Rule or Law

enne_son's picture

That's the title of a “sharply critical” Gerrit Noordzij essay Robin Kinross has recently put up on his Hyphen Press site to accompany its recent realease of the Christopher Burke book on Jan Tschichold. You can find the essay here

As Kinross says, it “tells a large truth about how teaching can happen, and how learning can happen.” It probably also has something important to say about what typophiles might strive for.

Peter Enneson

EK's picture

I've never seen the terms "rule" and "law" defined quite like this. But one is entitled to one's own definitional structure.

William Berkson's picture

That's fascinating. Conjectural laws, rather than authoritarian rules--very nice.

In the related interview with Noordzij that is linked, he says,

"When he gave a lecture, Tschichold - the old Tschichold, as well as the new Tschichold - always said on the invitation card: 'no discussion afterwards'."

The interesting thing about Tschichold is that his extreme dogmatism did not prevent him from doing brilliant work, nor from changing his mind. It just made him on occassion very annoying :)

I really look forward to reading the new Christopher Burke book on Tschichold.

ps. on the 'law' of maximum line length for legibility, Bill Hill of Microsoft mentioned a basis for the law in his Typecon talk: At normal reading distances, if a line is longer, the reader has to turn his or her head, instead of just the eyes, which slows down the process.

eliason's picture

Interesting link.

I wonder, when type criticism doesn't explicitly state the laws guiding it, whether it would constitute another example of this rule-based presumptuousness from Noordzij's (or anybody else's) perspective.

Take for example this sentence: "There are wayward details in some letters: the shortened bar in f, the inadequate ear on r, the cropped head of a..." What is the basis for asserting that an r's ear is inadequate—an unspoken law? an obnoxious rule? or is this sort of criticism understood to be acceptable as a matter of taste, different from something like Tschichold's rules about line length?

James Arboghast's picture

I think basis for judging those details are largely a matter of aesthetic taste, but practical rules set the boundaries of the ball park we deem a tasteful, or comfortable place to be in.

Aesthetic and design rules inform taste.

Does that make sense?

j a m e s

William Berkson's picture

>basis for judging those details are largely a matter of aesthetic taste, but practical rules set the boundaries

As you say there are two factors: One is aesthetics. The other is the set constraints put on by our perceptual apparatus as to what is more readable. This is a matter of physiology and psychology, and includes things like line length. Actually, I think that details can also affect readability, so text type can be critiqued from that point of view.

Gerrit Noordzij claims in this essay that if "If we ask for the intentions of the type designers, we find that their work reflected their attitude to writing with little regard for previous solutions."

I think this very wide of the mark. After Jenson, all type designers that I know of were very influenced by previous *type* designs. Griffo had and worked with Jenson's type IIRC, and his efforts take Jenson's ideas and push them in a more typographic direction, for example, *not* a direction more influenced by writing.

Caslon was directly interpreting Dutch typeface models in his own way. And that Baskerville was heavily influenced by Caslon's work, as well as by the steel pen. In turn Bodoni and Didot were influenced by what Baskerville did, not only the pen. And today an original work like Scala I don't think was influenced by changes in writing, but by other concerns relating to digital production, and the need for sans and serif designs that go together.

Nick Shinn's picture

It's a task of writers and scientists to explain what artists and designers do, and perhaps offer them guidelines.
(And Guide is a word I prefer to Rule or Law.)
But ultimately art, design, language and maths have different ways of thought, and in as much as language and science continually attempt to define and proscribe art and design, art and design are always evolving their territory to render the map obsolete.

I find it strange that there is an expectation that typography should be subject to simple objective rules or laws about such things as line length. So while I agree with Noordzij's notion of "conjectural laws" of typography, I'd have to say that any "law" I have come across has nevertheless only ever been a generalization or best practice, and exceptions which disprove such theories are not difficult to produce in number.

John Hudson's picture

Nick: So while I agree with Noordzij’s notion of “conjectural laws” of typography, I’d have to say that any “law” I have come across has nevertheless only ever been a generalization or best practice, and exceptions which disprove such theories are not difficult to produce in number.

There are no exceptions to laws, in the nicely precise sense that Noordzij uses the term, there are only exceptions to rules. Something that disproves a law -- i.e. the circumstance that renders a law false --, is not an exception, it is the basis on which you reformulate the law so that it is no longer false. This is the very heart of the distinction that Noordzij is making between rules and laws. As soon as you say

And Guide is a word I prefer to Rule or Law.

you are missing the whole point of what Noorzij is saying. He is not looking for guides or offering laws as guides, he is offering laws to prompt creative antagonism and discussion. Fundamentally, it is a scientific approach, based on putting things to the test. His objection to rules is that they cannot be put to the test, they can only be obeyed or broken.

Nick Shinn's picture

There are no exceptions to laws

Yes, I was opining that the notion of law is not applicable to typography, and that any laws I have come across are not really laws, but as I noted, "laws".

you are missing the whole point of what Noorzij is saying.

No, I'm saying in typography I'd rather by guided (or guide) than have hard-and-fast conditions.

John Hudson's picture

Bill: I think this very wide of the mark. After Jenson, all type designers that I know of were very influenced by previous *type* designs. Griffo had and worked with Jenson’s type IIRC, and his efforts take Jenson’s ideas and push them in a more typographic direction, for example, *not* a direction more influenced by writing.

I used to think this too, but then I spent a lot more time looking at contemporary manuscript books, and Griffo's innovations are pretty minor and well within the influence of the formal humanist book hand. Between Jenson and Griffo, not a lot happens in terms of that book hand, so we should not expect any significant evolution in type styles. As typographers, we have established a history in which something like making the bar of the lowercase e horizontal instead of slanted is suddenly significant, but in the overall context of renaissance text manufacture -- both chirographic and typographic -- it is not significant at all. Griffo's types, like Jensons, are thoroughly wedded to the humanist book hand.

What Noordzij has drawn our attention to is the phenomenon of very significant changes in type styles over the following centuries that correspond to and trail changes in writing. There is a tendency to think of a pre-Gutenberg scribal culture and a post-Gutenberg print culture, a kind of revolutionary media rupture of the kind that excites modern cultural theorists. But the fact is that the scribal culture persisted in various ways well into the 19th century, until the invention of mechanical typesetting, and in some areas of life until the popularisation of the typewriter. The production of manuscript books gradually dwindled to almost nothing in the 150 or so years after Gutenberg, but formal writing continued to be the means of producing many other kinds of documents, and it continued to provide the aesthetic and cultural context for the design of new typefaces. This does not imply that typographic letterforms simple copied written letterforms: obviously they did not. But they did import the characteristics of the popular written forms, most notably in stroke contrast and axis, i.e. the two characteristics by which we most often classify types.

Regarding your final points, of course designers of type are responding to other types as well as to writing, but for most of the history of type they have been doing so in a context in which a large amount of the text that readers encounter everyday is written by hand. Writing is more dynamic than type, so evolves more quickly and shows more immediately changes in tools and taste.

I really don't see any influence of Caslon in Baskerville's types. Baskerville is responding to neo-classicism and looking for a form that reflects the aesthetics of his culture. His models are not writing directly, but the increasingly important engraved image of writing, which itself is importing characteristics from writing as informed by the larger movement in architecture and art. These forms are a hybrid of written and constructed forms. In Bodoni's case, the direct influence of writing is explicitly acknowledged. Most of the 'history' of type design has been written without reference to a larger business of manufacturing texts, and so presents a purely typographical narrative in which the only possible influence on the development of new types is old types, or occasionally inscriptional lettering. This leads to fantastical notions such as the 'Transitional' classification of type, as if Baskerville were somehow anticipating Bodoni and designing his own as an interpolation between the 'Oldstyle' and the as-yet-non-existent 'Modern'.

And today an original work like Scala I don’t think was influenced by changes in writing, but by other concerns relating to digital production, and the need for sans and serif designs that go together.

Today, all bets are off on the influence of writing because there simply isn't any. Formal writing in the west is dead, and I don't consider 'calligraphers' significant. Calligraphers produce calligraphy, not texts. Type design has therefore lost its historical context. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, in terms of what may be produced as we look for new contexts to respond to and new paradigms for typography, but I think it makes it all the more important to understand that historical context and the relationship that has existed between writing and type in periods and places where formal writing and a scribal culture persisted alongside typography. Apart from anything else, it will make us sensitive to the perceptions of typography in those few places in the world where a scribal culture still exists and still influences taste and opinion of typographic forms.

Nick Shinn's picture

When I was teaching, I tried to avoid the kind of creative antagonism where the teacher says "this is how it's done", preferring the approach of "there are many ways to do this, let's find what works for you".

John Hudson's picture

Nick: Yes, I was opining that the notion of law is not applicable to typography, and that any laws I have come across are not really laws, but as I noted, “laws”.

But you still seem to be conflating 'laws' with 'rules'. Indeed, you wrote

I find it strange that there is an expectation that typography should be subject to simple objective rules or laws about such things as line length

which may indeed be an expectation that some people have, and they may share your lack of distinction between rules and laws, but that is not what Noordzij is saying and to him the distinction is very important. Why is it important? Because he is using 'law' in the scientific sense, i.e. an analytic statement of fact that, by definition, may be disproved by contradictory evidence, forcing a reformulation of the law.

You are using 'law' as a synonym for 'rule', which, as I say, is to completely miss Noordzij's point. You can't say that 'any laws I have come across are not really laws', in the scientific sense, on the grounds that you can come up with exceptions to them, because it is a given of scientific laws that they are disprovable.

dezcom's picture

By setting a Law and pointing to it, we set up the challenge to find something false in its logic. By doing this, we do more to kindle debate and get at what might be truth than if we never have a Law to ponder. Rules are meant to be broken and Laws are meant to be debated by the supreme court.
It has been a number of years since I taught but I used to throw out a "Law" or even a rule just to see what it prompted from my students. It was a worthwhile exercise.

ChrisL

John Hudson's picture

Nick: When I was teaching, I tried to avoid the kind of creative antagonism where the teacher says “this is how it’s done”, preferring the approach of “there are many ways to do this, let’s find what works for you”.

Sheesh. Did you actually read the Noordzij article, Nick? He doesn't walk into a classroom and say 'This is how it's done', and his criticism of Tschichold is that the latter did indeed take that approach. Noordzij walks in and says 'Here is a law, is it true?'

If I were a student whose teacher walked in and said 'There are many ways to do this, let’s find what works for you', I would walk out. I can find out for myself what works for me.

enne_son's picture

Here is my version of a law:

When interletter spacing is not rhythmic and in synch with the whites inside the letters, the 'optical word' or word image or 'bouma shape' is disrupted or falls apart, and visual wordform resolution suffers.

enne_son's picture

Bill, you wrote “Griffo had — and worked with — Jenson’s type IIRC, and his efforts take Jenson’s ideas and push them in a more typographic direction, for example, *not* a direction more influenced by writing.” [my insertion of em dashes for clarity]

What might push them in a more typographic direction mean? (I don't know what a typographic direction is.)

Nick Shinn's picture

You are using ’law’ as a synonym for ’rule’

John, you are completely misinterpreting me.
Since when does grouping two things together make them synonyms?!
I'm saying, like, I prefer bicycles to trucks and cars. That doesn't mean I think trucks and cars are the same.

it is a given of scientific laws that they are disprovable

Um, isn't it usually the other way round?

Noordzij walks in and says ’Here is a law, is it true?’

I would avoid that kind of creative antagonism also. Design is a practical process of problem solving, not one of dealing with abstract rules and laws. The problem is that there is not a law of line length for instance, but different ways of dealing with it. So the idea that there can be "a" law is spurious.

If I were a student whose teacher walked in and said ’There are many ways to do this, let’s find what works for you’, I would walk out. I can find out for myself what works for me

That was my approach. I didn't actually say that. Finding a personal solution to a design challenge happens differently in different environments. You, working on your own, would do it differently than someone in a class, interacting with the teacher and other students tackling the same problem. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, so it's the teacher's responsibility to address the weaknesses.

enne_son's picture

Nick, doesn't “practical problem solving” benefit from knowing the consequenses of irregular or too wide spacing or how effective sense-following — in the case of prose and in the case of poetry — is affected by variations in line length, in both directions beyond a certain normative range (that it should be our business to try and find)?

It might be an interesting challenge to a group of students to find this range without having the benefit of Tschichold's rule or presumably scientific papers on the subject. In a sense Emigré was a playground for this type of exploration (on multiple fronts!).

Nick Shinn's picture

doesn’t “practical problem solving” benefit from knowing the consequenses of irregular or too wide spacing

Of course, and it's good for students to learn general principles. No need for laws or rules, though.

The general principle is, "don't have too few or too many characters in a line". But that begs the question, as among the factors which effect this are:
-type style
-type size
-type weight
-leading
-number of lines in a paragraph

In this example from a shipping brochure, long line length is not a problem, because of the copious leading, few lines per paragraph, and the amply-sized bold typeface (14 pt. on 32 pt. Corvinus Medium).


.

enne_son's picture

Nick, the import of my question was: doesn't practical problem solving benefit from knowing laws: laws of vision, laws of perceptual processing in reading, 'laws of the letter,' that is, how letters behave, and how effortlessly they are processed as a unit when placed beside each other in words, or when formed in certain ways.

I distinguish between "laws of" that, in our attempts to encapsulate them in words, have conjectural validity, and the dictates of expert practitioners that institutionalize personal ways of working with or around those laws.

Line length might not be a problem in your example, but I think the word spacing, relative to letter-spacing, in the justifed block of text is.

John Hudson's picture

Nick: Um, isn’t it usually the other way round?

No. A scientific law is by its nature disprovable. It is taken to be true until disproved, but if it a priori could not be disproved it would not be a scientific law. Science only deals with that which can be disproven.

Design is a practical process of problem solving.

Is that a law? It looks like one. I hope it isn't a rule.

I regard it as an ideological statement, and one that is uncritically repeated by thousands of designers and design teachers. Perhaps the most refreshing statement I have heard in 13 years in type design was something Peter Biľak said during his presentation at TypeCon in Minneapolis: he explicitly rejected the view of 'design as problem solving' and suggested instead a view of 'design as a kind of reading'. And he showed a short film he had made imposing punctuation on a cityscape seen from a moving train, to make clear that what he was reading, as a designer, was the world around him. This is very much where my 'affections' -- to use Noordzij's term -- lie, with design as a process of engagement and response, understanding and interpretation. Within this process there is definitely a place for laws, i.e. for analytical formulations that enable a critical engagement.

Most design is banal and predictable precisely because it is undertaken as problem solving.

Nick Shinn's picture

Science only deals with that which can be disproven.

You're putting the emphasis in the wrong place.
The body of science is that which can not be disproven.
That's why I said "usually".

Is that a law? It looks like one. I hope it isn’t a rule.
I regard it as an ideological statement

Make up your mind!

a process of engagement and response, understanding and interpretation.

You could say that about many things, including problem solving.

A metaphorical reading of the world is certainly a prerequisiste to design, part of problem definition (which is understood to be part of the problem solving process).

Banality results from merely going through the motions, which is just as possible with "engagement and response, etc."

Steve Tiano's picture

This is an interesting discussion to me, if slightly esoteric. I've ranted, on and off, for a few months now—not in these environs—about, for want of a better term, Tschichold to excess.

One thing I want to point out concerns the sample brochure above. In a lot of ways, it's an attractive piece, judging from the small amount of it we see. But as enne_son rightly points out, the word-spacing is a problem. That first line had word-spacing you can drive a truck thru.

Granted, working in as many books as often as I do, that's a particularly annoying issue for me. And I don't care which software I use—Quark, InDy, formerly PageMaker, vaguely remembering FrameMaker—I need to go thru line-by-line of every page to make sure I like the looks of all lines and their word-spacing. (Letter-spacing isn't even an issue; just goes without saying.)

So what I'm saying is, this is a nice theoretical discussion, but it still comes down to how type on the page looks. Each and every time.

James Arboghast's picture

From Gerrit Noordzij's essay: The rule promises paradise, but in obedient submission. The law promises the wilderness, but in freedom.

To my mind he means rules are akin to formulas which offer a guaranteed result by stipulating how a thing is to be done, without deviation from the given formula (rule). Rules are orthodox in their nature. By contrast, laws are more akin to principles upon which (in this discussion typographic) design rests---by and large---but which are subject to ongoing testing by practitioners to prove or disprove their validity.

Also from Noordzij's essay: Students are frightened by freedom as soon as they understand that freedom leaves them alone with their own judgement.

That's so true, not only of design students; the majority of practising designers seem almost terrified of taking risks. Realistic practitioners accept that there can be no art or new design without risk.

"Freedom is a scary thing. Not many people really want it" ---from the song Statue of Liberty, on Laurie Anderson's recent album Life on a String.

The body of science is that which can not be disproven.

The body of science is that which is destined to be disproven. The whole history of science is a succession of theories or laws disproven by experiment and observation, and supplanted by new theories which in turn are disproven and replaced by subsequent laws or theories, on and on.

The Day the Universe Changed, by Professor Sir James Burke, narrates this history of science and scientific revolution with immense clarity and insight. Nothing is what it seems. Not even laws are what we think they are. Each view attained by each phase of culture and society is just another view---a reading of the world that attempts to make sense of it.

Some psychologists view human consciousness as a kind of dreaming, in the sense that we dream in an illusory fashion in order to percieve the world around is.

Most design is banal and predictable precisely because it is undertaken as problem solving.

I couldn't agree more John.

j a m e s

Ricardo Cordoba's picture

Peter, thanks for posting the link to this very interesting essay.

k.l.'s picture

John Hudson wrote
"There are no exceptions to laws, in the nicely precise sense that Noordzij uses the term, there are only exceptions to rules. Something that disproves a law — i.e. the circumstance that renders a law false —, is not an exception, it is the basis on which you reformulate the law so that it is no longer false."
which hits the mark. Noordzij's notion of Law is very close to the Peirceian notion of law/thirdness. (Also: Dewey, Fleck, Popper, & al.) Very nice.

As to dogmatism:
I think in the bigger picture, it of no relevance whether an author is dogmatic (Tschichold) or self-critical and open for discussion (Noordzij). Both may, or may not, provoke discussion nevertheless. If Tschichold does not criticise himself, others will do it for him.
Science / scientific attitude is more than questioning one's own beliefs. So it is not required that an author be self-critical, or not be a dogmatist. It seems that in science, quite many participants are rather dogmatic. What makes this business "democratic" is that there are many many of them, who try to support their own points of view and falsify the other ones'. This ensures criticism or reflexion on the level of community rather than of the individual.
It would have been interesting to compare Tschichold and Renner in this respect, the former representing Rules, the latter Laws. And, what does it mean that Tschichold is popular to day while Renner's writings on typography were almost forgotten, "rediscovered" only in recent years? Which turns attention toward ...

"The role of the reader"
The "problem" possibly is not authors but readers/followers. Even if Tschichold himself was a typographic dictator, one may still read him with a smile and ask for his motivation, for the paths which led him to his conclusions or beliefs in this or that. (At least that's how I read any text.) Amusingly, Mr Noordzij who, in my reading, keeps an ironic distance to his own writings seems to have followers who read him the dogmatic way. Maybe not so much as regards the theories but more in terms of "applied interpretation" -- I think of the existence of so many "The Hague style" typefaces, from within the school and outside. Sometimes it is hard to figure out whether this or that typeface is the result of "dialog" with (or re-interpretation of) the The Hague understanding of type design, or a mere imitation of the tangible results of this understanding.  ;-)

Nick Shinn's picture

Neville Brody faced the same situation.
He did his own thing, but everyone cloned his style, rather than doing their own thing.
The penalty of leadership.

That first line had word-spacing you can drive a truck thru.

It doesn't bother me at first read, but I do like to read old stuff. I don't think it would have concerned readers at the time.
On analysis, it becomes apparent that the typographer has opened out the word spacing in the first paragraph, and amply spaced the "ellipsis", to enable that paragraph to be squared off without leaving too big hole in front of E. Keble Chatterton. What would you have done to maintain the squared-off style, Steve? Bear in mind that in those days (the 1930s) raggedness was bad grooming, and more objectionable than big word spacing.

In general, the consensus on appropriate word spacing today is that it should be a lot tighter than it was in the past. I would say that greater flexibility and control of kerning and H&J parameters enables this effect, and there is also a greater incidence of rag right copy, which has less wordspace overall than comparable justified text.

Consider the beginning of sentences. With sentences in English often beginning with the letter T, Y, or W, when there was no kerning for a following lower case letter, a narrow preceeding wordspace positioned the Intial in the middle of a fair amount of white space, too close to the end of the previous sentence. The solution to this design problem was to have a larger space between sentences -- but in order to not have this stand out too much, the normal word space was larger. An airier look altogether.

I believe that had the same "readership efficiency" test of acceptable word spacing been conducted then and now, the results would be different. People are more comfortable with what they're used to. Any laws of perceptual processing must be culturally specific: place, time, demographics.

Nick Shinn's picture

The body of science is that which is destined to be disproven.

Yes James, John, I'm familiar with Popper's theory of epistemology, but as I keep saying, it's a question of emphasis. Pythagoras' theorem, for instance, seems to be holding up pretty well.

John Hudson's picture

But Pythagoras' theorem is, um, a theorem, not a law. It is part of the definition of a theorem, in mathematics, that it is something that can be proven within a specific, explicit and agreed set of circumstances. Laws aim to be universal. When Newton formulated the law of gravity, he wasn't stating what happens when a particular apple falls off a particular tree onto the head of a particular English physicist.

enne_son's picture

Nick, you say laws of perceptual processing are culturally specific. I would say they are species and domain specific (species: humans; domain: alphabetic writing). Nevertheless, what is done on the basis of knowing how letters in combination and words in sequence work, varies. And it varies with time and place, conditions of production, individual skill sets and attunements, as well as 'positioning' requirements. Practices are culturally specific, and when they become shared have a rule-structure.

I have no problem though with the fact that new and effective situationally-responsive 'variations' become 'attractors' for an entire generation of skilled practitioners.

What your sample ignores is that disproportionate word spacing overwhelms the proper salience of the interior whites, disrupting rapid automatic visual wordform resolution and hence disturbing smooth sense-following--the essence of reading. This is not so bad in short stretches, but probably detectable, and no doubt problematic over the long haul.

dezcom's picture

I guess you could say the "Law of Diminishing Returns" comes into play with some readability factors. Short texts (as those found in ads and covers) are minimally affected by what is certainly needed in long texts as to diminish the returns. You might even say that, if well done, reducing readability in favor of communication by other than word reading means, can improve message communication.

ChrisL

James Arboghast's picture

I’m familiar with Popper’s theory of epistemology, but as I keep saying, it’s a question of emphasis.

Okay, understood. Now that you have sufficiently emphasized the role of emphasis, I think we can agree on that.

Practices are culturally specific, and when they become shared have a rule-structure.

Cultural norms and conventions form the basis of emphasis? Have I got that right?

...disproportionate word spacing overwhelms the proper salience of the interior whites, disrupting rapid automatic visual wordform resolution and hence disturbing smooth sense-following—the essence of reading. This is not so bad in short stretches, but probably detectable, and no doubt problematic over the long haul.

For a magazine insert and most print ads, diruption of smooth sense-following has certain advantages, I can tell you. In some kinds of advertising it is advantageous to force the reader to focus on particular words, or on particular expressions, grammatic devices etc, to emphasize those passages and the ideas or cultural constructs embodied by them. Drawing attention to certain words with a bolder weight of type or a contrast type like an italic, or a change of ink color, often transpires as too obvious a form of modulation and manipulation of the reader's perception. Subtler methods are required, and one such method commonly used to fly in under the radar is to employ loose word spacing and/or letterspacing.

That first line had word-spacing you can drive a truck thru.

It's not book typesetting and the material isn't literary. It's an ad.

j a m e s

Nick Shinn's picture

when Newton formulated the law of gravity

Well OK, let's say that some of Newton's laws have stood the test of time.

It’s an ad.

It's from a brochure. It's all reading. The perceptual process is the same.
We know that decks and headlines don't have to be as easy to read as body copy, but I doubt that science could quantify by how much. All it's good for is very basic controlled situations, like some kinds of book text. And highway signs.

As there has been some reference to education, it should be pointed out that there's not much typography for books going on in design school. We should be educating designers to do more interesting things--where rules are irrelevant--with type than straightforward book text.

Nick Shinn's picture

What your sample ignores is that disproportionate word spacing overwhelms the proper salience of the interior whites, disrupting rapid automatic visual wordform resolution and hence disturbing smooth sense-following—the essence of reading.

I disagree. Your notion of "proper" word space is entirely subjective, culturally specific in fact. As I argued, readers at that time would have had no problem with the large word spaces, and readers generally make allowances for "display" typography that is set with some style.

To change the example from wordspace to leading, consider this, set by Yale University in 1936 for Stanley Morison's text. With it's bumping extenders, it pays homage to many centuries of solid leading. No doubt the rules people will say this is a no-no, and I'm sure it would be possible to prove it's inefficient in a laboratory test, but hey, don't let that language go extinct. In a similar vein, but paying homage to Raygun more like, the decks in Step magazine employ reverse leading. A trend perhaps, but nothing to do with an intellectual appraisal of rules, and the kind of thing where an art director let's the hand and eye do the thinking, while playing around with the variables in a layout program.


.

John Hudson's picture

Nick: Well OK, let’s say that some of Newton’s laws have stood the test of time.

You mean that have been a reliable basis for prediction and have not been disproven by contrary evidence? Sure, but what makes them laws in the scientific sense is that they are disprovable. The fact that they have not been disproven to date and may never be disproven neither contributes to nor detracts from their classification as laws. What makes for a scientific law is falsifiability, and that is an inherent property of the formulation of the law, not something that is determined by time.

enne_son's picture

In some [contexts] it is advantageous to force the reader to focus on particular words, or on particular expressions, grammatic devices etc, to emphasize those passages and the ideas or cultural constructs embodied by them.

Yes!

Have I got that right?

I might prefer: Emphases form the basis of conventions.

Practices are culturally specific, and when they become shared have a rule-structure, can harden into conventions, and are sometimes given normative force. The last two are, or can be problematic. The rule-structure is probably a structure of emphases. The early Tschichold emphasized the dynamic force of assymmetrical placements, also when it came to positioning text-type in book-work.

James Arboghast's picture

It’s from a brochure.

Well, promotional literature then. My point is that kind of material uses substantially less wordage to convince the reader than the length of discourse allowed by purely literary texts like novels and non-fiction books.

...I doubt that science could quantify by how much.

It's a reckless world that lets itself be guided by its tools, nevertheless I find scientific analysis useful. Quantification of how much to adjust things is not the aim. It's more like an instrument that catylizes understanding of what's going on. A percptual means of peering inside.

j a m e s

James Arboghast's picture

I might prefer: Emphases form the basis of conventions.

That makes perfect sense too.

j a m e s

John Hudson's picture

James: To my mind he means rules are akin to formulas which offer a guaranteed result by stipulating how a thing is to be done, without deviation from the given formula (rule). Rules are orthodox in their nature. By contrast, laws are more akin to principles upon which (in this discussion typographic) design rests—-by and large—-but which are subject to ongoing testing by practitioners to prove or disprove their validity.

Yes, but Noordzij being Noordzij, he expresses this in a provocative formulation:

The rule promises paradise, but in obedient submission. The law promises the wilderness, but in freedom.

I think it would be remiss not to acknowledge the religious references in this dual metaphor, something that Noordzij employs quite often in his writing. There's a, presumably, Dutch Calvinist frame of reference that Noordzij plays with, in this case offsetting the Judaeo-Christian wilderness against a fairly transparent reference to Islam ('submission').

One of the reasons I enjoy reading Noordzij so much is that he is seldom just talking about design. The same is true of Bringhurst, although in a very different way.

James Arboghast's picture

John,
thanks so much for that insight. You're much more familiar with Noordzij's writings than I. I'll have to read more of him and get back to you on this in more detail.

Examining that provocative sentence again I can see the dual metaphor relating to religion. Possibly he's tapping the notion of religiosity as a force acting upon cultural frames of reference, a kind of attractor. Sorry that's a bit abstract and esoteric.

One of the reasons I enjoy reading Noordzij so much is that he is seldom just talking about design. The same is true of Bringhurst, although in a very different way.

That's what I love about Bringhust too---the hidden riches, and the pleasure of uncovering them. There's a comedy sketch by Alan Bennet about two friends climbing a mountain, and at the end of it he says something like, "Life is like a tin of sardines. Once we've found the key, we open the tin, and find hidden inside life's riches. But there's always a tiny bit in the corner we can never quite get at." ;^)

Pardon me gents I have to leave the building right now.

Later.

j a m e s

enne_son's picture

the hand and eye do the thinking, while playing around with the variables in a layout program

Nick, this is precisely what I do in my practice. But the mind does not go blank.

What I put forward in my statements has nothing to do with an "intellectual appraisal of rules." I made a statement about disproportionate word-spacing and proper salience. Proper salience, means the relative salience letter parts amd counters need if the words they comprise are to be read accurately and without difficulty. My statement was about what happens; how salience works. I can see what happens. I can see what my manipulations do, optical-grammatically, perceptual-psychophysically and gestural-atmospherically.

The way salience works in vision has nothing to do with me personally, but everything to do with how the species I am part of functions or responds when confronted by letters in separated scripts at text sizes. Optical-grammatically and perceptual-psychophysically there are realities with ranges and thresholds. I can try to state what I see in words and sentences and make my observations more widely available. Is that what you mean by "intellectual appraisal of rules?" I can make predictions about the effect of my manipulations on various things that are foundational to reading, like visual wordform resolution and sense-following. I can test my predictions to see if they are right.

My statement was about what happens. I have no issue with using my attunements to the effect of manipulating or modulating spacing on rapid automatic visual word form resolution in order to put in place typographic structures that arrest the reader, slow him or her down in certain contexts, focus attention, or make an over-familiar text strange (aka ostrananie), that is to use my awarenes of the laws of vision to effect my or my clients communicative needs or ends.

[John] […] offsetting […]

I wonder if you have the contrasts right.

William Berkson's picture

I've been busy repenting on Yom Kippur, so I couldn't post. Looks like you guys should have been repenting too :)

1. For a theory to have scientific status it should, according to Popper, be *potentially* refutable. That is, they should exclude some events about which we can actually check whether they happen or have happened under the specified conditions.

For example the simple claim 'birth stars influence character' is not refutable, and so not scientific. (It may be true--or not--but that's another issue.) The claim that normal human conception involves an egg and a sperm is testable. You can look with a microscope and see whether the little creatures are there, and indeed they are.

For a theory to be testable is not only a matter of logical form. Scientists also have to want to check by observation and experiment, and not try to weasel out of refutation by equivocation about meaning of terms, etc. As Karsten notes, Popper emphasized that the this process is a feature of science as a social institution, not just the attitude of a particular researcher.

Nick and John, strictly speaking Newton's law of gravitation has been refuted. That's what Eddington's 1921 observation of a solar eclipse was about, testing Einstein vs Newton. Of course Newton's laws are approximately true and good enough in most circumstances. But that's not good enough. Einstein's theory survived those tests better than Newton's.

2. Noordzij's use of the terms 'law' and 'rule' is a little idiosyncratic, but his point I thought was pretty clear, and sound: conjecturing scientific laws of perception in reading is a healthy open-minded process, whereas demanding conformity to rules based simply on one's own authority is pretty ridiculous, however accomplished the person.

3. Nick, the laws of human perception do limit print legibility. Print black on black and it's hard to read because of low contrast. Print it at 3 point, and people will have an extremely hard time reading it because of size. Now such issues as spacing the science is much more complicated and confused. But that's because the science is not that good yet, not because scientific results are in principle irrelevant.

4. On the influence of changes in writing technology and practice on type design. Noordzij's theory is very interesting, and may indeed be one influence.

But here Noordzij starts sounding like Tschichold, and makes his theory the one and only influence, which I think is absurd. To repeat, Noordzij wrote; "If we ask for the intentions of the type designers, we find that their work reflected their attitude to writing with little regard for previous solutions.”

That type designers weren't looking at previous type and influenced by it is to me a ridiculous theory.

Let me start with my idea that Baskerville had studied Caslon carefully and was heavily influenced by his *type*. You say: "I really don’t see any influence of Caslon in Baskerville’s types."

Ok, here's what Baskerville said:

"Mr. Caslon is an Artist, to whom the Republic of Learning has great obligations; his ingenuity has left a fairer copy for my emulation than any other master. In his great variety of Characters I intend not to follow him, the Roman and Italic are all that I have hitherto attempted; if in these he has left room for improvement, it is probably more owing to that variety which divided his attention, than to any other cause."

That as quoted by Alexander Lawson, Anatomy of a Typeface, p. 187, my emphasis.

Now that sounds to me like a type designer. It is well aware of what the previous generation did, and takes that as his point of departure. He also puts in a dig that Caslon was sloppy because he turned out so much work (true). Baskerville changed a lot about Caslon, but for sure he was looking at *type* and not writing only.

I will discuss writing vs type further another time, and answer Peter's question, but this post is long already.

Nick Shinn's picture

Bill: Now such issues as spacing the science is much more complicated and confused. But that’s because the science is not that good yet, not because scientific results are in principle irrelevant.

Why would science be relevant to spacing?
It could measure what is effective and come up with general principles -- rather like the marketing survey or sales results for an advertisement -- but that is a snapshot in time, after the fact. Science can't come up with the creative, and what works now will not be as effective tomorrow.

Peter: I can make predictions about the effect of my manipulations on various things that are foundational to reading, like visual wordform resolution and sense-following.

That may be true if you are making a sequel. But brains get bored, and society evolves. Typographic culture changes, and typographers should be at least partly agents of change, and respond to change.

Ottmar Mergenthaler developed a system of justification in the early 20th century, which inserted extra spacing between characters as well as words (which is what Quark etc made something of a standard from around 1990). But at the time, everyone thought it looked horrible, so Linotype stuck with justification only using word spaces. This is one more reason that leads me to conclude that our physiological apparatus can handle all kinds of different spacing models, and it is cultural and technological contingencies which determine which are more effective, not biology. So the science of reading is more of a social science, further from engineering.

John Hudson's picture

Bill, I think Baskerville was being polite to his highly respected countryman and his celebrated types, presenting his own work as if it were an 'emulation'. This isn't an entirely uncommon phenomenon: an innovator courting acceptance for his work by downplaying its innovativeness. Remember, innovation has only recently been seen as an entirely positive thing, and we know that Baskerville had trouble getting his types accepted by conservative readers who knew-what-they-liked-and-they-liked-Caslon-thank-you-very-much.

If you actually look at the types you have to acknowledge that Baskerville is doing something very different. The change from an oblique to a vertical axis alone is a radical difference (one that prompts every type classification scheme I'm aware of to put Caslon's types and Baskerville's in separate categories). The change in contrast, weight and proportions are also significant. And these changes are all mirrored in contemporary developments in formal writing brought about by the increasing use of the split nib. Baskerville's genius was to take the stroke logic of written and engraved lettering, which was most often oblique, and apply it to roman forms.

Baskerville's Greek type is also worth looking at in this regard, I think: this is not a typeface designed by a man who cared what anyone else had done before him. It is weird and probably must be considered a failure, but it owes nothing to Caslon or any other type designer. Baskerville may have felt some need to publicly claim that he was a humble follower in Caslon's footsteps, but the work tells a different story. Baskerville was an unconventional man (he lived with a woman who was not his wife for many years at a time when this was seriously scandalous), and I doubt if he had any illusion that he was not, in fact, the finest printer England had every produced.

But none of this is to suggest that type designers have not been influenced by other type designers, and I don't think Noordzij is suggesting this either. What I am saying, at least, is that such influence takes place within a wider context of text creation that is only partially, if increasingly, typographic, and it is developments in this wider context that produce radical changes in the styles of type. In an important sense, I would say it doesn't matter whether a particular type designer of the past was more influenced by writing or by type, because what he was actually influenced by was a text culture within which writing and typography were not as compartmentalised as we have come to think of them.

k.l.'s picture

[John, do you have an image of Baskerville's Greek?]

enne_son's picture

Nick, the typical performance curves that come out of the labs show a steep climb followed by a wide plateau and than a gradual decline. The plateau means our "psychological apparatus" can handle variation inside a certain range. The plateau also provides inventors room to set up their heavy equipment and designers room to play.

Science doesn't need to come up with the creative. All it needs to do is document this.

Designers come up with the creative, contingent on how they read what the situation requires.

The creative varies over time, depending on the path the designer choses within or at the edges of the ranges. Playing at the edges has intrinsic risks, and going over them like David Carson did, has it uses. But these efforts wouldn't have their force if the plateaus don't exist and there is simply a level playing field extending indefinitely in every direction.

William Berkson's picture

>But none of this is to suggest that type designers have not been influenced by other type designers, and I don’t think Noordzij is suggesting this either.

John, it seems to me you are dismissing compelling evidence.

I'll repeat the Noordzij quote a third time, and perhaps you can explain how I am misinterpreting it:

“If we ask for the intentions of the type designers, we find that their work reflected their attitude to writing with little regard for previous solutions.”

By "previous solutions" he means, as I read him, the designs of other type designers. That is what I am reacting against. And by the way Noordzij is on occasion given to extreme, interesting, thought-provoking statements, so this is quite in character.

Let us go with the case of Baskerville further. I do not find your dismissal of Baskerville's explicit statement of debt to Caslon convincing. There are a hundred ways he could have praised his predecessor without directly saying he emulated him, but he didn't choose any of those hundred. So why would he feel compelled to lie outright, which he has to be doing for Noordzij to be right?

Also, I have been working on history of ideas in one way and another for a long time, and I have found that what an innovator says about his or her predecessors is extremely revealing, and is worth paying careful attention to. These statements are usually very brief, and as a rule more accurate and revealing than anything else that has been written since.

In Baskerville's case, I think that only one of a number of changes he made to Caslon is directly attributable to writing.

Again, more of what Baskerville actually said:

"I formed to my self ideas of greater accuracy than had yet appeared, and have endeavored to produce a Set of Types according to what I conceived to be their true proportions."

Let us take 'proportions' first. As you note, handwriting is generally oblique. And it tends to narrower n's h's etc. than roman letters. And the counters in the o, n, m, etc are more assymetrical with the outsides. And this remains true in 18th century writing, such as that of Bickham. I don't know if Bickham has wider arches than earlier scripts, but if so it would be influenced by neo-classical taste, rather than any result of the mechanics of the pen or of writing.

Baskerville's nm etc have lovely neo-classical arches, and to achieve these are wider than previous letters, and the arches are more symmetrical and circular than earlier types. The vertical stress of Baskerville takes what Caslon (and earlier the Dutch) had done with the O and o, and apply it across the board. All of these features *contradict* writing, and are more likely influenced by neo-classical architecture and other design than by 18th century writing in particular.

As to 'accuracy', if you look at Caslon's original types, you see that in some sizes eg the m's and n's have quite different curves, and there is a lot of variation in x height, ascender height, stem width etc. And the relative proportions of letters sometimes vary greatly from size to size. So Baskerville set out in reaction against Caslon to have strict consistency in these matters. But again, this is not a feature of writing. The extreme consistency and accuracy is not possible or even desirable in writing, but it is in type.

Baskerville it seems to me was influenced by Caslon as much by reaction against him as in following him. But that makes it no less an influence: he was looking at *type*, contrary to Noordzij. I haven't made a comparative study of the two types, but my impression is that there remain some similarities in structure. The x-heights and extenders are, IIRC, similar in proportion. And the way the diagonal letters are handled (formation of k, W, M) is similar. And the caps are fairly heavy in relation to the lower case. They are somewhat less than Caslon, but much more than eg. Garamond, showing the enduring influence of Caslon.

And by reaction, Baskerville gives the letters greater contrast, more vertical stress, and wider and more symmetrical letters. The high contrast is the one thing in this that is likely an influence of the steel pen, but that's about it.

Again I have gotten long, so more later...

John Hudson's picture

Bill,

Noordzij writes: “If we ask for the intentions of the type designers, we find that their work reflected their attitude to writing with little regard for previous solutions.”

This seems to me a confused statement, because it starts off asking about intentions and ends up talking about what their work reflects. I'm not into guessing intentions, but I am interested in what one can deduce from looking at the product. Maybe, in intention, Baskerville really did think of himself as emulating Caslon, although it seems unlikely to me given his otherwise innovative genius. But I have a number of books printed by Baskerville in his own types, and they are clearly something distinct from what preceded them, and one of the things they reflect is a different attitude to the formation of letters that is also reflected in the contemporary fashions in writing. And I think it is interesting that Baskerville's types went from being initially criticised by conservative readers and compared unfavourably with Caslon's to being emulated by virtually all the English founders of the next generation (the Frys, Martin, Austin). And that emulation is very, very obvious and it also very obviously takes place within a large text culture that is very different from that which inspired Caslon. So this takes us back to what I said -- which differs from what Noordzij said -- and which I am going to repeat:

What I am saying is that such influence takes place within a wider context of text creation that is only partially, if increasingly, typographic, and it is developments in this wider context that produce radical changes in the styles of type. In an important sense, I would say it doesn’t matter whether a particular type designer of the past was more influenced by writing or by type, because what he was actually influenced by was a text culture within which writing and typography were not as compartmentalised as we have come to think of them.

Of course Baskerville knew Caslon's types and of course he was aware, intimately, of the ways in which his own were similar to or different from them. What matters -- why we care about Baskerville and why his types were so widely emulated -- is the ways in which they were different and the reasons why they were different. Caslon's types were the end of the line for the Dutch oldstyle; in fact, they are primarily of interest because they were made in England and so came to play an important role in Anglo-American typography: if they'd been made in the Netherlands, we probably wouldn't pay any attention to them. Baskerville's types were the beginning of something, and they came to be seen as reflecting their cultural context better than the oldstyle types could.

Here is a mental exercise that I recommend: imagine that you are a typesetter/printer in the later 18th century. Imagine that you are typesetting a new book, say James Harris' Hermes, or a philosophical inquiry concerning universal gramma (fascinating book, by the way), and you have before you the manuscript copy from which you are composing the type. Picture that manuscript copy. Now try to feel the cultural discomfort, the disconnection between that manuscript and the late renaissance or mannerist typeface that you have in your font of type. Today, we live in a typographic world full of revivals of historical models and a great diversity of styles, and because we don't very often encounter handwritten copy and because there is no culture of formal writing, we don't generally experience anything like this cultural disconnection between written and typographic forms that would have been very evident and awkward to earlier generations (the closest we come is when we see a piece of text set in what seems an inappropriate typeface). Indeed, one can argue that most of the history of innovation in type design has been in reaction to such disconnections, and should be seen in terms of correction and the bringing of typographic forms into line with the broader text culture, itself part of a larger intellectual and artistic culture. We see this even in the very beginnings of our 'roman' typographic forms, where a disconnection between the available blackletter types and the culture of Italian humanism prompted the invention of new styles of type based on the formal Italian book hand.

William Berkson's picture

I am largely but not totally in agreement with your last post.

I don't know the history of handwritten scripts, but my impression is that after type and printed books become widespread, people generally didn't take pains to write the formal, more readable upright humanist script. They were writing slanted, cursive hands that had less to do with the formal, highly readable upright script. Type was more readable than any script, so if you really wanted maximum readability you could just have it printed. If I'm right about that, then it would seem to me natural that designers of text types looked less to handwriting than to previous type designs.

>I’m not into guessing intentions, but I am interested in what one can deduce from looking at the product.

You don't have to guess: Baskerville told us what his goals were, and the fact that he was influenced by Caslon. If I am trying to do accurate history, I'm not going to ignore what the originator himself said, even if I don't have to take it fully at face value. In using the word 'emulation,' he was acknowledging a debt. I agree with you that the debt is less than for most designers, as he was one of the more original designers in type history. But there are signs of that debt, as I noted.

Baskerville had been a writing master, and if he wanted to write about his debt to other writing masters he could have. He chose instead to write about his debt to Caslon, which I see as a significant choice. I agree about the influence of the contemporary pen and writing on contrast, but all the other stuff I don't see as a writing influence. That why I think it is reasonable to conclude that the bigger part of his problem-situation was type, rather than writing.

On Jenson and Griffo. You say that hand scripts had not changed much between the two, which would indicate that Griffo's inspiration was not from hand written script. However, you go on to minimize the diferences between the two.

I think the differences are more significant, and move in a more typographic direction. For example Griffo's ascenders I believe lean a bit less to the right, his serifs are more symmetrical, and the crossbar on the e is horizontal. All of these features are more unnatural in writing, and they move further from the examples of the humanist script. That is why I conclude that Griffo was looking more at Jenson's type, and less at hand writing.

Jenson made the biggest leap, in my view, in making his type more upright and more even in color than hand writing, and so strikingly more readable.

Still, I don't think that Stanley Morrison was just blowing smoke and advertising when he wrote that Griffo's types were more clearly modern and decisively set the pattern for later roman types.

I hesitate to say that Griffo's type was more readable than Jenson's, as the breakthrough was really Jenson, and the differences may well be more aesthetic than in readability. Still, I have the feeling that Griffo does have a slight edge in readability, and I suspect it may have to do with more even color as well as the other features. But I haven't studied it enough to really have any firm opinion.

ps on Caslon himself. You write:

>Caslon’s types were the end of the line for the Dutch oldstyle; in fact, they are primarily of interest because they were made in England and so came to play an important role in Anglo-American typography: if they’d been made in the Netherlands, we probably wouldn’t pay any attention to them.

I agree that Caslon's place in history--and being the first old style to be revived--has a lot to do with the attention paid to his designs. But I do think he had he own sensibility about proportion and color that was admirable and highly readable. And that I, for one, think is worth trying to emulate in modern type. I am convinced that for all his vagaries, Caslon always proofed his characters between other characters, and had a very strong sense of what worked and didn't work. He didn't care so much about uniformity, but he had a very strong sense of what was readable, and it showed in his types.

John Hudson's picture

Bill: I don’t know the history of handwritten scripts, but my impression is that after type and printed books become widespread, people generally didn’t take pains to write the formal, more readable upright humanist script. They were writing slanted, cursive hands that had less to do with the formal, highly readable upright script. Type was more readable than any script, so if you really wanted maximum readability you could just have it printed.

Who says that 'type was more readable than any (handwritten) script'? This is a totally untestable supposition. Printed texts were quicker and more economical to produce, and they enabled text to be cleanly reproduced at smaller sizes than are comfortable to write, again making type more economical than manuscript. These factors alone account for the spread of printing. I've looked at a heck of a lot of manuscripts, and I don't think you can make a general case that type is more legible than writing: much depends on the quality of the individual production, whether the result of a better or worse scribe or a better or worse printer. Frankly, an awful lot of early printing was very bad, which we tend to forget because only the best stuff became famous and gets reproduced in histories of typography. The types got worn very quickly because the metal mixes were not right. The inking is uneven and the pressure is inconsistent. A lot of contemporary manuscripts were better, not least because the renaissance scribes realised that they were in competition with the new technology and needed to show just how good manuscript books could be. There was a late flowering of the European manuscript book tradition after the advent of printing; in the end it wasn't sufficient to counter the financial advantages of print publishing, but it produced some extraordinarily beautiful books that were specifically made to compete with print on the grounds of quality, including readability. I strongly recommend Jonathan Alexander's The painted page: Italian renaissance book illumination, 1450-1550 for a well-illustrated overview of this period (it also deals with illumination of printed book).

I don't think it is possible to look at a manuscript like this and make a claim like this:

Jenson made the biggest leap, in my view, in making his type more upright and more even in color than hand writing, and so strikingly more readable.

Jenson's biggest leap was to render the culturally acceptable form of humanist letters in type, so that the new technology would be accepted for the production of the kind of texts that the Italian renaissance readership (all of whom, as Bringhurst has drawn attention to in various places in the past few years, were not only readers but also writers). Sweynheym and Pannartz had begun this process at Subiaco and Rome, but never really got away from the blackletter. Jenson was more comfortable with the humanist script, so knew better how to cut letters to that model.

It shouldn't be necessary to point out that people are still making text faces based on those writing models, e.g. Adobe's new Arno Pro.

On Jenson and Griffo. You say that hand scripts had not changed much between the two, which would indicate that Griffo’s inspiration was not from hand written script.

What I actually said was that the characteristics of both Jenson and Griffo's type are found in the larger context of Italian humanist text creation that includes manuscript hands. Like Peter, I'm not sure I know what it means to say that Griffo's letters were 'more typographic', other than perhaps more regular. It shouldn't surprise us is that there is greater variety in the many individual manuscript hands than there is in the relatively small number of typefaces -- some of which are merely copies of other printers types: that sort of 'emulation' has always been with us --, and that the types represent only a subset of the ideas and forms found in the former.

I'll agree with you that Noordzij sometimes overstates the case for writing -- which is why I prefer to draw attention to the overall phenomenon of text creation in which there isn't a compartmentalisation of writing and type, but only a single activity of making texts for people to read --, but Noordzij's overstatement is nothing compared to the uniquely typocentric view presented in most histories of typography, many of which completely ignore or gloss over the role of writing in the contemporary text creation cultures.

William Berkson's picture

>Who says that ’type was more readable than any (handwritten) script’? This is a totally untestable supposition.

Well, I shouldn't have used the word 'any', because someone might very carefully and slowly imitate type, with a steel pen, enough to be approximately the same. But 'almost all' would do. Even if one compares deliberately calligraphic fonts--eg Brioso--with less calligraphic ones--eg Minion--the higher readability of typographic ones is striking to me. Testing readability is difficult in any case, but when better tests come along eg to distinguish eg. sans or all caps, I don't see why they can't test a hand written page against a printed one. I have suggested such tests (testing for fatigue), but they haven't been done, to my knowledge.

>Baskerville

You didn't respond to my rebuttal of your hypothetical analysis of how Baskerville might looked at contemporary writing and was influenced. I think my analysis based on what Baskerville said about his own goals is more plausible, because it addresses the actual historical record.

Generally speaking, I suspect the further removed from Jenson we are historically, the less contemporary handwriting influences designers of text types. Writing always remains an "underlying force", as van Krimpen said, based on the origination of our letter shapes in writing. And designers may get ideas from their own experiments in writing, done with an eye to type.

The biggest change in type after Baskerville is perhaps the introduction of fat faces and sans serifs. And I don't see how these have anything to do with writing, aside from high contrast in the case of fat faces. They were, I believe, influenced by architectural lettering and sign painting. Those are important non-type influences on type, but they are not writing. And they were influenced by the needs of advertising--large sized, attention-getting type.

I will respond later on Jenson, Griffo and what is typographic.

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