• Steven Heller

Hey Kid, Wanna Learn About Kerning?

“We live in a typographic wonderland,” starts Cyrus Highsmith’s delightful and instructive little book, Inside Paragraphs: Typographic Fundamentals, published by the Font Bureau and illustrated with expressionistic woodcuts. Not your 2012 heavy-on-the-coated-paper type book, this-102 page guide, printed in Ibis Text with headlines in Scout, is all about what goes on inside a paragraph of printed text.

“Typography started with paragraphs of printed text,” Highsmith writes. “Since then, it has evolved in all sorts of directions, sometimes leaving printing behind entirely. But the printed paragraph is still a good starting point. Understanding what goes on inside a solid foundation on which to add additional knowledge.” Funny thing is, no matter how much you think you know about type, this rudimentary handbook teaches you there’s more to learn about the most common settings. (Read Paul Shaw’s interview with Highsmith here, if you need more persuading.)

How we read. The eye moves around, scanning different parts.

A word is like an image.

Kerning is needed because of the modular nature of moveable type.

Positive leading is the most common.

. For more typographic fundamentals, see Alex W. White’s Thinking in Type: The Practical Philosophy of Typography, available at MyDesignShop.com.

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