Sentences: Introduction, absurd sentences, and first discussions

Going from letters to words, now it’s sentences. First, we had to make a nonsensical sentence to begin with. This was so that the meaning/concept didn’t distract us from the way we typeset the sentence. This is pretty much opposite of the last project (working heavily with the context and concept and the word).

  • Learning about type settings. Text – ongoing sequence.
  • I loved the idea of making ridiculous sentences. 
  • Instead of choosing we blindly picked words (like out of a hat).
  • My words:
  • absurdsentences1 absurdsentences2

Sentences I tried out.

  • The moon is yummy and crazy, but it wants to find a typewriter
  • A crazy typewriter wanted to find the moon, because it is yummy
  • The crazy typewriter is finding the yummy moon to be silly.
  • The crazy typewriter is secretly a moon and is very yummy.
  • The typewriter is secretly a crazy moon and is very yummy.  

The crazy typewriter is secretly a crazy yummy moon.

^ Got feedback on that one to make this one:

  • The very crazy typewriter is secretly a yummy moon.

Then, ravioli popped into my head:

  • The crazy typewriter is secretly a yummy moon that loves ravioli.
  • The crazy typewriter is secretly a ravioli loving yummy moon.


The crazy typewriter is secretly a yummy moon that loves ravioli.

Struggled more with the arabic sentence (not being an arabic speaker).

First translated each word:

أي ,فظيع ,كوخ ,معجون ,أسنان ,حصان ,انفجار

explosion, horse, tooth paste, hut, horrible, any

Then made the sentence in english:

Any horrible horse would want to make a hut explode with tooth paste

Any tooth paste would want to explode horses in horrible huts

Then wrote it out (because finding the letters on the keyboard is painstaking) and got it grammar checked.


Stuck to this sentence:

أي حصان فظيع يريد أن  يفجر كوخ بمعجون أسنان. 

Any horrible horse would want to make a hut explode with tooth paste

Next came typesetting both sentences in all the different types of fonts (like we did for the last project) using Indesign. Eman showed me an efficient way (using master pages) to get the task done. And to click on the textboxes (that were set on the masterpage), the shortcut –


-Finished Typesetting all my words, only one font in the arabic (adobe arabic) had the swash option.


Tested all the fonts in English with small caps and without. This weird thing also happened, when I made the sentences small caps:


The letter that was capitalised became weirdly larger and bolder than the rest of the sentence. I had to go back and make it lowercase to adjust for that weirdness.

Considered going through entire family, but decided that one student (my friend) doing it would be enough to see and pick a typeface (this way all of us wouldn’t have to print loads of pages). 

  • Put all the typeset sentences on the floor, each person picked a high vernacular and low vernacular from latin and arabic.IMG_6307

  • Placed 4 sections (high vernacular and low vernacular latin, high and low arabic) and compared different ways different types worked (how their form gave them meaning). Compressed fonts looked ‘creepy’. Serif fonts looked high vernacular most of the time. San serif fonts and ‘slab’ serif fonts, bold fonts looked low vernacular most of the time. The same way naskh looked more high vernacular in arabic.

A main point we discussed about type (that tugged at my brain) was: Legibility vs readability

Still unsure about it, what I’ve understood so far is that legibility is to do with whether the letters and words are distinguishable or not and readability is to do with how easily the words is read. It probably relates to how we read the shapes of letters, so even though all caps are legible, they’re not as readable as lowercase letters. < what I get.

Next we got a crash course in the ‘technicalities’ of typesetting and indesign:

  • point size (whole numbers – dot gain – blurry text when point size is not whole e.g 8.5 pts instead of 8) ems.
  • leading (distance between baselines) is also measured in points. 8 point type on 8 point leading = 8/8. first number=type size, second number=leading size. Number next to itself
  • set solid = 8/8 – square.
  • 8/6 = baselines could touch. < leading is less than point size. 
  • Type set at = 8/12, 9/10
  • To measure character length – how many characters on a line (count capital letters, punctuation and space). On average, character lengths are 55-6/75.
  • Specking type, testing how many characters on line.
  • Avoid hyphenations and broken lines
  • Tighten tracking (letter) and kerning (across sentence). (note: unless for emphasis?)
  • stretching and skewing is like fake italic.
  • Small caps always for dates/times/abbreviations (NASA, ATM).
  • Superscript, subscript, using baseline (in indesign) to adjust (but amount of adjusting depends on leading).
  • If you see names in quotation marks in copy – needs to be set off as emphasis (bold or italics). 
  • Put text that client has given in place of placeholder text.
  • Paragraph. Full justification – avoid rivers (unless using it for effect). Do not justify solid until comfortable with character spacing. (indenting). 
  • After deciding character – work with character stylesheets, swatch options to change colors. header, body. (note: Look up nested stylesheets later)
  • typesetting.typography.indesign.absurdsentences3
  • Orphan vs widow – orphan (all by himself – at the bottom of paragraph). Widow – at the end of paragraph (note: ???????????????) Never did get the difference between these, even in school. Still don’t get it.
  • So while doing process  I googled and got these definitions according to wikipedia: 
    • A paragraph-ending line that falls at the beginning of the following page or column, thus separated from the rest of the text.
    • A paragraph-opening line that appears by itself at the bottom of a page or column, thus separated from the rest of the text.
  • Sort of get it.
  • I see what they meant by this project not being as fun and hands down

typeset in Indesign not photoshop.


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