Designing the candidates

David MilibandEd BallsOnly two Labour leadership statements have arrived so far, and at this point a Miliband leads Ed Balls in the design stakes.

DM’s is clean, using white backgrounds and green counterpoints to the necessary red highlights. Set in two recent sanserifs, with a simple grid, and printed on matt stock it declares ‘I’m careful with money, organized, and plain-speaking’.

Not so sure about EB’s effort – is that curious street-sign logo trying to channel EastEnders’s Albert Square and Coronation Street? A man of the people (well, soaps) and street-wise? It’s printed on squeaky shiny stock, with over-busy ‘Polaroid’ photographs – and someone ought to tell Ed that nobody in the real world uses Georgia for street-signs!

Ask me another

Rob Waller recently mocked web security systems that demand you use their list of fatuous questions to provide ‘memorable answers’ to prove that you are you, and not a Turing machine. His point was that the questions seem more suited to the under-12s, rather than the over-50s who must be the only ones still stuffing money into these accounts. Here’s my contribution, from the normally sensible Nationwide:

It’s all Greek to me

The Woodstock Literary Festival’s website is currently under construction – so our old friend lorem ipsum gets another outing …

By the way, the label that this site leaves in your web browser history is ‘Oxford Literary Festival’, which is run by quite another newspaper altogether. But when you look at their website

New readers start here

When times change, we have to learn new ways of reading. Currently, we’re learning how to cope with electronic texts, even though the support that they give to serious readers through their limited typographic palette is pretty miserable. At the turn of the seventeenth century, as the reformation finally turned England from a catholic country into a protestant one, new kinds of reading became possible, indeed, were required by law.

Connecting with scripture became a personal act of commitment to a text, not a social act, as reading the Bible in English replaced having chunks of it read to you, in Latin, as part of a collective ceremony. James Shapiro writes of the internalization of religious experience in 1599, and the confusion it caused. ‘[In] an imaginary dialogue, two churchgoing women [are] confused by all these changes: “Alas, gossip,” one says to her friend, “what shall we do now at church, since all the saints are taken away, since all the goodly sights we were wont to have are gone, since we cannot hear the like piping, singing, chanting, playing upon the organs, that we could before?” ’ The reformers’ answer was ever-closer study of the Bible, and printers declared how their editions enabled this.

‘ ❦ THE PRINTER to the diligent Reader.

‘Deare Christian Reader, to the intent that thou mightest the better enjoy the benefit of these notes or expositions vpon the New Testament: I thought it not amisse to declare vnto thee the vse of the same. And first, forasmuch as the quotations or citing of places of the Scriptures in the margent which direct to other places, conteining like phrase or sense, haue been so placed, tht none without great labour could find out the texts alledged, I have made these sixe severall figures or marks, ✣ ♣ ·.· ✜ ❉ , and haue set them aswel in the margent as in the text, so that thou mayest easily find that which thou desirest. For example, in the first worde of the first Chapter of Matthew is placed this first marke ✣ : looke out the like marke in the margent, and there thou shalt finde Luke 3.23. which place agreeth to this in Matthew: and so likewise thou shalt finde in the residue. But if many quotations belong to one place, word, or sentence, the first is onely marked, and those that follow vnmarked, appertaine to the same. And if it fall out that there be more then sixe directions in one columne, then is the first repeated againe, and the residue following in order as at the beginning: as it appeareth in the first columne of Matthew, where both in the text and margent also, they are all two times set downe, and the foure first repeated againe.

‘The notes which are directed by the figures of Arithmeticke, as 1. 2. 3. 4. &c. thorowout the Euangelists and Acts, declare the effects of summe of the doctrine contained between one of the said figures, and the next that followeth: as for example, from the figure 1. in the first line and first worde of Matthew vnto the figure 2. in the 18. verse of the same Chapter, the doctrine there gathered is set down in the margent in this sort: 1 Iesus came of Abraham of the tribe of Iuda, and of the flocke of Davide as God promised. And in the Epistles in like sort they declare the methode and arte which the Apostles vse, and how euery argument or reason dependeth one vpon another: thesee figures are begunne againe at the beginning of euery Chapter.

‘Lastly, the Notes which goe by order of the letter of the Alphabet placed in the text, with the like answering them in the margent, serue to expound and lighten the darke wordes and phrases immediatly following them. As in the first line and second worde, the letter, a, being referred vnto a, directly against him in the margent, sheweth that this worde, Booke, signifieth A rehearsall as the Hebrews vse to speake: as Genes. 5.1. The booke of the generations. These letters beginne at the beginning of euery Chapter, continuing vnto z. and so beginning againe with a, if there be so many Notes that they do exceede in number the letters of one Alphabet. This haue I faithfully done for thy commoditie, reape thou the fruit, and giue the prayse to God.


The New Testament. Imprinted at London by Robert Barker, 1610/11 (Aaa2r)
James Shapiro, 1599: a year in the life of William Shakespeare, London: 2005 (p. 171)

The (beautiful) numbers game

And now I see the Dutch have rather nice square Wendingen/Rietveld/De Stijl-inspired numbers on their shirts.

Photo: Guardian

Where’s the world book capital this year?

There’s still time to enjoy sunshine, books, and letters – not to mention a Zlatorog beer – in Ljubljana, World Book Capital 2010; the Festival of Letters site is here.

The information design series at the Architecture Museum continues after the summer (you take a 20 bus to Fužine – Ljubljana’s equivalent to the middle of nowhere – and then walk to the Castle).

In the picture, taken from Jože Plečnik’s Castle Tower, and looking over the curve of the Ljubjanica: (foreground, centre-right) Plečnik’s Tromostovje (Triple Bridge), behind it Prešernov trg (Prešeren Square); in the centre of the picture, the square Nebotičnik (Skyscraper) is visible in the middle distance, just below the edge of the trees of Tivolski vrh (Tivoli Park).

No, don’t stop the carnival

Eynsham Carnival

This year’s Eynsham carnival, while not reaching the glory days of the 1970s (when half the Chatto & Windus editorial board would turn up to support local author Mollie Harris) was still a Grand Day Out, with fun-fair food, an American Civil War re-enactment, some distinctly art-less craft stalls, the jazz and beer tent, and a singing robot (see above).

Best by far among the craftspeople was Ros Long of By Hand Books, who showed beautifully made portfolios and sketch-books.

Class of ’10

Congratulations – more typographers arrive on the market! At least two of these graduating BAs will join us as MAs next year.