Development of editorial, typographic, and graphic style and standards for any or all of your firm’s communications and graphic presentations.
Combining editorial background with wide experience in typography and graphic communications production, I can anticipate the requirements of content, design, digital production, printing, and bindery, to develop standards that:
• maintain a consistent and appropriate corporate or brand identity throughout all your communications
• avoid common production problems (and many uncommon ones), and minimize error, misunderstanding, and the necessity for interpretation and improvisation by your staff and vendors—which helps ensure economical, on-time, and hassle-free production
• maximize the editorial, typographic, and graphic effectiveness of your communications, ensuring that your message gets across clearly, consistently, and without confusion or static
TYPOGRAPHIC STANDARDS include the selection of a typeface or a palette of typefaces for your communications, and the selection of the best source for those typefaces; the specification of type sizes and spacing (kerning, tracking, and hyphenate-and-justify parameters) to be used in the various elements of those communications; and instructions for the handling of special characters (such as scientific symbols) that are frequent causes for complaint by clients when used improperly by graphics vendors.
GRAPHIC STANDARDS include selection of colors or color palettes; color specifications such as tints, ink coverage, use of spot versus process colors, and color naming in production files (a common source of production problems); graphic handling of logos; and sizes, spacing, and proportions of standard design elements.
EDITORIAL STANDARDS include standards for punctuation, grammar, spelling, phrasing, etc., with particular attention to the terminology most often used in your firm’s communications. Correct treatment of trade names is also covered.
Styles will be developed based on a review of all graphic communications used by your firm, or to be used for the project in question.
Editorial, typographic, and graphic standards can be developed separately, or together as part of a comprehensive standards program. Standards can be developed from scratch, or existing standards can be updated, expanded, refined, and implemented with the appropriate documentation. Editorial standards documentation is usually in the form of a “style sheet”: an alphabetical list, like a dictionary, of words and phrases, with guidelines for their use; where appropriate, general editorial principles and procedures are also described. Typographic and graphic standards are typically implemented in the form of a “standards manual” or “visual identity manual”, a full-color production giving examples and guidelines for all elements of a firm’s graphic communications.
In addition to documentation, I can also develop PRODUCTION TEMPLATES in InDesign, Quark, Illustrator, or Photoshop. Templates are digital production files, to be used by your design and production staff, that are built to implement in advance (as far as this is possible) your typographic and graphic standards—and also general good production practices. They simplify the work of your staff, and help ensure that standards are followed correctly. (For more on templates, click here.)
Occasionally, the best solution involves customizing the fonts themselves: adjusting the kerning in the font, or modifying or adding characters. Special-purpose fonts containing logos, special symbols, etc. can also be created. Where appropriate, such modifications can make for major savings in production time, and much better-looking text. In some cases, I can do this work myself. In others, the best solution is to contract with a digital foundry for the fontware modifications, and I can apply my technical and typographic knowledge to co-ordinating that work with the foundry.
It’s relatively easy to be creative with display type. That’s because, in most cases, display type doesn’t have to do a whole lot more than be large and prominent, convey a certain "emotional" impression, and be more or less harmonious with the rest of the document. (Most, but not all, designers think it should look nice as well.)
Text type, and text and head type in multi-page publications, major ad campaigns, and corporate identity applications, has to do a far more complicated job of communication. Many more things are said in text than in display lines, and the demands on type are much more numerous, diverse, and complicated. And depending on the nature of the publication, type may also have to meet the needs of various business and technical specialties, and sometimes of multiple languages. In addition, some typefaces are not suitable for certain graphic applications, printing processes, or non-print displays. Different typefaces are best in different situations, and the choice requires serious technical knowledge of typefaces and of the technologies used to to put them before a reader.
That’s why, when choosing text and publication typefaces, designers tend to stick to a few proven standards—Helvetica, Times, the Garamonds (including Sabon and many others), Baskerville, Univers, Frutiger, and a few more. It’s good to have your publications stand out from the crowd. But designers have learned the hard way that attempts to get “creative” with text and publication typography are often disastrous.
Those old standards are standards for a reason, of course. They’re widely applicable, superbly designed, and they often are the best choice for a project—or, at least, as good as any others, and ready to hand. But there are many excellent typefaces that are almost never used. A few are as universally applicable as the standards. Others are as good or better than the standards for certain applications. A typographer with the necessary technical and aesthetic knowledge can choose the ones that will work for your project. And if you use them, your project will look and work as well or better than it would with the standards—but won’t look standardized.
And even if you're sticking with the standards, each of the standards comes in many versions, and some are aesthetically or technically inferior. Choosing the best requires a rare level of typographic knowledge. The best cut of Helvetica, for example, is still not widely used, even though changing technology means there are more reasons to use it every year. Poor-quality fonts are a frequent source of problems, and the problems can get a lot worse if you’re dealing with multiple languages.