Magical floating typography


There’s something about letters that float with nothing holding on to them from behind or beneath. I’m not sure about you, but till this day, my mind does a double take before being reassured two split seconds later that they are in fact mounted to the patterned plane above.

Still you’ve got to admit that it is pretty magical.


Nicely done AFR

Today I spotted a rather nicely executed piece of typography. This is probably done many times over in news prints everyday, but this one caught my eye over breakfast and I thought it worth highlighting and celebrating.


Here we have a photo of the front page of the Australian Financial Review. Running down the left side of the page is a list of headlines. Two things to notice here.

  1. The headlines alternate between black and red making it easy to scan through the headlines.
  2. The names of the journalists as well as the page number for the related article remain in black.

Now consider the options for presenting such a listing.

  • Column 1 has everything in black. You get a wall of black text rather than 5 distinct headlines.
  • Column 2 alternates the whole chunk in black and red. While this distinguishes the headlines most effectively, the readability of the author/page number subtext for the red headlines are compromised.
  • Column 3 tries to maintain readability of the author/page number subtext, but now we’re not sure who wrote which piece. Is “QR chairman backs the team” by Fleur Anderson or Jenny Wiggins?
  • Column 4 (which is what the paper opted for) is genius. Let’s take a closer look.

Can you spot it yet? What the typographer at the AFR did was keep the alternating red/black, spell out the author/page number subtext in black readability goodness, but used the dot between author name and the page number to subtly hint to the reader that “QR chairman backs the team” was indeed written by one Jenny Wiggins and you can find the piece on page 14.

For many readers, this would have been the difference between a split-second double-take and being propelled to page 14 by a subliminal confidence afforded by a scarlet dot.