Mary C. Dyson

Mary wrote this text on the invitation of María González de Cossío, and was guided and supported by María throughout the process. Mary studied psychology as an undergraduate and then went on to complete a PhD in auditory perception. Soon after this, through serendipity, she became a lecturer in the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication at the University of Reading, UK. The transition seems somewhat unusual but the position was linked to the field of Electronic Publishing, as it was called in the 1980s. Mary’s research training had included working with computers and these skills were helpful in her new role. As a consequence, Mary’s early research was focused on reading from screen and the effects of typographic variables on reading speed, reading strategies, and comprehension, closely related to legibility. This developed into looking at how we read which required a focus on individual letters and typeface characteristics.

Lacking any design training, Mary’s teaching covered the theory of typography and research methods, drawing heavily on psychology. Over a period of 30 or so years, she has supervised around twenty PhD students whose research spans a range of topics. These supervisory experiences have been incredibly rewarding, challenging, stimulating and have led to some valuable friendships. They have also informed and shaped Mary’s approach to interdisciplinary work, helping remove barriers between her psychological approach and design practice. We hope this is evident in the way the book is written. Mary has now retired from academic life, though still pursuing the occasional project.

María González de Cossío

María first studied Graphic Design and then continued searching for answers in topics such as design processes and objectives, teaching methods, users’ understanding, and the social role of Design. She pursued graduate studies in the U.S.A., Switzerland and Mexico, and collaborated with Gui Bonsiepe in the design of the Master’s programme in Information Design in Puebla, Mexico. She obtained her PhD in Design at the University of Reading. Her research was geared to the understanding of readers while navigating in electronic documents. She approached her studies with an interdisciplinary basis, combining cognitive and environmental psychology, design, information design and space related topics, which gave her a wide view of design processes.

María founded the Centre for Advanced Studies in Design (CEAD) in Puebla, Mexico to promote the professionalisation of design practice through education, consulting and research. At CEAD, María edited several texts by world renowned authors in the areas of legibility, letter and type history, rhetoric and information design, while the Centre offered high-level courses in those areas. The Centre also developed unique information design projects with different interdisciplinary teams.