Paragraph: Intro and initial experiments

We began by discussing how this project lead on from all our previous projects. We went from letters, to words, to sentences, so now it’s only logical that we look at how to typeset paragraphs.

The end goal is, for the absolute final project of the semester, that all the projects we’ve done so far will be combined into one final A1 scaled poster.

The composition needs to have an engaged reader.

Things we’d discussed and we’d be experimenting with:

  • basic indent; indents  (no tab button)
  • line space ; long paragraph (not indent and line space – redundant)
  • Outdent (Hanging indent); experimental/poetic composition ( effect)
  • Alignment
  • cultural associations
  • Metric kerning – designer chosen
  • Optical kerning – ?
  • Baseline grid – optically nice. Some designers use it all the time, some not
  • Hard and soft return: depends on preferences (hard)
  • soft – shift+return.
  • n dash (connnect  values in a range e.g 1992-2000), m dash (emphasis and pause)
  • hyphen (between words or at a line break)
  • minus is separate from the above 3
  • Don’t overuse drop caps. But explore

So I didn’t know what ‘type measure‘ meant. Turns out it was just another way of saying character length. Why does there have to be two ways of saying it…

Ok, so the task was to find an Arabic and English paragraph, expressing the opposite idea of the word from Project 2 (euphoric vs miserable).

Except I couldn’t just find any old paragraph. We had to look in old familiar places. Books, stories, fairytales, The Quran, The Prophet by Khalil Gibran, Sayings, Joha, Rumi, 1001 nights.

I have a personal liking for the 1001 Arabian nights stories, so I started with that. Used search terms like: 1001 nights ‘sad’, 1001 nights ‘misery’

Found this:typographykhalilgibrantheprophetparagraph00001

^ The word count is too less

Then there’s Khalil Gibran’s Joy and Sorrow chapter from ‘The Prophet’. I’ll try to find the arabic translation for this and use it (since me trying to find something nice in arabic would be a struggle because of my limited arabic language skills) if I can’t find anything better.

On Pain (khalil Gibran) (less than 100 words):


Not sure how authentic this is:

People who are sad,
know not from where that sadness comes.
People who are happy,
know not from where that happiness comes.
People who search to the left,
or to the right,
know not the left from the right.
People who always say, “I and mine,”
know not what is “I”
nor what is “mine.”~Rumi

But either way, it isn’t completely to do with sadness or misery.

Poems touching on sadness (Edgar Allen Poe):

From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were—I have not seen
As others saw—I could not bring
My passions from a common spring—
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow—I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone—
And all I lov’d—I lov’d alone—
Then—in my childhood—in the dawn
Of a most stormy life—was drawn
From ev’ry depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still—
From the torrent, or the fountain—
From the red cliff of the mountain—
From the sun that ’round me roll’d
In its autumn tint of gold—
From the lightning in the sky
As it pass’d me flying by—
From the thunder, and the storm—
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view—

Trying to find the Arabic translation of Joy and Sorrow. It was so difficult to find!:

Tried finding something similar to it, but even that was difficult (Tears and Laughter by Khalil Gibran).

Used google translate so that I could use keywords to search with for the official translation:



On of many false leads:



Tried searching the title in arabic:


Finally found it, downloaded it from a website.

typographykhalilgibrantheprophetparagraph00011  typographykhalilgibrantheprophetparagraph00014   typographykhalilgibrantheprophetparagraph00017

Turns out it was a scan so I couldn’t copy and paste it and just start working.

Dreaded spending an hour+ on just typing it out. My friend (Eman!) helped by typing it for me (took her 10 minutes).

Made changes on how the speech was shown in arabic:


So that it looked similar to the English (without the brackets around the speech)

Ok. I need to experiment with A5, A4, A3 (horizontal+vertical). 6 different page layouts. I set myself the goal of 5 for each (4 is probably more realistic). Here goes:

Counted a 65 character length for the first line. Didn’t like the break of ‘was’. Added ‘invisible’ breaks (?) and then it just looked weird. Cutting the line shorter (down to ‘cup’) looked much better:typographykhalilgibrantheprophetparagraph00024

typographykhalilgibrantheprophetparagraph00025 typographykhalilgibrantheprophetparagraph00026

Annnd got reminded (by Eman) that we had to stick to A4. Master pages saved my life.

Spelling mistakes were present in the text I had copied from a website. Copy pasting needs proofreading.

Chose to let ‘are’ and ‘which’ remain at the end of lines, but forced words like ‘soothes’ and sorrowful’ to be at end of the line.

Picking between line breaks:


Throughout this process the punctuations in arabic were being a pain (fullstops and commas. Question marks were fine). I figured out a system where I could type them in english, midway of an arabic sentence (using the adobe arabic typeface). I also couldn’t do this at the end of a sentence, if I tried to, the english fullstop would jump to the beginning of the arabic line.


So I’d have to first have some type after the area where I want the punctuation to be:


The problem with the above was that I couldn’t put a fullstop at the end (there was no continuing text, so I typed some letters, changed their colour to white and kind of solved the problem (visually).


And I couldn’t just type english commas either, I’d have to copy and paste an arabic comma (because the two are different).

What line breaks looked proper to me (keeping in mind the character lengths). I let moments like وحين staying at the end of a line happen to not ruin the overall breaks (and not get an extreme ‘rag’):


I could understand the general meaning of words using the english counterpart, and past experience with studying Arabic (and google translate):


^So I let ‘once’ be the end of a line, instead of having ‘source’ at the end and splitting ‘مصدر بهجتك’.

Also, I couldn’t just put an invisible break (hard return?) after a comma (it would get sent to the beginning of the line)had to do the whole invisible letter thing:


Last line break was difficult. The breaks that made sense, ended up being too long or too short. Not being an arabic speaker I was hesitant when splitting بك‭ ‬على between 2 lines. I asked my friends if it was odd if I split them. Some said it didn’t, and I should split it at ma’ida, I told them how that made the line too long. Others said it looked fine. Decided to stick to the split (last one):

typographykhalilgibrantheprophetparagraph00043  typographykhalilgibrantheprophetparagraph00045



And experimenting with leading, fonts, sizes (trying to make the two paragraphs ‘match‘). Also kept the things we learnt about sentences in mind (intervals/quadrants/not too much etc). Later on experimented with highlighting (bold/italic) some words. Didn’t focus as much on indents and outdents (they weren’t needed in this case) and tracking (knew that typically it’s meant to be at 0 ). Didn’t experiment too much with alignments, it didn’t really look nice when I made the texts align the opposite way.

Didn’t like the way Yakout looked. Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 9.47.45 PM

Reminded me of textbook fonts (Helvetica seemed to go with it). Changed and experimented with a kufic typeface:

Experimented with ending lines at the same words in both languages, but sometimes it just didn’t read well (‘deeper that sorrow carves_into’ vs ‘deeper that sorrow _ carves into’):


Experimented with ending lines at the same words in both languages, but sometimes it just didn’t read well (‘deeper that sorrow carves_into’ vs ‘deeper that sorrow _ carves into’), sometimes the line length of that single line (note, could use this for effect) was too long. In the end, english was 2 lines more than arabic (which worked for what I wanted to experiment with):


I know we weren’t supposed to do this, but:

typographykhalilgibrantheprophetparagraph00051 typographykhalilgibrantheprophetparagraph00052

Experimented with different leadings, getting the type measure right. Aligned the combination of the chunks to the right side (was going to centre) since it starts with the arabic first (on top).


The rivers look somewhat similar in both the paragraphs (match) – especially in landscape where it looks like the rivers are flowing from one paragraph through to the next one:



So ugly. Ok maybe it’s not ugly (I have a high tolerance for ugly things –which might be why it’s hards for me to know when things are actually beautiful), but it definitely isn’t very readable. (legible but low readability?):



Indent, so that the first line of the english paragraph ends where the last line of the arabic begins (I thought this looked more cohesive):

typographykhalilgibrantheprophetparagraph00060 typographykhalilgibrantheprophetparagraph00059

I was going to italicise all the words that spelt sorrow, but the arabic only had a bold option, so I settled on consistency and chose to use only bold for everything that I wanted to highlight.

Also, not sure what’s happening with the translations, searched word by word in some cases…


As I was highlighting, I felt like emboldening sorrow was ‘redundant’, so I stopped and only highlighted the words that were emotive and hinted at sorrow

citation: The Prophet by Khalil Gibran (english and arabic).


The discussion we had about our experiments helped me see a lot of flaws in my experiments.

These were ones that I thought were getting somewhere because of my use of the intervals:


^ But they didn’t really break up the space in an interesting way.

These I though were interesting because of they way I’d joined the paragraphs and highlighted just one word (close to the centre in both paragraphs and an eye-catching word) and then highlighted all the words that alluded to sadness:


^ Again, all the text was all in one spot (even though it was on a ‘magic point) the chunk of text wasn’t dynamic. There was a lot of stagnant space. The rags were too extreme (I was focusing too much on the words at which the line was breaking, the natural line break, instead I should have made the visual breaks my priority). Also, too much highlighting was just distracting.

These were ones that didn’t work as well:

IMG_6676 IMG_6680 IMG_6685 IMG_6689

^Drop caps went a bit extreme. It didn’t work with arabic at all…


Although to be honest. From a visual perspective I like the way this one looks. Doesn’t read very well, but it looks like an interesting/irregular pattern:



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