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Careers in Advertising: An unusual option
Navin Kumar
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March 28, 2008

Part I: The creative and not-so-creative side of advertising
Part II: Colleges and courses

In our on going career series on Advertising, we have looked at the various options available in terms of job profiles and soem of the well-known colleges and the courses they offer. Today, we look at the not-so-common career in typography and what it entails.

Typography refers to the art of designing 'types', ie the selecting of fonts, spacing, lines and line length, spacing etc, which is an essential component in the creation of everything from posters to flyers.

While it was once a very specialised profession, the proliferation of computers and "desktop publishing" software has made it a secondary skill, which graphical designers etc are expected to possess.

"Desktop publishing" is a phrase attributed to Aldus Corporation founder Paul Brainerd who attempted to contrast how cheap, simple and small an affair the new typesetting software on the market was compared to the chemical/ machine-heavy typographing methods of the past.

While it is true that DP is a relatively commoditised affair nowadays, there are many functions which require specialised training and years of experience to learn. There exists a good niche for specialists.

Places where typography is used

One of the primary duties of the typographer is to select a font which is appropriate for the medium and message at hand. Book publishers, for example, are more likely to use 'book romans'. Newspapers and magazines are more likely to use compact, tightly fitted 'text romans'.

Advertisements have any number of fonts depending on the kind of message or campaign. The selection of the font is a daunting, tedious task for laypersons and most creative cells in advertising agencies employ a freelance typographer towards the end of their projects.

The typographer must also do the text layout and adjust the margins, text and white space so that they resonate with the rest of the project. S/he must select the colour to be used. A good typographer must also have a through knowledge of the various types of paper and printing methods, since s/he may be required to select them.

A good typographer must be up-to-date with the current trends in typesetting and legibility research.

While many communication institutes offer courses in graphical design (with typography as a subject under it) there are few stand-alone certificate courses in typography.

It is advisable to take one of these courses (the extra information might be useful later on) and then, after a bit of work experience, start specialising in typography alone. There is no fixed method of becoming a typographer and there is no substitute for experience.

Computer skills required
The following programmes are used in desktop publishing and are of immense importance to a typographer:

~ Adobe FrameMaker (for large documents)
~ Adobe InCopy (a word processor of newspapers and magazines)
~ Adobe InDesign (a desktop publishing software)
~ Abortext (used by such magazines as Nature, Cell, Science, Astrophysics Journal)
~ Ikarus (an analog-to-digital converter)
~ Lout (a batch document formatter)
~ Prince XML (a file converter)
~ Scribus (a free typesetting software used to publish small newspapers, brochures etc)
~ XML Professional Publisher (a desktop publishing software used to publish directories, dictionaries, etc)

An entry level desktop publisher can earn between Rs 4,000-Rs 8,000 per month depending on the size of the firm. The increase in salary depends on experience and talent and can be as high as Rs 20,000-Rs 30,000 within three years.

Typography is an unusual specialisation but if you enjoy playing around with fonts and margins and can extract pleasure from a well-structured document, then you might want to consider making it a full-time profession.  

Part I: The creative and not-so-creative side of advertising
Part II: Colleges and courses


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