Accessibility navigation

Typographic meaning: readers’ impressions of patterns of typographic differentiation

Moys, J.-L. (2012) Typographic meaning: readers’ impressions of patterns of typographic differentiation. PhD thesis, University of Reading

Full text not archived in this repository.

It is advisable to refer to the publisher's version if you intend to cite from this work. See Guidance on citing.


This research explores whether patterns of typographic differentiation influence readers’ impressions of documents. It develops a systematic approach to typographic investigation that considers relationships between different kinds of typographic attributes, rather than testing the influence of isolated variables. An exploratory study using multiple sort tasks and semantic differential scales identifies that readers form a variety of impressions in relation to how typographic elements are differentiated in document design. Building on the findings of the exploratory study and analysis of a sample of magazines, the research describes three patterns of typographic differentiation: high, moderate, and low. Each pattern comprises clusters of typographic attributes and organisational principles that are articulated in relation to a specified level of typographic differentiation (amplified, medium, or subtle). The patterns are applied to two sets of controlled test material. Using this purposely-designed material, the influence of patterns of typographic differentiation on readers’ impressions of documents is explored in a repertory grid analysis and a paired comparison procedure. The results of these studies indicate that patterns of typographic differentiation consistently shape readers’ impressions of documents, influencing judgments of credibility, document address, and intended readership; and suggesting particular kinds of engagement and genre associations. For example, high differentiation documents are likely to be considered casual, sensationalist, and young; moderate differentiation documents are most likely to be seen as formal and serious; and low differentiation examples are considered calm. Typographic meaning is shown to be created through complex, yet systematic, interrelationships rather than reduced to a linear model of increasing or decreasing variation. The research provides a way of describing typographic articulation that has application across a variety of disciplines and design practice. In particular, it illuminates the ways in which typographic presentation is meaningful to readers, providing knowledge that document producers can use to communicate more effectively.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Dyson, M. and Leonidas, G.
Thesis/Report Department:Department of Typography & Graphic Communication
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Arts and Communication Design > Typography & Graphic Communication
ID Code:39858

University Staff: Request a correction | Centaur Editors: Update this record

Page navigation