Academic journal article Visible Language

Reading Letters, Designing for Legibility

Academic journal article Visible Language

Reading Letters, Designing for Legibility

Article excerpt

READING LETTERS, DESIGNING FOR LEGIBILITY Sofie Beier Amsterdam, NL: BIS Publishers, 2012 ISBN 978-90-6369-271-1 Hardbound, 181 pages, illustrated, full color, $40.00

Like many aspects of professional life, typographic design and typography are not either purely art or science. While the form making may be artful, the constraints on letterforms in its system of other alphabetic forms may use science or the type designer's observation to construct a functional and pleasurable font. The author is well aware of this and covers in Reading Letters both aspects. She begins with an excellent discussion of the problems associated with legibility study, as isolating variables and establishing the study protocols separate studies and results, making comparisons across various studies close to impossible. Further, type is used in many contexts; for distance reading via signage, for textual emphasis, for continuous reading in various situations and many more direct applications.

Beier takes a holistic approach to the topic, providing historical information, recognizing evolutionary moments in type design along with the designers responsible for the change, whether historic, contemporary or new to the type design pantheon. Best of all, she covers the discussion briefly and demonstrates the ideas and changes graphically through showing the type designs themselves and calling the reader/viewer's attention to the feature under discussion. …

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