Printing should be invisible

'Printing should be invisible' coverInasmuch as if any book is going to exemplify the ideal that “printing should be invisible”, it would be a printing of “Printing should be invisible” by Beatrice L. Warde, so I found a copy of the 1937 printing by the Marchbanks Press just to see how invisible it really was. And, yes, also to have something close to an original of a well-known speech and article about typography, though possibly the 1955 version, produced by Warde herself, counts as more of an original even though it came out 25 years after the speech.

Since I was looking hard to find ways in which the printing wasn’t invisible, I first thought that the indenting of the page number wasn’t sufficiently ‘invisible’ enough to reach the ideal, but I now figure it was necessary if the page number was to be just underneath the body text so there’d be wide margins on the small page. As Warde said, “Are not the margins on book pages similarly meant to obviate the necessity of fingering the type-page?”

There is no end to the maze of practices in typography, and this idea of printing as a conveyor is, at least in the minds of all the great typographers with whom I have had the privilege of talking, the one clue that can guide you through the maze. Without this essential humility of mind, I have seen ardent designers go more hopelessly wrong, make more ludicrous mistakes out of an excessive enthusiasm, than I could have thought possible. And with this clue, this purposiveness in the back of your mind, it is possible to do the most unheard-of things, and find that they justify you triumphantly. It is not a waste of time to go to the simple fundamentals and reason from them. In the flurry of your individual problems, I think you will not mind spending half an hour on one broad and simple set of ideas involving abstract principles. I once was talking to a man who designed a very pleasing advertising type which undoubtedly all of you have used. I said something about what artists think about a certain problem, and he replied with a beautiful gesture: 'Ah, madam, we artists do not think---we feel!' That same day I quoted that remark to another designer of my acquaintance, and he, being less poetically inclined, murmured: 'I'm not feeling very well today, I think!' He was right, he did think; he was the thinking sort; and that is why he is not so good a painter, and to my mind ten

The cover is bound to the printed pamphlet using some binder’s thread, as you can see in the top image and which is a nice touch, but the pamphlet itself is kept together with a rather more prosaic staple, as you can see in the second image.

Its colophon: This essay, set in Monotype Fournier, designed by Edward Alonzo Miller and printed at The Marchbanks Press, New York