Baseline grid

Teaching notes on how to set up a baseline grid in InDesign. This document is a slightly revised and reformatted document previously available here.

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A baseline grid is based on the leading of the continuous text (body text) of a publication. Leadings and paragraph spaces of all text in a complex publication would then be mathematically derived from this leading. A baseline grid ensures that the sizes and leadings all text in a complex publication are related to each other and are locked into place, so that they line up across columns as well as across pages. Baseline grids are almost always used in newspapers, and often in other complex publications such as magazines and textbooks.

Digital typography

‘In typography there is no technical step which is not at the same time an aesthetic decision’ — Emil Ruder

Some teaching notes on digital typography. This is a sightly revised version of the previous document that was available here for download.

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Since the advent of printing with movable type, typography and technology have become inseparable. If we are to accept the definition of typography as the mechanical production of written language, then we must have an intimate understanding of our prevailing typesetting technology – the computer and its software and output devices – in order to become competent typographic designers. There is craftsmanship involved in digital typesetting; creativity is also built upon the foundation of understanding the technology. 

Document design and usability of documents

Not the usual typography and information design books, but specifically on designing documents from a user-centred point of view.

Burke, C; Black, A; Stiff, P; Waller, R (1992) Designing business documents. Surrey, UK: Monotype Typography Ltd

Hartley, J (1994) Designing instructional texts (third edition).
London: Kogan Page

Schriver, K A (1997) Dynamics in document design: creating texts for readers. New York: John Wiley & Sons

Twyman, M (1985) ‘Using pictorial language: a discussion of the dimensions of the problem’, in Duffy, T M and Waller, R, Designing usable texts. London: Academic Press 245–312

Waller, R H W (1982) ‘Text as diagram: using typography to improve access and understanding’ in D Jonassen (ed), The technology of text
Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications, 137–166

Waller R H W (1999), ‘Making connections: typography layout and language’, Proceedings of the 1999 Autumn Symposium, American Association for Artificial Intelligence

Bilingual typography: Hong Kong case studies

This keynote presentation was delivered at the Multilingual Typography Symposium at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in 2011. Through considering the socio-political and socio-linguistic evolutions of bilingualism in Hong Kong, the presentation argues that visual harmony is not always the ultimate concern in cross-cultural typography – its effectiveness depends on how the two languages or scripts as well as their semantic components interact with each other under different contexts and purposes. With a systemic approach, the presentation examines case studies of bilingual typography in Hong Kong, considering bilingualism in terms of parallel translations, code-mixing and code-switching. A comparative descriptive framework for bilingual typography is also presented.

Bilingual typography: Hong Kong case studies from Keith Tam

Typographic hierarchy and legibility research

A seminar that discusses Michael Twyman‘s notation system for establishing typographic hierarchy (headings and paragraph) and a summary of Herbert Spencer’s review of literature of over 100 years of legibility research. Useful for typographers to inform their design decisions.

Twyman, M (1981) ‘Typography without words’, in Visible Language, XV no. 1, 5–12

Spencer, Herbert (1969) The visible word. London: Lund Humphries and Royal College of Art

Typographic hierarchy and legibility research from Keith Tam

Typography and book design reading list

Typography manuals

Baines, Phil and Andrew Haslam (2002)
Type & typography
New York: Watson-Guptill

Bringhurst, Robert (1997)
The elements of typographic style
Vancouver: Hartley & Marks, Publishers

Felici, James (2003)
The complete manual of typography: a guide to setting perfect type
Berkeley, CA: Peachpit Press

Hochuli, Jost (2008)
Detail in typography: letters, letterspacing, words, wordspacing, lines, linespacing, columns
London: Hyphen Press

Kane, John (2002)
A type primer
New Jersey: Prentice Hall

Lupton, Ellen (2004)
Thinking with type: A critical guide for designers, writers, editors & students
New York: Princeton Architectural Press

McLean, Ruari (1980)
The Thames and Hudson manual of typography
London: Thames and Hudson

Middendorp, Jan (2012)
Shaping text: type, typography and the reader
Singapore: Page One Publishing


Burke, Christopher (2007)
Active literacture: Jan Tschichold and New Typography
London: Hyphen Press

Kinross, Robin, editor (2002)
Anthony Froshaug: typography & texts
London: Hyphen Press

Kinross, Robin (1992)
Modern typography: an essay in critical history
London, England: Hyphen Press 1992

Poyner, Rick (2003)
No more rules: graphic design and postmodernism
New Haven: Yale University Press

Classic texts

Gill, Eric (1988)
An essay on typography
New York: D R Godine

Ruder, Emil (2001)
Typographie (seventh edition)
Sulgen, Switzerland: Niggli

Tschichold, Jan, translated by Ruari McLean (1995)
The new typography: a handbook for modern designers
Berkeley: University of California Press

Tschichold, Jan; translated by Hajo Hadeler (1991)
The form of the book: essays on the morality of good design
London: Lund Humphries

Theory, research and discourse

Beier, Sofie (2012)
Reading letters: designing for legibility
Amsterdam: BIS Publishers

Heller, Steven and Philip Meggs, editors (2001)
Texts on type: critical writings on typography
New York: All Worth Press

Jury, David, editor (2001)
TypoGraphic Writing: selected writing from thirty years of TypoGraphic, the journal of the International Society of Typographic Designers
Stround, England: ISTD

Spencer, Herbert (1969)
The visible word
London: Lund Humphries/Royal College of Art

Swanson, Gunnar, editor (2000)
Graphic design & reading: explorations of an uneasy relationship
New York: All Worth Press

Unger, Gerard (2007)
While you’re reading
New York: Mark Batty Publisher

Walker, Sue (2001)
Typography and language in everyday life: prescriptions and practices
Harlow, England: Pearson Education

Book design

Bartram, Alan (2001)
Five hundred years of book design
New Haven: Yale University Press

Birdsall, Derek (2004)
Notes on book design
New Haven: Yale University Press

Haslam, Andrew (2006)
Book design: a comprehensive guide
London: Laurence King

Hochuli, Jost and Robin Kinross (1996)
Designing books: practice and theory
London: Hyphen Press

Hochuli, Jost (1993)
Book design in switzerland
Switzerland: Arts Council of Switzerland

Williamson, Hugh (1983)
Methods of book design (3rd edition)
New Haven: Yale University Press

Tschichold, Jan (1991)
The form of the book: essays on the morality of good design
Vancouver: Hartley & Marks, Publishers

Calligraphy, lettering and type design reading list

Calligraphy and lettering

Harvey, Michael (1975)
Lettering design: form and skill in the design and use of letterforms
London: Bodley Head

Harvey, Michael (2002)
Creative lettering today: calligraphy in the graphic arts, drawing and design, digital letterforms, carving letters in stone and wood
New York: Lyon & Burford Publishers

Johnston, Edward (1977)
Writing & illuminating & lettering
London: Adam & Charles

Mosley, James (1999)
The nymph and the grot: the revival of the sanserif letter
London: Friends of the St Bride Printing Library

Neuenschwander, Brody (1994)
Letterwork: creative letterforms in graphic design
London: Phaidon Press

Noordzij, Gerrit (2005)
The stroke: theory of writing
London: Hyphen Press

Noordzij, Gerrit (2000)
Letterletter: an inconsistent collection of tentative theories that do not claim any other authority than that of common sense
Vancouver: Hartley & Marks, Publisher

Pott, Gottfried (1995)
Schrift, klana, bild / The music of lettering
Mainz: Verlag Hermann Schmidt

Type design

Bartram, Alan and James Sutton (1988)
An atlas of typeforms (2nd edition)
Hartfordshire, England: Wordsworth Editions

Berry, John D, editor (2002)
Language, culture, type
New York: ATypI

Blackwell, Lewis (1998)
Twentieth century type (remix)
London: Laurence King

Carter, Sebastian (2002)
Twentieth century type designers (new edition)
Aldershot, England: Lund Humpheies

Frutiger, Adrian (1980)
Type, sign, symbol
Zurich: ABC Editions

Haley, Allan (1998)
Type: hot designers make cool fonts
Gloucester, Massachusetts: Rockport Publishers

Howes, Justin (2000)
Johnston’s Underground type
Middlesex, England: Capital Transpor

Littlejohn, Deborah editor (2003)
Metro letters: a typeface for the twin cities
Minneapolis: Design Institute, University of Minnesota

Middendorp, Jan (2004)
Dutch type
Rotterdam: 010 Publishers

Re, Margaret (2002)
Typographically speaking: the art of Matthew Carter
Baltimore: University of Maryland

Smeijers, Fred and Robin Kinross (2011)
Counterpunch: making type in the sixteenth century, designing typefaces now (second edition)
London: Hyphen Press

Tracy, Walter (1986)
Letters of credit: a view of type design
London: Gordon Fraser

Wayfinding reading list

Arthur, P; Passini, R (1992)
Wayfinding: people, signs and architecture
New York: McGraw-Hill

Barker, P; Fraser, J (2000)
Sign design guide: a guide to inclusive signage
London and Harpenden, Hertfordshire: JMU and Sign Design Society

Bechtel, R B; Churchman, A (eds) (2002)
Handbook of environmental psychology
New York: John Wiley

Berger, C (2009)
Wayfinding: designing and implementing graphic navigational systems
Hove: Rotovision

Calori, C (2007)
Signage and wayfinding design: a complete guide to creating environmental graphic design systems
New York: John Wiley & Sons

Gibson, D (2009)
The wayfinding handbook: information design for public places
New York: Princeton Architectural Press

Lynch, K (1960)
The image of the city
Cambridge, MA: MIT Press

Mijksenaar, P (2008)
Wayfinding at Schiphol: on the how and why of signage at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
Amsterdam: Mijkensaar

Miller, C; Lewis, D (2000)
Wayfinding in complex healthcare environments
Information Design Journal, 9(2/3), 129–160

Miller, C; Lewis, D (1999)
Wayfinding: effective wayfinding and signing systems: guidance for healthcare facilities
London: HMSO

Mollerup, P (2005)
Wayshowing: a guide to environmental signage: principles & practices
Baden: Lars Müller Publishers

Smitshuijzen, E. (2007)
Signage design manual
Baden: Lars Müller

Uebele, A; Schmidt-Friderichs, K. (2007)
Signage systems & information graphics: a professional sourcebook
London: Thames & Hudson