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The Rhetoric of Typography: The Persona of Typeface and Text

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Practitioners typically agree that typefaces have personas, and they often suggest specific personas for specific typefaces, but these guidelines rely on craftlore rather than on empirical evidence. Research on typography has focused primarily on readability and legibility issues; there have been few studies investigating the personas of typefaces. There is a clear gap in the research. With the increased flexibility in design that comes with more sophisticated desktop publishing technology, with an ongoing shift from printed to electronic documents, and with a growing emphasis on visual communication, this gap is becoming increasingly important to the field of technical communication. The studies discussed here provide strong empirical support for the notion that readers ascribe personality attributes both to typefaces and to text passages. The data provide a foundation for investigation of the interactions between typeface and text persona.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2003

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  • Technical Communication, the Society's journal, publishes articles about the practical application of technical communication theory and serves as a common arena for discussion by practitioners. Technical Communication includes both quantitative and qualitative research while showcasing the work of some of the field's most noteworthy writers. Among its most popular features are the helpful book reviews. Technical Communication is published quarterly and is free with membership.
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