Outside Factors May Limit Choice of Type Selection

  • Must a middle ground be held between contemporary and pure type styles?
  • Influences include customers’ demands, current faces, supply availability
  • Supplementing machine set sizes with display faces must be considered

Last month I discussed some of the factors involved in the selection of types for the composing room of an ordinary commercial printing plant.

Probably many printers would like to deal only with discriminating customers who have a proper appreciation of the more subtle delineations of style in job printing, but the sad fact is that this kind of setup is seldom found.

While personal preferences in types do influence the customer’s purchase, the printer must also be aware of outside factors which may limit his freedom of selection. The appearance of current typographical style in advertising promotion will prompt demands for this type or that type, or requests to make a job look “like this.”

Small Plants on Middle Ground

The middle ground, then, between the contemporary and the “pure” types is the position of the small plant today.

Before making a list of actual types, we must first think a little about the variety of faces and their size range. When the selection is planned carefully, the number of types needed is surprisingly small. For what purpose, then, are the endless columns of types in current foundry and machine company specimen books? “Chiefly to avoid,” was the reply Updike gave to a similar question; he went on to explain how the printer could free himself from the burden by studying type forms.Updike’s advice does make interesting reading, but he was thinking in terms of the specialized printer, for which he had created his own market. However, it is still true that we could get along quite well on a thinner diet from the foundries. Often, too many different types are used in a single job when the variations of a single style of type would do as well.

Updike’s advice does make interesting reading, but he was thinking in terms of the specialized printer, for which he had created his own market. However, it is still true that we could get along quite well on a thinner diet from the foundries. Often, too many different types are used in a single job when the variations of a single style of type would do as well.Take a look at a standard roman type. There is first the roman. This might be the time to clear up a small point of nomenclature. The term roman is used to describe a letter in the form of the manuscript hand of the Italian fifteenth century, as distinguished from the first type of Gutenberg, black letter. Roman is also used to describe an upright letter, as apart from italic. This is not the only inconsistency in typographic terminology, but we have to learn to live with them all.

Take a look at a standard roman type. There is first the roman. This might be the time to clear up a small point of nomenclature. The term roman is used to describe a letter in the form of the manuscript hand of the Italian fifteenth century, as distinguished from the first type of Gutenberg, black letter. Roman is also used to describe an upright letter, as apart from italic. This is not the only inconsistency in typographic terminology, but we have to learn to live with them all.In many fonts, roman is accompanied by an italic or sloped letter cut in the same style. We have Garamond to thank for this (about 1640), and more currently, the two-letter mat of the

In many fonts, roman is accompanied by an italic or sloped letter cut in the same style. We have Garamond to thank for this (about 1640), and more currently, the two-letter mat of the slugcasting machines. There are only a few standard romans produced without the italic. Small caps become the third variation. Now there are eight different styles within the one group: roman lower case, upper and lower case, and caps; italic lower case, upper and lower case, and caps; small caps, and caps and small caps.When a type design becomes popular,

When a type design becomes popular, a boldface and a boldface italic are usually cut. In addition, there may be openface, or paneled, or shaded versions. Then caution may be thrown to the winds as in Cheltenham, with condensed, extra condensed, extended, and so on. Even without an extravagance of variation, the roman-italic group provides the printer with a good mixture and change of pace.

Series Includes Display Sizes

The range of sizes to be purchased should be a broad one. A series is best, the range of which varies from face to face, 6-point to 72-point being the most common. For display types or special purpose faces, the size range is much tighter; it depends upon the type and the use to which it is put. For example, in types used for social printing, the sizes most frequently used are 12-point, 14-point, and 18-point.

Because of the current high cost of type, today’s printer hesitates to purchase large sizes in which the character count is shy,
particularly in caps, with perhaps only one each of several characters, and just two each of a few more. Those printers who are setting type for eventual reproduction by offset lithography are becoming interested in the small photo-display units for the composition of heads and similar lines.

A still further consideration in type se­lection is the typesetting equipment in the plant. For example, if the printer has a slugcasting machine for text composition up to, say, 12-point, he will want to supplement these sizes with display types of the same design, for composition by hand. With a little care, he can meet this requirement satisfactorily, but a good match of machine and handset types must be planned; it cannot be left to accident.

Both the Linotype and Intertype firms have an excellent variety of types which, may be combined naturally with single types. A Monotype machine combines the utility of text composition with adaptability to display sizes in exactly the same types. The choice of a composing machine rests upon many factors which go beyond the scope of this article, but it may be seen that type selection goes far beyond the personal equation.

Wearability of Types Similar

Similarly, it is difficult to decide whether to purchase foundry type or Monotype, cast by the font. It is impossible to gather data concerning the wearability of one as compared to the other. In a few types, such as angle-bodied scripts, foundry is the only answer if the printer wants such faces, but in the many types of standard design which are available in both Monotype and foundry, the printer himself must decide.The tin, antimony, and copper content of the foundry type is a factor in wearability, of course, but the many plants operating Monotype equipment (such as Thompson and Giant Casters) particular­ly for advertising composition, do make type having a very high tin and antimony content.

The tin, antimony, and copper content of the foundry type is a factor in wearability, of course, but the many plants operating Monotype equipment (such as Thompson and Giant Casters) particular­ly for advertising composition, do make type having a very high tin and antimony content.The number of impressions obtainable from type is still a matter of

The number of impressions obtainable from type is still a matter of conjecture. It depends upon such variables as the kind of stock, the pigment of the ink, the press equipment, and lastly upon a very human element–the skill of the pressman.It may be conceded that foundry type will stand up better, but the printer must weigh against that generalization the dif­ference in cost, the source of supply (a definite factor when

It may be conceded that foundry type will stand up better, but the printer must weigh against that generalization the dif­ference in cost, the source of supply (a definite factor when type is needed in a hurry) and the method of operation.Is it any wonder that there is no single answer to such a simple decision as the types that should be in the shop? With these thoughts out of the way, it is now possible to suggest the types which may be selected, bearing in mind, of course, the variables touched on in these last two articles. While we may reduce these com­plexities by so-called engineering practices, the chances are that printers are in­dividual enough to forestall a very rapid change in standard practices. Next month, then, we’ll try to get down to actual cases.

Is it any wonder that there is no single answer to such a simple decision as the types that should be in the shop? With these thoughts out of the way, it is now possible to suggest the types which may be selected, bearing in mind, of course, the variables touched on in these last two articles. While we may reduce these com­plexities by so-called engineering practices, the chances are that printers are in­dividual enough to forestall a very rapid change in standard practices. Next month, then, we’ll try to get down to actual cases.

This article first appeared in the January 1957 issue of The Inland Printer.

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