Friday, February 26, 2010

Copy Out The Window

I remember a client whose stationery bore the headline DON’T CHANGE A WORD, printed in red, all caps in 96-point Franklin Gothic Bold Condensed.

For that client it was “Copy out the window.”

However as a veteran typographer I have often had to take many liberties with copy; and in some instances I was granted permission ahead of time to do so.

So I would offer an alternate setting. It might simply be an abbreviation or deletion of a superfluous word. Or the breaking out of a new paragraph from a long paragraph. Or the running together of two short paragraphs into one.

For the printer/bookartist this is especially important in the writing of a prospectus or colophon—and especially, artist statement—where one is trying to arrive at both a succinct statement and one that is typographically elegant. Nothing worse than a poorly set artist statement with a lonely widow at the end of the graph.

This may seem like a cynical approach to writing, but you might already have taken the first step down that road in having agreed to write an “artist statement” in the first place.

That last comment notwithstanding here is a little How-To.

Let us say you want a justified copy block with the last line going full measure. Experienced typographers work backwards. That is, they rework the last line of the paragraph first, then work towards the front. By working in this fashion should there be a difficult line you can sometimes “bury” it in the center of the graph.

Also this allows you more liberty in revising copy. And especially so, if the last line of the paragraph is a killer line that must be maintained.

Or you may simply want to create a triangular shaped ending to drop in a tailpiece as the early printers were inclined to do.

You may not be Edgar Allan Poe but there is no harm in knowing how to achieve an effect. That way when you want to show your stuff you will actually be able to do it. Like a triple Lutz, for instance.

1 comment:

Kyle said...

Good tips Phil--what's your artist statement? KS