CSS for Print Designers: You Have to Read the Words
This Is Not About Proofreading
There's A Reason we designers are not allowed to send anything to the printer without having it proofread by a qualified individual. For designers, words and letters aren't much more than shapes interacting with one another. When we're in the zone, kerning our little hearts out, our minds aren't focused on meaning (Figure 4.1).
Figure 4.1 Kerning is fun. Reading is not.
I'm not saying designers don't read—there's no way to art-direct a magazine layout or annual report without understanding the information being communicated. But let's be honest: Sometimes we skim. I mean, sure, headlines can be fun, but long copy is boring.
When we're setting type, we're thinking more about the aesthetic and readability of the words than we are about their grammatical significance.
It's the Whole Purpose of Coding
Before we start telling our Web pages what to look like with CSS, we code Web sites with HTML so the content we're designing can be shared in different ways. Additionally, CSS (the language that controls look and feel), is built on the structure of HTML—until you have a way of saying, "This is body copy," you can't write CSS to tell the body copy what to look like. HTML is that framework.
Let me explain this by demonstrating a problem you have probably faced from the print design world. If you need to lay out two brochures at different dimensions, you create a separate InDesign file and bring the content into each file separately. From then on, when your proofreader discovers a typo, you have to fix it in two places.
There's a concept in the Web design world where we separate content from the way it looks. You might hear of this as the separation of presentation from content. In short, it means that we maintain the content in one place and just reskin it with CSS to reuse it in different forms (Figure 4.2).
Figure 4.2 The content on Apple's homepage looks a certain way when you browse the Web site, but it looks different if you view it in an RSS reader.