May 15, 2006

Random Acts of Emphasis

Delta Sky ItalicsI flew Delta this weekend, and found myself LOOKING through their in-flight magazine while waiting to take off. I noticed something in their magazine that I’ve noticed before — they randomly ITALICIZE things for no apparent reason. And sometimes they use all-caps for no apparent REASON.

I suppose they think it adds visual interest. Italics and capitals are treated as design elements. And that’s fine. But it makes for CONFUSING reading when they use it in every headline. When I read, I mentally EMPHASIZE the italicized and capitalized words. I think the Sky Magazine people forget that. At least they DON’T add bold into the mix.

Delta Sky Italics


I think it lends a slightly Shatner-esque quality to the reading (especially that last one). Add in a couple random pauses, some arm gestures and a guy standing behind you in a red shirt, and voila — it’s like Star Trek with a slightly unusual script.

I’m betting that’s not quite what Delta had in mind.

It looks like the italics aren’t intended to emphasize the important words within the context of a sentence the way they normally work. I think they function more like magazine pull quotes, simply emphasizing the sexiest words in the sentence regardless of semantics.

In the 80’s they would have simply put those words in a font ten times bigger than the rest of the body.

That IS awful. I’m an ACTOR by trade and so I’m taught to look for an author’s emphasis cues (punctuation, rhythm, and typography all play a part). This impulse is so strong in me that I get nauseous just trying to read this crap. It makes me VOMIT in my mouth a little.

love it

Multiple choice.
a) Someone got a bit EXCITED about typographic control, or lack of.
b) A steward/stewardess got to use a keyboard.
c) Pills and scotch don’t mix.
d) Subscription to 1-800 WHY LEARN seemed a good idea at the time.

You should see a Southwest Airlines magazine. Here’s some highlights:

Employee (always capped)
LUV (instead of love)

All corporate policy and always mandatory.

I haven’t seen the actual magazine but judging from these examples I think the designer has been looking admiringly at recent issues of French Vogue, where Fabien Barron is using similar typography

This also makes me think of consipiracies, and hidden secret messages. Hehe.

Have you tried gathering all of the italic words together, or finding some pattern unrelated to the text itself?

I couldn’t help but mention this. Perhaps I’m on a spy kick tonight or something.

I’m sorry… what’s the fuss?… it looks nice, energetic and stubborn… I like it, and the decision of combining italic with capital etc. looks serious… I’m curious for the whole design, instead of these zoom-ins.

greetings ;-) m.