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Re: Character Style: Was: Subscript problem


Curtis Clark <[log in to unmask]>


Discussion of Type and Typographic Design <[log in to unmask]>


Sun, 7 May 2000 09:58:17 -0700





text/plain (37 lines)

At 07:54 AM 00.05.07 +0000, Rodger Whitlock wrote:
>Modern digital typography (and the other non-metal technologies) took
>several steps backward, sacrificing the refined subtlety of metal
>type for convenience, speed, and lowered cost.

I have been following this thread on the shortcomings of digital type, and
although I agree about the consequences, I have a different take on the
cause: I think a big part of the blame can be laid at the feet of Adobe and
Macintosh. Desktop computers started out replacing *typewriters*, not
typesetters, and the results with daisy-wheel printers were arguably an
improvement, both in appearance and ease of use. Postscript upped the ante
quite a bit, but considering (1) the power of processors at that time, and
(2) the inherent limitations of glyph-coded 8-bit character sets, desktop
publishing got off on decidedly the wrong foot. Many of the people using it
(and I include myself at the time, and perhaps still) were influenced by
the typewriter model, and were thrilled just to have proportional faces. So
in a sense it was not a step back from 500 years of printing, but a step
forward from 100+ years of typewriting. Unfortunately it bore a superficial
enough resemblance to printing that the two disciplines forcefully
converged (or alternately, printing disappeared, and was replaced by
computer-enhanced typewriting).

Technologically, the fix is in the queue: OpenType (I wonder, will we now
need to kern the "nT" combination) supposedly will allow automatic glyph
substitution so that setting a subscript in Word, much less InDesign or
Quark, will select the appropriate weight. But the font has to include that
weight, and the application has to invoke the substitution. For my part, I
hope it comes to pass that an ordinary word-processor program five years
from now will *default* to the typographic "tricks of the trade" that
culminated those five centuries.

Curtis Clark
Biological Sciences Department Voice: (909) 869-4062
California State Polytechnic University FAX: (909) 869-4078
Pomona CA 91768-4032 USA [log in to unmask]

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