Faith, Magic Roads, and Translation Issues

14 Feb

After much more than 3 hours (which is a whole other, full of colorful metaphors post), I think I have a better understanding of typography and embedding fonts.  But a lot of this is still so far over my head I feel like I have to just accept them without comprehending.  Thinking about it now, a lot of this is really straightforward.  I’ve just never thought about it before.

I used to live in an apartment complex that was just off and backed up to the highway.  The main entrance connected to major roads and it was easy to get to the highway.  But there was a back entrance by my unit that led to a little access road.  The road seemed far too short to get where it did, and even on the map, the road fell in between pages and only the two ends were visible.  We called it the “magic road” and just accepted on faith that it would take us where we needed to go.

James makes the point that if we’re going to understand it thoroughly, we need to understand not just the “how” but also the “why” of a rule.  I could not agree more.  If I know why a rule exists I am far more likely to remember the rule correctly.  I don’t accept things on faith, and having to do so makes me very uncomfortable.  I accepted the road on faith because I knew evenutally I would understand why my perceptions were telling me something different than reality.  But I’d been driving for years by then, and I understood the basics of road engineering as much as any other driver.  I have a really hard time accepting CSS rules on faith – I don’t have enough experience with code to understand why they’re designed the way they are.

I also have a hard time accepting design rules on faith.  CARP is handy, but it seems more of a guideline than a rule.  How much of design is personal preference?  Which fonts are “right”?  Using different fonts in my website will enhance it, absolutely.  As the designer, I get to pick whichever I want, right?  Wrong.  I need to pick a font that expresses what my site is about, brings to mind any attendant emotions or expectations I want my viewers to experience, and is still readable across several platforms.  Is it any wonder so many sites just use the default?

In high school and college I wrote poetry (and really, who didn’t?). I understood even then the power inherent in structure and visual orientation. I used different fonts and spacing to enhance the language. The same rules apply here. I can strike through text, change its color,

move sections to different parts of the page,

and               even                create

the          impression

of             a



I did all of this in my WordPress blog. So what makes webfonts so much better? I would say – not better, but different. There’s only so much we can do in something like WordPress. By accessing different fonts, we can communicate on a level other than the textual.  It’s part of translating our work from academic language to vernacular.

The other translation issue I’m having is getting it from my head to the page.  I would like to work with multiple fonts on my portfolio, but I’m just not technically there yet.  The idea is to have two different fonts – a swirly cursive for “High Heels” and a blocky, military style for “and Howitzers”.  And here, once again, I have met my nemesis – I can see it in my head and CANNOT get it onto the web page.  My ideas are getting lost in translation.  Tomorrow I try again to get the dang thing to work.


Posted by on February 14, 2011 in Class, Readings


3 responses to “Faith, Magic Roads, and Translation Issues

  1. SashaCA2

    February 14, 2011 at 10:59 am

    I think I can help a bit with your translation issues 🙂
    Basically, you want to make an inline style for each section of your header that you want to change. You do that in the html page (took me a while to figure this out). What this allows you to do is manipulate a certain section of your header without damaging the integrity of the whole (ie the line-height, text-align, etc). It should look something like this: (I’m not putting the < in because I don't know if it will show up because I'm doing html markup so I'm replacing the < with [.
    [span style="font-family:XXXX;"]High Heels[/span] and [span style="font-family:XXXX;"]Howitzers[/span]
    Then if you need to change the size of each individually to make them look the same you just add those terms into the span style and it applies ONLY to the words you want adjusted instead of to everything in the header. The word 'and' will be whatever you have as the setting for your header (or h1 if that's how you have it coded in the CSS) or you can include it in one of the two font families you have designated for the other words. I really hope this helps!

  2. Jon Barth

    February 15, 2011 at 11:56 am

    I agree that it’s important to know the “why” and not simply the “how.” The video helped us a little with that — I certainly know more than I did prior to watching it — but there is obviously more to be learned about the why factor.

    The same is true with a foreign language. Its far easier to master a foreign language if you understand WHY sentences are structured a particular way, or why a verb is conjugated such and such a way.


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