Whilst researching on the history of typography, it was important to know that even many centuries ago the letterform was created as a recognisable symbol (signifier) for language’s users. What is more, it is been suggested that the type styles identify the category of message and the groups to which its recipients and senders belong (Haley et al 2012). In other words, the letters inform the readers potentially more than the content itself. To be more precise, letterforms provide a full information about the person who sends the message, identifying its group, class and position.
Then, I have found a quote that from my perspective has a bit of controversial meaning.
- Rosenblatt (1994) stressed both the particularity of the evocation and the diversity of response because each reader brings a unique “cultural, social, and personal history of literary and life experiences to each unique reading event” (Pantalio, 2014, p.149).
Basically, I agree with the point that, depending on the background, each person has a set of symbolic associations, regarding the subject, and typography is not an exclusion from the rule. However, thinking of the argument that presents formatting as a signifier of a specific information I feel that symbolic value of some types have become a kind of ‘common sense’ notions that will be understood by majority in the same way.
Like if to consider the psychological effects of each type it can be quite visible.
From the image above it is visible that each type (serif, sans serif, display, modern, script) has its own identity. What is more, it feels that due to Internet that provides a fast access to tonnes of diverse information people are aware of these types’ characteristics and use it, depending on the communications intentions and purposes. However, the fact that this knowledge is quite basic cannot be rejected. Therefore, even if people are aware of the styles, existed in typography, and its meaningfulness, they cannot really define the difference between the fonts of the same category unless they have an expertise in it (Haley et al 2012).
Haley, A. (2012). Typography, Referenced: A Comprehensive Visual Guide to the Language, History, and Practice of Typography. 1st ed. Rockport Publishers.
Pantaleo, S. (2014). Elementary Students Consider the “What” and “How” of Typography in Picturebooks. New Review of Children’s Literature and Librarianship, [online] 20(2), pp.144-166. Available at: http://www.tandfonline.com.ezproxy.sussex.ac.uk/doi/pdf/10.1080/13614541.2014.929450?needAccess=true [Accessed 28 Sep. 2016].