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Sep 13 / Brandon Fredericksen

Ellen Lupton Reading: 22-47

This chapter started to talk about the historical impact of certain fonts, and starts to break down how fonts are composed and the names for their parts. With the rise of industrialization, in the 19th century came a ton of advertising, which was a new form of communication at the time. This new form of communication demanded a new form of typography with it. Type faces became big and bold, fonts with large height, width, and depth were starting to appear.

Because lead can not hold its form at large sizes, a new technique for type printing needed to be created. Type cut from wood could be used on an enormous scale. The pantograph, originating from 1834, is a tracing device. When linked to a router for carving, it allows a parent drawing to spawn variants with different proportions, weights and decorative excrescences. This approach treated the alphabet as a flexible system straying away from calligraphy.

This new style of typefaces didn’t start off easy with all designers. Some designers viewed the distortion of the alphabet as ugly and immoral. They tied it to a destructive and inhumane industrial system. Though some were attached to history, the designer was redefined as an intellectual distanced from the commercial mainstream, a critic of society, striving to challenge and revise dominant habits and practices.

Cap Height: The distance from the baseline to the top of the capital letter determines the letter’s point size.

Ascender Height: Some elements may extend slightly above the cap height.

Descender Height: The length of a letter’s descenders contributes to its overall style and attitude.

X-Height: The height of the main body of the lowercase letter (or the height of a lowercase x), excluding its descenders and ascenders.

The Baseline: Where all the letters sit. This is the most table axis along a line of text, and it is a crucial edge for aligning text with images or with other text.

Overhang: The curves at the bottom of letters hang slightly below the baseline. Commas and semicolons also cross the baseline. If a typeface were not positioned this way, it would appear to teeter precariously. Without overhang, rounded letters would look smaller than their flat footed compatriots.

 

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