As computers become more abundant in the home and office, more people are performing tasks that once would have been done by a skilled professional. Computers and software programs have become easier to use, including desktop publishing programs. Programs are now available that allow anyone to "become a designer." Through this, however, most typographers agree, the typographic quality of documents has suffered. Many companies are now designing their own media, in an effort to save money. The documents they create are adequate, but there is something missing. Though they may not be able to explain why, most people can appreciate the appearance of the professionally typeset page. The goal of this thesis project is to make it easier for a non-professional to make typo graphically pleasing text pages. The basic rules of typography, without regard to fluxuating design trends, have essentially stayed the same for hundreds of years. Background research for this project was completed by studying historically significant typographic manuals of the last 300 years. Research began with Joseph Moxon's Mechanick Exercises (1694) and ended with the most recent edition of The Chicago Manual of Style (1993), one of today's most highly regarded manuals. From this background research, minimum and preferred software requirements for desktop publishing software applications were created. The purpose of these requirements is to encourage software manufacturers to incorporate more automation in regard to typography, as well as to encourage improved default settings in their software applications. The goal was to make the minimum requirements realistically achievable. Many of the minimum requirements are currently available in software programs; however, no one program contains all of the requirements. Each software program has strengths and weaknesses. From these lists of requirements, the specifications for the "ideal" software application were created. Through this "ideal" application, all of the best features of current software programs were brought together, in addition to a few innovative ideas. These specifications only relate to the typographic capabilities of the software, and do not include other areas such as color or image manipulation. Though these specifications could vastly improve on the quality of typography produced electronically, automated tasks completed by a computer will never produce the same results as a job done manually by a skilled professional. Computer programming is limited and many typographic rules cannot be adequately defined in a computer algorithm. Though perfection may not be attainable, improvement is possible.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Desktop publishing; Electronic publishing--Computer programs; Type and type-founding--History; Type and type-founding--Digital techniques; Layout (Printing)--Data processing
Department, Program, or Center
School of Print Media (CIAS)
Hill, Michelle, "The Creation of typographic specifications for desktop publishing software" (2000). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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