“Microtypography –
German & English
The Differences”

Typography, especially microtypography, is usually not noticed by many readers. Good microtypography is subtle and serves to convey information, while at the same time contributing to the reader’s well-being – for example, through a pleasant reading flow. But typography also helps to unify semantic sentence conventions. Well placed, effective, easy-to-read typography should meet the culturally specific requirements of the language and content of the text.

Of course, we were already familiar with many of the common conventions from the German-speaking world. But when you’re confronted with English language texts, you’re immediately confronted with a lot of questions. How do you handle the em dashes? How do I set addresses correctly? Which quotation marks should I use? In order to answer these questions – and many more – one must inevitably familiarise oneself with the country- or language-specific rules of typesetting. There are certain typesetting conventions of a cultural, linguistic and not least stylistic nature that distinguish typography in different cultures. For example, in Germany and in the Anglo-American language area, very specific rules for typesetting have developed that should be observed. A good typographer doesn’t have to know every detail about the respective language or spend months poring over the books before an assignment – but he or she must be prepared to deviate from his or her own standard and adapt to the requirements of the respective text.

SUBMITTED 18.02.2022

Who, How, What, Why?

This magazine was created as part of the seminar “Lesen, setzen, auslegen” (Reading, setting, laying out) with Sven Lindhorst-Emme. We – Julia Hildebrandt, Samuel Görzen and Svenja Groth – are studying communication design in the 3rd semester at the FH Bielefeld and have dealt with bilingual microtypography. We focused on the microtypographical differences between German and English typesetting, as these are the two languages we encounter most often in everyday life. In order to emphasise the differences in particular, we decided – after the extensive inspiration and conception phase – to use a mixed layout. This means that we haven’t separated the tips for the languages, but have deliberately placed them next to each other.

Contrary to the current convention for similar books, we’ve opted for a particularly experimental and colourful design that supports the reader with logical navigation and useful hints. With a certain curiosity, we have thus dedicated ourselves to the topic of bilingual microtypography in order to present the most common rules in a visually appealing and easily comprehensible way – and at the same time to highlight the most important differences.