A typeface is a system in itself: a number of individual characters are designed to relate to each other to perform rhythm and consistency – a carefully balanced relation of form and counter form, black and white. Hermann Zapf once said: “I could try to draw each letter so that it stood in graceful relation to the other twenty-five.” 1 While less than 100 glyphs within a single font (a California Job Case consisted of 89 compartments) was common at the time of his statement (1965), over 1,000 has become a rather usual number of glyphs in recent years. What’s more, the demand on this system of relationships immediately increases with the designer’s decision to add further weights, widths or styles. Each glyph then has to successfully function in additional variations, which all share basic characteristics to form a harmonious and consistent visual system.
Typefaces are an expression of their time. FF Mark is a new typeface and yet it clearly draws on historical examples from the past. Precisely, the mid-1920s, a period in German history with exceptional innovation in engineering, in the arts and in design. In particular, the years between 1925 and 1930 produced several ideas that were new to the world – among them a new concept in type design: the geometric sans serif.
Alright, this isn’t necessarily about using type—more like using text—but hang with me and you’ll find the information is still applicable if not ultimately very handy. Much of the initial work of typesetting is rearranging and stripping the junk out of your text, including removing that pesky second space after each period.
Let’s dive in. In this article I’ll give a few pointers on setting the appropriate baseline interval, some specifics on how to set up an InDesign document, and I’ll likely keep it pretty vague discussing baseline grids on screen media.