There are a couple of things I’d like to show you this week. One is a relatively small but important step forward for the book project: supporting light modes (with user preference setting). The other is more important to me in this moment.

Self-reflection and education

In the days following George Floyd’s murder, while I listened/amplified/learned from how the Black community responded — donations and retweets only go so far. I read a fair bit, and am continuing to do more. …

Head-on photo of the front brake and head tube taken while riding
Head-on photo of the front brake and head tube taken while riding

My first week with an extraordinary new bike

A week ago I drove up from Providence to meet with Husam and pick up the bike. When I got there I still only sort of knew what to expect. We had decided on the gruppo (SRAM Red eTap AXS 12 speed, fresh from the source), the frame (he had exactly one left in my size), and (if he could find another set), Lightweight Meilenstein wheels. While we had talked generally about the rest of the components and trimmings, I know Husam well enough to know how he likes to work. I’d find out soon enough what he felt would…

This week is one I’ve been awaiting for quite some time. Really since before I even started this process. It’s also the first time I’m posting something that I know is broken in a lot of browsers. But where it works properly, it works really well and I kind of love it. This week, we go from simply putting text on the web to making it feel like a book.

I’d had the idea that something like this might work for quite a while, but there were too many missing parts. Finally about a year and a half ago my…

This week has a big update to the typographic scaling that features some very new CSS about which I’m pretty excited. It’s featuring a new way of defining low, scaling, and high values for things like font-size that removes a bunch of complexity from how I was handling this before. What I appreciate is that we can keep the different sizes we have defined so far for small, mid, and larger size screens — and just layer in the new scaling technique where it’s supported (which is pretty much every shipping browser these days). We’ll right away have font-size and…

Last week we added web fonts to our project — both static and variable versions. This week we’re going to add font loading management and style our fallback fonts. I first wrote about some of these ideas and techniques back in 2011 for Monotype’s blog, and they’re still relevant today. This is also the first time in the project that we’re adding JavaScript to the mix. I point this out so you can understand the motivation in my own philosophy about web typography. I want to focus efforts on doing as much as possible with good HTML and then CSS…

This is a big week for the project. While it was an important step last week to establish some basic responsiveness, we couldn’t really nail down the typography until we added the typeface. Too many aspects of the feel, proportions, and overall ‘color’ are tied not only to the specifics of the typesetting values, but also to the typeface itself. It’s important to remember that not only are we working with spacing around letters and words, but the typeface choice involves looking closely at the spacing inside the letters, and finding balance between the two.

Introducing Literata (v3)

This week we’ll be adding…

The feedback I’ve received over the past week has been amazing, and matches my own excitement about this project. I’ve spent a lot of time researching, writing, and teaching about creating better typography for reading on digital devices over the years. This is the chance to put it all together and focus on the whole reading experience beyond just the typesetting.

The cover of the Rockwell Kent version of Moby Dick
The cover of the Rockwell Kent version of Moby Dick
I was really excited to find a copy I could afford on eBay!

I also tracked down and bought my own copy of that Rockwell Kent edition on eBay and picked up what might be the most perfect domain name for the project I could imagine.

Let’s be honest: what top level…

I don’t know when it was I started using the text of Moby Dick in my workshops and talks. Likely it dates back to some of my earliest explorations of web typography. Since it’s out of copyright, it’s one those texts you can find online in various forms, and somehow that became one of my standbys. Then at some point my friend Bil let me borrow his 1930’s Rockwell Kent edition and it really captivated me. The typesetting is straightforward, but combined with such wonderful illustrations it just sat there in the back of my brain, waiting, nudging.

Rockwell Kent illustration of a whale breaking the surface of the waves
Rockwell Kent illustration of a whale breaking the surface of the waves
One of Rockwell Kent’s many captivating illustrations

Every year…

This week’s issue took a bit of a meander. I started thinking I might make another Google Fonts API tutorial. But part way through that I got another email from International Poster Gallery celebrating the work of Swiss designer Herbert Leupin. One in particular caught my eye: Tribune De Lausanne, 1955 — one of his most popular works. It beautifully captures the message that one should start their day with coffee and Le Tribune.

Herbert Leupin poster featuring a coffeepot and the Tribune
Herbert Leupin poster featuring a coffeepot and the Tribune
One of Leupin’s most sought-after works

The way the text is set inside the coffee pot grabbed me, and I started to think about masking and clipping again. I created a silhouette…

Travel advertisement poster for Rio
Travel advertisement poster for Rio
A beautiful example of mid-century poster design

Inspiration has struck yet again in the form of an email from International Poster Gallery in Boston. I love vintage travel posters, and this Rio advertisement by Joa circa 1950 really grabbed me. The big graphic use of type as compositional object and mask, the strong diagonal interpretation of the boardwalk at Copacabana Beach, all emerging from a luscious deep blue. It’s a really beautiful design.

Aside from just looking good, the techniques that really intrigue me are the combination of using a super heavy typeface as a mask for a secondary image, and skewing the text with a perspective…

Jason Pamental

designer, tinkerer, typographer, speaker., author:Responsive Typography ( walker of @aProperCollie & @inImproperCollie

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