Teaching Examples


Learning about typography
June 21, 2006, 1:04 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

A long time ago, I knew someone who had had a summer job in the warehouse of a trade magazine publisher. To describe how incredibly boring those magazines were, he said, “They were about things like typesetting.” His example failed with me, because when I imagined a magazine all about typesetting, I wanted to get my hands on it right away!

Not many people set type anymore, but we still use typography every day in the news and information business. My students don’t know nearly as much about typography as they ought to know. Too many of them seem to share the attitude of my long-ago acquaintance, that the subject of typography could not possibly warrant 12 issues a year on glossy paper.

I was excited to find a 50-slide PPT and resource links that cover points such as why Comic Sans is a stupid typeface and what new faces we will see in Windows Vista. Dave Shea writes the blog mezzoblue, and he’s well-known as the mind behind the CSS Zen Garden (which every Web designer worth hiring knows).

Don’t miss Shea’s resource links, which provide an excellent grounding in the subject. For example:

Text styling is the dull headache of web design. There are only a handful of fonts that are universally available, and sophisticated graphical effects are next to impossible using only standard CSS and HTML. Sticking with the traditional typefaces is smart for body text, but when it comes to our headings — short, attention-grabbing blocks of text — it would be nice to have some choice in the matter. (“Dynamic Text Replacement“)

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4 Comments so far
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Maybe typographic knowledge is too old school. I have arguments with the head Web designer over a 1-px size difference he cannot see. “Heh hey they used to call that specing type,” he said. Damn straight, and anyone who filled a chair on the news desk could do it.

Comment by Stephen Rynkiewicz

I hear you, Stephen! One of the things we learn with Web design, though, is we must give up some control. There’s no way around it. Every user’s computer setup is different, and our job now it to make sure the way we use typography online ensures a good experience and legibility for every user.

Comment by Mindy McAdams

Also worth noting is Mike Davidson’s sIFR (Scalable Inman Flash Replacement), meant to replace short passages of browser text with text rendered in your typeface of choice.

This uses a combination of Flash, CSS and JavaScript (similar to the method you linked to in your post).

But unlike that method, the text scales with other text on the page, enabling the user to use larger text sizes (and they still don’t need to have the font on their system).

Comment by Patrick Beeson

I agree, SiFR is really good, Patrick — and it’s on the resource links list from Dave Shea!

Comment by Mindy McAdams




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