The Phenomenon of Letter & Type


When I was taking an AP English class in high school, my professor would make us do all of these exercises where he would display a piece of work on the overhead projector (be it a page from a novel, a poem, a picture, etc.), and one-by-one the students had to go up with a pointer and analyze something on the projector. There were so many times I stood up in front of the class and thought I was grasping at straws trying to find meaning in the type faces used. I often wondered whether the author/creator truly intended for so much meaning to come from the letters themselves or whether I was just wildly extrapolating. This chapter made me think about letters in an entirely new light. Who knew that I was inadvertently manipulating the feeling of my work just by randomly picking a font that I thought looked cool. I also realized that I consistently violated the “type crimes” listed in the chapter.

When reevaluating the resume project, the care needed in identifying the proper font makes perfect sense. This has to be a visual document solely composed of words. The words themselves may not be too exciting either. On my resume, I list jobs, places, dates, and brief bulleted responsibilities. I doubt it is possible to maintain excitement and enthusiasm when reading a stack of one hundred resumes. At least the typeface can offer the eye a pleasant environment to observe and make them feel that they have just taken a break.



Prior to reading this chapter, I thought of text as what sadly lies within a textbook. Now I realize that text actually encompasses much more than words on a page. It refers to what is visible just as much as what is absent. It also takes into account spacing, orientation, grouping, white space, alignment, size, weight, color, and about every other possible transformation you could impose on a sequence of letters or words. Both of these chapters have made me really appreciate graphic design. Every aspect of a portrait, essay, novel, or what have you must serve a purpose. Even though I did not consciously realize that until now, I have been subconsciously observing the way that both letter and text work together in design since the day I was born.


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