Thursday, October 11, 2012

Too Ugly to Read

You can’t undo your awareness of something. Like when you hear a new word and then you start hearing it everywhere. People must have said it before you knew it existed, only you weren’t cognizant of it and therefore it didn’t penetrate your brain.

That’s how I feel about type sometimes—where I’m aware of how bad it is. I’ll be at the library and pick up a promising looking novel only to realize that the type inside looks terrible; the font is too heavy or too large or just plain wrong. Or the leading between the lines is too crammed so it’s uncomfortable to look at. It could be any number of things, but something about the type irks me to the point that I have to quickly shelve the book because I can’t stand to look at it.

How-to books (on crafts, sewing and knitting) sometimes make me sigh in disappointment. I’ll open a book only to be overwhelmed by how clunky and how difficult to read the directions appear…which only motivates me not to want to do it all. It can be quite depressing to look at type that is so blatantly bad and information so poorly organized (that I can’t help but wonder how the book got published at all).

The main focus of any book should be the content, but if the type isn’t right then it distracts me from that content to the point where I don’t want to read it at all. It may seem like a minor point, but it’s hard to ignore terrible type. As time passes I am less and less forgiving about the ugliness of things that could have been so easily fixed.

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