September 12, 2017

On recycled paper and “green” printing

From her new book Designing for Print, Marina Poropat Joyce answers questions on the environmental footprint of recycled paper compared to virgin paper. It’s not necessarily better to choose the former.

Is recycled paper more environmentally friendly?

A few factors need to be weighed in order to gauge the environmental footprint of recycled versus virgin paper. Is the paper mill state-of-the-art or turn-of-the-20th-century? That makes a big difference. Is the mill in a country that does not allow pollution downstream? China’s paper factories pollute more than American factories. Does the mill reuse effluents such as liquor and sludge, byproducts of the paper-making process, or does it dump these byproducts in a landfill?

How fuel efficient is the plant sorted the recycled paper? Are its trucks low emission? Are its conveyor belt motors gas-, diesel, or solar-powered? How close is the recycling plant to the paper mill? Will the trucks collecting all the recycled paper in the city have to drive a long way to the edge of the tree farm where most paper mills are located?

Is an old growth tree going to be cut down to make the paper? This should be avoided at all costs, and several groups have emerged to certify that the source of the paper is legitimate. The two most common names heard in printing are the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). If you, the designer, or print buyer specify an FSC-certified sheet, then the printer must purchase from an FSC-certified paper merchant and print on that sheet. If printers are caught substituting other paper, the FSC can revoke their certification.

FSC SFI logos

How was the recycled paper de-inked (bleached) before being made into pulp? Some bleaching methods are terrible for the environment and super expensive to boot. Traditionally, elemental chlorine was used in bleaching, but because of its negative environmental impact, most bleaching processes are now Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF).

Is the recycled paper appropriate for the project? For instance, specifying a job with 100% solid ink coverage on a 100% PCW paper stock might backfire in terms of environmental responsibility because recycled papers use up to three times the ink of a virgin sheet when solid coverage is required.

What kind of paper is it? A cardboard carton? The page of a magazine? A paper grocery bag? All those objects require much less energy to recycle into that form than a sheet of fine writing paper or the page of a coffee table photography book. Most wood pulp fibres can be recycled about eight times before they lose the structure needed to be a strong sheet of paper and wind up in the sludge at a paper mill. Virgin paper is important for introducing strong fibres into the paper-making stream and complementing the mix of recycled pulp. It is also important for that coffee table book you want to pass down to your children. Let’s assume the paper comes from a state-of-the-art US mill and was chosen by a very environmentally conscious recycler in a city where all the paper is sorted close to the mill. If all of these conditions are met, then the resulting recycled paper is more environmentally friendly. Recycling is great so let’s all do our part. Buying recycled paper and specifying recycled paper creates demand. Just don’t specify recycled when you really need virgin, and remember, we need to add virgin paper to the recycling stream.

Designing for Print

Designing for Print.

Is recycled paper more expensive?

It depends. Kraft paper is recycled, brown, and inexpensive. Recycled paper that is whitish with flecks is more expensive than kraft, but less costly than a bright white recycled paper with no flecks. To make recycled paper, the mills need to buy or make pulp from paper that has been de-inked — pulp costing more than pulp from a tree. That cost is passed to the customer who can then weigh the value versus the cost.

Does the paper industry plant more trees than it cuts down?

Yes, but increasing tree farm acreage at the expense of natural forest is not equal in terms of biodiversity, habitat, etc.

Does recycling paper save trees?

When used paper is substituted for virgin pulp, it reduces demand. Recycling helps to reduce the amount of land that needs to be used for tree farms and may preserve native forests. However, a tree in a native forest is not the same as a tree on a tree farm. A natural forest differs from a tree farm in biodiversity and habitat. In ecologically sensitive areas where pressure to convert natural forests to tree farms exists, recycling can help decrease the demand that causes that type of pressure.

Marina Poropat Joyce

Marina Poropat Joyce.

Marina ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund production of her Designing for Print book (available for pre-order). She’s clearly an expert in her field, with the book covering topics such as inks, specialty coatings, finishing techniques, paper choices, colour models, choosing a printer, job schedules, fold considerations, press checks, and a lot more. Best of luck with it, Marina, and thanks for the review copy.

February 11, 2016

Digital Print. A Bigger Spectrum.

A Bigger Spectrum is a book by Silas Amos that looks at how top brands are using digital print to increase sales.

Read more

December 9, 2015

Logo Design Love in Spanish

A huge thanks to Madrid-based publisher Grupo Anaya for buying the translation rights for Logo Design Love.

Read more

November 17, 2014

Typeface combinations used in design books

The authors of the following books work with type for a living, and although they weren’t all responsible for their book designs, I was intrigued to know what typeface combinations were chosen to represent their words.

The comparative images that follow show the mid-weight members of the respective type families, but it should be noted that some of the books use other weights, too. And a few of the books use just one type family throughout.

The Elements of Typographic Style (fourth edition, 2013), by Robert Bringhurst
Minion (Robert Slimbach) and FF Scala Sans (Martin Majoor)

Minion and Scala Sans

Elements of Typographic StyleElements of Typographic Style, photo via Stefan Imhoff

The Geometry of Type (2013), by Stephen Coles, foreword by Erik Spiekermann
Baskerville Original (Storm) and Benton Sans (Cyrus Highsmith, Tobias Frere-Jones)

Baskerville and Benton Sans

The Geometry of TypeThe Geometry of Type, photo via Ralph Herrmann

The Complete Manual of Typography (2011), by Jim Felici
Perpetua (Eric Gill) and Syntax (H E Meier)

Perpetua and Syntax

The Complete Manual of TypographyThe Complete Manual of Typography

Type and Typography (second edition, 2011), by Phil Baines and Andrew Haslam
FF Meta (Erik Spiekermann) and Swift (Gerard Unger)

Meta and Swift

Type and TypographyType and Typography

Type on Screen (2014), by Ellen Lupton
Akzidenz-Grotesk (Berthold), Klavika (Eric Olson), and Fedra Mono (Peter Bil’ak)

Akzidenz, Klavika, and Fedra Mono

Type on ScreenType on Screen, photo via Michael Surtees

Thinking with Type (second edition, 2010), by Ellen Lupton
FF Scala Pro (Martin Majoor) and Thesis (Lucas de Groot)

Scala Pro

Thinking with TypeThinking with Type, photo via Lisa Whitaker

New Graphic Design (2014), by Charlotte and Peter Fiell, foreword by Steven Heller
Akzidenz-Grotesk (Berthold), used in various weights throughout


New Graphic DesignNew Graphic Design, photo via Rudd Studio

Designing Brand Identity (fourth edition, 2012), by Alina Wheeler
Akzidenz-Grotesk (Berthold) and Univers (Adrian Frutiger)

Akzidenz-Grotesk and Univers

Designing Brand IdentityDesigning Brand Identity, photo via Andy Sernovitz

Graphic Icons (2013), by John Clifford
Univers (Adrian Frutiger) and FF Scala (Martin Majoor)

Univers and FF Scala

Graphic IconsGraphic Icons

How to be a graphic designer without losing your soul (second edition, 2010), by Adrian Shaughnessy
Akzidenz-Grotesk (Berthold)


How to be a graphic designer without losing your soulHow to be a graphic designer without losing your soul, photo via Bibliothèque

100 Ideas that Changed Graphic Design (2012), by Steven Heller and Véronique Vienne
Swift (Gerard Unger) and Gotham (Hoefler & Co.)


100 Ideas that Changed Graphic Design100 Ideas that Changed Graphic Design, photo via The Salt Lab

Thoughts on Design (reissue edition, 2014), by Paul Rand, foreword by Michael Bierut
Bodoni Book (Giambattista Bodoni, Morris Fuller Benton)

(I've not seen the original 1947 edition, but I think it was set using a different typeface. Do you know?)

Bodoni Book

Thoughts on DesignThoughts on Design, photo via Khoi Vinh

Popular Lies About Graphic Design (2013), by Craig Ward
Garamond Pro (Adobe) and Futura Medium (Linotype)

Garamond Futura

Popular Lies About Graphic DesignPopular Lies About Graphic Design, photo via Anna

Elsewhere, the Fonts In Use site is a nice resource, and the typeface combinations from the Explorations in Typography book are interesting.

“The possibilities for combining two typefaces are endless, however, a basic guideline to start with is to select 1) a serif and a sans that 2) have similar shapes. To find typefaces with similar shapes, look for ones designed by the same designer or created during the same era.”

Tim Brown wrote a short book called Combining Typefaces. And pairing typefaces in book design is a relevant read from the archives.

April 8, 2014

The Geometry of Type

A lovely typographic primer by Stephen Coles, with a foreword from Erik Spiekermann.

Read more

March 27, 2013

Popular Lies About Graphic Design

An attempt to debunk the various misconceptions, half truths and, in some cases, outright lies which permeate the industry of design.

Read more

February 20, 2012

When designing a book cover…

...even if it’s likely to be a one-off, it can a good idea (and potentially easier to sell to a client or publisher) to treat the cover design like the first in a series, because you never know where it might lead.

Read more

December 27, 2011

Penguin, in Champions of Design

Excerpted from Champions of Design, the paperback by Silas Amos of Jones Knowles Ritchie, featuring on one of the 25 brands from the book.

Read more

December 7, 2011

Design by Nature

This new book from Maggie Macnab takes an in-depth look at relationships between nature, design, economics, geometry, and art.

Read more

November 11, 2011

Saul Bass: A Life in Film & Design

The first book to be dedicated to one of the greatest American designers of the twentieth century, produced by Jennifer Bass (Saul's daughter) and Pat Kirkham.

Read more

November 7, 2011

Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits

Debbie Millman's new book Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits is an engaging collection of dialogues between Debbie and different leaders in the field.

Read more

October 11, 2011

Identify, by Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv

In Identify, designers Tom Geismar and Ivan Chermayeff, and partner Sagi Haviv, open their studio for the first time in the firm’s 55-year history, revealing the creative process that led to some of the world’s most well-known marks.

Read more

Independent since 2005
Website hosted by Fused
FAQs about hiring

13 Gransha Park, Bangor
Northern Ireland
BT20 4XT

+44 7739 530 457