RE: Font size for headings (was:Font size)

Subject: RE: Font size for headings (was:Font size)
From: "Michael West" <mwest -at- oz -dot- quest -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 5 Sep 2000 13:06:09 +1100

Geoff hart wrote:

> > You have to be careful about what you read; a lot of typography books make
> > recommendations based solely on the author's personal taste rather than on any
> > consideration of the reader's needs, and those suggestions often don't check
> > out in the real world.

Bruce Byfield wrote:

> This is one reason why Bringhurst's"Elements of Typographic
> Style" is so useful. Bringhurst is dogmatic on a few points, but
> he generally does a good job of explaining the conventions and
> the considerations without imposing his own. This generalization
> is especially true of the second edition. It's not perfect, but
> it's a very good reference.

I've not seen Bringhurst's book yet, but Colin Wheildon's
recommendations -- supposedly based on scholarly research
(although the research itself has not been published) -- generally
support most standard rules-of-thumb found in the more widely-read
typography books. This could mean simply that readers respond
best to that which is most familiar, or it could mean something else.

I am less cynical about the mainstream of typographic design and
practice than Geof is. I see far worse offenses from those
who * don't * know the rules than I do from those who do know the
rules but choose occasionally to stretch them. The early editions of
"Wired" magazine are notable exceptions: the designers tripped out
completely. If you look at "Wired" today, it's pretty much back in
the fold, typographically.

You can find a clear division of focus among contemporary graphic
and typographic designers on either side of a fault line that has
"visual stimulation" on one side, and "meaningful content" on the
other. Edward Tufte, Jan White, and some others I know about
stand clearly on the "meaning" side, and those are the ones we as
technical communicators should be paying attention to.

Michael West
Melbourne, Australia

I imagine that someday there will be a new kind
of sadomasochistic role-playing in which the
technologically adept will pay dominatrices to
treat them like newbies.
-- Dennis Cass (Harper's Magazine, July 2000)

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