc
HISTORY OF TYPOGRAPHY
Basic Styles of Type
Johann Gutenberg of Mainz, Germany invented movable type which perfected the printing and casting process. His typeface simulated the hand lettered style of the Gothic typeface of his time. Type comes in a variety of styles, but there are groupings which share characteristics. The most broadly defined categories are roman, script, ornamental and period.
-the Renaissance, in Italy, had revived an interest in the classics and had modified the neo-caroline miniscule which became a model for the Roman typefaces. The carvings on a column called the Trajan column was the influence. The inspiration was the carved letters which created V shapes. Serifs were cut at the ends of letters to prevent the stone from chipping.
Features: Thick and thin line weights Most have serifs
Variations: variations develop according to geography, popular culture, politics, technology. These include:
- including Garamond cut by Claude Garamond in 1530, more informal than the carvings on the column.
- Caslon was a development of Garamond and also is known as a classic. It is more formal and structured, with less variations in line weight.
Caslon remained popular in England, but by 1730 or so, new typefaces developed in Continental Europe. A new handwriting style changed the slants of the letters so that the heaviest parts of the line shifted.
is an example.
Features: more regimented feel than old style fine tapered serifs greater contrasts between capitals and lower case
This was introduced by the Didot type foundry in 1784. Improvements in presses and papers allowed printers to get clearer type and the Didot typeface was reworked until it acquired the rigid, finelined serif we recognize today as modern roman letterforms.
Didot is used, but it was a copy of Didot called which became more popular. (Maybe for practical reasons, since the Didot serifs often cracked during printing).
4. book or primer
These typefaces are designed to facilitate legibility. The characters are full-bodied with serifs, open counters, and soft contrasts between the different parts of the letter so that characters are easily identified.
Other considerations are fat face (earliest forms used in advertising) Characterised by less counter space in relation to the mass of the letter structure itself.
5 Egyptian or Antique:
Roman letterforms with squared off serifs. Originated in the 19th century. They became known as egyptian because their slab-like serifs reflected the rigidity of ancient hieroglyphics.
The term Roman has two meanings. The first, as we just saw, is a thick and thin letter form most often found with serifs. The second is roman meaning any letter with a vertical stance in any type style.
Upright characters that slant to the right without changes in the letter's design are called oblique letters. These are often mistakenly called italics. Italics also slant to the right at an angle, but they have been redesigned in structure. In 1501, Aldus Manutius developed italic letters in order to create a typeface that would take up less space on a page. He based it on a cursive script developed from the neo Caroline script. They often contain tails instead of serifs, revealing their handwriting influence.
Italic handwriting was eventually developed and cut into a type style called script.
Two kinds: Gothic Script (London) German developed mid 16th century Not popular in France where most type developed in the 16th century.
Latin Script :Based on Italian handwriting. Used 18th century. Flowing and non-flowing scripts.
Cartouches- a decorative extension with elaborate curves of script line... often done by hand when they originated. Often meant to look like they were drawn quickly. Used for announcements, etc.
Although this term is used to connote the eary German printers' typefaces, today its contemporary usage means a monoweight letter stucture (without the thick and thin line variations of Roman typefaces and without ornamentation). The reason is that the uniformity of the intensity was thought to be the same. Generally they are sans serif, if there are serifs they are little hairlines that protrude slightly from the letter structure. Used only for advertising until the 1920's when the constructivists introduced it to posters, books, etc.
look at slight variation in weights in futura (done to preserve monoweight illusion)
Ornamental/Display Type: used to introduce chapters, etc. The forerunner of the contemporary title initial.
Period Type: The intended function, appearance, or emotional appeal of any creation is influenced by the environment in which it was produced. Period art is a conscious application of popular styoes created to visually express the times.
Simple functional expression of the Bauhaus form follows function. Art Deco- (Chrysler Building)- Unity of Design , based on geometric forms