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The graphic presentation of language

Michael Twyman
University of Reading
Introduction
The main purpose of this paper is to draw atten
tion to the significance of what I shall call the
language element* in graphic communication.
Like most of the contributors to this seminar, I
have no time to do more than raise a few issues and
v
pose a few questions.
By the language element in graphic communica
tion I mean the relationship between information
content and its visual presentation (and, of course,
this must take into account the users of the
language, the circumstances of use and many other
factors as well). Let me illustrate what I mean by
two examples separated by many hundreds of
years. As it happens they were brought to my
attention on the very day I was pondering about
what I should talk about at this seminar.
In the case of the first example (figures 1-4), I
was in the position of a disgruntled client. I had
prepared a list of research interests of members of
staff of our deparment for publication in a uni
versity postgraduate prospectus. The copy was
structured on a typewriternot very elegantly it is
trueas a simple table (figures 1, 2). And the copy
was written with this structure in mind. In the
This paper draws attention to the language
element *of graphic communication. It is argued
that we need better tools for thinking about this
and related matters; models are proposed which
draw attention to general issues and aim to help
break down barriers between different means of
production. It is proposed that such general issues
should be discussed at all levels of education because
designers of graphic messages in the future are
increasingly likely to be non-specialists. Finally, it
is suggested that only in the light of a serious study
of graphic language requirements will we be in a
position to design satisfactory new systems and
make good use of them.
work as published (figures 3, 4) the copy was re
ordered as continuous prose without my know
ledge and without any more than a few trivial
alterations being made to the wording. You will
notice that I did not say without any changes being
made to the message, because it seems abundantly
clear to me that the message has been sufficiently
stifled as to have become almost mute. The signi
ficant issue in this context is that the precious
relationship between content and form has been
lost.

Shortly after drafting a note of complaint to the


appropriate colleague, I left for an apppointment
with a medieval historian who wanted me to take a
look at some copies of thirteenth- and fourteenth-
century documents she had been working on, and
which displayed some rather odd features (figures
5, 6). She was fascinated by the fact that these
cartularies or registers presented their information
in different ways; in fact, different parts of the
same cartularies sometimes organized similar copy
differently. On the left (figure 5) is a cartulary of
the late thirteenth century in which the items and
their values are presented as a list or simple table;
and the word summa appears after each group
where the items are totalled. On the right (figure 6)
is another cartulary of the same period in which all
the items shown are presented as continuous
prose. Both these approaches were adopted in
some of the cartularies we looked at. We spent some
hours looking at these items, and the only satis
factory conclusion we came to which would
explain the different configurations, was that some
parts of the documents were more important than
others and needed to be understood easily. They
were therefore organized as lists or simple tables,
while other parts were organized as continuous
prose, possibly to save space and materials.
The link with the postgraduate prospectus
(figures 1-4) will, I hope, be obvious. And you will
appreciate that I returned to my note of complaint
with renewed vigour.
Such matters of configuration are central to all
language when presented graphically and they
apply quite as much, perhaps even more, to the
newer technologies than they do to printing. They
are particularly pertinent in relation to Prestei
where there is a direct trade-off between time
(which costs money) and space. To make this point
I have organized the information for the post
graduate prospectus shown in figures 2 and 4 on a
simulated Prestei frame as a simple table (figure 7)
and as continuous, but almost illegible, prose
(figure 8).
So much by way of introduction to my theme. At
a time when technology is developing rapidly,
more rapidly than ever before in the history of
graphic communication, it seems pertinent to ask
the question How are we using the latest techno
logical developments in relation to the language of
the messages that need to be communicated?.
In stressing the language element of communica
tion I hope not to be branded as an anti- techno
logist. All the same, it seems to me that in our
concern for innovation in terms of technology we
may have neglected other things. Certainly the
language element seems to have been left out of
account in discussions of recent developments in
graphic communication; indeed, there is very little
reference to it in the literature relating to the
manuscript and printed ages either.
The language element and technology
What I am calling the language element is the
common denominator in graphic communication;
it is affected by the particular technology being
used, of course, yet it remains constant in terms of
its function. Two illustrations make this point
(figures 9, 10). They relate to the other great tech
nological revolution in our field: the introduction
of printing in the fifteenth century. Figure 9 is the
manuscript exemplar used as copy for figure 10,
which was printed in Utrecht around 1473'. The
printed version copies the manuscript exemplar
fairly closely in terms of the style of its letterforms
and decoration, but departs from it in other
respects. The manuscript version has its text in
two columns, which works well because of the
flexibility offered by the pen in making
contractions and subtle adjustments of letter and
word spacing. The printed version needed a longer
line to make justification work effectively and so
was set as a single block of type. The rubric in the
manuscript version (lines 11 and 12 of the second
column), tells us that the second book ends and the
third one begins; it stands out because it is in red
and needs no additional space around it. In the
printed version, all the colour was added by hand.
It would have been inappropriate on a number of
grounds to hand letter the Explicit* line, so it had
to be in black. But to give it the necessary
distinction, it was separated from its neighbouring
text by a line space on either side. The function of
the language is the same in both versions, but the
graphic treatment responds to the particular
technology being used.
You may see all this as being far removed from
the problems of the electronic age and the theme of
this seminar, but I do not think it is. In some
technologies, such as videotex, where colour is
cheap and space is as much at a premium as it was
when expensive parchment was the staple material
for graphic communication, we may have much to
learn from the manuscript age. I would like to
suggest therefore that we keep am historical
perspective on graphic language in order to see the
continuity of the language element. Marshall
McLuhan*s tripartite division of communication
into the manuscript age, the printed age and the
electronic ageperceptive though it was at the
timesuggests a certain exclusiveness. Hand
writing did not disappear with the invention of
printings a military manual lithographed in Metz
it
The study of the language element
What I am leading up to is an appeal for a serious
study of graphic language, analogous to the dis
cipline of Linguistic Science, so that we have a
good understanding of the nature of the language
element right across the board; that is, in relation
to handwriting, typing, word processing, printing
and videotex. In our department of Typography &
Graphic Communication at Reading University
in 1840 (figure 11) and a catalogue of camping
equipment produced in the Netherlands recently
(figure 12) (both of which were written throughout
by hand) illustrate this point. I have no doubt that
we shall be considering the three areas of com
munication alongside one another for some years
to come.
My argument is that we should concentrate on
and should certainly not neglectthe element of
graphic communication that is the common
denominator of the three major means of produc
tion. It goes without saying that the graphic forms
of the three major technologies often differ con
siderably from one another; we have, therefore, to
ask ourselves how each of these different forms can
be made to respond to our needs. There is a real
danger, it seems to me, that the electronic age will
take as its one and only influence the world of
printing, without taking into account the contribu
tions of the manuscript age. There are however
clear similarities between this detail from a
calendar in a fourteenth-century French Missal
and a videotex calendar of recent events produced
for this seminar on a Prestei simulator. [These
similarities are not evident in monochrome and so the
items are not reproduced here.] We have to remind
ourselves that it was only with the invention of
printing that books became predominantly mono
chrome, and that for the first time since the middle
ages we have an opportunity to develop ways of
using colour in graphic language at no extra cost.
time, and is engaged in a variety of design assign
ments right across the technological board.
Though we may be nowhere near the sharp end of
the technological blade, I think we know some
thing of the problems of working as com*
municators in the real world. I mention this only
to crave the indulgence of sceptics over what I am
about to say.
Spoken and graphic language
The first of the three models I should like to
introduce aims to clarify the relationship between
spoken and graphic language. Linguistic scientists
this century have tended to neglect graphic
language, though I am happy to say there are signs
that this is being remedied. But the overall model
from which they start is not at all helpful to
graphic designers: it merely takes as a starting
point the distinction between spoken and written
language. The basic model of graphic designers, in
so far as it can be said that there is one, tends to
take as the prime distinction whether something is
verbal or pictorial. The differences between these
two approaches is shown in figure 13. The model I
am introducing is an attempt to reconcile the two
approaches. In this model (figure 14) the starting
point is the way in which a message is received,
rather than the way in which it is transmitted. It
begins therefore with Aural* on the one side and
:fc
Visual on the other. The visual branch is divided
into Graphic* and Non-graphic (the primary
meaning of the word graphic relates to writing or
drawing and the word is used in this sense). There
are, of course, many aspects of visual communica
tion-such as gesture and facial expressionthat
are non-graphic, and they too are catered for in the
model. The graphic branch divides into three:
Verbal and Pictorial speak for themselves; by
Schematic is meant those graphic images that are
neither verbal nor pictorial. The verbal branch
divides into Hand-made (which gives us writing)
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we have been concerned with such issues over the
last ten years and have tried to develop some
models for considering various aspects of language
in relation to graphic communication.
Some may be suspicious of the use of models and
other theoretical approaches in what is essentially
a practical subject. To such people I would say
that there are times for theorizing and times for
pragmatic decision-making and that, on balance,
the very circumstances in which most of us work
determine that the scales are tilted very much in
the direction of the latter, I should also say in
parenthesesfor those of you who might have
begun to switch off alreadythat our department
is no ivory tower: it functions as a small printing
house, publishes a few modest titles from time to
videotex messages. The term Verbal Graphic
Language, which we have shortened to VGL for
convenience* allows us to draw attention to the
common problems associated with designing for
very different systems.
Configurations and modes of graphic
s
language
My second model, which has been described at
length elsewhere,2 seeks to identify the principal
options open to anyone using graphic language. It
takes the form of a matrix (figure 15). The top
headings of this matrix define the major configura
tions or ways of organizing graphic language.
Linearity is a characteristic of speech that is almost
impossible to find equivalents for in graphic
language, but the configurations begin with pure
linearity to the left and end with non-linearity to
the right. In between these two extremes are the
conventional configurations of graphic language
and Machine-made (which includes such means
of production as printing, typing and videotex).
The pictorial and schematic branches could be
similarly divided into hand-made and machine-
made if necessary. It would be for linguistic
scientists to explore the Aural branch on the left-
hand side of the model. I have satisfied myself
with the simple division between Verbal and
Non-verbal (non-verbal including anything from
grunts to music). The model as a whole makes a
clear distinction between what I am calling
channel and mode, which are confused in the
two simple models presented in figure 13.
The model reproduced as figure 14 also explains
the derivation of the term Verbal Graphic
Language, which we have used in our department
for some years now to cover the use of words in all
graphic technologies. In English we have no real
equivalent to the German word Schrift, which
accommodates handwriting, printing, typing and
(linear interruptedthe normal graphic approxi
mation to the linearity of speechthen lists)
branching structures and matrices). The side
headings define the principal modes of symboliza
tion: words (including numerals), pictures and
words combined, pictures on their own, and
schematic images,) It may help tf I show a few
examples to illustrate the characteristics of some of
the cells of the matrix.
The first set of examples illustrates the con
figuration described as Linear interrupted*
(figures 16-19), This configuration is best known,
of course, in the verbal mode (figure 16), Most
people would call it continuous text. I call it linear
interrupted in this context to emphasize that line
endings are artlfical breaks to the linearity of
language. But though it evolved in connection
with verbal language, the configuration is also
used when organizing pictures, both with words as
in comics (figure 17) and without them as in the
cycle of frescoes painted on the walls of the Arena
chapel in Padua by Giotto in the early fourteenth
century (figure 18), In certain specialized fields,
such as music, the linear interrupted configuration
is also used with the schematic mode (figure 19).
i
The second set of examples illustrates the con
figuration described as Matrix* (figures 20-3), The
football league table (figure 20) demonstrates one
of the best-known applications of the verbal mode
in this configuration; figure 21, which includes
both pictures and words, falls into the combined
pictorial and verbal mode; the delightful
illustration for the Sunday Times (figure 22),
which shows the rise and fall of the mini skirt by
means of the pictures themselves, falls info the
pictorial mode (I am prepared to accept the logos of
the magazines as being pictures in this case). The
use of the schematic mode in relation to the matrix
configuration is illustrated in figure 23, wfateh
displays systematically some of the spacing units
used in printing.
Though I have shown particular examples to illus
trate a number of configurations and modes, I should
like to stress that I amnot suggesting that all graphic
language has to fit neatly into one of the cells
defined by the matrix shown in figure 15. I am
suggesting that the cells define characteristics of
graphic language that come in innumerable mixes.
What is inescapable, however, is that in every
situation in which graphic language is used, we
have to make choices about the method of
configuration and the mode of symbolization we
use. And this applies whether we act intuitively as
laypeople or in aconsidered way as professionals. I
put it to you that even professional people fail to
make considered choices on occasions, because
they do not always take into account the range of
possibilities open to them. Decisions are often,
perhaps usually, pre-empted by precedent; we
frequently do things the way they have been done
before simply because we do not stop to think.
Decision-making in this area seems to be of
particular importance in relation to the new
technologies for two reasons: first, because the
limited formats of VDUs and the crudeness of
character design for them has put a premium on
the configuration of language; and secondly,
because for the first time since the invention of
printing we are using systems that put words and
pictures on an almost equal footing.
The model I have just been referring to was
devised with no particular technology in mind;
indeed, I would like to think that it is applicable to
all technologies. It is worth remembering however
that many technologies impose constraints of such
a kind as to make it impossible, or at least very
difficult, to do certain kinds of things with them. I
hope this model may encourage designers of
graphic language systems to take into account the
scope of graphic language requirements in terms of
both mode of symbolization and method of confi
guration before they go too far down any one
particular path.
Intrinsic and extrinsic features of language
My third model is, superficially at least, a very
simple one; and it relates only to verbal graphic
language. It makes a simple distinction between
what are being called intrinsic and extrinsic
features of verbal graphic language (VGL). As it
happens, this idea is much more easily described
in words than in the form of adiagram, but to be
consistent I am showing an illustration (figure 24).
By Intrinsic* is meant those features of VGL
that reside in the characters themselves and, more
particularly, in the system that produces those
characters. The term Character set* is the range of
characters readily available on a given system
(what the printer might call fount); particular
intrinsic features, such as italics, bolds, small
capitals, size of letterforms and style of letter-
forms, all speak for themselves. By Extrinsic* is
meant what can be done to those characters or sets
of characters by changing their configuration,
controlling the space between them or changing
their colour. Spatial features can be distinguished
at the micro level (in relation to inter-character
spacing, inter-word spacing or position of sub and
superscripts) and also at the macro level in relation
to the spacing of larger units of text.
The most obvious intrinsic feature is character
set or fount. We know a lot about this feature of
languageand I speak now as someone brought up
on printbecause it is the range of the character
set that determines the subtlety of our typographic
expression. It was the great scholar printer Robert
Estienne who regularly began to introduce italics
for particular functions in the sixteenth century
(figures 25, 26) and we have followed suit ever
since (at least those of us with italics to use). Bold
types began to be used in dictionaries, directories,
timetables and schoolbooks in the course of the
nineteenth century and, though not perhaps used
in quite such conventional ways as italics, some
would see them as being almost as important in
language terms (figures 27, 28). In the context of a
seminar on the newer technologies it would be
indecent to do more than refer to the thousands of
different characters shown by Legros and Grant in
their standard work Typographicalprinting-surfaces
published in 1916, that is, fairly early on in the
development of machine composition. I shall limit
myself to showing their ordinary fount of type con
sisting of 275 characters (figure 29), together with
asmall selection of their special characters (figure
30). The American typographer De Vinne pub
lished a similar fount in his Plain printing types
which first appeared in 1899 (figure 31); his total
of 253 characters was slightly smaller than that of
Legros and Gram. But Legros and Grant in
England and De Vinne in America were in a
different language league from those wedded to the
mere 96 characters available to videotex users
(presented in figure 32 in much the same form as
De Vinne presented his fount of type). It is worth
noting the absence of italics and accented
characters and that there are only three fractions
and just one unit of space.
Extrinsic features of graphic language may be
represented by a simple comparison (figures 33,
34), The configuration of figure 33 is that of
continuous prose (what I have called linear inter*
rupted), while in figure 34 the material is
presented as a two-column graphic list. The
linguistic structure in both is almost identical and,
as it happens, the examples are taken from the
same publication. I can only imagine that the
difference between the two was the result of an
editorial oversight, but it provides agood demon
stration of the effect on language of the extrinsic
feature of configuration.
It may well be that we are now witnessing a shift
of emphasis in graphic language from intrinsic to
extrinsic features with the introduction of the
newer technologies. A comparison of examples
illustrates this point. The set of bibliographical
entries shown in figure 35 was composed on a
"Monotype5 hot-metal machine and takes full
advantage of the range of characters offered by
such a system of composition. A similar set of
items shown in figure 36 was composed on a
machine of more limited typographic capacity, an
IBM 72 Composer. In order to compensate for the
deficiency of the system in terms of intrinsic
features, the presentation falls back on extrinsic
ones, such as the organization of units of informa
tion on separate lines and the use of additional
space between each item.
Intrinsic features are governed by the composi
tion systems used; if the system has no small
capitals (or means of making small capitals), then
small capitals cannot easily be used. Extrinsic
features are partly governed by the composition
system itself and partly not; whether atable can be
formatted in a particular way may be absolute in
terms of some VDU systems, but in printing the
limitations of certain composition systems may be
compensated for at a later stage (for instance, at the
page make-up stage). Figure 37 attempts to show
how the issue of intrinsic and extrinsic features
relates to the composition system being used. Four
very different systems of composition have been
selected for comparison and are shown in the first
column of the diagram (manuscript; printing using
Monotype hot-metal composition; printing using
CRTronic photocomposition; videotex id its
Prestei form). They are related in the diagram to
the intrinsic and extrinsic features previously dis
cussed. The solid dots beside features indicate that
the particular issues are pre-determined at the
composition stage. The open dots indicate that
decisions may be made at the composition stage.
The absence of a dot indicates that the decision
can be made at a later stage of production (that is,
after composition is completed). Figure 37 was
designed to encourage discussion about the
capacity and flexibility of composition systems in
conceptual terms. There are problems of inter
pretation in particular areas because of the
difficulty of defining certain functions. All the
same, some things seem to emerge from it that
may be of interest. It reveals, for instance, that what
is pre-determined is greatest with videotex, though
videotex differs from some forms of printing in
allowing certain issues (such as colour and macro
spacing) to be decided at the composition stage. In
these respects videotex appears to have more in
common with manuscript than with printing.
Whether the three models I have introduced
here somewhat superficially are understood in
detail is of no great consequence. More important
by far from my point of view is the general issue
they were designed to make in the context of this
seminar.
Typography as linguistic science
The major objective in discussing the three models
above was to suggest that we should engage in a
serious study of verbal graphic language in much
the same way as linguistic scientists have studied
spoken language. We need to know much more
about the language we use and its circumstances of
use. I venture to suggest that only in one area have
we applied the kind of descriptive and analytical
techniques that are appropriate to a serious study
of graphic language. That area is the field of
letterforms where between them palaeographers,
epigraphers, type designers and manufacturers,
historians of printing and, more recently,
computer scientists have constructed a theoretical
framework that allows them (though with
difficulty on occasions) to talk to one another. The
real problem is that the words we use to describe
letterforms are bounded by particular techno-
logies. But at least we have begun to address the
problem in the field of letterforms, whereas in
many other areas of verbal graphic language we
have chosen to shy away from the problem, or
perhaps have not even noticed that there is one.
It seems to me self-evident that only when we
know what the characteristics of verbal graphic
language are can we begin to design effectively for
it. We are guilty of putting the cart before the
horse: we design systems and then wait for users to
fit their language to themor shout if they cannot.
Two examples will illustrate what I mean.
In 1974 I was invited by the BBC to comment
on typographic aspects of CBEFX; I think I was
the first typographer to be consulted, though I
cannot be sure of that. The whole matter is now
ancient history in videotex terms, so I think I am
not being too indiscreet in talking about it. At that
stage CEEFAX was operating experimentally, and
in capitals only. I pointed out that small letters (I
do not call them lower-case for reasons that must
be obvious) are part of the requirements of our
language and must be included in the character
set. Whether it was as a direct result of what I said
or not, I shall never know, but small letters were
introduced shortly afterwards. By this time,
however, the system of 24 rows of characters
composed on a coarse dot matrix could not be
changed. This system was determined with all-
capital displays in mind and small letters could
only be introduced by taking up some of the
already precious inter-row space. The result is that
the small letters on all British videotex systems
tend to look rather worse than all-capital displays,
and this is because the constraints of the broadcast
systems have been inherited by the wired videotex
system. Prestei.
Another example of technology having an in
fluence on our graphic language can be seen in the
fluctuating use of text running around illustra
tions. In the nineteenth century, when labour was
cheap and wood-engraving (figure 38) and later
process-engraving (figure 39) provided a relatively
convenient and economical way of printing illus
trations along with text, run-arounds were
common. With the introduction of composing
machines at the tail-end of the century it became
relatively cheaper to set text to a constant measure,
so run-arounds tended to disappear from the scene.
In recent years, with the introduction of computer-
controlled photocomposition, it has again become
an economic proposition to have run-arounds; so
we have them again, not just around pictures
(figure 40), but sometimes around displayed words
(figure 41).
We must surely ask ourselves whether run
arounds are agood thing in terms of what needs to
be said and the people to whom it has to be
said. Though it is inevitable that economic issues
will have a bearing on what is done in graphic
language, I think we should ask of a system what
we require of it in order to communicate with one
another effectively and not let the system
determine our requirements.
The role of the layperson
More than ever before there is a need for us to
study the nature of graphic language, and par
ticularly verbal graphic language. And this is
because our systems of graphic communication are
becoming interactive and reaching into most walks
of life. For the first time since the invention of
printing the design of graphic language (at least on
its extrinsic side) has begun to pass from the
specialist to the layperson. The control of the
primer and publisher over the organization of
graphic language, which has been such a powerful
force over the last 500 years, is clearly on the wane.
Whether we regard this as a matter for rejoicing or
regret, we have to accept the fact. And we may
now be approaching a situation in which the
ordinary literate person will have almost as much
control over what is presented graphically as over
what is spoken.
I f past experience is anything to go by* we must
be prepared for absurdities to occur* In order to
avoid treading on typographic toesat least living
onesI reproduce an example from an earlier tech
nological revolution, that of the typewriter (figure
42), It is taken from an early typing manual and
illustrates the typing of tables. As can be seen, the
consequences of typing the headings of the table
on the right-hand page bottom to top, leads to their
appearing upside down when the table is printed
landscape in abook format.
Education
The discussion of the role of the layperson in
relation to the new technology and the need to
avoid the kind of absurdity shown in figure 42
brings me to the question of education.
By education, I mean anything from primary
school level through to university or retraining on
the job. It follows from what I said earlier about
interactive aspects of verbal graphic language that
I believe most people will need to be educated to
design messages graphically. I use the word
educated rather than trained advisedly in order to
stress the importance of understanding and
learning general principles* I believe we have been
strong on prescriptions and not sufficiently con*
cerned with establishing fundamental principles of
Visual organization of language that may perhaps
hold good over long periods of time, in different
situations, and across technological boundaries.
Verbal graphic language, like spoken language, is
evolutionary and there ought to be scope for such
evolution in any educational programme. Research
undertaken in our department by Susan Walker on
the way letters have been typed and written reveals
what one would expect: that conventions change
over the years, albeit gradually. Even that pillar of
tradition in verbal graphic language. Harts Rules,
has changed since its first appearance in 1893
(figures 43,44). Walker has compiled a number of
charts derived from Harts Rules: the one shown
here deals with abbreviations and the detail from it
(figure 44) reveals the stage at which the full point
was dropped after Dr, Mr and Mrs between the
1967 and 1978 editions.
Yet despite these evident changes in language,
teachers in schools are continuing to promote
those conventions they themselves learnt when
they were children. At atime when even Hart is
recommending presenting dates in the form shown
in figure 45, children are still being taught in
precise terms that the correct form is as in figure
46. Childrens writing manuals are just as much to
blame in this respect. They present prescriptions
for the presentation and punctuation of addresses
and children learn them at school and then follow
them blindly into adulthood (figure 47).
All this may seem a long way from the theme of
this seminar; though I really do not think it is. The
technological developments that bring us all
together will make the present generation of
children the typographers-the designers of verbal
graphic languageof the future.
Graphic transia lability of text
Finally, I should like to say a few words about
another issue that concerns me greatly at present,
and that we have called the graphic translatability
of text. It is the subject of a research project in our
department funded by the British Library. By
graphic translatability of text we mean, in short,
the impact of technology on graphic language.
The resources of conventional printing and,
before the invention of printing, those of
manuscript production, have provided great flexi
bility both in terms of the range of characters we
use and the ways in which they can be arranged
(the intrinsic and extrinsic features referred to
above). This research is concerned with the way in
which the newer technologies can cope with the
language requirements of communication. The
term graphic translatability of text has been chosen
to emphasize the nature of the problem when con
verting graphic language from a system with one
range of resources to another in which the range is
different.
We all know that the rapid development of
electronic technology has led to the increasing use
of composing systems of limited capability (such as
computer output printers, word processors and
videotex) for the preparation and dissemination of
a wide range of material. We argue that such
systems impose enormous constraints on the way
we use graphic language and on what we can say.
But unfortunately our societys boundless
enthusiasm for what is new has led it to overlook
or close its eyes to some of the problems. When it
is said in the House of Commons that it would
soon be possible to convert the whole of the
Houses of Parliament Library to floppy discs, the
point cannot be denied. But at what a loss! And the
loss I am referring to is not just the loss of what
might be called loss of visual quality. I mean a loss
of efficiency in use and a loss of nuances of
meaning arising from the conversion of language
from high-level systems of composition to low-
level ones.
Until we know the range of graphic translation
problems facing us, it is hard to see how systems
can be designed to cope with them. How, for
instance, are the items illustrated in figures 48-51
to be catered for in the future?
The author and publisher wish to thank the Dean and
Chapter of Norwich Cathedral for permission to reproduce
items 5 and 8 and Dr Wytze G$ Hellinga and North-HoNand
Publishing Company for permission to reproduce items 9
and 10 (which were photographed by P. D. van der Poel).
In this issue
In this issue we return to more graphic themes.
In the first paper, Michael Twyman argues that
new graphic media can only be properly
designed from an understanding of the language
element of graphic communication. His
argument, rooted in historical precedent, is that
certain constant language structures can be found
across different media and different eras in spite
of different technical constraints. A serious study
of these is needed if information designers are to
be able to tell the engineers what the users of
the new electronic systems really need.
Although independently developed, the
Information mapping system of structured
writing no doubt has its own precedents. In this
issue it is critically examined by J ames Hartley.
David Bartram and Camille Rowe report two
independent although parallel experimental
studies of aless easily defined aspect of
typographyits expressive effect. Bartram
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Contents
* The graphic presentation of language
Michael Twyman 2
Design analysis and design history: a review of
'Industrial design?by John Heskett
Pauline Madge 23
* The connotative dimensions of selected display typefaces
Camille L Rowe 30
* The perception of semantic quality in type: differences
between designers and non-designers
David Bartram 38
Information mapping: a critique
J ames Hartley 51
Design and the university: the pragmatic and the pure
Andrew M Tomcik 59
Book reviews
Douglas Rose, The London Underground: a
diagrammatic history 67
Randall P Harrison, The cartoon: communication to the
quick 67
Casey Miller and Kate Swift, The handbook of non-
sexist writing for writers, editors and
speakers 68
J on Wagner, Images of information: still photography in
the social sciences 70
Brkh Vanacek, Experimenteile Beitrge zur
Wahmehmbarkeit kartographischer Signaturen 12
J eremy J Foster, Legibility research 1972-1978: a
l - f
summary 75
Design review
Michael Kidron and Ronald Segal, The state of the
world atlas 77
Information design journal Volume 3/1 1982 ISSN 0142-5471