presented at
2015 NEMA

Effective Typography: On Paper, On the Web and On the Wall, is among the featured sessions at the 2015 conference of the New England Museum Association at the Holiday Inn by the Bay in Portland, Maine. The session outline and presentation content for the Nov. 5 program are downloadable here, Seminar Outline & Bibliography; and Seminar Presentation Slides), and at the NEMA website,

A seminar view

The rationale:
What motivates
The Cranky

What follows is adapted from The Cranky Typographer's Book of Major Annoyances:

More than 30 years into the "desktop publishing" era, more people than ever have an awareness of typography. But despite the increased awareness, in recent decades there has been a general decline in the craft, i.e. the attentive composition of type for optimal readability and communicative function.

How did we get to this point? In hindsight, it appears that the craft of typography advanced through the 20th century, benefiting from revealing studies of readability and comprehension. The beginning of the "desktop publishing" era in the 1980s brought promise, but the craft of typography, then mostly transparent to the layperson, got trampled and left in the dust by the stampede to the personal computer. Since the 1980s, just about everyone with a computer on their desk has become a "designer-by-default," but usually with no training. The result has been over 30 years of do-it-yourself projects that so often never reached their potential because of deficiencies in typography and design. With the passage of years, plus new waves of computer users frolicking through their font lists, it is as if there has been a "Great Forgetting" of typography knowledge. By now this "Great Forgetting" has trickled down to the newest professionals in the field, because there are so few masters remaining to teach the craft.

An innocent ignorance. At present, ignorance of the craft of typography is evident among amateurs, and even professionals, but there is no blame assigned. One cannot blame someone for not learning a craft if that someone doesn't know the craft exists in the first place. This state of affairs has created a level of chaos in the field akin to what would happen if untrained pre-schoolers were allowed to go on a free-for-all with grown-up tools like chainsaws and jackhammers. Without training and judgment, the results will range from the ridiculous to the catastrophic. If we consider type to be a powerful tool, the tool that gives tangible shape to thoughts and ideas, it is clear that turning loose "tots with tools" is a bad idea. It is the alarm over this state-of-affairs, the shortage of no-nonsense guidance in the craft of functional typography, and an urge to provide assistance, that contribute to the rationale for writing the book and developing the seminar.

- Reginald W. Bacon
a.k.a. The Cranky Typographer

Presenting helpful books and seminars
for do-it-yourself writers & designers

The Cranky Typographer, R.W. Bacon, has come to the rescue with books and seminars to help individuals, workgroups, companies, and organizations improve the quality and effectiveness of their in-house, do-it-yourself design, printing, and Web projects.

The Cranky Editor, R.W. Bacon, (the same guy) also comes to the rescue with a separate book and seminar to help individuals and groups improve the quality and effectiveness of their in-house writing, editing, and Web content projects.

Whether your aim is to sell widgets or save the world, these two books and seminars will help you get better results from your do-it-yourself efforts.

At this website (1) you'll learn about the books, the seminars, and the author/presenter; (2) you'll be able to purchase the two-book set at a discount; (3) you'll find out how to arrange a seminar for your group or company; and (4) you'll learn how the author/presenter got so cranky in the first place.

Speaking of typography on the Web: Typography on the Web is still in its infancy, and as such, there can be no claim to typographical elegance on this or any website. Different screen proportions and resolutions on different devices can change the text flow and even the relation of graphic elements. There is no doubt that conditions will eventually rise above adequacy, but until then, appreciate the information you find here, and tolerate whatever clumsiness may tumble forth on your screen.

The Cranky Typographer's Book of Major Annoyances: Helpful Graphics Tips for Do-It-Yourself Designers. Today almost everyone with a computer on their desk gets pressed into service as a "designer-by-default" --- but without any training in the craft. In The Cranky Typographer's information-packed book and lively seminar, readers and attendees learn that there is more to typography than typing, and more to design than decoration. The author/presenter, R.W. Bacon, adopting an exasperated persona shaped by a long career as an editor and publication designer, first identifies the common missteps in typography and design --- the "Major Annoyances" --- and then, in his no-nonsense manner, explains how to avoid them. Hundreds of illustrative and entertaining examples, encompassing the good, the bad, and the hopeless, are derived from the author/presenter's five decades of varied real-world experience. Both the book and seminar illuminate the craft of typography and the still-current principles of functional, effective design.

The Cranky Editor's Book of Intolerable Fox Paws (Oops! Faux Pas!): Helpful Writing & Style Tips So You Won't Look Stoopid. This book is a planning guide, grammar coach, typographic stylebook, graphics tip-sheet, pep-talk, and a plea for literacy rolled into one. The author, R.W. Bacon, adopting the persona of The Cranky Editor, identifies --- in his no-nonsense fashion --- the common transgressions known as the "Intolerable Fox Paws" (faux pas). These are followed by the Fox Paw Remedies, with illustrative examples derived from the author's five decades as a journalist, writer, and editor. The aim of the book: To help motivated business and organizational writers address common troubles faced when preparing writing and printing projects. The lively seminar is full of laugh-out-loud examples of stultifying business-speak, deer-in-the-headlights usage errors, and foot-in-mouth punctuation. Along the way, readers and seminar attendees learn what they never knew about the craft of writing, editing, and typographic style.

You can begin "cleaning up your act" today! Interested and motivated do-it-yourselfers are welcome to take advantage of the 10 FREE Graphics Tips and the 10 FREE Editorial Tips. Don't let the crankiness scare you away --- These are categories of real insight for the motivated, not short-cuts to mediocrity, and they will improve the appearance and effectiveness of your work straighaway.

Enjoy exploring the website, and certainly if you have any questions about the books or seminars, you can contact the author/presenter directly at Variety Arts Enterprises.

Reginald W. Bacon has been a journalist, editor, graphic designer, and publication director for 50 years. He's seen a lot --- much excellence and too much junk. No wonder he's cranky.

For more information about the author/presenter's long and varied experience in the editorial and graphic production field, see About the Author/Presenter.

For an even more panoramic overview of professional background as seen through the familiar and standardized prism of LinkedIn, visit the Reginald W. Bacon LinkedIn page..