TYPOGRAPHY & LETTERFORMS / $19.95 ISBN I-5 679 2-240-6
LETTERS OF CREDIT
Л View of Type Design
The evolution in typesetting - a revolution that over the past half century has eliminated
a five-hundred-year-old system of hot metal production and replaced it with one of photo-
generated and computer-driven composition - shows no sign of winding down. This
book, more than any other we have read, traces the steps that went into that revolution
and simultaneously makes the argument that the letter forms themselves, whether used
in film, computer, or hot-metal composition, are always in a process of evolution. Tracy
argues that, whether they are of the sixteenth or the twentieth century, the forms that
comprise our alphabet are subject to the same rules of good taste, proportion, and clar¬
ity that have always obtained. But what we face today is vastly different from fifty years
ago. For the first time, new technology has made the proliferation (and, not a few would
maintain, the debasement) of letter forms fast and easy (or quick and dirty).
With fifty years of professional experience on both sides of the Atlantic (including
thirty years as head of type design for the British Linotype Company), Tracy was in a
unique position to make this argument and reach his sad conclusion: The good designs
of contemporary typefaces are far outnumbered by those that are mediocre and down¬
right bad. Part of the reason for this deplorable deterioration is a lack of critical analy¬
sis of the particular aesthetics involved, and this step-by-step examination of type-
design aesthetics is precisely what Tracy provides here, while avoiding both the pro¬
moter's hype and the manufacturer's claims. Here are the gut issues of what makes type
good or bad, legible or unreadable.
Extensively illustrated with both typefaces and line drawings, this book belongs on
the shelf of anyone interested in the history of letterforms or the artistry and peculiar
problems that from the very beginning have been integral to their design and production.
Typographer, writer, and designer of books, magazines, and newspapers,
Walter Tracy was born in 1914 and began his career as a compositor. After
several years in advertising, he went on to direct the English Linotype letter
design program from 1947 to the mid-1970s. He served as typographic adviser
to the London Times after Stanley Morison's death, where he adapted
Morison's Times New Roman designs to the demands of modern printing
processes. A specialist in typefaces for newspapers, Tracy also designed a
number of particularly successful поп-roman faces. He died in 1995.
Cover illustration: 'Construction' grid letters from the Kabel specimen by Rudolf Koch
David R. Godine • Publisher
Post Office Box 450 mi 111III iiiiiiii |||| 1111|m
Jaffrey, New Hampshire 03452 '; "'j 'i J'mI |!
www.godine.com 9 781567 922400