Beyond the Baseline

We can measure type accurately by its descenders, ascenders, x-height and so-forth, but what we cannot measure is beyond the baseline — or rather the depth of which a typeface can penetrate our emotions.

In Act II, Scene II of William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet, Juliet says, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet …” While Juliet speaks to convey a name is just a name, words are not just words, when portrayed in written form. Depending on the font used on a word, the interpretation and emotion evoked can be vastly different.

“Typography has a vital role in communication, not only does it display the literal meaning of our message, but the style of the typeface itself can offer additional context to the to the words displayed,” according to KSU UXD, The Importance of Type: Communication and Usability (2).

While words can be misinterpreted when spoken, so can words — depending on the type.

So the next time you are ready to set your type by clicking the drop-down to select your typeface, choose wisely, the interpretation of your creation depends on it. Face your type decision with your message in mind.

C. Knight and J. Glaser wrote the following about typography in their Smashing Magazine article When Typography Speaks Louder than Words:

“… typographic treatment works alongside verbal language to create, enhance and alter meaning. While the aesthetic value of design is always important, the significance of type in influencing meaning should not be underestimated.”
The letter “S” shown near my father’s printing press.