Elements of Typographic Style Applied to the Web

§ Typography · CSS techniques

I’m really pleased to finally announce the release of a brand new website, The Elements of Typographic Style Applied to the Web, or Web Typography for short.

It could be said that in the print world, the role of the typographer is diminishing. On the web, typographers don’t even get a look in. For too long typographic style and its accompanying attention to detail have been overlooked by website designers, particularly in body copy, and it’s the neglect of body text that I’m really trying to address. In years gone by this could have been put down to the technology, but now the web has caught up. The advent of much improved browsers, text rendering and high resolution screens, combine to negate technology as an excuse.

Robert Bringhurst’s book The Elements of Typographic Style is on many a designer’s bookshelf and is considered to be a classic in the field. In order to allay some of the myths surrounding typography on the web, I have structured this website to step through Bringhurst’s working principles, explaining how to accomplish each using techniques available in HTML and CSS. The future is considered with coverage of CSS3, and practicality is ever present with workarounds, alternatives and compromises for less able browsers.

Web Typography is a work in progress by design. I am adding to the site in the order presented in Bringhurst’s book, one principle at a time. There are currently five principles written up and I hope to add one a week. You can subscribe to an RSS feed for notification of new additions.

Web Typography is one of those projects that has laid dormant for months, awaiting the final polish before release. The final polish never arrived – instead I decided to get it out there and add things like search and an index when I can get around to them. If you come across any glitches or have any suggestions please add a comment to this post.

I’d also love to know what you think of the design. It tried to base it on the book and let typography be the design. As such the navigation is ‘unconventional’ as someone kindly said – I think it works though. No doubt the liquid design will get some people’s goat, in which case you might like to read 2.1.2 Choose a comfortable measure. I am also concerned the text may be a bit too small – what do you think?

I should also add that Robert Bringhurst has nothing to do with the site. I wrote to his publishers nearly a year ago to explain my intentions and ask permission to use the extracts, but I got no reply. I think it amounts to ‘fair use’ anyway, but I thought it polite to ask.