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Typesnap: Screenshot

Work / Graphic Design

How much can you read with each letter cut in half? Type Snap investigates

Experiments with web-based typography have reached new heights. One minute we were happily reading from books and newspapers, and then before you know it Wieden + Kennedy was testing us to see how many words we could read per minute in a new ad for Honda. Just in case you were getting too comfy, the newest development in this arena comes from graphic designer Masato Nakada who has come up with a new concept designed to expand the capacity of web-based type, through an experimental typography website called Type Snap.

Her idea is fairly simple. “I propose to cut letters in half to achieve better efficiency in the evolution of web-based typography,” the Japanese, Los Angeles-based designer explains. “Typography will always evolve according to its new environment or context. Type Snap explores what typography can perform on the web. HTML5, Jquery, CSS – all of these contexts allow type to become so much more than what we are familiar with.”

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Typesnap: Sample

As a result, Masato has created Type Snap, a website which allows you to play with letters which have been cut in half, and to see how legible the words they spell out are when you only have half of each letterform to contend with. The result is strangely comprehensive, and not too far removed from those online experiments which present you with the first and last letter of each word in a sentence.

The prevalence of the Emoji planted the seed for the experiment, Masato explains. “People are no longer typing sentences in a chat. Emojis are replacing text, so we need letters to be that much more robust. We have been using SMS abbreviations such as ‘OMG’, ‘BRB’ and ‘WTF’ and they will continue to be utilised, without a doubt. That was my starting point. I wanted ‘WTF’ to be faster, more dynamic and more intimate.”

“Typography will always evolve according to its new environment or context. Type Snap explores what typography can perform on the web."

Masato Nakada

The aim of the game is to make reading online more efficient. “Not only does [splitting letters in half] increase reading speed, but we can now pack in more words and meaning. It’s no different to how a printer started to use movable type ligatures to increase their typing speed and legibility.” By putting these letters in motion, Masato hopes they will compete with animated images. “Animated emojis and gifs are dominant,” Masato continues. “It’s common now to insert animation in chat or comment boxes, so we need letters that can accompany animated icons.”

While the effectiveness of this technique is up for debate, there’s no questioning the entertainment value of moving around letters on the Type Snap site to patch together new words with half-letters, and watching them transform before your very eyes.

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Typesnap: Screenshot

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Typesnap: Screenshot

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Typesnap: Screenshot

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Typesnap: Sample