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Graphic Design for Writers

One or two
things about page
layout and typography
for writers and editors

Writing systems vary, but a good page is not hard to recognize, whether it comes from Tang Dynasty China, the Egyptian New Kingdom or Renaissance Italy. The principles that unite these different schools of design are based on the structure and scale of the human body—the eye, the hand, and the forearm in particular—and on the invisible but no less real, no less demanding and no less sensuous anatomy of the human mind.

Robert Bringhurst1

What other people think is beautiful I often do not, and what I have found beautiful, others often do not. There is a line from Jane Bowles’ play The Jumping Bean that resonates with me on this note: Gabriel has asked Beryl Jane to tell him what things she thinks are beautiful.

When she mentions snakes, he is baffled, and that is when she says, “You mean what beautiful things do I love that the world loves.”2

When I read Bringhurst and other graphic designers (Bringhurst is a poet, linguist, and typographer), I find that yes, there are things I love that the world loves, and some of these things are in the posts I write here.

These blog posts are written with writers and editors in mind because much of my earning-a-living work has been involved with words, even as I worked for many years as a video camerawoman and CMX editor. Writers have been my most frequent comrades-in-arms.

  1. Bringhurst, Robert. The Elements of Typographic Style, version 3.2. Canada: Hartley & Marks, 2008:10.
  2. Bowles, Jane. “At the Jumping Bean.” Feminine Wiles. Santa Barbara: Black Sparrow Press, 1976: 47.

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