What happened was, Lauren brought home Bringhurst’s The Elements of Typographic Style and I was instantly captivated, by the book’s beauty and also the power of its message. So I’ve got typography on my mind. Stand by for more on the subject, but it struck me immediately that I’m living a typography lesson at work, in the form of the famous Amazon six-pager.

It’s not a secret; to start with, read Brad Porter’s excellent The Beauty of Amazon’s 6-Pager (although in typo-geek mode, I have to point out that “Six-pager” reads much more nicely than “6-Pager”).

Like Brad says, we put intense work into writing these things, and then others of us put intense work into reading them. I’m at a place in the structure where I find myself doing both; neither is easier than the other.

As a guy who’s invested years into descriptive markup and structured documents and flexible presentation and so on, I ought to be horrified by six-pagers, which are fixed-format paginated word-processor output. But in fact they work great. It saves so much time when you can say “That replication setup, second para on page 3, won’t it murder write throughput?”

You know what I’m starting to see? People putting in line numbers. And that’s an even bigger time-saver, particularly if you want to raise an issue about how this on page 1 relates to that on page 5.

Oh, and we do some initial reviewing electronically, but when it matters, six-pagers are printed. Because of course.



Contributions

Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: eerie quark doll (Apr 23 2017, at 19:07)

Quasi-apropos of that: Amazon Ember is a really beautiful and easy-to-read font.

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From: Tim (but not THE Tim) (Apr 23 2017, at 19:54)

First - the "descriptive markup" link returns 404 (as of 20170424T0252Z)

Second - is there an example of a 6-pager somewhere?

I am always interested in anything which prevents my time being wasted in a meeting, or which prevents a meeting from producing a decision that is needed.

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From: Mark Groen (Apr 23 2017, at 21:46)

Re: :"descriptive markup" link 404 on Six-page-Typography article

Just shows up as a bad link in your RSS feed for me, looks like the "ongoing" bit is missing.

https://www.tbray.org/When/200x/2003/04/09/SemanticMarkup

https://www.tbray.org/ongoing/When/200x/2003/04/09/SemanticMarkup

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From: John Cowan (Apr 24 2017, at 08:00)

Bringhurst on typography is great, but stay away from his pseudo-translations from Haida (yes, it's the same guy); he doesn't know what he's doing.

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From: Gavin B. (Apr 26 2017, at 05:58)

An example of the prose style (Chap 10)

"Typography begins with arranging meaningful marks that are already made. In that respect, the practice of typography is like playing the piano - an instrument quite different from the human voice. On the piano, the notes are already fixed, although their order, duration and

amplitude are not. The notes are fixed but they can be endlessly rearranged, into meaningful music or meaningless noise."

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From: Norman Walsh (May 02 2017, at 18:50)

Bringhurst’s book is one of my favorite typography books. ("I wonder where it is," he says to no one in particular, or everyone, perhaps, "in a box somewhere, I suppose.")

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