Consequently Positioning the Rhythm in Type Based on the Letters’ Longest Continuous Black Mass


  • Maarten Renckens


letterform, stripe patterns, rhythm, font design, research design, legibility, readability


Letters play a game of black and white. In that game, the continuous repetition of black and white creates a steadily progressing vertical and rhythmical stripe pattern, referred to as the rhythm in type. Readers conceiving the letters can perceive the rhythm as visually stressful. However, research into the rhythm in type is limited. The rhythm is only vaguely defined and there is no consequent way yet to exactly determine its position in letters.

In this article, I point to the less often discussed aspects of the rhythm. To advance research regarding the rhythm, I consequently position the rhythm with the new definition ‘The rhythm in type is the sequence of the longest continuous black masses within the letters, in any direction.’ This definition defines exactly where the rhythm in letters can be found and allows for more accurate comparisons of different rhythms within different letters, fonts and typefaces. This article provides an overview that summarizes how type designers can influence the shape of the rhythm.

Author Biography

Maarten Renckens

Maarten Renckens is a teacher and design researcher with a love for letters and a heart for people. Dealing with a reading difficulty himself, he is very interested in the reading process. His past projects include the typeface 'Schrijfmethode Bosch' (Writing Method Bosch) that learns children in how to write, and typefaces to encourage young readers and readers with hearing loss to read more expressively. With a background in architectural engineering, he is used to approach drawings mathematically. He applies this technical knowledge to unravel letterforms and to classify them in groups, in order to determine the effects of different letterforms on the
reading process.






Journal Article