Working with type to be displayed on screens is a complex task and there are very few simulation tools that allow you to understand how the end product would be in all variants of devices and aspects.

If you are a print designer there are a tight set of parameters that define how your typesetting will show up on the end product. Other than the standard set of parameters like size, leading and column width there is also the colour that defines it. Then there is the paper stock and inking that makes it exactly how you intended it to be.

Now imagine the format or aspect changing based on the readers’ device and whim along with the resolution that can range from the retina to the stupidly dull. This is the complexity and challenge that onscreen typography poses to designers or front-end developers. Take a quick look at this video from 2014 by Tim Brown, Head of Adobe Typekit. He explains the history and what we have gotten ourselves into in this talk that is still pertinent. Onscreen type is governed by the logic that is always at work, to resolve the constant change in parameters like size, leading and column width. This makes it a never ending continuum in the hands of the ‘user’.

We have evolved from then, apparently. Now this video (linked here) is a talk by Jen Simmons on art direction for the web. While it sounds ‘desktop publishing’, it showcases the ability to apply print best practices to web using CSS Grid. I know that it is a bit jargon-filled. But if you stay patient it showcases possibilities that I have not seen before. There are caveats about the browsers that understand CSS Grid and browsers that do not. But this is progress.