Letterspacing title advice

hereandthere's picture

i have a question about the letterspacing in the title of this book cover.

i am using InDesign -
the top line is letterspaced 10, while the bottom is letterspaced -33.
i did this to line up the outsides of the top and bottom lines, but since both are letterspaced differently, it feels unbalanced.

what would you suggest i do?

incidentally, this is the client's preferred type treatment, not mine.

thanks for your assistance.

Stephen Coles's picture

1. The 'T' in "ART" can hang a bit and still feel aligned.
2. Try keeping the bottom line at 0 and reducing the wordspace.

hereandthere's picture

how does this look?
i reduced the word space to -100 but now it feels too tight to me.
i also am not sure about the overhang of the T.

Peter L's picture

Hi Gregg,

I personaly would use different height here, as in my quick example.
The title should be placed higher then of course, so I cut of a little at the top.


Stephen Coles's picture

Oh no! Do not squoosh!

hereandthere's picture

yeah, i don't like the squoosh!

turns out, we are going with a lowercase title now, justified left, so i don't have to worry about it anymore - but thanks for your help!

Peter L's picture

Sorry guys, didn' t mean to use the same type and "sqoosh" it - just using different heights - but didn' t have a any similar typeface at hand.
Since Pulp Art seems more important than Mexican, I think it should stand out more.
Also, I wouldn' t use the same typeface for both lines altogether...


Jackie Frant's picture

Are you really stuck in the Helvetica?

There are so many great display fonts that can tell and do so much more for that book cover. No offense, but it looks like your client only has Helvetica and Times Roman on their machine - and so that is what they use.

Couldn't you take some time and actually design a cover marrying the type to the cover art and present that to your client?

pattyfab's picture

I agree with Jackie, the font seems really inappropriate to the subject. Or at least go Bold Italic or something more pulpy.

Check out these fonts from Veer


Nick Cooke's picture

Helvetica doesn't say Mexican Pulp Art.

Nick Cooke

Jackie Frant's picture

Maybe one of these can help you

I think because of all the activity in the artwork - you may like something like Melina from Bitstream
or if looking for freeware - the solid Guadalupe from Harold's Fonts may add some spice...

Just my humble opinion

Miss Tiffany's picture

Even though the goal seems to be to full-justify the title, you might consider not doing it.

Also, I find it useful to visually match the line-spacing to the word spacing. It helps elimate huge gaps in between words or vice versa depending upon the situation.

Stephen Coles's picture

turns out, we are going with a lowercase title now, justified left, so i don’t have to worry about it anymore - but thanks for your help!

I think a decision has been made, folks. Now we're just yappin' at each other.

Miss Tiffany's picture

Huh? Where's that. Yapping? Us? Never!

[Edit: The type on these forms is too small for my old eyes. My lame excuse. Sorry.]

hereandthere's picture

i agree with everyone concerning the helvetica (even though the font is REALLY chalet paris 1960).

here is the cover i thought we were going with up until yesterday:

but suddenly the client changed his mind and wanted a simple sans, so this is what will go to press.

it's definitely better than the all caps, but i'm not sure it really feels appropriate to me. they want the book to attract a museum store audience and have decided this is the way to go.

Stephen Coles's picture

Really interesting that to many, Helvetica = museum audience. Thanks for sharing the story, Gregg. I'm always fascinated by the variety of public typographic perceptions.

Miss Tiffany's picture

I'd still tighten up the word space in between "Word" and "Art" O:^)

Nick Shinn's picture

i’m not sure it really feels appropriate to me.

The original brush lettering, and its size, made the whole cover look like a parody.
However, now you still have parody proportions, but as you say, that doesn't look right with the mod font.
So perhaps you need to do something to put some more semantic contrast between the setting style and the picture style, to clearly signal that this is not a parody. Perhaps something as simple as knocking the type out of a bar that bleeds off to the right.

Jackie Frant's picture

BTW - I prefer the Introduction by Maria Christina Tavera on the original, designed on the wooden board... (It looks, well, designed!) When placed on one line below the title looks like the designer was saying, "I don't know where to place it."

Sorry - but it really is difficult to tell the difference when casually looking at Helvetica Neue Thin 35 and Chateau Paris 1960. Take a look for yourself.

hereandthere's picture

thanks again everyone for your comments!

nick - i see what you mean about the original design looking like a parody. my take on the book was that the publisher was interested in this for its kitsch value. the majority of the illustrations throughout are of the "so bad it's good" variety. it wasn't until yesterday that i was informed of the intention to position the book in a 'museum' context.

jackie - i too liked the original placement of the introduction name better and agree that now it feels like i didn't know where else to put it (which is pretty much true). i sent a few more comps based on nick's suggestions, but the client still prefers the lowercase chalet version. so, i guess that is it.

hereandthere's picture

oh boy!
now, the client wants the uppercase version again.
at what do point do you tell the client that you think they are making a mistake?
there has just been so many last minute revisions, that i think i should just say ok and go with a design that i think doesn't work.

Nick Shinn's picture

I wasn't using the term parody in a negative way, your original concept and execution was really solid.

Rereading my last post, I didn't type quite what I was thinking, I meant the author line knocked out of a bar. Sorry.

As you say, maybe this isn't one for the portfolio, but at least you can take some solace in spacing, leading, and positioning your type nicely.

hereandthere's picture

no worries nick! i understood what you meant and i agree with you.

so, since the title will be set in uppercase, do we think i should go with miss tiffany's suggestion and not full-justify the title? i think that probably looks the least problematic to me.

Jackie Frant's picture


What you can do if you want to justify it - and still have it look fine is for MEXICAN - make if a few point sizes larger so it fills the space.

If you look at the sample I posted on Hel 35 and Chalet -- you'll see that's what was done.

And please, don't forget to Kern!!!!

Good Luck.

And it is always difficult to tell a client back off. Last year, in the middle of an ad campaign for one of my clients, I was pulling my hair out. Hours upon hours doing one ad for one local paper. Even after approval and shipped off, more changes. I reminded him that he hired me to do a job, and he had definitely turned down a wrong path. (Not something a client always wants to hear.) I was fine with that, however, he sent me a nasty note with a check. I put it aside to look at on a "clear" day—and never got around to it. Six months later, he was back, apologetic and replaced the check I never cashed. We work very well together now. Maybe 1/2 hr. to put the ad together, I send him home to his wife with it, and even though he'll call with a change an hour later, I don't talk to him. I make him sleep on the job and contact me with ALL changes the next day. It works, we get along very well now. It is not a friendship, but a working business relationship.

It is really okay to remind a client that you are the designer and you were hired to do your job. You created your work listening to all the input the client has given you. It is time for the client to decide which direction, and if too wishy-washy, it is probably time for you to speak up.

And of course, find yourself a replacement for them...that is, if they are driving you insane!

linda-e's picture

I wonder where your client got the idea that this kind of typeface and setting would seduce the museum store crowd. I ran a museum bookshop for a long time, and the Chalet/Helvetica is not what I would think would grab the customers for this book. It drains the energy from the subject-matter. The type looks like it has accidentally slipped off the cover of another book, say one on 1960s architecture, and is now wondering what it's doing in the land of Mexican kitsch. And I agree with Patty—go with something more meaty, more energetic, like your original design. The title deserves it.

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