When Matthew asked me to write a foreword to this treatise, I first checked out his definition of typography:
Typography is the visual component of the written word.
Well, at first glance, that doesn’t sound too different from what I have often written:
Type is visible language.
Actually, these two definitions are quite different from one another: I define type; Matthew defines typography. I am not sure whether I agree with his definition. But as he is a good friend and a lawyer to boot, I’ll indulge him for a bit.
Printed type, however, does not exist without a relationship to the page it is presented on. This is what I call typography: the arrangement of prefabricated elements on a page. These elements may include images, words, sentences and—above all—the space between those elements. Ideally, this arrangement visualizes and thus reinforces the hierarchy of the message. As Matthew puts it himself:
Good typography is measured by how well it reinforces the meaning of the text, not by some abstract scale of merit.
A few hundred years of type and typography have established rules that only a fool would ignore. (Or a graphic designer keen to impress his peers.) For all those who need to communicate clearly and even add a modicum of aesthetic value to their messages, this publication provides everything you always wanted to ask but didn’t know how to.
That’s one thing us mere designers can learn from a designer who is also a lawyer, like Matthew: if your argument is easy to follow, it will be a winning one.
Erik Spiekermann is an information architect, type designer, and author of books and articles on type and typography. Two of his typefaces, FF Meta and ITC Officina, are considered to be modern classics. In 1979 he founded MetaDesign and in 1989 FontShop. Today he is managing partner and creative director of Edenspiekermann. He is also Honorary Royal Designer for Industry in Britain.