Re: Spartan typography

Subject: Re: Spartan typography
From: Michael Lewis <lewism -at- BRANDLE -dot- COM -dot- AU>
Date: Thu, 18 Dec 1997 16:42:08 +1100

Bruce Byfield wrote:

> --as Eric Gill points out in "An Essay on Typography," modern taste is
> geared to an aesthetic of utilitarianism. Or, in plain English, modern
> people like their layout plain. There's no point in distancing readers
> with an over-elaborate layout. And people do notice: in the
> small-sampled usability testing I've done, customers universally prefer
> the well-designed plain layout to the well-designed elaborate one. So do
> clients. In fact, since I became a minimalist, I've found myself in
> demand as a template designer.
> --the more fonts, the harder your manual is to maintain, especially when
> you returnto it after a long absence.
> --the more elaborate the layout, the harder it is to work on. When I've
> done elaborate templates, I've often had trouble remembering the
> conventions I've established myself, especially at the end of the day.
> --the more elaborate the layout, the harder for anyone else to work with
> the template. You may even have to put in extra time on style guides.

All this is true enough. Still, "utilitarianism" is the key. Aesthetics
(forgive the Br sp) are secondary to the requirements of effective
information transfer. As someone else (apologies: I don't recall who)
said in a valuable contribution to this thread, there are all sorts of
ways of getting the point across; as I said in an earlier posting, if
you find that your information structure is generating too much
typographic diversity, maybe you should rethink your information
structure. But if your info structure is right, and it needs
typographical support to make it clear, then the aesthetic objection
just gets over-ridden.
Michael Lewis
Brandle Pty Limited, Sydney, Australia
PO Box 1249, Strawberry Hills, NSW 2012
Tel +61-2-9310-2224 ... Fax +61-2-9310-5056, or

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