View Full Version : Sliced letters

08-14-2005, 08:16 AM
I was so struck by this odd display type in today’s [14 August 2005] New York Times Magazine that I had to ask the rest of you what you think.

I am attaching a shot of the opening title plus two drop caps that appeared in the pages. (The hairline at left of the title was used to determine the depth of the paragraph indent and the byline below.)

Years ago, this magazine showed striking display types in its pages — each story had its own style. Made sense to me; each would have different sorts of illustration as well. You would often see typographic trends begin with the Magazine’s display type treatments.

Then in the mid-1990s they had an official great redesign, and all the display type was set in some weight/style of Cheltenham. That was boring. While I do not condemn Chelt out of hand as many do, it is definitely limited when presented at large sizes, with all its cellulite (as it were) on display.

But this? It looks sort of cool to slice off parts of characters — or subtle: I scarcely noticed the title when I first saw it. But the drop caps were utterly distracting.

Sure hope this isn’t a trend!

08-14-2005, 04:03 PM
Goodness! At first sight, it looks as if they've made a ghastly mistake.

08-14-2005, 04:18 PM
Continuation is a common design principle. The eye will complete partially drawn shapes ... up to a point. For me it works on the title as well. I wonder about the drop caps (if that is exactly what they are). For one thing, they are massive, and are used in intermediate paragraphs, not the first paragraph after a title.

I remember learning that a drop cap was a transition between a heading and the text, and thus would be an intermediate size, leading the eye from big type, to medium type (the drop cap) to small type (the text). In this case none of that is happening.

I am also bothered by the clip line that has been added, as well as the fact that space was left for the missing parts of the letters, as though they might show up later, so we have to leave room for them. I would love to be able to compare without those lines, and with the extra space removed, just to see if this is the bother ... it might not be.

Will it be a trend? It all depends on whether the design wins an award somewhere ... if it does, you will see it everywhere for a year until people realize that it is ghastly, not trendy.

Don McCahill

08-21-2005, 12:25 PM
"Ghastly, not trendy" about covers it for me. Though who can blame the perpetrator for trying to alleviate the typographical boredom.

08-21-2005, 01:31 PM
"Ghastly, not trendy" about covers it for me. Though who can blame the perpetrator for trying to alleviate the typographical boredom.This week he (or she) tries a different sort of typographic mutilation, taking a chunk out of letters: the bottom half of an I, the bottom of a t, the top half of the right stem of N, the bottom of the left leg of A.

Oh, well. At this rate, there is a limit to what can be done.