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Side Project: Type Crimes as defined by Ellen Lupton

In the book “Thinking with Type” by Ellen Lupton, various Type Crimes are pointed out. These are basically the no-no’s of the graphic design world when it comes to typography, and should be avoided at all costs. The different type crimes fall under these various categories:

  • Size
  • Scale
  • Type Families and “pseudo family members”
  • Caps, small caps and “pseudo caps”
  • Mixing Typefaces
  • Punctuation
  • Tracking
  • Line Space
  • Alignment
  • Vertical text
  • Marking paragraphs
  • Hierarchy

Here listed in my own words are the various type crimes Ellen warns us against/things to contiously pay attention to in order to avoid type crimes:

  • Some type faces that work well at larger sizes look too fragile when reduced.
  • Minimal differences are bad. Strong contrast between type sizes is better.
  • Pseudo italics are mechanical, forced and unnatural.
  • Pseudo small caps are a no-no. They are just shrunken versions of a typeface’s capital letters.
  • Unnatural spaces between lines are bad. Do not let the computer decipher these for you.
  • Squeezing lines/competing weights of fonts
  • Too close in weight/not enough contrast/no noticeable difference when using more than 1 family member in a design
  • 2 different type styles used together with not enough contrast
  • Hatch marks vs. quotation marks
  • Non-hanging quotes (quotes that are taking out chunks of white space)
  • Loosely spaced lowercase letters are awkward
  • Tight tracking
  • Distortion (stretching and not scaling)
  • Not using the baseline shift tool; letting the computer auto space
  • Poorly shaped text block
  • Gaps/holes in paragraphs of text
  • Bad rag/wedged shaped text
  • Excessive punctuation on the right
  • Stacked lowercase letters
  • Paragraph spacing and indents
  • Too many signals (bold, italic and underlined all at once)
  • Two hyphens instead of em dash
  • Hyphen rather than em dash between numbers/dates
  • Two spaces between sentences
  • Don’t use the space bar to create indents

I took it upon myself to discover some of these horrible travesties as they exist in real life. Here is what I came across..

Shockingly, I found the first 3 all while taking a shower. Apparently the soap and shampoo industry needs to get it together when it comes to typography.


The words “shampoo” and “concentrate” are examples of words with lowercase letters that are spaced much too far apart.


“Fragrance-free” really does not need to be hyphenated.


“Higher priced”- a clear example of not knowing when to use hatch marks vs. quotation marks. Also lots of awkward spaces between words, creating a choppy rather than fluid look overall.


This poster has no real hierarchy or difference at all between texts.

2014-10-23 15.18.33

Stacked lettering.


 Far too many signals (glitter, rainbow, bubble text, bold).

Posted by Ciara Diamond on October 21, 2014

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