Leading

Leading is the spacing between lines of type. Especially in larger works like books and magazines, the calculation of this blank space is of great importance for the legibility, beauty and economy of the composition.
(Jan Tschichold, 1991:136)

Leading is an important factor in deciding whether a particular width of column will be pleasant to read. The great masters of typography such as Caslon, Baskerville, Didot, Ehmcke, Tschichold, etc., paid particular attention to leading.
(Josef Muller-Brockmann, 1996:35)

One is not always conscious of the fact that different typefaces require different leading. Single lines set in the more robust Fraktur, Schwabacher and some display types must be set tightly (larger sizes spaced even closer than three-to-em) lest the lines fall apart. Nor do these dark scripts tolerate much leading. They have to create an impression of compactness. This observation is also valid for older roman faces such as true Garamond, although here a little more leading usually does no harm. The situation is quite different when we consider the younger or neoclassical roman and Fraktur scripts of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, like the Bodoni, Didot and Walbaum romans, and Unger Fraktur. Compressed, they do not look good at all. They demand plenty of leading. It is not possible to convert a fine page set in Garamond into a Bodoni page without doing damage; the latter will likely require more leading.
(Jan Tschichold, 1991:137)

Leading calls for just as close attention as the width of the lines. For, like lines which are too long or too short, leading can also affect the type area and hence the readability of the text. Lines that are too narrowly set impair reading speed because the upper and lower line are both taken in by the eye at the same time. The eye cannot focus on excessively close lines so accurately that one line alone is read without the immediate surrounding area also entering the visual field. The eye is distracted, and the reader expends energy in the wrong place and tires more easily. The same also holds true in respect of lines that are too widely spaced. The reader has trouble in linking up with the next line, his uncertainty grows, and fatigue sets in earlier. Good leading can carry the eye optically from one line to the next, giving it confidence and stability, and enabling it to absorb and remember more easily what has been read.
(Josef Muller-Brockmann, 1996:34)

Comfortable legibility is the absolute benchmark for all typography – yet only an accomplished reader can properly judge legibility. To be able to read a primer, or indeed a newspaper, does not make anyone a judge; as a rule, both are readable, though barely. They are decipherable. Decipherability and ideal legibility are opposites. Good legibility is a matter of combining a suitable script and an appropriate typesetting method. For perfect typography, an exhaustive knowledge of the historical development of the letters used in printing books is absolutely necessary.
(Jan Tschichold, 1991:22)

Typography that cannot be read by everybody is useless. Even for someone who constantly ponders matters of readability and legibility, it is difficult to determine whether something can be read with ease, but the average reader will rebel at once when the type is too small or otherwise irritates the eye; both are signs of a certain illegibility already.
(Jan Tschichold, 1991:29)

In order of importance, legibility and clarity have to come first.
(Jan Tschichold, 1991:34)


Muller-Brockmann, Josef. (1996). Grid Systems in Graphic Design. Niggli.
Tschichold, Jan. (1991). The Form of the Book: Essays on the Morality of Good Design. Vancouver: Hartley & Marks. Original edition, 1975.


Beatriz Sapata   7667   turma A

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