Page 6 - Decembert 2014
P. 6

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The Use and Misuse of

     Initial Letters byJCouper

                øƒÃ®Ä®Ä¦ ÝÊ Ã瑫 ÖÙ®Ä㛗                                                                   ƒÄ ›ø‘›½½›Ä㠛øƒÃÖ½› Ê¥ «Êó ƒ ò›Ùù Ö½›ÝƒÄ㠃ė
                Ããã›Ù, it would seem that                                                                 —›‘Êكã®ò› ®Ä®ãƒ®½ ‘ƒÄ ٛÝç½ã ¥ÙÊà 㫛 ‘ƒÙ›¥ç½ Ö½ƒÄĮĦ
                many iniƟal leƩers are rather                                                              Ê¥ Ö®›‘›— Êٗ›Ù ƒÄ— Ù罛
                reluctant to appear on speaking
                terms with the text. OŌen                                                                 died out later in the century, the prinƟng
                they remain aloof by standing                                                             of iniƟals became the general pracƟce; the
well back as if closer contact would result in                                                            luxurious intricacy of the drawn character
contaminaƟon; at other Ɵmes they dominate                                                                 had to be replaced by something simpler and
too much by stature and weight, or seem                                                                   more pracƟcal. In present-day typography
completely out of harmony with the text type.                                                             iniƟals tend to be regarded as too much of a
A harmonious relaƟonship between the iniƟal                                                               luxury, but lately they have been coming into
and the accompanying type is essenƟal to                                                                  favour again.
pleasant typography.

When the typographer begins to tackle these
problems the purpose of the iniƟal leƩer and
the part it has to play are the first quesƟons
that come to mind. A leƩer might be termed
and iniƟal if it is larger than the size of type
(capitals and lower case) with which it has
been set. The iniƟal should obviously produce
a pleasing decoraƟve effect and give an eye-
catching start to the text, without dominaƟng
it. Careful selecƟon and placing are essenƟal
to avoid waste of Ɵme and money.

The use of the iniƟal can really be described
as a legacy from the manuscript period. In
fiŌeenth century calligraphy and illuminaƟon
it reached a parƟcularly high standard, which
has never been surpassed. During the early
years of prinƟng the iniƟals were sƟll drawn
in the printed book by the illuminator, whom
the purchaser of the book would someƟmes
commission himself. AŌer this pracƟce has

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