in DD3016-HISTORY OF DESIGN, Final Project, Process, Research

Week 7 Reflection

Before I studied Typo, I never realized how important the typeface it is and I never quite appreciate it. Previously in my life of being a student and reading a lot of textbook, I don’t think the choice of the type and the spaces, tracking, leading are playing a big role in reading, even the layout is not that perfect, it did not affect readers to get the content that much. Reading was not hard for me, and I always took the design of the text granted.

After reading the Crystal Goblet by Beatrice Warde, I did get her idea of having clear and readable text for books, but yet I am still a bit confused but why she emphasized so many times and the real importance of typography.

About two weeks ago, I learnt mass communication from the WKW school, and I started to do some research about the “Media Epoch Diagram” (1964)by scholar Marshall McLuhan. When I tried to connect these interdispline knowledge, I think it helps me to understand better.

McLuhan categorised the human history of mass communication into 4 epochs, and he stated that the invention of alphabets by Phoenicians marked the beginning of the literate epoch, which spread linear thinking. 

It is such a significant invention to mankind because since then there’s less reliance on memory in communication, and sight became the dominant scene. When it came to the print epoch, the invention of the movable mass-produced printing by Johannes Gutenberg, brought people enlightenment. Because he has made printing more efficient and much cheaper, therefore helping to form a homogenious view.

After studying this diagram, I started to know how important the alphabet and the printing it is, if the mass printing was never existed in human history, the knowledge would just be open to the noble.  It is the alphabets that make the linear thinking possible, because the writing process goes from one direction to another, writers start at one end of the page, and then goes to the other end of the page, and then turn to the second row. In this way, the writing process reflects the thinking process of the writer. The reason of mentioning the clarity and readability many times in Beatrice’s speech is to reproduce the linear thinking process of the writer, making the type as a magnifier, or at least a copier, instead of being a burden and interrupting readers from the process. It has to be a continuous experience, without any disruption due to the type. For example, if the text is too long, when readers turn to the next line, they will get lost very easily. If the tone of the whole page is too dense and dark, it would be hard for them to “start” the page, if the leading is too wide, and too many rivers, their eyes will be jumping around a few lines and they cannot focus.


Hence, I think typography is of significant importance to mankind. The process of reading is the experience of the reproduced linear thinking, and the reproduction heavily relies on typography in a quite invisible and unnoticed way.