Beatrice Warde and the Subliminal Language of Type

The current research of CPHC member Jessica Glaser is focused on understanding and responding to type. 'There is little research into how the subliminal language of type functions, with most designers and readers simply citing instinct and habit as the root of their knowledge, rather than reasoned understanding', she says. 

Glaser has recently been focusing on the writings of Beatrice Warde (1900-1969), researcher for and publicity director of the Monotype Corporation and a key-figure typographic theoretician with an international reputation. In volume three of the 1957 Australian Print Review, S. A. Morely credited the highly respected Warde as devoting much of her life to ‘spreading ideas about good typography … to the widest possible audiences with astonishing results’.

A concern in much of Warde’s writing was typography as a reflection of the human mind and her work on the subject has been of primary influence to the understanding of the ‘psychology’ of type and typography. 'However, Warde’s contribution to typography is not fully acknowledged and research is lacking into her achievements and influence on how designers "speak" with type and how the postulated reader interprets type - omissions to be addressed', says Glaser.

Jessica Glaser is an associate Senior Lecturer in Visual Communication at the University of Wolverhampton, partner in Bright Pink Communication Design and part time PhD student within the Typographic Hub at Birmingham City University. She is a prolific writer whose empirical research into the contemporary practice of graphic design and typography is published in a number of books including: The Graphic Designer's Guide to Effective Visual Communication: Creating Hierarchies with Type Image and Colour, published by Rotovision and Layout: Making it Fit, published by Rockport. Her latest book, The Graphic Design Exercise Book, was published summer 2014. She is a regular contributor to journals and conferences and has recent articles published by online magazine, Smashing