Letraset and Mute Records

Letraset user, 1978

Letraset user, 1978

Some products are inextricably infused with nostalgia. Letraset is one of them. Sheets of film that would be rubbed with the end of a pencil to give way to beautifully formed letters—as long as you had a steady hand and the patience of a saint.

Letraset launched its dry-transfer lettering system in 1961, and graphic designers and architects embraced it with gusto. But so did amateur bedroom publishers, where Letraset became de rigueur for music fanzines and school magazines.

Simon Garfield, author of Just My Type: A Book About Fonts and an early adopter of the technology, writes, “The range included all the standard popular fonts, but there was a sort of anarchic freedom to the wilder designs, something indelibly linked to the 1960s and ’70s, and now much used in retro branding.”

Mute Records first release in 1978 by The Normal, T.V.O.D. / Warm Leatherette

Mute Records first release in 1978 by The Normal, T.V.O.D. / Warm Leatherette. Image courtesy Discogs.

With their DIY philosophy, young punk rockers embraced Letraset for their gig posters and record sleeves. One interesting example is the 1978 Mute Records logo, its “walking man” plucked from a Letraset sheet of architectural symbols. Daniel Miller formed Mute Records as a vehicle to release his own single, “T.V.O.D.”/”Warm Leatherette,” under the moniker The Normal. The label, once home to Depeche Mode and Erasure, continues today—with Mr. Miller as its executive chairman—under the EMI banner.

Letraset history courtesy BBC News
Mute Records history courtesy Ibiza Voice

No double-space after periods!

Compare single-and double-spacingThere is no need to type two spaces following a period. Why? Simply put, typefaces used by modern computers are proportionally spaced rather than monospaced. Double spacing after periods was acceptable for typewriters, because the spacing between each character was of equal space. However, today if you type two spaces following a period, or any sentence-ending punctuation, a wide gulf of visually unappealing negative space is created. It looks amateurish.

Since the time described in the book of Genesis, those raised on primary school typewriting classes have been well-drilled to type two spaces.When designing for clients, I am often delivered text that was composed in a word processor rife with extra spaces. It is no bother for me to search and replace these with a single space—it is ingrained into my design process. However, experienced typographers know, for elegant copy in published work, single spaces are mandatory.