Joakim Hanze and David Ringqvist

Graphically conveying body language, emotion and tone of voice by means of expressive typography


Communication through text has an important role in the information age. SMS, email, and social media are but a few examples of new forms of communication. All text-based communication suffers from the difficulty of expressing non-verbal cues using words. No technology for graphically expressing these signals in text has reached major success. This essay suggests expressive typography as a solution to this problem. The phrase expressive typography is used to denote a presentation method of text with variation of font, size, character spacing, deformation, movement, colour and pictograms.

This new technology was tested on people who were asked to read ambiguous texts in the form of Facebook posts. Twelve texts were formatted with expressive typography meant to clarify the intended message. Their results were compared to the same twelve texts without any expressive typography. The results showed that a majority of the formated texts were notably more effective at expressing non-verbal cues than their unformatted counterparts. Expressive typography is deemed to have great potential as an enhancement for already existing forms of media.