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Simulating the Appearance of Traditional Print — 7 Comments

  1. Nicely explained Dave. As a type designer AND a letterpress printer, I appreciate a book designer who attempts to understand such things.
    Of course, these days, the vast majority of letterpress is done with digital type, using photopolymer plates. There is no reason to attempt to emulate letterpress printing if the plate will in fact be printed letterpress! However, there are many characteristics of digital type which do demand special attention in this medium. In particular, I highly recommend using an optically scaled type family (as you note), since particularly at small sizes, a single-size-master face will tend to lose the points completely (ie, periods, commas, i-dots, accents, etc)
    In an optically scaled “caption” font, the points, serifs, thin-lines, weight and width have all been adjusted to read properly at 6 points or below (I do a lot of business cards at slowprint.com)

    Glad to find your site, it’s a great resource!

  2. Interesting article thank you Dave. I well remember the days of hot linotype print used for the journal I edited and liaising with the government printer and chatting to Mr Leadbetter, (his real name!), the linotype operator. I can still see the steaming vats of ink.
    Freelance Editor, Copyeditor and Proofreader – speciality editing for ESL writers.

  3. I have long needed to invest in some real fonts for my books. My mystery series all have a similar enough feel that I could choose a signature font, one that readers would start to unconsciously associate with me, and which would add a valuable aesthetic to my work.

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge of the industry, both old and new. Good stuff.

  4. Great article Dave – typography is one of the few ‘modern’ sciences where you neglect the ‘art’ at your peril and illustrates the case that digital technology is an enhancement and not a replacement of the old skills. It may be easier to teach now, but to be a great typographer is still very much about the ‘feel’ where instinctive technique is sometimes a better guide than knowing what calculated parameters to apply.
    New dogs should never be above learning old tricks! 😉

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