Latin is all Greek to me

Lorem Ipsum is used for greeking text

When designs are required before content is ready “greeking” is a method of filling in space where the text will go. It can be accomplished by simply sketching horizontal lines with a pencil, or, with the advent of design software, by dropping Latin into text columns. Designers call this placeholder text Lorem Ipsum, because these are the first two words of the most commonly used greeking text. read more…

Use italics for emphasis

use italics for emphasis, not bold face

Italics are the elegant way to emphasize text. Bold faces are for headlines, posters or logos. Bold type breaks up the flow and degrades the readability of text just as words or phrases in all caps are like blotches in a column of type. Type often comes in extended families of varying weights, but as Robert Bringhurst said of boldface (which did not exist until the nineteenth century), “The marriage of type and text requires courtesy to the in-laws, but it does not mean that all of them ought to move in, nor even that all must come to visit.”


Ye olde deliberate antiquarianism…

Ye Olde Whatever...

“Ye” was pronounced “the.”
“Ye” is a 16th century substitution of a ‘y’ for an Old English character known as the thorn (‘þ’), originally a Germanic rune that represented the interdental th sound. read more…

Virgulilla: doubly diminutive

Bottle of vino Virgulilla, tilde, rasgoVirgulilla, which is Spanish for something like ‘an accent or mark.’ Usually it refers to what in English we call the tilde (which probably also derives from the Spanish*), but can also mean any diacritical mark resembling a comma, line or dash. The tilde originates from Latin as a “mark of suspension” in place of omitted letters in abbreviations (e.g., Anno Domini would be Aº Dñi). And, according to one source, medieval scribes abbreviated the phoneme “nn” as “n~” in order to distinguish it from “m.” Placing the mark above the n saved space (vellum was expensive). read more…

Indecorous display

b-kliban-barf-bold-a-decorative-typeface©1982 B. Kliban — Notice that he didn’t use the current term “font”

Bernard “Hap” Kliban (1935–1990) offered Barf Bold, a Decorative Typeface in one of his hilarious cartoon collections in the early ’80s. Kliban created the cartoon genre that consisted of a single panel with a droll, third person narration (e.g., “Houdini escaping from New Jersey”), a style which Gary Larson of “The Far Side” later became famous for.

Kliban’s correct use of the term “decorative typeface” (he could have also used “display face”) is especially notable now that most people use the term “font” broadly to mean a printed face, a typographic family, a specific typeface, or (correctly) the licensed software that allows us to reproduce type on our computers.


Epigram, epithet, epigraph, epitaph…

epitaph for Mel BlancThe language quarterly Verbatim once published a mnemonic, in the form of a poem, to help us differentiate between these similar-sounding, but not-to-be-confused words.

Primer by David Galef, Oxford, Mississippi

The epigram’s a pithy saying, Full of paradox and wit.
The epithet’s a brief description. A clever name that scores a hit.
The epigraph’s a type of preface, Like the lead-in to a writ.
The epitaph is seen on tombstones, Related to who’s under it.
All four are commonly confused, But in each usage, three don’t fit.