Why Type Doesn’t Matter Anymore

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Typog­ra­phy is one of my favorite things. I love look­ing at type, read­ing about fonts, and study­ing lay­out. But type doesn’t mat­ter any­more.

Type doesn’t mat­ter any more because it’s no longer about type and all about the writer. And hon­est­ly, that’s a real shame.

Type used to be a set-apart skill focused on the reader

For years, the abil­i­ty to set type was a skill, a task set-apart from com­pos­ing lan­guage. A type­set­ter would choose the per­fect face for the text AFTER the writer had com­posed, edit­ed, and polished—making expert deci­sions for the read­ing expe­ri­ence. Con­sid­er­ing white­space, lead­ing (space between lines), and lay­out was not the job of the writer, but the task of the type­set­ter.

Then, tech­nol­o­gy changed every­thing. Tech­nol­o­gy allowed writ­ers to simul­ta­ne­ous­ly set type AND com­pose words, at the same time.

Steve Jobs and his ideas

Steve Jobs stud­ied cal­lig­ra­phy and typog­ra­phy at Stan­ford before he (and many oth­ers) built the Mac­in­tosh. When he looked back and con­nect­ed the dots in his famous com­mence­ment speech, he real­ized his love of beau­ti­ful fonts is what led to dig­i­tal fonts for every­one.

Steve Jobs is the rea­son we have great—and bad—fonts on our com­put­ers and phones today, and that’s why type doesn’t mat­ter any­more.

Yes, it’s sad.

It’s no longer about the type & all about the writer

It doesn’t mat­ter because it’s no longer about the type. It’s no longer about what is best for the read­ing expe­ri­ence or what will work best for the sto­ry.

It’s about the writer, their per­son­al pref­er­ences, and doing they want.

It used to be that we need­ed, tru­ly NEEDED some­one skilled to make a bunch of tiny deci­sions about how much lead­ing to put between each line and type size and weight would work best for the page and thus the read­ing expe­ri­ence for the read­er.

Now, we can do it our­selves. It’s easy…efficient…effortless.

It used to be that a small col­lec­tion of care­ful­ly designed let­ters were reserved for com­plete, fin­ished work, ready for pub­li­ca­tion.

Now, typog­ra­phy is air. It’s ubiq­ui­tous, some­times unclean, then instant­ly every­where.

The ubiq­ui­ty of typog­ra­phy is a tremen­dous feat of design and engineering—so the fact any­one can set type with a device in their palm isn’t a bad thing. But it just means there’s more noise than ever—and proof that only those who do work that mat­ters will get noticed.

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