The Changing Spaces of Reading and Writing

Major Project – E-Type: The Visual Language of Typography

Typography shapes language and makes the written word ‘visible’. With this in mind I felt that it was essential to be cognizant about how my major project would be presented in its final format. In support of my research on type in digital spaces, I created an ‘electronic book’ of sorts, using Adobe InDesign CS4 and Adobe Acrobat 9. Essentially I took a traditionally written essay and then modified and designed it to fit a digital space. The end result was supposed to be an interactive .swf file but I ran into too many technical difficulties. So what resulted was an interactive PDF book.

The e-book was designed to have a sequential structure, supported by a table of contents, headings and page numbering – much like that of a traditional printed book. However, the e-book extends beyond the boundaries of the ‘page’ as the user, through hyperlinks, can explore multiple and diverse worlds of information located online. Bolter (2001) uses the term remediation to describe how new technologies refashion the old. Ultimately, this project pays homage to the printed book, but maintains its own unique characteristics specific to the electronic world.

To view the book click on the PDF Book link below. The file should open in a web browser. If by chance, you need Acrobat Reader to view the file and you do not have the latest version you can download it here:

You can navigate through the document using the arrows in the top navigation bar of the document window. Alternatively you can jump to specific content by using the associated Bookmarks (located in left-hand navigation bar) or by clicking on the chapter links in the Table of Contents. As you navigate through the pages you will be prompted to visit websites as well as complete short activities. An accessible Word version of the essay is also available below.


Bolter, J.D. (2001). Writing space: Computers, hypertext, and the remediation of print. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.

To view my project, click on the following links:

E-Type: The Visual Language of Typography (PDF Book)

E-Type: The Visual Language of Typography (Word Version)


1 Diddly { 11.30.09 at 8:44 pm }

Hi Natalie, ever since you mentioned in the forum, your passion for fonts I have been looking forward to the product of your major product. I think it is beautiful. Is this an example of the medium being the message?
I bet you had great fun making it. It is really a well packaged learning object. I love all the resources at the end. If you don’t mind, I would like to show it to my students.

2 Natalie Giesbrecht { 11.30.09 at 9:05 pm }

No problem – feel free to show it to your students. There are actually many cool things you can do with Acrobat now. In Version 9 you can create an eportfolio really quickly. Acrobat can also turn PDFs into multimedia presentations – with video and audio. So there is lots of potential for a novice to intermediate user to create great looking presentations.

When I started I was very excited about the project as I was able to engage in a bit of design work and actually tie it into the content. My intial intent was to export the file so that the pages would actually turn by dragging the mouse. I felt the book would be much more ‘interactive’ this way. However I had to settle for a PDF version as the links for some reason wouldn’t convert to Flash. In the end I had to recreate all the links from scratch in Acrobat – which is easy but time consuming! A quick way to turn a fun project into tedious work! In any case, I am glad that you enjoyed the piece – it makes it all worth it!

3 Drew Murphy { 12.03.09 at 12:14 am }

Hi Natalie: I liked your project as an example of an interactive text. The supporting links are well thought out and the breadth of information makes for are very rich resource. The power of the hyperlink in well exploited.

4 Natalie Giesbrecht { 12.03.09 at 6:58 am }

I appreciate the feedback Drew! Make sure to check out the resources by Ellen Lupton if you are interested in typography. I read her book Thinking with Type cover to cover. I found the more I researched the more I found interesting links! That is the magic of hyperlinks!

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