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Define:type matters

Type and terminology
When Wed 14 Sep 1430
Where Track 1
Who Indra Kupferschmid, Nick Sherman

Over the course of the years and the more we become internationally connected and work together with people with all kinds of different educational backgrounds, the problem of finding and agreeing on a common “language” for typographic issues became more obvious every day. Terminology also evolves over the time, gets transplanted into different techniques, applications and media. Recent examples are confusions and discussions about the differentiation between typographer vs. type designer, typeface vs. font, leading vs. line spacing. Or how do we define type family?

Also the internationally different use of terms for type styles – e.g. Antique, Gothic, Grotesque, Grotesk and more all for sans serif typefaces – doesn’t make it easy to write about type or develop classifications for an international readership or user group. Does “Mediaeval” equate “Old Style” or rather “Venetian” best? Or how could we call typefaces with bracketed sturdy serifs, almost Egyptian, but not quite e.g. I could go on.The idea of this workshop or round table/discussion group is to come up with internationally acceptable definitions for terms and their equivalents in different languages.

Who better than ATypI could suggest concerted standards and maybe publish a type glossary on its websites, to which authors, journalist or museum curators (see MoMa exhibition “Standard Deviations” and Paul Shaw’s comments on their glossary full of flaws) can refer to?In the beginning of this we’ll point out the, in our view, main problems and then will try to moderate the process of finding a solution or suggesting a definition. As a second part we’d like to discuss a revision of ATypI’s type classification so that it’d better meet the recent development in typeface design, e.g. the numerous sans serif or decorative designs, and user requirements when looking for an appropriate font. Or typeface. Or type family.

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