I Love Typography

History of typography: Old Style

In the first part of this series, we looked at Humanist typefaces; we considered them in their historical context, and took a closer look at some of their distinguishing features and modern-day revivals. Today we’re moving along the time line and will spend a little time familiarising ourselves with some wonderful Old Style typefaces.

Humanist types, we discovered, have strong roots in calligraphy. Old style types, although they owe much to the same roots, show a marked departure from simply mimicking the handwriting of earlier Italian scholars and scribes. It’s from this period, that we can really see type getting into gear. It’s certainly one of the most exciting periods in type history.

old style characteristics

Old Style traits

The Old Style (or Garalde) types start to demonstrate a greater refinement—to a large extent augmented by the steadily improving skills of punchcutters. As a consequence the Old Style types are characterised by greater contrast between thick and thin strokes, and are generally speaking, sharper in appearance, more refined. You can see this, perhaps most notably in the serifs: in Old Style types the serifs on the ascenders are more wedge shaped (figure1.1).

Another major change can be seen in the stress of the letterforms (figure 1.2) to a more perpendicular (upright) position. You may remember our old friend, the lowercase e of the Humanist (Venetian) types, with its distinctive oblique (sloping) crossbar; with Old Style types we witness the quite sudden adoption of a horizontal crossbar (figure 1.3). I spent quite a time trying to discover why the lowercase e should change so dramatically. After searching high and low, and opening just about every type book I own, I decided to post the question on Typophile. Space doesn’t permit to recount the entire tale here, but for those interested in such details, then head on over to the Typophile e crossbar thread. (Thanks to Nick Shinn, David et. al. for their valuable input).

The First Italic Type

And, as we’re on the topic of dramatic changes, during this period we see the very first italic type in 1501. They were first created, not as an accompaniment to the roman, but as a standalone typeface designed for small format or pocket books, where space demanded a more condensed type. The first italic type, then, was conceived as a text face.

Griffo’s contribution to roman type include an improved balance between capitals and lowercase, achieved by cutting the capitals slightly shorter than ascending letters such as b and d, and by slightly reducing the stroke weight of the capitals.
A Short History of the Printed Word, Chappell and Bringhurst, page 92

The Old Style types can be further divided into four categories as in the figure below, and span the roman types from Francesco Griffo to William Caslon I. Unlike the relatively short-lived Humanist faces, the Old Style faces held sway for more than two centuries; a number of them are still popular text faces today.

old style chart

Typeface names in red; notable figures below.

Old Style faces

And here are some more Old Style faces: Berling, Calisto, Goudy Old Style, Granjon, Janson, Palatino, Perpetua, Plantin, Sabon and Weiss, to name but a few.

humanist-vs-old-style.png

So have you enjoyed our brief introduction to the Old Style types? For those of you who would like to test your knowledge, which of these is generally classified as Old Style:

Times New Roman, Baskerville, Concorde, ITC Cheltenham

And, for the type-masochists among you (I fear you are in the majority), here is some Old Style homework:

1. Where does the term Garalde originate?
2. Who commissioned Claude Garamond to cut the grecs du roi?
3. Most modern-day italics are not based on the first Aldine italic (1501) cut by Griffo. What are they modelled on?
4. What is the meaning of the term “Humanist axis”?
5. Owing to a bit of a mix-up, the Janson typeface is named after Nicholas Janson. Who should it be named after?

If you know the answers, then comment away; if you don’t have a clue, then no need to worry. I thought that by posing these questions, everyone could get involved, and that way we can all learn something.

In part three, we’ll take a look at Transitional typefaces. I hope that you’re enjoying the series, thus far. If you have any comments or suggestions, then get typing in the comments section below.

I’ll be in the UK for the next couple of weeks, so won’t be posting so often. However, upon my return we’ll be back to normal. There’s a whole lot more type lovin’ to come, so stay tuned.
footnote divider
Read Part Three: Transitional Style


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  1. I agree that this is one of the most exciting periods in type history. There’s a degree to which we’d be okay if serifed fonts stopped at Garamond, Palatino, and Minion. (Ah, Minion.)

    Nice article, Johno!

  2. Alec
    You’re a brave man. I hope lovers of the latter-day serifs don’t know where you live ;) I’ve got your back.

  3. That’s ok, Alec… if the “lovers of the latter-day serifs” come after you, I’ve got your back. This period, especially from Garamond to Kis, is where it’s at. All that Fournier, Baskerville, Didot, Bodoni, Scotch Modern, etc. stuff… nowhere near as hot.

  4. Rafael

    Great article Johno. Gonna answer some questions:
    1- Garalde is a mix of the names Garamond and Aldus.
    2- The french king François I.
    These are the ones I know. Maybe I will search for some more answers later.

  5. Dan
    Good to see you here again. Looks as though there’s a Garaldes fan club in the making ;)

    Rafael
    A* (with distinction).

  6. >5. Owing to a bit of a mix-up, the Janson typeface is named
    >after Nicholas Janson. Who should it be named after?

    Nicholas Kis! Or Miklós Kis, I believe, if his name is properly spelled in Hungarian…

    Now someone else can answer 3 and 4.

  7. The Garaldes have *always* had a fan club. Except maybe during the 19th century…

  8. That discussion on Typophile forum was really fascinating! I’m so glad you asked, John! They are a bit heady over there, though, aren’t they? Goodness. But I do feel so much smarter for reading it! They did a good job of analyzing the switch from Humanist to Old Style and it really added a lot to this piece you wrote over here. I find a new appreciation for that little beaked e.

    I see you stole my bold formatting of the names, John. It makes it much easier to read, doesn’t it? :D

    Answer, question 3: tracing everything back, italics are based on “the [mistaken] style of Ancient Rome” -Wikipedia. I was compelled to find out the answers to those questions, John, and I think it’s a great idea to put some of the research back into our own hands instead of just feeding the answers to us.

    I think that many italic faces stand alone and I like to set “fancy” design pieces (formal invitations for example) in italics instead of script or cursive. They seem more sophisticated that way.

    Loved the breakdown and comparison of Humanist and Old Style, by the way. Only the subject of this whole post and I managed to say something about everything except that! Haha

    P.S. Perhaps Tines New Roman is a new face I haven’t heard of yet? But I think Baskerville is generally classified as Old Style, yes?

  9. *GASP* Actually, is it Times New Roman? (oh why didn’t the interrobang come into our contemporary glyph set? Interrobang is my new favorite word today) The stress on the o in TNR is not as straight as on the other ones you listed! I guess I’ve never really had that appreciation for TNR because it’s so common place now.

    EE!! And the iLT header is set in Garamond!! *swoons* I see what you mean about loving this post, John. I do!

  10. Just a little suggestion: why don’t you make a one-page PDF for each of this posts on Type Terminology? I’d like to have a brief synthesis of the main traits for each one, maybe using visual cues and… good types. ;)

    Thank you again for those great posts… and this blog. ;)

  11. Ah, Old Style. They’re just prettier fonts. Garamond and Bembo, in particular. I like Adobe Jenson Pro a lot. Is that some variation on something in the style of Janson. The near-spelling of some names still makes me scratch my head at times; and I wonder whether I’m classifying the type correctly. But I’ve yet to see a type labeled “Old Style” that I didn’t like.

  12. Johno
    Great article! Old style is great for long runs, but personally I’ll take a newer created serif over Old Style any day of the week. Well, unless of course I am setting something more professional or elegant. Feel free to ask why or discuss this topic as well, I would love to hear what people think.

    Folletto
    Keep checking the site and you might just get what you asked more. Probably, more than you asked for ;)

  13. Sure, Cody, I’ll bite. How come you like newer types? I find that there’s an elegance and a kind of delicate sturdiness to the Old Styles that are just beautiful. Everything else, except for sans serifs, seem somehow clunky to me.

  14. Steve, Jenson and Janson are very different. I wish they didn’t have such similar names! I get them confused all the time. I believe Jenson is definitely a Humanist face (note in particular it’s cute little beaked e) and Janson is this style, Old Style. Take a look at Jenson and tell me what you think. Jenson comes with the Adobe products, but Janson does not.

    Cody, I’m curious, too. Why do you like the modern serif faces better? I looooove old style. They are very elegant to me.

  15. Great piece, i have finaly learned, what are ascenders :). Keep it up.

  16. Okay, I see it putting the two of them—Jenson and Janson—side-by-side. How about Warnock Pro? To me, Warnock Pro appears to have a bit too much contrast between thick and thin stokes. No beak or slant to the e. How would you categorize it?

  17. ah, old style…

    some say good typography is when it doesn’t get into way.
    when i can read a book and the type “makes love to my eyes”,
    just facilitates the text, communicates it, but does not point
    to itself..

    an ugly face definitely turns away the reader.

    but with old style it’s the other way around with me.
    some years ago i’ve got Satanic Verses as a present
    from my brother, and it’s set in some kind of old style
    (i’ll check when i get home) and i have found myself staring
    at the type every 20 minutes, it was so beautiful…

    that means “too” beautiful face is just as bad as an ugly one :-]

  18. Minusf, you’ve hit the nail exactly on the head. I don’t know of any other appropriate way to design and lay out a book but to convey the writer’s words to the reader, facilitating the connection between reader and author. Anything that makes the reader stop reading to admire the layout or the types used is simply a distraction. That’s not what I get paid to do.

  19. 3 - After a bit of googling I found out that the humanist axis tries to mimic the natural inclination of the writing hand… I guess you can see that in the Humanist lowercase e.

    minusf - I agree with that partially. In body text, good typography should not get noticed as it has to support the textr rather than take attention away from it.
    However, I think that in poster design, typography can/should be the central point of attention…

  20. Squawk
    of course i agree.

    but i am of the small typography folk,
    far from the Knuth-lands,
    where beautiful documents
    are typeset using arcane formulas
    not unlike alchemist have done in the past
    before WYSIWYG was no more than what is now:
    an obscure abbreviation :]

    i am a level 3 novice of the ConTeXt clan
    and microtypography is our trade :]

  21. First, thanks to Zachary who discovered why my alternative article headers were not displaying in Safari. Now fixed.

    Oh, you noticed I copied your name formatting ;)
    I would love to tell you that Tines New Roman is a reworking of Times New Roman; however, it’s just a humble typo. (Corrected now, thanks). Pleased you noticed the Garamond header—thought you might appreciate that. In fact, I also wanted to use one of the Old Style types for the Old Style chart in the article, but with only 500px to play with, they just don’t work at small sizes on screen.

    The Jenson/Janson one often confuses. I guess it needs someone to come up with a clever mnemonic as an aid to distinguishing them. The only thing that comes to mind (off the top of my head) is:

    eat Jenson and Janson.

    And just as the e precedes the a in eat, so Jenson (Humanist/Venetian) precedes Janson (Old Style/Garalde). I’m sure someone can think of a smarter way.

    A note to small children: never eat type unless supervised by an adult.

    And about Baskerville: stay tuned :)

    Cody
    You’ve started an interesting discussion there. I might chime in on that one later.

    Folletto
    Good to see you here. It had been my plan to release a PDF version of each of these articles (also an edited/expanded PDF version of the entire series). It’s just a time-thing; however, as Cody suggests, keep your eyes peeled; they and more will come soon enough.

    nomes
    Pleased you learned something. I’m sure you can now figure out what descenders are too.

    Minusf
    Your mention of alchemist brings to mind this:

    [Geofroy] Tory was interested in alchemy—but in his case, it was the alphabetical alchemy practiced by printers and publishers, who attempted in their own way to turn lead into gold and language into immortality.
    A Short History of the Printed Word, page 113

    …lead into gold and language into immortality. Isn’t that just beautiful.

    Stephen
    A true Old Style type-trooper.
    And this comes to mind, yet again,

    Typography has one plain duty before it and that is to convey information in writing. No argument or consideration can absolve typography from this duty.
    —Emil Ruder

  22. Really great in depth information on old style classification. :) Good Stuff!

  23. Sorry guys! I know I started a little discussion up there, but I’m away from a computer for a few days and I definitely don’t want to be typing an entire post from my iPod.

    Expect an answer tomorrow! Have a great weekend until then!

  24. I don’t like classifications, to me they are just vocabulary who help to discuss typefaces, so many typefaces belong to several classifications categories, even historical ones.

    For example, Caslon, depending which one, can be more a transitional/Réale than an oldstyle/Garalde.
    Your exemple of Garamond seems to be the Monotype Garamond, base on Jannon type, so its again more a transitional/Réale than pure oldstyle/Garalde.

    So, probably that the best is to never show a contemporary typefaces put in one category but more taking a contemporary typeface, and start to describe it using the type vocabulary. Typography is not an exact science, nobody have the answer, we just have some opinions.

  25. Jean François
    I agree with you about the weaknesses inherent in any system of classification (inside and outside the field of type). However, I think they can be useful as an educational tool to make people aware of how and why types are different.

    Moreover, the main reason for choosing this system (Humanist, Old Style, Transitional, etc.) is simply that it follows an approximate chronological order, so it’s a good opportunity to introduce the history of type and talk about how type changed and why.

    Another problem with type classification is that it’s always one step behind: new faces come along that defy classification under the present system, and so the system must be altered—something of a vicious circle, isn’t it.

    And, yes, it is indeed Monotype’s flavour of Garamond. Thanks for your comment.

  26. johno (iLT)
    ehm, it was me who dragged out alchemy :)

    yes, type drawing the readers’ eyes for any reason is not preferred.
    but how can a typist know what the reader will find ugly/beautiful?
    i urge everyone to go and have a look at Thompson’s Kingdom of Fear
    (i have a different edition, i’ll specify when i get home)
    it is just beautiful. and quite unique, lots of types mixed inside,
    very playful.

    (ps. i am writing an article for iLT (if it gets accepted)
    but dont hold your breath :])

  27. John,
    I think we agree on most, but for one point, I think I wasn’t clear: We don’t need to modify existing classifications/vocabulary because of new typefaces.

    We just need to use the vocabulary to describe a new typeface: If I take ITC Berkeley, I will say that is a Humanist/Humane (to use the ATypI-Vox words) with some elements from the Didones (serif structure/system). My Apolline is a bit similar on the description with flat serifs, despite that the style is quite Humane, on the case of Apolline, I will add it also to the Flared/Incised category.

    The best to do with that stuff, is rather to use classifications as starting point, is to use some “masters” typefaces as references from which we can put others around, exactly like in music when you try to describe a new music/group/singer, you always find several existing musicians to try to explain with words to friends how good your last new purchase from ITMS is damn goooood.

  28. I follow your series about how to assign typefaces to a certain period, style and form with great interest. It gives me a better understanding of the matter and helps me to translate German terminology into English.

    There was a German typographer and bookdesigner called Hans Peter Willberg (died 2003). He was co-author of a book about type classification. The title of the book: “Schriften erkennen”, meaning “Recognizing typefaces”. So he did the same as you do here, but sometimes uses a different terminology. As far as I can tell, the classification in this book is the most popular in Germany.

    For example, what you call “Humanist”, he calls Venetian Renaissance Antiqua. Antiqua originally refers to the serif typefaces designed since the renaissance, as opposed to the blackletter fonts that had been used till then.

    What you call “Oldstyle”, Willberg calls French Renaissance Antiqua. So here again he refers to a geographic origin. However, this gets a bit confusing when he classifies Bembo as French Renaissance Antiqua, although the typeface originates in Venice. Still, Bembo shares all the characteristics of a French Renaissance Antiqua (or Oldstyle). It is just the word “French” that is confusing in this case.

    In that book, Jenson is indeed classified as what you call Humanist. Janson, though, is then something different, Willberg calls it a Barock Antiqua. Also Baskerville, Concorde, and Cheltenham are mentioned under the name Barock Antiqua. Which might be what you call Transitional. But that remains your secret till you publish the next article in this series. Also I look forward to learning where you put typefaces like Bodoni and Didot.

  29. minusf & johno: I was wondering where the alchemy came from. But, yes, sometimes typography seems to be just like it. (I discovered that recently when I tried to digitalise some type sketches of mine: They look awesome on paper, but horrible onscreen.

    From which idle chamber did thou drag poesy?

  30. Rereading the articles on Humanist and Old Style typefaces, I got to wondering a coupla things. First … So what variety of types—Old Style, Humanist, Transitional, etc., not which particular typeface—do you design with? And, second, what are you (type designer, book designer, advertising artist, etc.)/what do you do with types?

  31. :D My name in Garamond! It’s almost as good as having my name up in lights. Not that I know what the latter feels like.

    John, so some of us have answered the questions you posed above, are our answers correct? What are italics based on? And which of those typefaces is considered Old Style? Was I right about the Times New Roman (I didn’t mean to be harsh about the typo, I just thought it was funny. I was picturing some Romanesque forks in a new typeface…)

  32. Another great article, and great discussion as well! I’d love to chime in more thoroughly, but I’ll have to let this all gell in my head for a while…

    Also, on a somewhat unrelated note, it’s nice to see that you’re styling blockquotes now :)

  33. Jean François
    Thanks for the clarification. I like what you say about using those “master” typefaces as reference points, and the musical analogy.

    Some time ago, I started writing a piece about the Vox-ATypI system. As ATypI’s President, perhaps you could point me to some good material on this topic. I was unable to find very much.

    Now I’m wondering whether Beyoncé is Humane and/or Flared :)

    [for those who are reading this and wondering why I would mention Beyoncé and type in the same sentence, then please visit the Deréon page on the Porchez Typofonderie web site. Though you’ll have to wait until 2011 to get your hand’s on Beyoncé’s Deréon.]

    Stephen
    That’s one big question. I don’t really have a favourite class of types (though I have my favourite typefaces). The answer to your question about which typefaces I design with is: whatever honours the content; and depends on historical context, the substrate, the actual copy, etc., etc.; perhaps you were half-expecting that answer (and perhaps you’d answer similarly if asked the same question).

    My personal taste in type is probably not that useful to anyone. And, what do I use type for? Everything from magazine spreads, ad’s, posters, web design, to my Grandmother’s Christmas card. Although I’ve been designing my own typeface for some time, I’d never compare myself with the professional type designers that comment here on iLT. My own experiments with type design are simply for my own education; they’ve helped me to appreciate good typefaces that much more. But if someone like JFP or Spiekermann or Sowersby et. al. can be compared to Mozart or Elgar or Chopin, then I’m the guy at the back playing the triangle (but loving it).

    Lauren
    Don’t worry; your comment on my typo made me laugh. I think if ever I publish my own face, it should be named Tines Typo. And about the answers to those questions. Someone else mailed me the other day to remind me that I never published the answers to the questions I posed in Part One. Stanley Morison’s Times New Roman (within the classification system I’m using for this series) is certainly Old Style (modelled on Plantin, in fact).

    About the italics: most modern-day italics are loosely modelled/inspired by the later italic of Ludovico Arrighi rather than the Aldine of Griffo. Perhaps I should have a solutions page…

    Hamish
    Yes, it’s about time I got around to styling those blockquotes; though I’m still not happy with them.

    Daniel
    Many thanks for your comment. Very interesting indeed. I’ll try to find that book.

  34. Daniel
    Any chance there’s an English translation of the Willberg book? It sounds like it might be a most interesting read. My college German has been unattended so many years, it would be grossly underestimating to call it rusty.

    Johno
    I do, indeed, agree with your sense that the material helps to define the types used. That said, however, it’s pretty clear to me that, over time, the grouping from which I choose those individual types tends to be Old Styles. So whether a deliberate choosing of Old Styles, or—like me—a preference that’s evidenced itself over time, I’m wondering which grouping people end up getting their types from. And for what kind of work, and what they call themselves to define the their work.

  35. Stephen, there are a great many good newer books published in German by H.P. Willberg, and others. Unfortunately, almost none of them have been printed in English. Perhaps someday I’ll translate a few other them…

    Schriften erkennen, however, is almost a big workbook-style book for university-level design students. It is heavily illustrated. Or, you could say that it is almost a big illustrated book that has lots of text in its captions ;-) Even without any German, one would probably be able to glean a lot from the book.

  36. Thanks, Dan. Good to know that it’s a workbook format. Point’s moot, however, since I can’t seem to find a copy at a reasonable price.

  37. Stephen
    Sure, Cody, I’ll bite. How come you like newer types? I find that there’s an elegance and a kind of delicate sturdiness to the Old Styles that are just beautiful. Everything else, except for sans serifs, seem somehow clunky to me.

    Lauren
    Cody, I’m curious, too. Why do you like the modern serif faces better? I looooove old style. They are very elegant to me.

    Well, I was going to type out a nice long comment on why I would choose a newer serif over an old style serif, but you already went over my main point for doing so!

    Rereading the articles on Humanist and Old Style typefaces, I got to wondering a coupla things. First … So what variety of types—Old Style, Humanist, Transitional, etc., not which particular typeface—do you design with? And, second, what are you (type designer, book designer, advertising artist, etc.)/what do you do with types?

    Like Johno pointed out, I can’t say I have a favorite style, but I do have a lot of favorite typefaces. That group tends to lean away from the older faces. Why? Maybe because I’m young? And again, like Johno pointed out, it comes down to most of the work I have done. When you are working on projects where an elegant face wouldn’t suit and would probably hinder, I would of course choose something with more “body” or something more “clunky”. All this being said, it’s beginning to sound like I am some classical serif hater, but that’s not the case! I totally agree with both of you, serif faces are elegant and very beautiful! Thus, why I don’t use them often.

  38. Well, let me try asking this way: So you have a lot of favorite typefaces—do more of them tend to fall into one of the categories, or are they equally distributed among Old Style, Humanist, etc.?

  39. Stephen
    Well, only a few are in the serif old style and humanist category (Sabon, Janson). However, a lot of them fall into the Humanist Sans category.

    Most of my favorite typefaces are actually Sans Serif. Some include: Blender, Wedding Sans, Klavika, Din, and the list goes on.

  40. Cody, I looked at the ones you mention above. I can see the strength in some of them. I must admit, tho’, to not liking the “M” in both Wedding Sans and Klavika; I also don’t care for how the diagonals in Klavika’s “K” meets the vertical.

    The thing with sans serifs is that there are an awful lot more similarities with their letterforms than with serifs. At least to my eye. Which then leads me to thinking there’s not so very much unique about very many sans serifs. Compared to serif faces.

  41. This has been a really fascinating conversation. I feel like I’m learning so much! And I enjoy talking about type with this group; everyone is so welcoming, encouraging and willing to share. It’s a wonderful environment.

    John,
    Solutions page, yes, I think that’s a good idea. Ludovico Arrighi, eh? I’ll have to look him up!

    Cody,
    I understand your point now that these Old Style faces do not fit the message that you present in much of your design work. Having looked through your portfolio, I can see what you mean. You have an inspiring sense of design, by the way. Great job!

    I think I will try to expand my use of some more modern faces, perhaps starting with Meta Serif :D

  42. Stephen
    I can see what you are saying about the “M”. Personally, I don’t think it’s the strongest glyph from the faces, but it works. As for the “K”, I love it! It’s got a personality, and shows extremely well in print (small sizes included).

    Yes, a serif has more potential to be different or unique, but I still find a lot of the serifs the same. Maybe because they all take from the general rules of that certain category. For exmaple, the slanted “e” in the humanist category.

    Lauren
    Yes, I think after looking at most of the work I have done, it’s a little easier to see why I prefer Sans Serifs over Serifs. Inspiring! Thank you very much! That is something that I’m sure every designer strives to hear. And please, if you have any questions about anything in my portfolio or blog, send and e-mail over my way.

  43. Funny thing, It’s 8 or 10 or 12 hours later and I’m up from a dead sleep to find I don’t object to the K or the Ms anywhere near as much as I did last night. Perhaps I was just crotchety and tired. I can see what you’re saying about the K, Cody. However, the Ms do still bother me, tho’ not quite as much.

    Thinking on it, I suppose my preference for serifs is that I work only on books and no advertising. Does that makes sense? I mean, of course, I should be more comfortable with what I use the lion’s share of the time. Even if I also use a sans serif in every book for at least some display items. Or am I just reaching, trying to account for some thought-out reason for a reflexive preference?

  44. I love this site! Not only do I get to feed my rapidly growing type obsession, but I get to learn about the periods and styles of the typefaces! I’m not sure if you would like to include this but there is a great website that holds a variety of lettering workshops and in their photo gallery, the participants of the workshop are chiseling the letterforms out of stone, amazing! Make sure you scroll down a bit to view the photos that I’m talking about.

    I was taken aback by these and just thought I would share it.

    Keep up the great work on the site, I love it! Entertaining and educational!

  45. Stephen
    Funny thing, It’s 8 or 10 or 12 hours later and I’m up from a dead sleep to find I don’t object to the K or the Ms anywhere near as much as I did last night. Perhaps I was just crotchety and tired. I can see what you’re saying about the K, Cody. However, the Ms do still bother me, tho’ not quite as much.

    Good to hear you are coming around ;) I love the K, but like I said earlier, the M still hinders a little bit. I think it’s the width, it makes it look a little too open.

    Thinking on it, I suppose my preference for serifs is that I work only on books and no advertising. Does that makes sense? I mean, of course, I should be more comfortable with what I use the lion’s share of the time. Even if I also use a sans serif in every book for at least some display items. Or am I just reaching, trying to account for some thought-out reason for a reflexive preference?

    No, you are definitely not reaching. It kind of relates to the theory that we are comfortable with what we know. You set books, thus using serif faces 90% of the time (random guess). Of course, you are more drawn to a serif more so than a sans serif. I am exactly the same way. I do more urban, edgy, experimental style design. Most of my work is either a single piece (logo, clothing, poster, advertisement) or around 15 pages at max (brochure, information package, stationary package). I don’t set long runs of type, if I did, I would be using serifs more, but that’s not the case. I am starting a new graphic design position tomorrow and hopefully I am going to get to set longer runs of type, but I think if I do… I will still be drawn towards something a little newer (Le Monde Livre, Meta Serif).

  46. Cody, I think what mothers me about the Ms is that the diagonals don’t go full height from top to bottom. I think … maybe. I took a close look at the Le Monde Livre. Not bad. I could see using that for long stretches of text. I’ll have to see how soon I get something in for design—I seem to have a run of straight book layouts coming up.

    Good luck on the new position. What’s it in primarily, marketing? Advertising? Newspapers? Magazines? I’m always curious how one twist or turn takes a person down one job path rather than another.

    For instance, there’s part of me would like to back up and see what magazine work might have been like. But then I think how I would not have been able to start and cultivate freelance work, off-site and after-hours, quite the way I have with anything but books.

    So, again, good luck with the new!

  47. Stephen
    Le Monde is as absolute beauty and I know Johno agrees. It’s definitely worth looking at.

    My new title is “graphic designer”. So I will be doing basically whatever the company’s clients want. I am thinking that it’s going to be more down the path of promotional (brochure, packages), small things like updating information, logo and identity, maybe some company magazines, and possibly some advertising. It’s really all up in the air right now, but there are some issues with the creative section of the company that I am hoping to smooth out when going in there. Everything seems okay, but, the main issue I have is that there are no designers in the company that I can call a senior. They are bringing me on for my talent and knowledge, to basically learn from me. Which, is of course a great thing, but I should be getting a AD or CD position, not just a design position. I will be doing the same thing a creative director does, just without getting the title and pay. Well, see what happens in a few months though. Things might change.

    Just because you have settled into books doesn’t mean you can’t go out and start something else. One thing that is beautiful about the industry is that there are so many areas you can always go into.

  48. I’m writing this from Amsterdam airport, so it’ll be brief. Did someone mention Le Monde? It is indeed beautiful. If you are in any doubt, I’ll send you a copy of the newspaper. This is one of the types we’ll be using in a hundred years from now.

    I’ll be posting Sunday Type a little later. Thanks to everyone for your patience; always a little more difficult writing away from home/office. Hope everyone is well. I have another plane to catch.

    pj
    Thanks for the great Kis links.

  49. As usual, I liked this article very much.

    However, since I am firmly in the category of iLT readers called New To Typography (why not categorize ourselves as well? hah), I take it very slow and read the articles over several times, especially the ones on type classification. I like to take the fonts you (John) give us as examples, and look them up (at MyFonts) to see if I can find the nuances. Very awesome way to procrastinate … oh, and learn.

    However, this time I had trouble identifying the font (out of the four) that is Old Style, because I didn’t realize that Old Style fonts, while having a more upright stress, still do not have a completely upright stress. John, you write,

    “Another major change can be seen in the stress of the letterforms (figure 1.2) to a more perpendicular (upright) position…”

    Which, to me, was a bit vague, I suppose.

    Now, I don’t want to come off that I’m criticizing! I’m not blaming anyone, just saying what my silly mistake was, in case anyone else learns from it, or might have felt the same. I found that having Robin Williams’ book “The Non-Designer’s Type Book” open to page 22 (Oldstyle) helped too, because that’s one of her identifying characteristics (the still-diagonal stress).

    So, I guess I would also be one of those people asking for a solutions page!

    Now enough about stress! I hope you’re not too stressed on your trip, John, and that the rest of you aren’t too stressed either. And, of course, I’m looking forward to whatever iLT has to say next.

  50. Old Style yeah!! I’m a sucker for pretty fonts :)

    And since LeMonde was mentioned… most of Porchez Typofonderie’s work is really amazing….maybe we get to see a post soon related to some of their work ? :) Costa for example is gorgeous…

  51. A book mentioned above, ‘Schriften erkennen’ by Hans Peter Willberg, about recognizing typefaces and classification, is readily available (German language) from Amazon.de. It costs only 12,80 euro. An English book by the same author is ‘Getting it Right With Type’, also still available.
    I just bought ‘Counterpunch’ by Fred Smeijers. He links 16th century type making with contemporary type design. Good for me, since I’m all for contemporary typefaces, solidly based on tradition.
    -love this site and will keep following the ‘type terms’ posts

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