This section is from the book "Cyclopedia Of Architecture, Carpentry, And Building", by James C. et al. Also available from Amazon: Cyclopedia Of Architecture, Carpentry And Building.
There is a workable general rule that may be given for obtaining an even color over a panel of black lettering; that is if the individual letters are so spaced as to have an equal area of white between them this evenness of effect may be attained. But when put to its use, even this rule will be found to be surrounded by pitfalls for the unwary. This rule for spacing must not be understood to mean that it applies as well to composition. It does not: it is, at the best, but a makeshift to prevent one from going far wrong in the general tone of a panel of lettering, and must therefore fully apply only to a legend employing one single type of letter form.
One with sufficient authority and experience to give up dependence upon merely arbitrary rules, and to rely upon his own judgment and taste may, by varying sizes and styles of letters, length of word lines, etc.,obtain a finer and much more subtle effect.
To acquire this authority in modern lettering it is necessary to observe and study the work turned out today by the best designers and draftsmen, such as the drawings of Edward Penfield, Maxfield Parrish, A. B. Le Boutillier and several others. The architectural journals, also, publish from month to month beautifully composed and lettered scale drawings by such draftsmen as Albert E. Boss, H. Van Buren Magonigle, Claude Fayette Brag-don, Will S. Alclrich and others, who have had precisely the same problem to solve as is presented to the draftsman in every new office drawing that he begins.
Of course, the freer and the further removed from a purely Classic capital form is the letter shape employed by the draftsman, the less obliged is he to follow Classic precedent; but at the same time he will find that his drawing at once tends more toward the bizarre and eccentric, and the chances are that it will lose in effectiveness, quietness, legibility and strength.
The student will soon find that he unconsciously varies and individualizes the letters that he constantly employs, until they become most natural and easy for him to form. This insures his developing a characteristic letter of his own, even when at the start he bases it upon the same models as have been used by many other draftsmen.