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Magazine typography is all about communicating, but magazines communicate in many different ways.

One of those ways is through the text, the traditional meat of any publication. Other ways include
photography, artwork, suggestive and allusive headlines, cartoons, and even the advertising. All of
these require integrating words and images in imaginative ways.
A magazine like the New York Review of Books communicates through columns of type; they’re plain,
straightforward, and readable. The heart of the magazine is its ideas, and those ideas are articulated in
the words. The New York Review is meant to be read.
A magazine like *surface, on the other hand, is clearly meant to be browsed. It’s filled with colorful
fashion shots, and what text there is (there’s actually a fair bit) tends to get shunted aside as colorless
slabs of small, industrial-looking sans serif type, which get shaped and poked into by graphic elements
to suit the look of the page rather than the needs of the reader. It’s often hard to distinguish the editorial
pages from the ads; one typographic aid to doing this is the use of a consistent and distinctive display
face in much of the magazine.
A subversive hybrid is nest: a quarterly of interiors,which is wildly visual – a browser’s paradise – but
features real articles in diverse styles. Each piece of text is treated differently, but within the traditions
of book typography: the text blocks, the spacing, the choice of typeface actually invite you to read each
article, rather than bounce off it. The juxtaposition of in-your-face visual presentation and readable text
type is one of nest’s charms. (But then, what would you expect from a magazine where the art director
is also the editor in chief?)
The Uses of Type
Type in magazines is basically used on one of three levels: as straight text, whether in small bits nestled
among the pictures or in whole pages of prose; as headlines and other big display words or phrases; and
as what I call “small display,” which includes subheads, subtitles, and pull quotes. There’s sometimes a
fourth kind of type, which doesn’t fit into this neat hierarchy and is usually found in separate, discrete
elements on the page: “infotext,” like the callouts and labels in infographics, or the text in tables or
broken-out lists.
What’s hard to find in contemporary magazines, at least in the United States, is clarity and simplicity.
Instead, the trend for many years has been toward clutter. But, through juxtaposition and contrast, some
publication designers can impose a visual order on the clutter that draws our attention instead of
repelling it.
Contrast and Consistency
The dramatic use of a typeface that has a distinctive character can pull a reader into a story. Strong
contrast, sweeping curves, and lively details in the type itself are really brought out when the type is
used with confidence. The display type in Rolling Stone is renowned for achieving this over and over
again, which is one reason why it keeps ending up in awards shows for design and typography. The
same can be said of Esquire. Using type dramatically and readably at the same time is the secret; a
clear contrast between hot display type and cool text is important.
It’s also important that the text be comfortably readable. Esquire does better than Rolling Stone at that;
both use narrow justified columns of text, but Rolling Stone tends to let the typesetting software
squeeze and stretch the space between letters to fit the line, which Esquire does less often. It’s
distracting when the texture of the type varies from line to line, and this makes the text less readable. If
you care about people reading your text, it’s a mistake to let graphic elements butt into the text
columns, making them temporarily narrow.
The Everyday Challenge
Striking typography isn’t found only in national or international magazines. The New York Times

Counter – The partially or fully enclosed space within a character. Cap Height – The height of capital letters from the baseline to the top of caps. and f. however – especially between text designs having similar characteristics – the differences can be subtle and difficult for the less-experienced eye to see. Bar – The horizontal stroke in characters such as A. Spine – The main curved stroke of the S. Loop – The lower portion of the lowercase g. Serifs come in two styles: bracketed and unbracketed. y. most accurately measured on a character with a flat bottom (E. Brackets are the supportive curves which connect the serif to the stroke. q.). How do you tell one typeface from another? If you’re trying to distinguish Helvetica from Times Roman. type designers have a specialized vocabulary to talk about the different parts of letters. Descender – The part of a character (g. d. but familiarizing yourself with this terminology will make it easier to communicate about typefaces and their characteristics. the San Francisco Chronicle’s slim weekly magazine shows how inviting text type and skillful juxtaposition of photography and display type can make even a fluffy gardening piece worth browsing. we are all browsers and readers. j. Serif – The projections extending off the main strokes of the characters of serif typefaces. Using type in magazines is one of the most challenging forms of typography. It will also help educate your eye to recognize the underlying structure of various designs and the differences among them. e. Arm/leg – An upper or lower (horizontal or diagonal) stroke that is attached on one end and free on the other. But the touchstone is near at hand. Before we are designers. t) that extends above the x-height. m. In other cases. k. and deservedly so. R. I.Magazine is routinely given awards for its design these days. the difference is obvious. As in any profession. Link – The stroke that connects the top and bottom part (bowl and loop) of a two–story lowercase g. because you have to master every kind of typographic design: from the high-impact commotion of ad design to the smooth flow of running text. f. Bowl – A curved stroke which creates an enclosed space within a character (the space is then called a counter). and sometimes J) that descends below the baseline. n. l. Ear – The small stroke that projects from the top of the lowercase g. One important step in training your eye to notice the details that set one design apart from another is to examine the anatomy of the characters that make up our alphabet. Stress – The direction of thickening in a curved stroke . and usually at 90 degree angles. H. Stem – A straight vertical stroke (or the main straight diagonal stroke in a letter which has no verticals). h. etc. p. Unbracketed serifs are attached sharply. On a more local level. It isn’t necessary to commit the entire list to memory. Ascender – The part of a lowercase character (b. H. Shoulder – The curved stroke of the h. Spur – A small projection off a main stroke found on many capital Gs.

the eventual Greek beta looks quite different from the Phoenician beth. Coincidentally. The Phoenicians called this letter beth. Although the designs are somewhat different. While the name change was minor. providing us with the second part of the two-letter name that makes up the word alphabet. Tail – The descender of a Q or short diagonal stroke of an R. Beth became beta. More U&lc Online Issue: 27. the second letter in our alphabet evolved from the ancient Egyptian hieroglyph signifying shelter. Coincidentally. there is a recognizable correlation between this Egyptian hieroglyph and the second letter of the Phoenician alphabet. the second letter in our alphabet evolved from the ancient Egyptian hieroglyph signifying shelter. including Bethel (house of God) and Bethlehem (house of bread). . Although the designs are somewhat different. their word for “house. Swash – A fancy flourish replacing a terminal or serif. Part 2 Scripts: From The Formal Casual Italics & Boldface The Letter B The Letter C U&lc Issue: 27.1 Phil Grimshaw: A True Typographic Character Revival of the Fittest Magazine Typography On Book Design Japan Honors Carlos Segura Letter B by Allan Haley Many people consider shelter to be the second most important ingredient for human survival.’ First the character was inverted so that the triangle was at the base. Beth was one of 19 characters acquired from the Phoenician traders that became the basis of the Greek alphabet. Select a letter to view/purchase font second most important ingredient for human survival. there is a recognizable correlation between this Egyptian hieroglyph and the second letter of the Phoenician alphabet. including Bethel (house of God) and Bethlehem (house of bread).2. Stroke – A straight or curved line.1 Anatomy of A Character Spacing and Kerning Spacing and Kerning. X-height – The height of lowercase letters. Terminal – The end of a stroke not terminated with a serif. the Greeks made slight changes to some of the names. specifically the lowercase x.2. In assimilating these letters. their word for “house. The Phoenicians called this letter beth.” The name was eventually carried over into names and places in the Bible. not including ascenders and descenders.” The name was eventually carried over into names and places in the Bible. Over many years the letter evolved from a pennant and right-angle shape into something that is quite similar to our present-day ‘B.

” Drawings were often produced while he sat in front of the television. A native of Northern England. and perhaps because symmetry was important to the Greeks. Although they brought flowing lines and graceful curves to our alphabet. a second triangle was added and the two triangles ended up on the right side of the character. The result was the gracefully-proportioned letters we are now familiar with. letters were drawn using flat pens and brushes on a smooth writing surface. and formalized the curved strokes.1 Anatomy of A Character Spacing and Kerning Spacing and Kerning. which was cut short in 1998 when Grimshaw died following a long illness. just do it for that reason. often providing the perfect answer to the age-old typographic question. from the cool sophistication of Noovo to the hurried immediacy of Bendigo. The Romans were some of the first calligraphers in the western world.. Then. with a glass of single malt in one hand and a drawing implement in the other. Letraset’s Manager of Typographic Development. Part 2 Scripts: From Phil Grimshaw: A Formal Casual Italics & Boldface The Letter B The Letter C U&lc Issue: 27. By the time the Romans inherited the precursor of our present alphabet. he was once memorably described as “the Jack Nicholson of type. straight lines.2. at the age of 48. Each of Grimshaw’s typefaces.?” Early Designs for Letraset During the creation of many of his typeface designs. the B grew into one of the most beautiful letters of our alphabet.1 Phil Grimshaw: A True Typographic Character Revival of the Fittest Magazine Typography On Book Design Japan Honors Carlos Segura True Typographic Character “If you enjoy what you do. which forced them to work primarily in short. Grimshaw’s . Grimshaw never sought a high profile. has a delightful and vivid personality. The Greek beta further developed in the hands of the Romans. Utterly unpretentious and prone to mischief. More U&lc Online Issue: 27. however.” This quietly spoken – and exceptionally wise – philosophy remained Phill Grimshaw’s guide throughout his career. The early Greeks drew letters by scratching through a soft wax coating applied to a wooden board. Grimshaw was a bit of a character. and was content to let his lettering and typefaces speak for themselves. Grimshaw’s letterform designs possess a vitality and invention that’s as irrepressible as their creator. their art was born of technology.2. From the square house. Grimshaw enjoyed the professional support and friendship of Colin Brignall.. They changed its name to Bay. “Where can I find a face that says happy/sad/somber/historic. Despite creating some of the most popular display faces of the late 20th century. through continual use. and you’re lucky enough to be good at it.

or piled on top of each other. give proof to Grimshaw’s passion for the typographic arts. and second. Baglee is Design Editor at Real Time Studio and chair of the Typographic Circle in London. Working on typefaces based on the forms of these designers provided Grimshaw with two opportunities: first. . Work files dated March 1998.relationship with Brignall was forged when he began to submit ideas for typefaces to Letraset – ideas that Brignall immediately identified as “outstanding. Anyone who had ventured into his loft studio would have also seen many more ideas and multitudes of typographic experiments falling out of drawers. It is this wealth of undiscovered experiment that presents the most frustrating question: “What if?” This article was adapted from Patrick Baglee’s profile of Phillip Grimshaw. to re-inspire himself as a creative person and explore new areas of letterform design. well into his illness. with a remarkable sensitivity of line. which appeared in U&lc Online. to step into the shoes of other lettering artists and closely examine their thinking and methodology. pinned to walls.” Brignall saw in this young and gifted apprentice someone who combined a highly developed sense of proportion and form with a remarkable spontaneity – both of which remained present throughout Grimshaw’s career. as well as commissioned projects exploring the work of designers as diverse as Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Roger Excoffon. Two typefaces were in the final stages of design. Later Work Grimshaw’s last work involved several calligraphic designs.