CalArts: Funds. of Graphic Design-W2: 2.4 Typesetting Text

We’ve look at typographic terminology to do with letters and to do with words, and now we’re going to look and see what happens to that terminology when we look at a block of text.
And they get suddenly more complicated, there’s a whole new set of terms that are introduced.

body text

When the text is set in a block like this to be read, it’s called body text, and one of the first things to think about is how that text is going to be aligned.

The two most commonly used settings for text are either justified or range left. So here let’s look at range left, also known as rag right.

range left

When the text is range left, you can see on the left hand side it aligns evenly, whereas on the right hand side it’s uneven or rugged.

If you’re setting range left text, you probably want to have 9 to 12 words in your line length, and this area across here, this is the line length, which is also known as the measure, and that’s about 60 to 70 characters, which is a comfortable amount to read for anybody. 
It means they get to the end of the line and can easily find their way to the beginning of the next line.

justified text

When the text is justified text, you can see that it’s even on both sides, both the left and the right, and it tends to form more of a square solid shape,
whereas range left tends to look a little more friendly, I think, and it’s a little bit easier to read.

And justified text has a few more words per line, and it gives you a little bit more characters per line as well, probably around 70 or 80. 
So, justified text can be a little bit more economical, but it can feel a little harsher on the page.

leading

Another aspect of typography that can dramatically affect how type looks and its legibility Is something called leading.

So here’s two pieces of typography. The type size is 9 point, the same. And the leading is 12 point, which is also the same.

So what that 12 point refers to is the leading that the 9 point type is sitting on. 
And leading is basically the space that exists in the lines of type from baseline to baseline.

So if you imagine these baselines being visible, you could measure that space, and it wouldn’t necessarily be the same measurement as the type size.

So let’s see what happens when we change the leading. So here’s two samples of type, the same type size but set with different leading, and you can see straight away how different they look.

They’re both 9 point type, but the one on the right is much, much easier to read. 
So, here you can see the type is 9 point on 9 point. 
So that’s very tight. There’s very little space between each line of type, and that’s called being “set solid” when the type size and the leading are the same.

“set solid”= the type size and the leading are the same.

With the 9 on 16
you can see there’s much more space between the lines. 
They’re clearly visible, and this might be too much leading, and the way that you can tell if your leading is too much or too little is really just to think about the comfort of reading.

— When you get to the end of a line, how easy is it for you to travel back to the beginning of the next line? 
 — Do you lose your way? 
 — Or is your eye taken there quite easily?

On the left, the lines are too tight together, so that might be confusing, but on the right they might be so loose that you can also lose your way.

A handy trick to tell if your leading’s approximately right on the computer is just to take your cursor and highlight the text.

If you can see too much space between the black bars that are formed, then your type probably has too much leading.
And if you can’t see any space at all, your type probably needs a little bit more leading.

We’ve looked at point sizes and how that’s measured from typesetting on a body,

but let’s look at how different typefaces can appear to be visually different, even though they’re the same type size.

So here’s three different typefaces, and these would all be the same size. They’d all be on the same body. They might be all 72 point, for instance. 
But they certainly don’t appear to visually be the same size.

So even though all three typefaces are on the same body, you can see the typeface in the middle is visually much larger. 
It has a much larger x height. 
It has shorter ascenders and descenders. 
So it’s taking up more space within the body.

And this is worth thinking about, because when you set type, it isn’t just the point size that’s gonna affect how the type visually appears. It’s also the typeface that you choose.