Sunday type: crossword type

Fraktur Mon Amour

Before I begin, I’d like to thank all those who helped me fix a problem with some of my posts not displaying. Special thanks to Travis and also to Michael over at WP Candy. And all on Twitter. If you haven’t used Twitter, then I recommend it.

Let’s get started with Brand Tags, a simple, great idea from Noah Brier. Look at the brand and enter the first word that comes into your head. The collective results are displayed as a tag cloud:

brand tags

The tag cloud—the use of hierarchy in typography (but be careful with line-spacing). I wonder if you can name the brand from the above tag cloud? In fact there is a backward version of the ‘game’ here.

Next is something for fans of Blackletter. If you’re one, then you won’t want to live without this:

fraktur mon amour

You can find out more on the FontBlog and here. Also a little information (in English) on Typophile. Via Vogelwarte (Twitter).

A wonderful little article by Jonathan Hoefler on the ampersand.

H&FJ on the ampersand

And while we’re on the topic, here’s my kind of plate:

ampersand plate


Some nice work from experimenta in New Zealand:


An interesting series of 14 crypograms from Pentagram. Here’s number five:

decipher by Pentagram

Drain Type from Jessica Tresser:

drain type by Jessica Tresser

And I love this Letraset collage from Able Parris:

Letraset collage


A Flickr group on Fancy Diacritics:

fancy diacritics

There are some general standards for the design and placement of diacritical marks. The examples in this Flickr group are sometimes quite outlandish. For more on Diacritics see here.

Type Design

David Earls has written a wonderful piece on Building type for under $300.

designing type for under 300 dollars

Above is a screen-grab from the Inkscape application. This is part one, so keep your eyes peeled for the next instalment. In fact, there are so many great articles from, that I suggest you subscribe.

Great article on the making of Centro Pro. What started out as a relatively small project, turned into a super-family:

the making of centro pro

Thanks to Jon.

Hindi Rinny is a wonderful blog all about South Asian type and typography:

south asian type

Via TypeOff. There’s also a good Flickr pool on Indic Scripts.

Sunday Type Links

Typographic Humour—Letters to LoveLiza

Typisc rebranded and relaunced as The Subtype Foundry.

Roger Black on Type Radio.

12 Free hand-drawn fonts from fudge graphics.

The Dire State of Book Design—Typophile forum

Event: TypeTogether exhibition in Rosario, Argentina; May 21, 2008

Spice up Your Rails with regexp—see ligatures section.

InDesign Font Conflicts

Type History: a great series of articles by Jean Françcois Porchez.

Autopsy plugin for FontLab

Free Fonts

Three free fonts from Subtype:

free subtype fonts

Cora Basic (free for a limited time, so hurry):

cora basic. free font

Skritch from Haiku Monkey:

skritch free font

Remember to check the license that comes with the font.

A brief note on Kerning

There appears to be some confusion about what Kerning is. Oftentimes, people complain about text and remark, for example, that “the kerning there is awful”. I think it’s down to confusing Kerning with plain-old letter spacing. Kerning is concerned with the spacing between pairs of letters (not only letters, of course). So most often, if you see letters set a little tight or loose, then it’s more than likely the letter-spacing is the issue. Most good fonts are kerned well. However, no type designer can possibly kern every possible combination of glyphs, so in some instances (and when using type at large point-sizes), kerning may be the issue.

kerning and letterspacing

Sometimes poor letter-spacing can be attributed to “optical kerning”. In the Adobe suite of applications, one has the option to set text with optical or metrics kerning. The optical method pretty much ignores the kerning that’s built into the font (that determined by the type designer); metrics pulls the information about kerning from the font’s ‘kerning table’. So, most of the time it’s poor letter spacing, rather than poor kerning. Hope that helps. See also: iLT investigates Type Torture.

If you find your own examples of bad letter spacing, then why not post it to Joey’s Appalling Letter Spacing Flickr Group. You don’t usually need to look far. Your newspaper is a good place to start.

Competition Winners

Last week I held a competition to identify the types used on the cover of Dot Font: talking about type. Two winners were chosen at random. They are Eben Keun and Jongseong Park. And the types used are all from Joshua Darden’s brilliant  Freight family.

freight family

Type Crossword Competition

This week I’ve composed a typography-theme crossword. The crossword is on this page (enter the solutions and click submit); there’s also an image of the crossword that you can download and print, solve, and mail to me—if you’re an analogue kind of person ;)


The prize is the wonderful Haptic typeface family worth $475. Click here to play.

Today’s Type

Phoenica from preussTYPE. I particularly like the hairline weights.


Coming Up

An interview with a Swedish type designer, the final part in the eXtreme Type terms series, and too much more to list here.

And Finally…

Don’t forget to play The Rather Difficult Font Game. Wherever you are, and whatever you’re doing, have a wonderful week.


  1. Amazon! (for the brand tag, that is.) Pretty cool idea. Oh and I love that drain type! Whoa, where did you get $475 to spend on a prize for the crossword??! Ah, donated by the designer; still, that’s an awesome prize! I’m afraid I’m not terribly good at crosswords, but I’ll certainly take a crack at it!

    Interesting that note on kerning… so, I’ve noticed that often the spacing around the V and w (not together) are awkward. Is this poor kerning or poor letter spacing? If the spacing seems good between the rest except for, say, a wa combo, is that kerning or letter spacing?

    Now I’m heading off to read that ampersand article (and the other two symbols that H&FJ wrote about previously). Thanks for the yummy type links! I like this feature on iLT.

  2. Lauren
    Correct! Yes, by all means have a go at the crossword. Having composed it myself, I’m not sure whether it’s difficult or not. I guess I’ll be able to gauge that once the entries start coming in.

    Re your question on kerning: it still really depends on the typeface. And remember too that kerning (and letter spacing) is subjective; I have a preference for a pretty tight Ty, while others might not like their Ty to be quite so intimate.

  3. “while others might not like their Ty to be quite so intimate” - I really like how you humanize typefaces and letters. It’s no surprise that the first name that came to your mind for this blog was ilovetypography ;-)

    Lots of typegoodies you’ve collected together for a week, John, as usual. I too will try the crossword, and I’ve got a bunch of Tabs open, following your links, so I’ve got lots of reading to do, which means my own blog will have to wait again ;-)

    Regarding “kerning”: whenever I’m trying to kern a letter pair, rather than only increasing the space between those two highlighted letters, Photoshop also adds a space before the first letter in the pair and the last one, which I don’t want. Am I doing something wrong, or is it inevitable to get the space increased before, after the kerning pair?

    That’s one helluva crossword you’ve created there, John - well done! Did you use any special crossword software to create it? It’s quite difficult to solve it online, I rather print it and try my best. I’ve got a couple answers already though ;-)

  4. really looking forward to the eXtreme Type terms series. the free fonts were great and although im not really a crossword person i will be trying it right now first thing in the morning :-)

  5. I really like Noah’s recent project. It’s such a simple idea, but I found myself wanting to see the tag cloud for more and more brands. Did you look at his spin-off, Celeb Tags? Seems to be quite a few negative submissions amongst his chosen celebrities. I guess people are more inclined to envy other people rather than companies.

  6. Ben

    With the Pentagram, if that image is what it says it’s suppose to say, “KEEP STILL” mirrored, it actually says “KEEP STTIL” ??

  7. inspirationbitwhenever I’m trying to kern a letter pair, rather than only increasing the space between those two highlighted letters, Photoshop also adds a space before the first letter in the pair and the last one, which I don’t want.

    You can try to uncheck Fractional Widths in the Characters panel :)

    Now I have to try that crossword! But Johno, do I need a plugin or something, or is it the way it’s meant to be that the words don’t appear in the crossword itself?

  8. nicetype
    No, the words don’t actually appear in the crossword—I’m not that clever :)

  9. Well, you never know if it’s just a static image, or a new Web 2.0 app which won’t work because you haven’t installed Silverlight :)

  10. I would love to find some Letraset to play… Letraset and a xerox machine would make my day!

    (Private talk, everybody look around: John, I know you’re busy, but I would love to know when you’ll be able to publish my translations. Do you prefer I send it in another format? Thank you and sorry. ^.^)

  11. hey, thanks for the ampersand article. I’m an old ampersand junkie from way back! ;-)

  12. Hi Jon.

    Another great Sunday Type. Love the cross word puzzle. Going to give it a shot when I get home. And what a prize.

    But font of the day has got to go to Centro Pro. Fantastic.

    Have a good one.


  13. Ben

    Hi John…

    Is it just me or is 39 down missing from list of questions for the crossword? And 47 down?


  14. Congrats for the Typesites analysis! One thing that I would add is that the links markup here seem like a tag. You could change the border color to red, or maybe a solid red border would be better.

  15. Nice plate! Me wants.

  16. Ben
    Well spotted and thank you. Fixed now!

  17. nicetype, thanks so much for the tip on Fractional widths in the Characters panel.

  18. hmm… was my comment flagged as a spam just now?
    I’ll try again — I was just thanking nicetype for the tip on Fractional widths.

    huh… this one worked ;-)

  19. Vivien, and you know John’s cat is named fifi because he likes that ligature (or is it techincally a kerning pair. I get confused…)? Hehe, Typenut (yes, uppercase T!) for sure!

    Is it cheating to research the answers to the crossword?

    I’m still a little confused on the kerning thing. Does letter spacing = tracking? And could I correctly rephrase “pairs of letters” as ANY two characters?

  20. Erm, there are two clues for #39 and 47… (I haven’t figured out the answers, so they may lead to the same word)

  21. Lauren

    Is it cheating to research the answers to the crossword?

    Not at all. Research is a great idea. I have now included clues 39 and 47.

    Apologies for that. I have no idea why your comment should find its way into the spam queue. Hopefully won’t happen again.

  22. Great list, and thanks for the mention, again! I finally found some time to play the Rather Difficult Font Game. 23 out of 34 got me 165th place. I appreciate the name of the game, it doesn’t make me feel incredibly stupid for missing so many. ;)

    Oh, and what plug-in is powering the paginating tool at the bottom of your site now? That is great!


  23. Aaron Strontsman

    The description of how to go about designing a typeface for under 300 Dollars pretty much covers all the software I tried to use for digitising my handwriting — only my platform was Windows and my scanner driver was proprietary. However, I didn’t get very far, because for one, Fontforge is rather stubborn (I just couldn’t find any dialog to set letter spacing — as opposed to dragging some vertical that will choose arbitrary values of where to lock) and crashy (at least on Windows) and I’m really inexperienced.
    The upside of my lack of experience is that I’ve never been spoiled by Adobe software and have always used its open-source counterparts.

  24. Wow, you never cease to amaze, John.

    I would have replied earlier, but I was sick all of Monday, and didn’t spend too much time online.

    Some great fonts here. I love Centro Pro, very unique.

    And thanks for clearing up the differences between Kerning and Letter-spacing. It’s easy to confuse the two. I know I have, in the past.

    Also, really great work on the crossword! I’ll have to print it out and take some time to work on it this week.

    Looking forward to all the great posts to come! Thanks again.

  25. Great article!
    Thanks, (‘)i love typography(‘)!

    Nout van Deijck - Blog

  26. Yet another amazing Sunday Type. That crossword puzzle is intense, I hope I can finish it in time.

  27. Jessica Tresser

    Hey thanks for posting an image of my pipe type project! if you want to see some more images of it check my blog :)

  28. Felipe
    Your translated article is here (published today). Many thanks again. I’ll post part 2 soon.

    Então Você Quer Criar uma Fonte. Parte 1

  29. “Drain Type” is a lovely installation piece, even if it didn’t involve type.
    *gasp* Did I just speak blasphemy?

    Also, I’m glad you mentioned Inkscape; I really like using that program, as well as many other Open Source programs.

  30. emily

    John, when is the crossword due? I’m still trying my best to wrestle with it.

  31. Emily
    You have until Sunday midnight (JST). Good luck.

  32. Oops, I’ve made that letter-spacing/kerning mistake before… well, probably. I’d have to look at the dodgy text to see which it really was. Anyway, glad to learn something new. :)

    I really like that Phoenica.

  33. :( The crossword doesn’t work on my computer. The arrows aren’t showing and I’m not sure if the clues are right. Did I miss the opportunity to do it, I’m sure I missed the competition, but I thought it’d still be doable.

  34. kristarella
    That happened to be one time in Safari. Thought it was a one-off anomaly. Anyway, I’ve now replaced the arrows with [a] for across, [d] for down. Let me know if OK.

  35. Were they in html (e.g. ↓ )? Not sure why they didn’t work.
    Anyway, thanks :)

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