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Subject: Re: Invitation to Sean
From: Gunnar Swanson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:TYPO-L Discussion of Type and Typographic Design <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 17 Aug 1998 14:25:11 -0700

text/plain (62 lines)


The clause "it's rare for designers to do this" is understood by reasonable
readers to mean that it is not accepted practice when accompanied by the
contrasting "non-designers do it all the time." If I said "it's rare for
well adjusted people to have an obsession with type but sexual deviants
often do" it would be unreasonable to assume that the first statement was a
statistical observation and the fact that the latter was in the same
sentence was happenstance.

As far as I can tell, the most basic communication problem in this exchange
was a common one for this list--the statement of a broad rule based on a
narrow inference. Most commonly (and, I believe, in this case) it is
someone thinking "x is rare/wrong/problematic in the context of traditional
typography for books meant to be read in a particular manner" but saying "x
is bad typography." The more general statement is often silly and can be
taken as offensive to those who commonly practice whichever "x" is being


At 10:58 AM -0700 8/17/98, Sean Cavanaugh wrote:
>Gunnar wrote:
>> At 10:21 AM -0700 8/14/98, Sean Cavanaugh wrote:
>>>  Yup. In print I can't think of a good reason to ever use boldface type
>>>for emphasis. I think it's rare for designers to do this, but non-designers
>>>do it all the time.
>> Loosen up, Sean. I think I qualify as a designer (made my living at it for
>> almost twenty years, have an MFA in graphic design, have taught at various
>> universities and art schools, several dozen design awards . . .)
>  Hmmm... was there some text in there I formatted with the INVISIBLE or
>HIDDEN commands? 'Cuz I'm like looking at it right now, and I just don't
>see anything in there about *only* non-designers mixing boldface text...
>  Far be it from me to be an authority on what I said (that's Hrant's job),
>but I *think* my point had something to do about it being rare for
>designers to mix boldface text within body text, although non-designers do
>it all the time. I also think, based on what I said (again, you'd have to
>ask Hrant to be sure), that *I* don't like the practice of mixing boldface
>text for emphasis. Like maybe it was a matter of personal taste or
>something like that. If you (and Beth and Francois) think my comment is the
>logical equivalent to "anyone who uses boldface text for emphasis within
>body text is a non-designer," then could you please point out to me how you
>arrived at that conclusion so I can adopt a different writing style,
>perhaps a more imaginative one (Francois!), to better serve you in the future?
>  Left to loosey, right to tighty,
>- Sean

Gunnar Swanson Design Office
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Davis CA 95616

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