The Measure a typesetting contest

There are plenty of contests for book cover designers.
As far as we can tell, there’s nothing similar for book interior design.
The Measure was a humble attempt to change that.

The Measure was a contest where people designed and typeset a single chapter of a work from the public domain. Apart from the text and a set page size, en­trants had total free­dom as to the design of the book. After several days of vo­ting from the general public (and a few official judges), we named a winner, who then got to pick the next contest’s text.

We ran three contests, and keep mulling over starting them up again (but nothing’s on the calendar). For more info, reach out to @charliepark.

Contest Three

Dantes Inferno

Contest Two

The Love Affairs of a Bibliomaniac

Winner: Matthew Maslanka | full entry

I am a music engraver in New York and have been working with type in that capacity for about fifteen years. Properly-set front matter and individual text items in music publications goes a very long way toward establishing the cred­ibility of a given piece of music with the performers.

I set the text in 10/12 Bembo Std with the chapter title in 14 pt. Margins are quite generous, based on Tschichold’s medieval proportions with the page div­ided into 6ths. This also provided a narrower text block, resulting in a more pleasant line length. The verse passages are centered on their longest line. All indents save the first paragraph are 1 em.

The whole effect is intended to reinforce the fussy and delicate nature of this text. I can imagine Mr. Field having a short run of these done by a vanity press to keep in his evidently-prodigious library.

Contest One


Winner: Jess Greenfield | full entry

I’m located in Los Angeles, CA where I work as a graphic designer for a national rest­aurant group. I also operate a small letterpress studio out of my friend’s garage — 90 Proof Press — where we create artists books and drink a lot of whiskey.

I wanted to use a classical layout appropriate to the nineteenth century text, but ut­il­ize a contemporary typeface to keep it relevant. I started with my favorite low-contrast serif but found it too light and approachable for the spoo­ky events that tran­spire, so I switched midstream to Freight Text from Darden Studio. I was drawn to its higher contrast and crisp angularity as well as its large x-height. I particularly love the quirky thin italic which I used for the chapter title. After some urging on from Mr. Bringhurst, I chose to set all the conversations in italic to avoid a plethora of quot­ation marks. I enjoy the way this reinforces the fact that these events are all happening in the past (as we read the narrator’s log book after the fact) and creates a feel­ing of creepy foreshadowing. The column width and text size were selected partially to accommodate one particularly pesky sentence on a single line (Look! Isten szek! — God’s seat! — and he crossed himself reverently.) I also in­cluded drop caps to emphasize the dates and the progression of time through the chapter. The page and chapter numbers are set in Graphik by Christian Schwartz.