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The Mueller Report is bad Design

The Mueller Report is bad Design

 

A designer was obviously not consulted in the typing up and laying out of the Mueller Report, because the typography is poor. The design of the Mueller Report is reminiscent of an older time in which typography was not written, edited, and set on a computer. Instead, the report is reminiscent of an era of typewriters and printing presses. 

Magenta circles highlight double spaces.

Magenta circles highlight double spaces.

Typesetters at printing presses were able to adjust the spacing after a period by hand. The traditional rule was to add an em worth of spacing after the period to add clarity to the end of a sentence. When hot metal type was introduced (Linotype, and Monotype) the ability to adjust spacing was preserved by printers. Around the same time as hot metal machines, typewriters revolutionized businesses allowing people to type their own documents. Unfortunately, these typewriters weren’t able to add different types of spacing, in order to compensate for this typists were taught to add two or three spaces after each sentence. 

The habit of adding extra spaces after a period can be seen by most people who learned to type using a typewriter. Thanks to computers we no longer have to add two spaces after a period because the computer does this automatically. (Fun fact, most phones will automatically insert a period space if you hit the spacebar twice). 

The fact that the Mueller Report uses two spaces after the period shows that whoever typed it learned to type using a typewriter. The double space is also not consistent with the US   Publishing Office Style Manual (Section 2.49). 

 
 
 
 
 
 

The other issue with the Mueller Report is that the text is set justified. Justified text, unless it is set by an expert designer, leaves rivers and wide spaces throughout the text. This leaves a negative impact on the legibility of reading. These rivers are exacerbated by the double spaces after each period. 

While many people may argue that these aren’t a big deal, good design and attention to typographic details signal professionalism and authority that bad design doesn’t have. As Robert Bringhurst says” When the type is poorly chosen, what the words say linguistically and what the letters imply visually are disharmonious,... and out of tune.” A well design document will reinforce the message being communicated. 

 
 
 

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