Text Layout (Reading Notes)

Typography exists to honor content.

One of the principles of durable typography is always legibility. Another is sth more than legibility: some earned or unearned interest that gives its living energy to the page. It takes various forms and goes by various names, including serenity, liveliness, laughter, grace and joy.

Letters have a life and dignity of their own. They dance in their seats. Sometimes they rise and dance in the margins and aisles.

Typography is to literature as musical performance is to composition.


  1. Read the text before designing it
  2. Discover the outer logic of the typography in the inner logic of the text
  3. Make the visible relationship between the text and other elements( photographs, captions, tables, diagrams, notes) a reflection of their real relationship.
  4. Choose a typeface or a group of faces that will honor and elucidate the character of the text.
  5. Shape the page and frame of the textblock so that it honors and revels every element, every relationship between elements, and every logical nuance of the text.
  6. Give full typographic attention even to incidental details.

From: Lupton-Modern_Hieroglyphics

5 degrees to see details

“see details” can process a row of around 12 characters

the straight line alignment of 4+-1mm (3,4,5) : balack line combinations on the white ground
From:Masaaki Hiromura – “Characters and the Eye,” from Ji Born: A Book of Letters and Characters (This is a longer selection of Hiromura’s text, from which the excerpt was taken)

universal symbols

from: Ellen Lupton – “Modern Hieroglyphics,” from Design, Writing, Research


line break

outdent, or hanging indentation

line space

express the meaning of a word or an idea through the sapcing, sizing and placement of letters on the page
(disruption, expansion, migration)


from: lupton – samples


Color ( Reading notes)

From “The Extended First Field: Color” (Herbert Zettl, from Applied Media Aesthetics)

Hue describes the color itself.  Red, blue, green, and yellow are color hues.

Saturation describes the color richness. (highly saturated; less saturated)

Saturation is sometimes called chroma (Greek for “color”)

When the strip is photographed in black-and-white, all degrees of saturation show the same gray. The desaturated hue does not get lighter or darker.

Brightness, or value, indicates how light or dark a color appears in a black-and-white photograph. The brightness of a color depends on how much light it re# ects. Black-and-whitethat vary in brightness only. Brightness is called lightness when it refers to how bright we perceive an object to be.

The additive (light) primaries are red, green, and blue (RGB).

The subtractive (paint) primaries are cyan, magenta, and yellow (CMY).

Color Harmony


Tinge 淡色

Color Temperature: Although we speak of “white light,” no light we ordinarily see is pure white. Some so-called white light has a reddish tinge; other white light is bluish. Even the “white” sunlight changes color.At midday sunlight has an extremely bluish tinge; during sunrise or sunset, it is much more reddish. 4 is relative reddishness or bluishness of white light is measured by color temperature in Kelvin degrees (usually expressed as K in lighting lingo).

 Color energy is the relative aesthetic impact a color has on us. A color’s energy depends on its hue, saturation, and brightness attributes; the size of the color area; and the relative contrast between foreground and background colors.

From The Interaction of Color (Joseph Albers), Selections

actual facts. It means something remaining what it is, something probably not undergoing changes. But when we see opaque color as transparent or perceive opacity as translucence, then the optical reception in our eye has changed in our mind to something different. The same is true when we see 3 colors as 4 or as 2, or 4 colors as 3, when we see flat, even colors as intersecting colors and their fluting effect, or when we see distinct I-contour boundaries doubled or vibrating or just vanishing.

It has been seen that color differences are caused by 2 factors: by hue and by light, and in most cases by both at the same time.

Subtract: Useful Third, when placed on a red ground equal to one of the 3 samples, only 2 of the reds will “show,” and the lost one is absorbed-subtracted. From this, it follows that any diversion among colors in hue as well as in light-dark relationship can be reduced if not obliterated visually on grounds of equal qualities.

From: Graphic Design School (Dabner, Stewart, and Zempol): Fundamentals of Color

 Tone (or value) is the relative lightness or darkness of a color. A color with added white is called a tint; a color with added black is called a shade.

Primary color: red, yellow, blue

Secondary color: a mix of any two primaries: orange, green or violet

Associations: Connections between colors and emotions, culture, experience and memory.

Connotations: A color’s broader associations. For example: green-jealousy, naively, illness, environment, nature.

Denotations: What the color literally means, or is; for example: a red rose is a green stem with red petals.

Hot palette; Chilling palette (The juxtaposition of the coldest and warmest of colors); Sweet palette (natural hues and soft contrasts)

Reflection of Composition Design

Reflection of Composition Design

After using 3-6 black squares to design abstract concepts in the white sheet, I did taste a little bit of art. Previously, I love to read books relevant to art or appreciate artworks in museum. There were certain works that I felt deeply intrigued with, though I could not exactly tell why. I just thought that I knew the painter, I knew what he/she was thinking or feeling.

In my design, I put some cultural elements into the picture. For instance, when doing the concept of “harmony”, I thought of the slogan that our previous president raised: Building a harmonious society. So I just put the national flag as the background of the design and then replaced the stars with squares to show the deep meaning of a harmonious society. You can regard it as an irony or just an objective reflection of a popular political slogan in China in recent years.

This design just reinforced my previous view: Design cannot be built from nothing. We need some inspirations from our culture, thinking or just daily life.

However, this idea cannot be adapted to all circumstances. Professor Osborn told us to “play with the squares”. Actually at first I’m wondering, should there be some deep thinking behind each concept? How can we just randomly design things that we may ourselves do not understand. But, after my friend, who is an undergraduate student in China, played with those squares and came out a fabulous idea of “perseverance”. I’m convinced. Yes, different designers can adopt distinct approaches to reach the same goal, no matter thinking  or playing comes first.

Something I want to add at last is an interesting comment by my friend. I went to New York last year in winter holiday and met with my friend, now studying design in Parsons. When I asked her about her views of differences of eastern and western design, she said: Westerners love funny things when easterners tend to attach deep meaning or significance to it. It’s a very interesting point and I somewhat agree with her. This difference may result from disparate level of development (high,low), culture (open, conservative), or natural environment? (I don’t know..)

Also, this assignment (Sorry I should not consider it as an assignment) made me know the huge gap between me and those people majoring in arts and design. I’m amazed by what they created by simplest elements. That is amazing. It is the meaning of education.



‘We artists do not think – we feel!’ — from an artist
‘I’m not feeling very well today, I think!’ — from a typographer (Typographers tend to think logically)

Choose from two goblets to taste the finest wine:
goblets of solid gold, wrought in the most exquisite patterns vs. one of crystal-clear glass, transparent

Those goblets can be compared to typography. True typographer will choose the transparent one to exhibit the real content to readers clearly. The true meaning of printing is to convey specific and conherent ideas.

— from Beatrice Warde, The Crystal Goblet or Printing Should Be Invisible