5. Deconstructing a paragraph *

* Using chromatic pilcrows, silcrows or dropcaps





The paragraph mark , the paragraph sign, the ‘blind P’, or the pilcrow is a typographic character used for individual paragraphs. This character can be used as a divider or indent to separate paragraphs in long copy. The pilcrow marks a new beginning in a text. Before the contemporary convention of a visual indent became commonplace, the pilcrow was used to mark a new paragraph. Today it is rarely in use, except as an invisible character to represent a paragraph break in text applications. A beautiful example of the use of the pilcrow can be seen in ‘An Essay on Typography’ written by Eric Gill in 1931.



§ The section sign § , sectional symbol, double S or silcrow is a similar typographic mark. It is frequently used along with the pilcrow. In some countries, like Great Britain or the US, the silcrow is also used as a footnote along with an asterisk*. Historically, both typographic marks, the pilcrow and the silcrow, are meant to be used to separate paragraphs in long copy.



One of the most alluring enthusiasms that can occupy the mind of the letterer is that of inventing a really logical and consistent alphabet having a distinct sign for every distinct sound. This is especially the case for English speaking people; for the letters we use only inadequately symbolise the sounds of our language. We need many new letters and a revaluation of existing ones. But this enthusiasm has no practical value for the typographer; we must take the alphabets we have got, and we must take these alphabets in all essentials as we have inherited them.

First of all, then, we have the Roman alphabet of CAPITAL letters (upper-case), and second the alphabet which printers call ROMAN LOWER-CASE. The latter, tho’ derived from the capitals, is a distinct alphabet. Third we have the alphabet called ITALIC, also derived from the capitals but through different channels. These are the three alphabets in common use for the English people.

Are there no others? It might be held that there are several; there are, for example, the alphabet called Black Letter, and that called Lombardic. But these are only partial survivals, & very few people could, without reference to ancient books, write down even a complete alphabet of either. As far as we are concerned in modern England, Roman capitals, lower-case and italics are three different alphabets, and all are current ‘coin’. But however familiar we are with them, their essential differences are not always easily discovered. It is not a matter of slope or of serifs or of thickness or thinness. These qualities, though one or other of them may be commonly associated with one alphabet more than another, are not essential marks of difference. A Roman capital A does not cease to be a Roman capital A because it is sloped backwards or forwards, because it is made thicker or thinner, or because serifs are added or omitted; and the same applies to lower-case and italics.

An Essay on Typography by Eric Gill – 1931



Seven types of color contrasts inspired by the theory of Johannes Itten translated, transformed and implemented in an editorial context. The seven types are constructed and deconstructed in different combinations of type and color. This is the contrast of hue.§ Seven types of color contrasts inspired by the theory of Johannes Itten translated, transformed and implemented in an editorial context. The seven types are constructed and deconstructed in different combinations of type and color. This is the contrast of extension. § Seven types of color contrasts inspired by the theory of Johannes Itten translated, transformed and implemented in an editorial context. The seven types are constructed and deconstructed in different combinations of type and color. This is the contrast of warm and cold. § Seven types of color contrasts inspired on the theory by Johannes Itten translated, transformed and implemented in an editorial context. The seven types are constructed and deconstructed in different combinations of type and color. This is simultaneous contrast. § Seven types of color contrasts inspired by the theory by Johannes Itten translated, transformed and implemented in an editorial context. The seven types are constructed and deconstructed in different combinations of type and color. This is the contrast of complements. § Seven types of color contrasts inspired by the theory of Johannes Itten translated, transformed and implemented in an editorial context. The seven types are constructed and deconstructed in different combinations of type and color. This is the contrast of saturation. § Seven types of color contrasts inspired by the theory of Johannes Itten translated, transformed and implemented in an editorial context. The seven types are constructed and deconstructed in different combinations of type and color. This is the contrast of light and dark.



Typography may be defined as the art of rightly disposing printing material in accordance with specific purpose; of so arranging the letters, distributing the space and controlling the type as to aid to the maximum the reader’s comprehension of the text. Typography is the efficient means to an essentially utilitarian and only accidentally aestethic end, for enjoyment of patterns is rarely the reader’s chief aim. Therefore, any disposition of printing material which, whatever the intention, has the effect of coming between author and reader is wrong. It follows that in the printing of books meant to be read there is a little room for ‘bright’ typography. Even dullnes and monotony in the typesetting are far less vicious to a reader than typographical eccentricity or pleasantry. Cunning of this sort is desirable, even essential in the typography of propaganda, whether for commerce, politics or religion, because in such printing only the freshest survives inattention. But the typography of books, apart from the category of narrowly limited editions, requires an obedience to convention which is almost absolute – and with reason.

Typography is the efficient means to an essentially utilitarian and only accidentally aestethic end, for enjoyment of patterns is rarely the reader s chief aim. Therefore, any disposition of printing material which, whatever the intention, has the effect of coming between author and reader is wrong. It follows that in the printing of books meant to be read there is a little room for ‘bright’ typography. Even dullnes and monotony in the typesetting are far less vicious to a reader than typographical eccentricity or pleasantry. Cunning of this sort is desirable, even essential in the typography of propaganda, whether for commerce, politics or religion, because in such printing only the freshest survives inattention. But the typography of books, apart from the category of narrowly limited editions, requires an obedience to convention which is almost absolute - and with reason.

First principles of typography by Stanley Morison – 1930