from the editor in chief

 Contents: UU World September/October 2002
September/October 2002

Letters for Readers

It has now been two years since the enlarged and redesigned UU World emerged from the chrysalis of the old World magazine and stretched its new wings. Ever since UU World took flight we have been making course corrections, and with this issue we are making the most fundamental — but perhaps least obvious — one yet.

All magazines have readers, but we understand UU World's to be serious readers, people who put great value on the written word and the meaning and beauty that good writing conveys. We have long been committed to presenting articles worthy of your time, and now we are committing ourselves to a new level of care in how we present them.

"In a world rife with unsolicited messages," writes the Canadian typographer and poet Robert Bringhurst, "typography must often draw attention to itself before it will be read. Yet in order to be read, it must relinquish the attention it has drawn." He calls this "the task of creative noninterference with letters." The new goal we have set for ourselves is to be better at noninterference with your reading, to do all we can not only to make our articles as inviting as possible to your eye but also to make them an effortless pleasure to read.

UU World's articles are set in a typeface called Bembo, which was first cut in Venice more than five centuries ago, only three decades after Gutenberg's first use of movable type, and has been famous for its readability ever since. But after receiving a stream of letters from readers who find our articles a challenge to their eyes, we have increased the size of the type in our major features by 5 percent — and to further improve readability we've increased the space between the lines as well. In addition, we have sworn to always uphold these design principles:

  • As befits serious readers, our articles will always come first; photography and illustrations will support the articles, not compete with them for your attention.
  • We'll take special pains to attract your eye to the beginning of the text, and our long articles will begin in a way that helps your eye and mind settle into the writing before you turn to the next page.
  • We will be sparing in our use of type against tinted backgrounds and when we do we will make sure that the type is legible. And we will never print text against a visually busy background.

This deeper commitment to typographic clarity has been inspired by letters from readers that have trickled in over the last two years as well as some conversations with readers who must strain their eyes to read the magazine. These letters have been a blessing, in that the editors have learned from them all. I invite you to let me know if you find anything in the magazine that's still challenging to your eyes — we can always make more course corrections in our commitment to serve you better.

Tom Stites
Editor in Chief

 Contents: UU World September/October 2002
UU World XVI:5 (September/October 2002): 7

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