Typesetting and typography have become misunderstood terms, if not obsolete, due to the proliferation of computers. Since every computer user has access to a myriad of typefaces and the ability to modify type through software, the true qualities of many typefaces have become unrecognizable. Therefore, it is incumbent upon people to seek out the information necessary to be competent in the area of design and typography. A well-designed type specimen is the first place to start for a user to reference typographic terminology and rules. Technical characteristics of typefaces such as tracking, font metrics, leading and unique recognizable characters could prove to be an invaluable tool for many people, not just designers. In addition to a type specimen being a subtle tutorial, it should also be educational. Computer technology has opened the door for many people and has increased their exposure to typefaces and typography. On the other hand, it has also led many to believe that by typing on the computer, they are setting type correctly. There are many rules and guidelines that should be followed to insure the correct usage of type, both aesthetically and typographically. And everyone - designers, printers, typesetters and the general public, need to learn and practice these rules and terminology to uphold the standards of typography that have evolved over the centuries. Type specimen books have been used for centuries, and due to the influx of technology, that same information is easily accessible on a computer. Many designers were initially reluctant to use a specimen on the computer. It did not seem as 'pure' as a type specimen book. The computer would add glitz and glimmer while sacrificing quality and quantity of information. But as more and more specimens became available on the computer, it became obvious that huge amounts of information could be included and continually updated, whereas it would be far too much to include in a book. A well- designed userfriendly specimen could be an invaluable tool to a designer. Many specimens, while being aesthetically pleasing, were not useful as a reference tool or educational aid. While everyone has their own reasons for wanting specific attributes in a specimen, these needs all begin to intermix and overlap, thusly forming a complex entity. Designers, printers and typesetters may all have different needs, but they all have one thing in common: everyone wants a useable and helpful type specimen book. An interactive type specimen is a necessary and valuable tool for any professional in the graphic industry. The ease of use, the ability to keep it updated, and the cohesive format make an interactive specimen useful to all levels of type users. Since printed material is outdated as soon as it is completed, an interactive piece has the flexibility to be continually updated - keeping the users up-to-date on the trends, news and information regarding type and typography.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Printing--Specimens; Type and type-founding
Department, Program, or Center
School of Print Media (CIAS)
McCreadie, Keli, "The Design and implementation of a virtual type specimen" (1999). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
RIT – Main Campus