Making friends
with SideNote

Jamie Clarke is perhaps best known for font families like Span, Brim, and Rig Sans — typefaces toward the more formal end of the type spectrum. So I was surprised and happy to see Jamie’s latest release (with Borys Kosmynka), SideNote, a more casual but by no means comic font family.

I’ve said this before, but I do like typefaces that don’t easily fit into existing traditional categories. When SideNote is viewed at larger sizes, it’s tempting to call it a handwriting typeface. However, when set in blocks of text, it has much more the feel of a humanist sans, albeit with a cursive lilt. This is not a genre that’s easy to get right, and it’s difficult to find a good and practical balance between a handwriting parody and a confused humanist sans. But SideNote hits the nail on the head with its typographic business casual swagger. In all of his work, Jamie shows an obsessive attention to detail, and again this is one of the ingredients contributing to SideNote’s success.

So, what is SideNote good for? Well, it certainly excels when used for side-notes, annotations, captions, footnotes, and short blasts of informal text. This is not a typeface for setting books by Ludwig Wittgenstein or Immanuel Kant. Every typeface has its own voice or tone of voice, and SideNote’s is warm, reassuring, friendly, and approachable. If those are characteristics you’re seeking to amplify, then SideNote is on your side.

But Sidenote is obviously useful for more than paratexts. If you’re looking to set longer blocks of text, SideNote works for that too. It’s eminently readable while dialing back the formality, making it ideal for texts associated with younger readers and early learners. I can also see it excelling in many other applications too: from food labelling and data visualization to educational materials and websites.

Sidenote comes complete with a bunch of emoji, arrows, and underlines — all easily accessible via OpenType substitutions and stylistic sets. So, for example, a thumbs-up emoji will appear when you type “:thumbsup:”. For underlines, just turn on the underline feature in the OpenType menu (in Figma it’s under ‘Details’ in the text menu) and then type the requisite number of equals signs.

SideNote is available exclusively from the ILT font store. To celebrate its release, for a limited time, it’s 50% off.

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