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Intentional Typography in Dynamic Systems

Reading increasingly occurs on digital devices in dynamic systems: websites, ebooks, and screen sizes numbering the thousands. How can we practice great typography in the face of ever-changing technologies, the content itself, and even page sizes? Beyond picking some web fonts, many designers have become lazy and given up.

Through better font selection, OpenType features, the adoption of available techniques in CSS, and available helpers, we can achieve digital typography that is as compelling as the best printed books. We can even make it work across all the screens upon which our readers will encounter our work, but it requires care. Some techniques work automatically (like proper quotation marks or the avoidance of orphans), but others (like adjusting typographic scales as the screen size changes) need thought and planning. If we want to preserve the art of great typography and the extent to which it influences the reading experience, we simply have to learn. As we mastered metal type, phototypesetting, and use of the computer itself, we must learn the medium of digital systems. If not, we risk losing the art of great typography forever.

Check out some variable font demos here (with a link to download the source code!), with examples from CJ Dunn and David Jonathan Ross. Type designers and foundries: let me know if you’d like to have your variable fonts included as well!