If You Want it Read, Make it Legible

It has been more than 20 years since Paul Brainerd, the founder of Aldus Corporation, coined the term desktop publishing to distinguish his software program PageMaker from professional typesetting. Over that time period, typesetting has migrated from the world of commercial printing and publishing to homes and offices. The quality of type produced by today’s inexpensive and readily available software programs is very different from the primitive appearance of type generated by early desktop publishing programs.

One result of typesetting’s migration to the desktop is the need for a wide variety of people – from art directors to graphic designers, as well as marketing professionals and administrative executives – to learn something about typography. A simple definition of typography is the layout of text on a printed page, but in a broader sense, it is a form of visual communication that effectively increases reader understanding.

In traditional typography, good text composition (page layout) –the arrangement of fonts on the page, the alignment of text, and the manipulation of text, white space, and graphics – improves visual appearance so the reader doesn’t notice the composition. Instead, the reader’s entire attention is focused on the message the text intends to convey.