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I Love Typography

I Love Typography

eXtreme Type Terminology

Part Three: The ‘Black Art’–by Paul Dean

An invisible grid of parallel horizontal lines is used as a constant reference in the creation of a font. It resembles a musical score and its four (or five) horizontal lines represent, from top to bottom, the ascender line (the height of the highest ascender), which is sometimes equivalent to and sometimes higher than the ascent or capline (the height of the capital letters). Next comes the meanline or waist line (the height of a lowercase x), which can be referred to as a high waist line or a low waist line; the baseline (on which the letters appear to rest); and finally, at the very bottom, the descent, descender or beard line (the level to which the lowest descenders descend).

5 lines of type

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Sunday type: dotsquared type

Don’t forget your Underware

First, a big thank you to all who read and commented on On Choosing Type. I’m in search of contributing authors who can write case studies on type choice for, say, a redesign. For example, Creative Review magazine recently redesigned and chose to use Farnham throughout; an article on why a certain type was chosen and how it compliments other elements – that’s the kind of thing I’m after. If you’re interested, then simply email me at johno@ this domain.

Let’s begin our Sunday Type with Smoothing Out the Creases with Web Fonts, from Jon Tan. I mentioned the importance of checking your type across different systems, and Jon’s article considers the rendering of fonts in OSX and Windows. Great article.

Smoothing Out the Creases with Web Font

Free Fonts

A great little—with emphasis on the little—font from those talented people at Underware. A number of people have emailed to ask which typeface I use to set the the captions for illustrations. In fact, I stole the idea from Kris Sowersby after he used it for his article Newzald: From Moleskine to Market. It’s only designed to be used at one size, 8pt; but I guess there’s nothing stopping you using it at larger sizes too—might be fun.

You can download it for free from Underware (as always, remember to read the license).

And on the topic of free fonts, Pointy has been updated. You can download the updated version here (free for non-commercial use).

Gentium, the Open Source font is now in its final release. You can download Gentium here.

Our fourth free font is the sans serif Graublau Web (regular and bold). It has been released with web-font embedding in mind. Pity it doesn’t at least include an italic.

typeface: graublau we

One of the concerns I have with so-called web fonts, is that we may well see a whole raft of copy-cats—good type tweaked and re-licensed. Let’s hope not.

Bake your own

FontStruct is a brilliant new type-creation tool from FontShop. It’s very well conceived and excellently executed. It’s incredibly easy to use. If you do create something, be sure to tell me about it. Perhaps we could feature some of the Fontstruct fonts right here.

All of the designs come under a Creative Commons license, so you can share and download freely. I really like the dingbats font Kawaii, Schema Basic Bold, Blockhead, and dotSquared Arena.

dotsquared arena made with fontstruct

Next is an interesting take on the anatomy of type posted on typomil:

type anatomy

Created by David Březina and; Martin Pecina. Thanks Mac for the link.

Saving your screen with type

This must be the best screen-saver ever:

It’s called DropClock and can be downloaded for both Mac and Win. Thanks to Eliot Jay Stocks.

The FontFeed has two excellent interviews with Martin Majoor (designer of one of my favourite typefaces, Scala) and with the enormously talented (why don’t we hear more about him?) Xavier Dupré (Vista Sans, Megano, et al.).

The interviews are available as PDFs to download for free. Be sure to read them!

Fun type

Want a typeface that brings a smile to your face? Look no further than LOVOLO:

Via whywerock.com.

Christian Schwartz does Tokyo

The talented Mr Schwartz is in Tokyo on Tuesday to speak at Tab Talks 4. I was hoping to get there, though it’s unlikely now. Tokyo is a long way from me (and domestic travel in Japan is insanely expensive). If you are closer to Tokyo than me, then why not head over to Shinagawa and see him in the flesh. Be sure to take some photos for iLT. The talk will be in English with a Japanese interpreter (not the other way round).

Smashing Lettering

Some stunning and inspirational lettering in Smashing Magazine’s Beautiful Handwriting, Lettering and Calligraphy post:


Sunday links

Now go out and buy FF Utility—TypeOff
My favourite April Fool—typotheque
Type quiz 6—Unzipped
Baseline grids in Indesign—CreativeCurio
Hand-painted signs—ableparris
Numerous Numerals explained—FontFeed
Get the Helvetica off our money—via Daring Fireball
Bernard Levin—Ace Jet 170
Dutch Type Library—(if like me, you’re a fan of Dutch type)
We don’t serve your type here—inspirationbit
Friday Font Fond: Omnes—How Blog
Estupido Espezial–H&FJ
Styling text links—Andy Rutledge (yes, I promise to fix mine soon)
Font flags—Jacob Cass
Type Talk: your questions answered—Ilene Strizver
New typeface: Enotmik—aisleone Typo Hunt Across America—via ATypI

Expressive Words update

Karly certainly started something when she posted about her own type exercise. Mauel from Æstheticrew has also had a go. Anyone else?

Today’s types

First up is Marat, selected by the Type Directors Club of New York to receive the Certificate of Excellence in Type Design in the Text / Type Family category. And excellent she is:

and Miss Fitzpatrick from Umbrella Type. Gotta love that capital M.

And be sure to check out ILT’s April Fonts in the sidebar (right, and up a bit). So much more to come, so subscribe to ensure you don’t miss out. Thanks for reading, and have a great Sunday.

On Choosing Type

First Principles

Typography is not a science. Typography is an art. There are those who’d like to ‘scientificize’; those who believe that a large enough sample of data will somehow elicit good typography. However, this sausage-machine mentality will only ever produce sausages. That typography and choosing type is not a science trammeled by axioms and rules is a cause to rejoice.

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Arise Sir Erik Spiekermann

And About Time Too

Finally, Professor Erik Spiekermann has received the recognition he deserves. The information architect and ‘father of fonts’ has become a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) on the diplomatic list for services to the global development of type.

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Sunday Type: farnham type

It’s a big one, captain

Loosen your belts because this one’s a big one. Not sure where to start, so why not start with a receding hairline. Well, that’s the name of Christopher’s blog; and why do I mention it? Because he’s written a good little piece entitled Ten typographic mistakes everyone makes.

First, something for the children, or for the child in you: Action Type, type gone 3D:

Looking for engraved stationery? engravedstationery.org is a great place to start.

Thanks to Jon Tan (via Twitter)

Love these designs by Toko (discovered the talented TOKO via aisleone)

For some Found Type inspiration, take a look at Joseph Robertson’s Flickr Type Set.

We’ve had letterpress on old maps. Here’s some type on old Damask wallpaper:

via swissmiss

And some more letter-blocks—slab serifs, please:

And another interesting image from the same site. Can you spot the type? This one has given me some ideas!

Some heavy-weight inspiration. This is my type of Elephant. Elephantype, if you like:

Typesites review of AIGA DC’s Are You a Virgin? site.

Next up is an excellent piece on Typewriter Typefaces. I’m sure there are many more yet to be digitized; would be a shame to lose them:

Roundup Type

Open Source Cynicism
A critical review of Eric Gill’s An Essay on Typography—Paul Rand
In Your Face—featuring 256TM.
OpenType Icons—via Manuel.
typofont—Swedish type blog from Magnus. Like the header (perhaps because it’s set in one of my very favorite typefaces)
forensic typography—from H&FJ

Karly’s Expressive Type (update)

Last week I mentioned the type exercise that Karly set herself. Looks as though she inspired others to have a go. Here are two of them: Vlad (like his take on the word ‘magic’—with the omitted ‘a’); and Matt Jewell (with a very lonely ‘o’. Perhaps I’ll work with Karly to set a type exercise every couple of weeks. What do you think? And what would you think if there were prizes involved?


A great free PDF magazine that you may not have come across before is Letterspace, the newsletter of the Typpe Designers Club. It’s a darn good read.

I particularly enjoyed Cyrus Highsmith’s article Do we need more fonts? from the winter 2008 issue (PDF link at the bottom of that page).

Today’s Type

Zanzibar, yet another lovely script from Mark Simonson:

Two from Umbrella Type. The first, a curvy sans, Sans Original

the second, a scratchy handwriting-inspired script called On the Line

and Farnham by Christian Schwartz, the new face of the redesigned Creative Review. I just got my copy through the mail, and it looks gorgeous. Farnham is an excellent choice and comes in four million weights and styles (42, actually):

Coming up

Several interviews, part four of the Type Terms/Type History series; part three of Paul Dean’s eXtreme type; iLT’s second-quarter 15 Great Examples of Web Typography; and an article on Selecting Open Source Fonts. Oh, and the first iLT t-shirts will be available soon. Initially, there will be three designs to choose from. An opportunity to get some type on your chests before summer.

Have a great Sunday. See you all in April.

eXtreme Type Terminology

Part 2: Anatomy of a Letterform—by Paul Dean

I was killing time and pain at a nearby bar called The Ear, so named because the two ribs of the ‘B’ in the neon sign that read ‘Bar’ had burned out years ago. So had most of the patrons.”—Kinky Friedman, Blast From the Past, 1998.

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Sunday Type: bright type

The Eagle Has Landed

Welcome to another Sunday Type. I’ve now moved, have unpacked most boxes and even have a connection to the Internet. Time to celebrate with a Shandy. Thanks to everyone who has mailed me this past couple of weeks. I’m a little behind in answering mails, so please bear with me.

I was recently looking for some top-quality type photos to illustrate an article, and came across some very nice ones from the type junkie on Flickr:

metal type

Type Junkie also has a nice type blog; and I’m really tempted to buy this Mixed Keys photo:

mixed keys typojunkie

Next is a tip for Mac Leopard users that I wasn’t aware of until I read about it on H&FJ—the space-bar preview; never thought of using it for anything other than images.


Via allmyliesarewishes.com.

Always great to see readers of iLT experimenting with type. Karly set herself an exercise from Designing With Type. Read more about it on Karly’s blog:

type exercises

How about doing your own using the above four words, lost, charge, bright, and bloom.

Another excellent piece on the TypeFoundry blog, on the construction of brass matrices for big type—struck with steel punches or cast?

brass matrices

It’s a follow-up to Big brass matrices: a mystery resolved? If you’re not quite sure what matrices are, then Wikipedia has a brief article describing them.

And for children of typenuts everywhere:


Thanks, Lauren.

Next, an amazing popup book. The v/w is among my favorites, for its simplicity. How about you?

Thanks, Alec.

Sunday Type Links

The Typesetter forum
Asciify: ASCII art library
TypeCon2008: Punkt
Wordpress Theme Upstart Blogger Underscore
Ealing typeface, designed by Michael Parson—via How Blog
Safari 3.1, now with web fonts—Aestheticrew (and WebKit too, of course)
Kinematic typography roundup
Typography Day—Bombay
Graffiti – Graphic Design Developed From Older Cultures
60 Brilliant Typefaces For Corporate Design

Today’s Types

Calgary from Umbrella Type:


The rounded sans serif, Propane:


and Museo from Jos Buivenga, in 5 weights; three are free:

museo typeface

Coming Up

An interview with a female type designer. I’ll leave you guessing. More Extreme Type Terminology from Paul Dean, an article on Choosing Type, typeface reviews, and lots more.

Have a wonderful Sunday everyone.

eXtreme Type Terminology

Part 1: The Detection of Types—by Paul Dean

The detection of types is one of the most elementary branches of knowledge to the special expert in crime.–The Hound of the Baskervilles, 1902.

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Sunday Type: monday type

First, I must apologies that today’s Sunday Type is closer to a Monday Type. I have now moved and am surrounded by numerous half-open boxes, and I have to wait until March 21 until I get connected. What an odd feeling it is not be connected to the Internet. Anyway, I’ve found an Internet Café close by, so I’ll survive until I get connected at home. Oddly enough, I appear to have lost several boxes during the move, and my heart missed a beat when I thought that I’d forgotten my FontBook. Anyway, that’s quite enough of moving mishaps. Here’s Sunday Type:

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Newzald: From Moleskine to Market

By Kris Sowersby

In this article I will attempt to illustrate my design process—from typeface concept to a marketable font. Not many folks are willing to write about this. Perhaps they find it boring, irrelevant or just a little bit personal. I suspect it is a mix of all the above.

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Sunday Type: illegible type

cn u rd mi?

Welcome to another Sunday Type. It’s time to forget about work, kick off your shoes, sit back and feel some type lovin’. What’s all this about illegible type? Isn’t type meant to be read? On the whole, yes; but sometimes it’s interesting to see how far we can stretch type before it breaks. At what stage does type become unreadable or illegible. For that reason, I like this experiment from James Elsey:

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The Best Type of 2007

And the nominations are…

I had planned on publishing Typographic Detail for the Web, but Typographica has just released its annual Our Favorite Typefaces. It’s always an inspiring list, and a precursor of some of the fine things to come. Interestingly they’ve renamed it. Formerly it had been Best Fonts which is not wholly inaccurate (as the typefaces in the list are comprised of fonts); however, as Typographica’s editor writes,

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