There is so little creativity in school publications. So many professors want papers to conform to academic standards that are outdated and poor for reading. Do you know how many people I know still space twice after periods? People who use underlines instead of italicizing?
But notwithstanding that, the other standard paper settings are so stifling stifling. 1″ margin all around, double space, 12 point Times New Roman font.
I acquiesce because I want a good grade. But I strive for something more because I’m a huge dork.
Some history: this summer, I took an art class. At the end of the class, we had to make a presentation on some aspect of art we were interested in.
I had no idea what to do mine over. I don’ t know what possessed me to do it over typography, but that’s what I picked. Things have never been the same.
The one thing that presentation made me realize was how utterly clueless I was. I still am. What typography makes me realize is how utterly blind I am. Sure, I can recognize Times New Roman; I know what a sans serif font is from a serif; I’ve heard of Hermann Zapf. But beyond that, there’s a world of nuance to which I am blind.
I have been captivated by something I cannot comprehend.
Quickly thereafter I became interested in presentation design. Why do most powerpoints suck, and why do some not? How did x do y? (Heh, not with powerpoint, most likely). And then that eventually led to typesetting.
I still don’t know what the heck I’m doing.
The other day, I stumbled upon the site Typography For Lawyers. It blew my mind. I haven’t purchased the book yet, but I thought, “What if I tried something like that?”
Of course, I couldn’t try it for the original assignment submission, since the requirements there were stringent: 12 point Times New Roman, double-spaced, 1″ margins all around.
So I waited until I got home from school to do it. I’m not even sure if I did everything right, but I’m happy with the results.
I actually messed up. That page number at the bottom is still in Times New Roman, when it should’ve been converted to Sabon.
Preliminary lessons learned:
- The 1″ margins are too thin for the average reader. Reading across an 8 1/2 by 11 page causes some strange from going from line to line as is, but by increasing the margin, the column of text becomes more manageable.
- 12 point font is actually a smidge too large; 11 point font works just as fine.
- Double spacing is generally too much spacing. Spacing a percentage of the font size works a lot better.
- Justified text with hyphenation makes it all work.