Derek Birdsall, quoted in Communicate: Independent British Graphic Design Since the Sixties:

You have said that the best layouts appear to have designed themselves.

How could they be different? Of course, you could do it in a million ways, but it should have a look of conviction. The conviction in my case comes about from knowing how right it is, because I have been through the mill. I have been through it all. There is a reason for everything.

There is not a right and wrong way, but there are better ways and worse ways, and they are almost always findable in the text. There is often a recurring word in the text that might give you an idea for the right typeface. Let us suppose there was a book about Herman Melville. His name will appear quite often in the book. Sometimes even there there is a clue to a nice typeface that has a lovely M. One of the reasons I like justified setting is because I use Poliphilus a lot, which has the most deliciously surreptitious angled hyphen. It is worth breaking words for.

The suitability of the type to the subject of the book is less important than to the nature of its text. Not the politics of the text – which, of course, is something that obsesses kids today because they think they can get an idea out of it – but the actual words. Even things like ampersands and brackets – if you have stuff with a lot of brackets, Bell has the most delicious square brackets. It is a good enough reason to use that typeface.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2006.09.03 13:13. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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