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Typography and information layout

Created by: Pablo Cosgaya In collaboration with: Julieta Goluscio Reviewed by: Guadalupe Gomis – Natalia Pano
  Artículo en proceso de traducción

If we agree that information is the communication or acquisition of knowledge which allows us to increase or specify what we know about a certain subject, we will agree that the role typography plays in this process is fundamental.

Everyday, we find ourselves dealing with different kinds of information: journalistic (graphics and audiovisual media), instructive (handbooks, user instructions, installation guides, interactive screens), touristic (maps, guides and information booths), for events (screens, billboards), depending on the function each of them performs.

Likewise, the kind of information may be categorized depending on the media used to broadcast it: these could be audible (radio, loudspeakers), audiovisual (cinema, television, and internet) or printed (newspapers, magazines, leaflets). In the last years, we witnessed an outstanding growth of the media (internet, games, touch screens, control panels) where the users or intended audience can select from a repertoire of more or less limited possibilities.

Based on this, it is important to be aware that a very same message, when broadcasted through different kinds of media, changes depending on the corresponding communication technique, and thus the way it is perceived and decoded by the audience will also change.

Though information campaigns involve a wide media repertoire (many times combining different means), we will now focus on printed means and study some of its performance characteristics, especially those related to how information is treated based on typographic criteria.


Following the example we will practice in the workshop, the textual content of the informative leaflet is divided in three parts.

The first one is common to the rest of the pieces: name and identity of the event, basic information about place and date, together with sponsors’ identification. The visual arrangement and hierarchy criteria for each of these will be common to the rest of the pieces and will be part of one of the typographic programs that will result in the final system.

The second part is made up by general descriptions, i.e.: the description of the event and its topic treated and arranged according to its importance in the leaflet.

The third part is a group of twenty texts of the activities that will take place as part of the event. In each of them, we will also find four different levels of information: a) Subtopic, lecturer or speaker, b) Date and time, c) Room or specific place, d) A brief description of the activity. The first three should be completed and the specific characteristics of the event will be defined based on them. The forth is a text with a number of characters which cannot be changed.

Organization of the information

As we have already mentioned, the first two parts (the texts as to the identity of the event and the general descriptions) will be sorted out by following concepts which have already been practiced and the method for doing so will be left to each student’s own discretion. But the organization of the information provided in the third group of texts deserves a separate consideration.

First, we will distinguish the specific data for each activity (a, b and c), its description (d), however brief this may be. Here it is necessary to put ourselves in our audience’s shoes. To analyze whether it is convenient or not to delete repetitive textual information (the words «place», «date», «time», etc.) and to look for the most adequate manner of organizing the elements in such a way that access to the information will be as easy as possible.

The criteria for organizing these data are basically two: the organized succession of pieces of texts or the making up of a multiple-entry schedule where the data must be short and will make reference to the descriptions, which will be placed in a different part of the leaflet.

Graphic tools

If we decide on a succession of blocks of text, these will be organized and grouped according to the information they have in common (for example, the day the event will take place) and within them each element that composes them will be given a hierarchical position (as we have said: subtopic, lecturer or speaker; date and time; room or specific place; brief description of the activity.) Once the audience has read and decoded how hierarchies are defined in one of the blocks of text, he will understand how this criterion works for the rest.

If we choose the combination of timetable group of descriptions, we will once again get two elements: a chart with short data (the schedule) and a succession of pieces of variable length. This succession will have less «accidents» than the succession in the previous option, but at the expenses of the need to be combined with a schedule.

In order to solve the schedule, before working with a huge number of blocks of text, it is convenient to use the tabulation tools and to apply them to the whole group of elements. Thus, by changing a variable in tabulation, this will apply to all the elements it affects.

Other typographic and non typographic elements

The purpose of the descriptive leaflet can be improved by combining the typographic resources that we’ve just described with other elements and resources, such as the use of pictograms, miscellanies and chromatic codes.

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