Thursday, 25 July 2013

Typography in ten minutes

Yesterday I came across Butterick’s Practical Typography. It promises to make you “a bet­ter ty­pog­ra­ph­er than 95% of pro­fes­sion­al writ­ers and 70% of pro­fes­sion­al de­sign­ers” in ten minutes, by reading 5 rules (and, presumably, then following them). I instead read the whole thing – it’s fascinating (if you are fascinated by typography).

At one point, when advocating using wider margins, and making better use of white space, he sets an exercise, of making 2 documents with the same text.

Document A is the usual default style, and has the following format: “page mar­gins of one inch per side, font is Times New Roman, point size is 12, line spacing is “Double” [...], first-line indent is half an inch, and no space be­tween para­graphs.”

Document B follows Buttericks strictures, and has the following format: “page mar­gins of two inch­es per side, font is still Times New Roman, point size is 11, line spac­ing is ex­act­ly 15 points, first-line in­dent is still half an inch, and still no space between para­graphs.”

He claims that B looks more like a professionally typeset book, is more comfortable to read, and contains more words per page. And he's right. Here are A and B (using Lorem Ipsum, so neither is particularly comfortable to read!).

(left) document A, default margins, double spaced; (right) document B, wider margins, better spaced, more text
Then today I had to write a 250 word “vision” document. I heeded what I had learnt. I initally wrote the text in the Word default layout. Then I tweaked it, by changing the font, and increasing the margins and linespacing. I made the margins as wide as I could, and still get all the text on one page. The result:

(left) 250 words in Word default format; (right) the same words, after some minor formatting tweaks
Im sold!

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