First Aid in Typography by H.P.Willberg and F.Forssman

While on a holiday in Poland recently I came across a book called ‘Pierwsza pomoc w typografii’ (‘First Aid in Typography’) by H.P.Willberg and F.Forssman. It is an essential guide to typography for beginners. The book is full of very straight forward examples making it easy to understand.


I like the way the illustration above explains how different positions of the same illustration can have different meaning.  The plane in the upper left corner looks like it is flying away,  but the example on the right looks like the plane is going to crash as the text in front of it looks like an impossible to overcome obstacle.

The second example with the gnome shows how the same illustration placed in different positions on a page can change its meaning. The gnome on the top of the block of text looks like it is celebrating a victory and it cannot contain its excitement, while the same gnome at the bottom of the page looks frustrated, angry and the image looks overwhelmed by the two blocks of text sitting on the top of it.


The example in the upper left corner in the image above shows how a portrait and illustration of a motorbike clash when placed together facing one another as they are so different and do not go together. When the motorcycle is moved to bottom of the page the two illustrations have enough space to coexist together without looking awkward.

It is interesting how the two portraits facing each other can mean a dialog even though they are two separate illustrations and the portraits are so similar in their form that they can be taken as one.  This can be avoided by putting them in two different positions and varying them in size.

There was a few examples in the book on the importance of correct spacing letters, words etc. and how incorrect spacing can make text look visually uneven.


The book also explained the use of fonts. I found it interesting how some fonts can make some letters look the same making reading difficult or how two different letters can merge into one. Characters can look so different depending on typeface used. We usually do not think about it as long as we can read the message, but there is so many ways a character can be written in.

These are just a few examples of the useful information I came across while reading this book.


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