Research and writing

A descriptive framework for Chinese–English bilingual typography

This article introduces and discusses a comparative descriptive framework for Chinese–English bilingual typography. Using representative examples of Chinese–English typography from Hong Kong as case studies, a comparative descriptive framework that systematically describes and compares typographic attributes of the Chinese and English languages has been developed. Drawing from linguistics as well as typography theory, this comparative descriptive framework provides an important theoretical basis for the study of multilingual typography. The framework may be used to describe all possible situations in which the two languages coexist, breaking down each attribute and putting them into meaningful groupings. The framework consists of 76 attribute comparisons organised in two main classes (graphic and spatial) and 11 sub-groupings.

Calligraphic tendencies in the development of sanserif type in the twentieth century

This paper explores the relationship between calligraphic writing and the formal developments of sanserif typefaces in the twentieth century.

Designing with the Hanzi script

An introductory article to designing with the Hanzi (Chinese) script, discussing the characteristics of the script and typographic issues.

The architecture of communication: the visual language of Hong Kong’s neon signs

Tam, K (2014). ‘The architecture of communication: the visual language of Hong Kong’s neon signs’, in Mobile M+ an interactive online exhibition celebrating Hong Kong’s neon signs at Hong Kong: M+, West Kowloon Cultural District Authority.

The revival of slab-serif typefaces in the 20th century

An essay that traces the historical developements of slab-serif typefaces in the 20th century.

Trust in Chinese–English bilingual documents: a heuristic for typographic decision-making

This paper explores the notion of trust in bilingual documents. A heuristic is presented, examining various levels of decision-making carried out by the producer and designer of a bilingual document that will influence the perception of trust on the reader’s part. The seven interrelated considerations are (1) producer (2) script (3) reader (4) context (5) genre (6) content (7) production. Although some of these decisions are purely strategic and invisible to the reader, this paper argues that they can always be inferred in a bilingual document’s graphic presentation. Decisions on graphic presentation work across all seven levels of consideration, establishing the status relationship between two languages as well as providing cues for readers to access a document’s rhetorical structure in myriad ways. Examples of Chinese–English bilingual documents from Hong Kong are used to illustrate the discussions. The heuristic aims to promote further discussions and research on bilingual document design issues as well as to guide practice.

Typography: between language, technology, aesthetics and culture (Radiodada)

Back in 2010, I was invited by fellow designer Paul Ng to appear as a guest on the internet radio

Wolfgang Weingart’s typographic landscape

Tam, K C H (2003). ‘Typograficzny pejzaz Wolfganga Weingarta’ (‘Wolfgang Weingart’s typographic landscape’) in 2+3D, i–2003, Nr 6, pp.18–23 (in Polish).