Typographical Hierarchy

{ Abstract } — To be updated

This week, we jumped into a new project about typographical hierarchy that applies the macro and micro aspects we observed in our last project on grid systems. To start off we were given a body of text (intended for a poster) and were asked to manipulate the text in three different ways: stroke, linespacing, and horizontal shifts.

September 12 
Experimented with stroke, linespacing, and horizontal shifts

As I was messing around with the text in my indesign file, I had the following considerations:

– What information is the most important to emphasize? The dates, showings, or location/company?

– What kind of visual alteration (stroke, spacing) is best used to emphasize this important information? How does it become more or less effective when seen relative to the other components of the text?

– How can you make text expressive given the constraints (ordering of text, font/size/leading, letter-size, vertical orientation) of the assignment?

Stroke weights:

We could only use two type of stroke weights. I tried to prioritize different things, the dates in some and performer in others. I also tested out different stroke weights (bold versus black) and whether it was more or less readable when shown with the other stroke weight. Bold and light stroke weight was the best combination I found for reading. Unlike the use of black and light stroke weight, the bold stroke weight stands out enough from the light stroke weight but it is not too overwhelming that your eyes are always drawn to the bolded text.

(a) default text (b) bolded names of bands and company (c ) black stroke weight emphasizing dates and company
(d) date and series name recede in alight stroke (e) bold stroke highlights date and company name (f) mix of bold and black stroke distinguishing between dates/company and performers


We can choose one stroke weight and put only one line of space between two lines of text. By changing the linespacing between text, I was altering the negative and positive space of the text and how it gets framed. I found that when there are too many breaks, the readability becomes very chunky. However, this choppiness is less visible when the stroke weight is thicker (since the ratio of negative and positive space is lower). I tried to use these breaks to emphasize and isolate important or a category of information from the rest.

Horizontal shift (A):

We can choose one stroke weight and input two flush-left margins. This time I am changing the negative and positive space horizontally. I noticed that when there are many indents next to each other, it is harder to read because the eye has to keep moving back and forth between the two columns. This effect seems to be less prominent with thinner text because the thin text creates a bigger space between the columns, making it easier to distinguish and move between the first and second alignment.

Horizontal shift (B):

We can choose one stroke weight and input three flush-left margins. By using three flush-left margins, I am able to create three points of entry into the text. I tried to use this aspect to organize levels of information. Similar to the two flush-left margins, it is easier to read information when there is more room between the columns and lines of text in the same alignment.

September 14
Class critique

In class, we organized our experimentations into most effective, ineffective, and expressive. I was really impressed with Christin’s creativity and ability to make her text have expression despite the simple requirements. For instance, in the three-flush margin experimentation, she was able to balance out a dense chunk of information by having the third-flush margin extend very far across the page. This draws the eye to the edge of the page and relieves the heavy text on the other side.


– Use the squint test to see the shape of text and the white space around it.

– Consider what type of stroke weight is effective.

September 15
Experimented with color, size change, stroke weights

Color (type) :

Add one or more color to change your hierarchical decisions in the previous exercises.

I found that the thicker stroke weight paired well with the use color, because the color is more prominent on the page. One thing I noticed about the use of color is how you can easily focus on the text of one color and “space out” of the other-colored text, or vice versa.

Color (background) :

Add color behind the type.

I think this use of color is more effective in shaping the organization, negative space, and macro view of the poster. In some cases, the shapes of color are able to indicate where to look or separate out of pieces of information.

Size and Stroke Weights:

Select any two stroke weights, change the point size, and consider changing the order of information as well as position of texts.

Since we were given the liberty to reorder and move chunks of text, I decided to work on this task hands-on. Here are some of the layouts I based my digital version on:

September 18
Class critique

We posted up our assignments and compared/contrasted the effectiveness of color and scale in each respective exercise.

For the color exercise, we found that most people displayed their color behind text exploration over the colored text one. This shows that color behind text is easier to establish hierarchy and guide the viewer through a poster. Jacob’s color poster stood out the most, partly because of his bright pink color and diagonally sweep across the page. Another person used color to connect the what and where of a poster. Additionally, their use of color causes the viewer’s eyes to circulate through the poster.

As for the size and type exercise, we had select people (including myself) organize the assignments from most to least effective. In the set of posters I was looking at, I found that those with greater scale variability were more effective and interesting to look at. I realized that my posters were relatively in the same size range, which made it look stagnant and document-like. The fact that I hands-on experimented with similarly sized text might have influenced my lack of scale change.

Notes :

– Color behind text is more compelling than changing just the color of text

– How does color break type (behind part of a word or surrounds a word)

– Think about how your poster will be noticed from 50 feet and what kind of information needs to be visible at 5 feet.

– Pro tip: Test colors by printing out a color palette

– If you’re going to rotate/cascade text, it should be done to an important piece of information. Rotating can hurt people’s neck though.

– If you’re going to break up text, break it up at a syllable.

– ’17 is the correct use of the apostrophe

– Pro tip: Put up your poster up on a busy bulletin board to see how well it stands out.

September 19–20
Re-do color and Image

Color (background and text) :

Further explorations of more than one color on background and text.

I realize that I’ve only been using one color and rectangular shapes for the poster. I should experiment with different geometric shapes and forms.

Scale :

Image :

Incorporate an image into a previous iteration.

If I use an image by someone else, I must credit them on the poster.

Possible images to create:

– Scrapbook-y garage band yellow couch

–Ripped scraps of yellow paper

September 21
Class feedback (and our visit the the 4th floor of Hunt Library)

After showing one of my most resolved posters to my peer, Jae, and lab teacher, Andrew, I realized that even though my poster is for the Yellow Couch Sessions, I don’t have to reflect it on the poster so literally. I was experimenting with photos of yellow couches and yellow-themed, but could venture into things that reflected more about what Yellow Couch Sessions is about/like. I should research the actual studio and artists on my poster to see where it leads me and to inform viewers of what to expect from the event (vibe, feelings, people).

Notes :

  • Pick one layout and say you will do 12 different things.
  • We like to think people will look at our poster for long, but it happens very quickly
  • Ask non-design students to look at your work. Do they get the where/when/what of your poster?
  • Check out Josef Muller Brockmann posters and music representation on pinterest
  • Fix my primary grid: little brother tagging behind, how to emphasize the time?
  • Consider both people who bought in and have not bought in
  • What am I getting from a poster across the room from me? Layering effect.
  • Visual communication is interaction design. Presenting things to a viewer that allows them to break it down and get a message. Visual patterns. How does it help people understand the information?
  • Qualities of the info: intimate, warm, home-y, grassroots, indie. Find images that communicate that feeling (abstract or literal). Be quick about your process.

After visiting, I felt really inspired. Design considerations started since forever. Errors (leaves, despite circular text), thicker border for better candle light. How will I preserve knowledge? Information design

September 22

Yellow Couch Studio:

  • “what it lacks in grandeur, it makes up for in coziness”
  • intimidating and sterile recording studios can be
  • create an atmosphere that will put you at east and inspire performances

Posters — Josef Muller Brockmann

What works about these posters?

He formats simple shapes into a engaging design that is not distracting or overwhelming. The positioning and orientation of text can communicate orderliness or playfulness.

September 23

I had paint and color pencils at my disposal so I took a stab at creating a few of my own backgrounds. The colorful one below is an image I found on Pinterest, but I hope to re-create something similar using copic markers.

I went to go talk to Natalie during office hours and realized that I need to focus on the purpose and story I want to tell through my poster (not just what looks cool). She recommended that I create a list of words that describe the feeling of the posters and then figure out what kind of positioning, size, colors, and background I can to use to relay that story.

I decided to try to create posters that communicate: coziness, homemade, warm, and rhythmic

How to make this more vibrant? Yellow hue? Still need to resolve text. Feels kind of stale… too classical. Would it stand out on a busy wall?

The road is not too abstract.

Experiences (live musician)

vibe resonates more for some people

However, ability to identify guitar for musicians — some people thought it was a dock and such — abstract

Continue working on the placement of text, try different colors (white might pop more)

What is the balance for literal v. abstract (Tamar’s books works for lecture poster)

Christin’s poster — reminiscent of old album cover, guitar pick, intentional tension

Banding — white space

Convert into pdf not jpegs

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