Saturday, July 23, 2011

War on Type

The war on tiny type has begun. There has long been a struggle between designers and nondesigners over small type. I have been told recently "everyone hates small type". I do not believe that at since I love small type, and my KU education was based around the ideals that body copy (for print) is 8pt, captions are 6pt, and heading and subheads were whatever you wanted. I realize that not everyone can read that small type, and I do not think it is too much to ask for 10 point, and for designs for senior citizens 12 – 14 is appropriate. Type size is not declarative of design aesthetic, but should be for the marriage of form and function. Typography is beautiful. That first type class changed my life forever. I cannot help to notice the subtle nuances that type can bring to a design or the type that surrounds our everyday life.

I came across this thread, that denounced the use of small type and that designers think only of beauty and not about the functionality of type on the web.

From Marion Bataille ABC3D
I think there is often a particular war with graphic designers and web designers. Often we have to work with one another. I know only of a couple people who can accomplish both sides of a website project. Maybe if when working with one another, we took time to explain our varying points of view, perhaps, there would not be this misunderstanding that is clearly shown in this forum.

More than type size, type variety is crucial for reading comprehension. In fact type that is too horsey can be harder to read then something small that forces you to focus. The great use for the web is that if you make your font resizable, then when it is too hard to read that person can enlarge type to make it easier to view, which is I prefer to use em’s not pixels. When you can use type not images. HTML 5 should make it easier for everyone to use a variety of typefaces as html without problem, so you can have style and readability.

As a designer, I lean towards tiny type to organize the information to the simplest terms. Type is best when it becomes the hero to my design. I could spend all day talking about the nuances of type, and how to utilize it to organize information is a way that is pleasing and readable. I won’t do that today. Remembering to balance between form and function is always a challenge on every project. I do the best I can; yet, it is sometimes beyond my control based on art direction or client’s requests. Always ask yourself “who is this for?” That should dictate point size best to use for print or web.
 [from what I understand web standard for type is 14 pt (I often use 12)] <-----small for caption purposes


  1. Your take on graphic vs. web designers is interesting. I tend to think of the difference as "designer" vs. "programmer." This past semester has taught me that designing for the web is an exciting challenge. Programming, on the other hand, I find to be a nightmare. Like you said, the programming aspect is about usability, and therefore the creative aesthetics of a site might seem inconsequential to a programmer. But people are attracted to sites because of the way they look. Design is still important. And if that design incorporates small type, I don't see a problem with that.

    I often find myself juxtaposing small, sparse type with a bit of very large type. Just a strive for balance, I guess.

  2. I am sorry if I was not as clear as I should have been. I did mean to compare "graphic designer" and "programmer". I have worked with several people who write code, and they have all had different names for similar jobs: programmer, web designers, and interactive developer. I think "design" has become similar to the word "engineer". You can tack on that word and there is a new skill implied by your title. I should have been more clear and stated as programmer or code developer. Thanks for your great points.


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