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I Love Typography

Sunday Type: the sound of type

Nine O Type

Yet another week flies by. My birthday passed without any disastrous incidents; I’ve just about finished packing, and now it’s time for type. Today we have quite a feast, so loosen your belts, sit back and enjoy.

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A guide to Web typography

The Basics

Typography for the Web has come a long way since Tim Berners-Lee flipped the switch in 1991. Back in the days of IE 1.0, good web typography was something of an oxymoron. Today things are different. Not only do we have browsers that support images (gasp!), but we have the opportunity to make our web pages come to life through great typography.

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National News

TDC2 Winners Announced

I wouldn’t usually post today, but the Type Directors Club (TDC) has just announced this year’s winners of TDC2 2008. Among them is Kris Sowersby’s sans serif, National. I’m sure you’d all like to join in congratulating Kris, and the other winners.Winning entries are divided into five categories, and here is a taster from three of them:

Type System / Superfamily

NationalKris Sowersby:



VenturaDino dos Santos:


Text / Type Family

FondoCristóbal Henestrosa:


Just a sampling of the selected winners. There’s also the very good Japanese display face Logo Jr Black (I especially like the Katakana!); and of course Palatino Arabic by Zapf and Nadine Chahine.

Just about all of the entires have PDf specimens, so fire up your printers to fully appreciate them.Be sure to check out the other winners on the TDC2 2008 Winners page. Do you have your own favorites among the winners?

Sunday Type: fruity type

Of Pens and Pears

First, thanks to everyone who read and commented on Alec’s great Small Caps article. It’s been incredibly popular. Sunday again, and I still haven’t finished packing! Well, let’s forget packing and start with something else that seems pretty popular these days: we’ve had potato type and chocolate type; even cupcake type; and now we have customized fruit type from the talented Sarah King:


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Small Caps

by Alec Julien

Small caps are uppercase glyphs drawn at a lowercase scale. A common misconception—unfortunately reinforced by most word processing programs as well as by CSS on the web—is that a small cap is just a regular capital letter scaled uniformly down to a smaller size. In actuality, a proper small cap is a carefully crafted glyph that differs in significant ways from a uniformly-scaled-down capital letter.

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Sunday Type: pointy type

These last couple of weeks I’ve been dreaming of a life-remote control. It need not be particularly high-tech–I just need a big pause button. I’m moving apartments and packing like there’s no tomorrow. Anyway, I’m taking a break from boxes and gum tape, to talk type.

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Typeface Review: Arnhem

By Kris Sowersby

Talent borrows, genius steals

In Erik Spiekermann’s list of favourite five typefaces, Arnhem comes in at No.5. He writes “I Love it for newspapers, magazines, etc. Not so keen on the headline weights, they look too Dutch for my use (perhaps too Ungerish, but then Fred is also from Arnhem). But the text weights are a superb modern interpretation of a legible serif with an edge.” This sums up the essence of Arnhem—a very legible serif with an edge.

I first encountered Arnhem in Norman Potter’s “What is a designer” published by Hyphen Press. It is set beautifully, with a good point size, rag-right and suitable leading. Arnhem really works well; it is calm enough for extended reading yet retains enough personality to save it from lapsing into mediocrity and the reader from boredom. It has an understated feeling of seriousness, a fitness of purpose that isn’t betrayed by any unusual or distracting details.

Arnhem was released by OurType in 2002. It is designed by Fred Smeijers, a first generation digital type designer. (His typeface Quadraat was one of the first designs to be distributed by FontShop in 1992.) He is currently a partner in OurType, a digital foundry founded in 2002. According to their website, Ourtype “publishes newly designed fonts that are tailored to contemporary needs… So it stands apart from those who are enslaved to the new and those who merely try to recreate the past”.


The OpenType Standard text styles of Arnhem has a fairly basic character set, the usual standard accents (no macrons, though) with lining and old-style figures, small caps and two f-ligs, ff and fl. This is slightly disappointing, as one expects a bit more depth with OpenType. Hopefully there is a ‘pro’ version of Arnhem planned with all the bits.

What Arnhem lacks in depth, it makes up for in breadth. The family can be safely split up into text and display styles. The text styles have 4 weights, Blond (light) to Black with italics, and the display variants have been labelled Fine, with two weights and italics. Surprisingly, the roman text weights have all been duplexed onto the same widths—meaning that one can change from any weight to another and the letters will occupy exactly the same space! Happily this wee trick doesn’t detract from the actual design of the letterforms, none of them have been compromised by the duplexing.


The overall stress of the face is subtly vertical, but the excellent modeling saves us from the eye-strain typically caused by lesser Modern types. The bowls are gently modulated from thick to thin, as are the arches of ‘n’ ‘h’ ‘m’ and ‘u’. The serifs have shallow brackets with an easy wedge shape. The overall detailing seems initially sharp and spartan, but if looking closer at the ascender serifs one notices a slight rightwards finish, lending a lovely movement to the line of type. The eagle-eyed will also notice the ‘k’, its arm and leg not quite joining the upright stem. And the ‘g’! It works so well within the confines of the design—the ball-shaped ear breathes a good amount of life into the face.

The italic styles are good companions to the roman. They provide the right amount of contrast without resorting to flashy tricks or self-conscious styling. Smeijers has kept the counters open, the entry serifs horizontal and the departing serifs at a decent length. The strokes are slightly modulated, the ‘x’ ‘v’ and ‘y’ strokes are slightly curved, and the ‘z’ descends slightly below the baseline. Thus the italic has feeling, enough finesse to keep it from becoming a dullard subordinate to the roman.

Looking at these details, enlarged, is a mite unsettling. There is an urge to smooth out some curves, to fix the odd serif. But this impluse must be avoided, as the text styles must be judged at text sizes. Smeijers has anticipated this by designing Arnhem Fine—essentially display versions. Certain details like the ball-terminals of the ‘a’ and ‘y’ have been erased, the serifs seem lighter and broader, and the overall contrast of the face is increased. It is most definitely sharper, the moniker ‘Fine’ is certainly fitting.


Arnhem is an elegant workhorse; it is eminently useable. It is quite telling that Spiekermann, the designer of Meta, ranks it in his top five typefaces. To use Arnhem is a pleasure and it will surely imbue a feeling of pride and certainty in a typographer’s work without leaving the reader in the cold.

For the record, Spiekermann’s other favourites are 1. Reklameschrift Block; 2. Akzidenz Grotesk Mager; 3. Concorde; 4. FF Clifford.

[Kris Sowersby is a professional type designer from New Zealand. You can see his own typefaces at Village.]

Sunday Type: sponge type

The Passionate Printer

First up we have a type feast from one of the world’s most popular ‘interiors’ blogs, Design Sponge. Included in the list are some of those we’ve mentioned here before, but there are numerous other examples of ‘living with type’, such as these large reclaimed metal letters. Imagine some of these in your living room:


There’s even chocolate Scrabble,


though I’m not sure how long a game would last.

You could say that Mark Simonson is on something of a roll. I mentioned his Filmotype Glenlake a couple of weeks ago; well Mark has another lovely script for you. This one’s a 1940s-inspired brush script called Lakeside, accompanied by all the OpenType features we’ve come to expect from a Simonson font.


Next is a great little tutorial on Paragraph Styles:


Hamish, author of the wonderful WordPress Typogrify plugin, has an article that will be of special interest to just about anyone who writes code. In The Typography of Code, he considers five typefaces for programmers. Bitstream Vera Sans Mono (free and Open Source) is probably my favourite, though the newer DejaVu, based on Vera Sans’ design, with a much larger character set is definitely worth taking a look at.

Some Type for Kids

Jairo sent me this link after watching the kids program WordWorld. I don’t have any children myself, but I did watch an entire episode (for research purposes of course):


LivePen is an interesting tool for those who like to draw letterforms in Adobe Illustrator. I haven’t used it yet, as the Mac version isn’t ready. However, it is currently available for Windows + CS2.


If you do use it, then be sure to let me know what you think. You can try it out for free.

And some gorgeous letter-pressed posters from the talented Douglas Wilson, printed on a variety of substrates, including old maps. Well worth taking a look:


I’m also a fan of Frank Chimero‘s work:


Miscellaneous links

For iLT’s French-speaking readers, this is a good little site, with some type-related posts: Zone d’information opaque.

iLT PodCasts?

This is an idea I’ve been toying with, and thanks to Alec Julien, a regular iLT contributor, it could become a reality. We have two videos to get you started. The first is a tutorial on how to create discretionary ligatures in FontLab:

and the second I’ll post mid-week. I’ll create a new section of the site specially for these videos, and although it’s unlikely you’ll see my mug on any of these videos, I do have some interesting ideas for PodCasts, so stay tuned. I will also add these videos to iTunes, so you can subscribe to them. (right now silly iTunes won’t let me setup an account because although my address is in Japan, my credit card is British. And I can’t sign-up for iTunes US or UK, because my credit card’s address is in Japan–stupid really. If anyone from Apple is reading this, please get it sorted.)

A little light relief

First is this license plate from typenut Duncan:

KERN license plate

and this light-hearted type dating game from Amanda.

And I absolutely love this this video from a very impassioned printer. Thanks to the ATypI Mailing list for this one:

Sunday Font

And today’s font is PowerStation from the Umbrella Type:

powerstation from umbrella type

I hope that’s enough to keep you going until mid-week. Some really great stuff to come, so stay tuned.

It was really tough choosing a winner for the FontBook in a movie competition. All the entries were great, but the winner is Christian Neumann, who wins a copy of Bringhurst’s The Elements of Typographic Style. All of your entries have been popping up all over the web.

Oh, and if you missed the interview with Jean François Porchez, be sure to take a look–great insights from an even greater type designer. And talking of great type designers, coming up we have those articles from Kris Sowersby, so stay tuned and have a great Sunday (what’s left of it), and I’ll see you all again mid-week.

buy fonts from Veer

An interview with Jean François Porchez

You’ll see his typefaces on the Paris Métro, gracing the pages of France’s premier newspaper, Le Monde, in magazines and books; even Beyoncé uses them. He was awarded the Prix Charles Peignot for excellence in type design, was president of ATypI, designed one of the best modern-day type revivals, and…. Well, there’s so much more that can be said by way of introducing this great talent of type, but I think John D. Berry sums him up best when he writes, he is one hell of a type designer.

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Sunday Type: Frodo Type

Birthday Cupcakes

This week iLT is six months old. She’s doing quite well thanks to all of you: one million page views, almost 3,000 comments, and about 70 posts–though it feels like more. So if you have a spare minute, then pop a party popper, throw a streamer, crack open a bottle of Champagne, light a candle–that sort of thing.

Anyway, this is Sunday, so it’s time for Sunday Type. Let’s start with a type: Estilo Text from Dino dos Santos. I mention it for two reasons: one because it’s an expanded version of Estilo Script and Estilo and secondly because it’s on sale:


You may have already seen it; it’s not new, but I was trying to find it the other day, when coincidentally Romain sent me the link:


FontBook in a Movie

I received quite an impressive response to last week’s FontBook in a movie competition, inspired by Hamish’s Mel Gibson piece. This one is from Christian:


Apologies that I can’t mention them all, but here is a selection (click any of the images for an enlarged version). I was going to put little star rating gizmos below each entry, but gave up when I realised it would take me hours to do this within WordPress. So, by all means comment about the entries, and I’ll add my own opinion, and announce a winner next week some time.

The 10 CommandmentsThe GodfatherLord of the Rings
(a) Mischa(b) Vlad(c) Christian
CasablancaFontBook of OzBraveheart
(d) Alec(e) Gemma(f) Hamish
(g) Ian(h) Arild(i) George

And here’s another from RogueJunkie. Not surprisingly I received several sexually explicit ones; one was particularly ingenious, but not quite publishable. Thanks to everyone for their entries. It was great fun, and brightened up an otherwise busy and unusually stressful couple of weeks (cue sad violin music).

Well, we’ve had chocolate type and potato type, and now we have cupcake type from Gemma over at For the Love of Type:


Can you name the typeface?

Type Friday / Type Neu

Eric sent me a mail about this new Flickr Group, Typography Friday:

type friday

Type Neu is a relatively new type site with daily posts. I wonder if iLT will make it into their ‘relevant links’ section? ;)


The above poster was featured on TypeNeu and is part of Dante Carlos’ Letter By Circle project. I like it.

Miscellaneous links

An interesting discussion on whether there’s a need for scientific tests for readability/legibility on Typophile.

Erik Spiekermann speaking at the University of Ulster for the FiFFteen exhibition.

Coming up

Next is the interview with Jean François Porchez. My fault that it’s been delayed, not Jean François’. We also have some more articles from Kris Sowersby, and a review of Gerard Unger’s While You’re Reading, one of my favourite books of 2007, and of course lots, lots more, including articles from new contributors!

A big thank you to iLT’s new translators to join the growing team. The latest members are Vitor Mazzeo for Portuguese and Uta for Chinese. More languages to come soon. If you write and translate well, and you’d like to help out, then send me a mail.

And finally

Does anyone know when the new edition of Counterpunch is due? Oh, and it’s Valentine’s day soon (I’ve forgotten which date exactly), so there are Valentine’s Font packs appearing everywhere. Utter nonsense in my opnion. If you want something romantic, then just go for an elegant script; and they don’t come much better than this:


However, if your girlfriend leaves you because you bought her a font rather than a 127-carat diamond engagement ring, don’t blame me.

Have a great Sunday!



Recentemente recebi através do correio algo grande, amarelo e pesando 3 kg. Não, não é uma banana geneticamente modificada, mas o FontBook do FontShop, a enciclopédia do tipo. Este livro realmente deveria vir com uma advertência de saúde: o meu carteiro quase teve uma hérnia entregando-o e muito perto de torcer seu pulso tentando segurá-lo com uma mão enquanto passava-me o recibo com a outra. No entanto, com algumas 32.000 amostras de tipos, 1.760 páginas e 100.000 notas e referências cruzadas, não creio que o FontShop publicará uma versão pocket tão cedo.

Levei oFontBook tao meu café local, onde muitas vezes trabalho à noite e completos estranhos aproximaram-se (incomum no Japão); várias pessoas disseram “ookii isto desu ne!” (grande livro, hein!), enquanto outros simplesmente perguntavam-me do que se tratava o livro.


Além da marcante capa amarela do FontShop, o conteúdo é prefaciado por uma seção ‘como usar este livro’ em Inglês e Alemão; contudo, para ser franco, você poderia ser um marciano e/ou apenas falar Zangalulob e ainda encontrar o seu caminho pelo livro sem problemas. Os tipos são organizados em oito grupos principais: Sans, Serif, Slab, Script, Display, Blackletter, Symbols, e Non-Latin.

Referências cruzadas

Minha característica favorita do livro – e isso deve ter levado anos para preparar – são as amplas referências cruzadas. Por exemplo, eu estou procurando por algo semelhante a um de meus favoritos tipos, Swift (a) de Gerard Unger. Posso ir para a seção Serif – onde todos os tipos estão organizados por ordem alfabética,… p, q, r, s,… Swift! A referência cruzada na margem interior exibe um olho-ícone (denotando tipos similares); e listados estão ITC Charter (b), Demos, Hollander e Bitsream Oranda. Um recurso muito simples e muito poderoso.


De fato eu gostaria de ver este adicional desenvolvido, de modo que, por exemplo, eu estou procurando um bom sans serif para a Swift e há uma referência cruzada que aponta uma à mim. Também gostaria de ver um índice de nomes. De qualquer forma, são as referências cruzadas que fazem isso para mim, tornando o FontBook uma valiosa ferramenta para quem utiliza o tipo. Não deveria haver estúdio sem ele na sua biblioteca.

Depois de passar mais ou menos uma hora folheando através das suas páginas, o glutão que explode de Monty Python, Senhor Creosote veio à mente. Depois de consumir cerca de 20 cursos, quatro garrafas de vinho tinto e seis caixas de cerveja, o Maître D, encenado por John Cleese, recomenda “E, finalmente, monsieur, uma fina bolacha de hortelã.” Tipo glutões entre vocês simplesmente não conseguirão resistir apenas a mais uma fina bolacha de página.

Em termos absolutos, $ 99 não é barato, mas isso não é novela de brochura descartável; é uma enciclopédia de 3kg com 1.760 páginas. Em termos relativos o FontBook é mais barato do que 20 refeições do McDonald’s.


Os cínicos entre nós (e eu posso ser um também), podem argumentar que o FontBook é um instrumento de marketing destinado a vender mais fontes. Ele pode muito bem vender mais fontes – o FontShop não é um Samaritano. No entanto, quando se considera o tempo que foi canalizado para a elaboração este livro e os custos de produção, duvido que o FontBook seja o preço da vaca. Sugiro que ele seja apenas o produto de uma paixão pelo tipo, publicada não tanto com ganhos pecuniários em mente, mas simplesmente porque seus autores amam o tipo.

O FontBook é para o tipo aquilo que a casa de chocolate é para os chocólatras.

Provavelmente vale a pena roubar um banco por este livro (sem violência, claro). No entanto, se você for capturado e, independentemente do que você faça, não mencione este artigo e reze para que Erik Spiekermann esteja no júri. Se você não ouvir falar de mim por um tempo, então é porque Mafia Maurice e Billy the Bruiser não deixaram-me usar a ‘Internet’ na Cela do Bloco H – até que eu execute favores de uma natureza inteiramente não relacionada com o tipo. Acho que só então eu vou apreciar o fato de que o FontBook pese 3 kg. Enfim, vamos esperar que eu seja encarregado da biblioteca da prisão.


Tipografia de prisão.

E há um prêmio se você puder dizer-me quais os três tipos que eu usei no cabeçalho “i” (1) “love” (2) “typography” (3). Uma correcta entrada será selecionada aleatoriamente e anunciada nesta semana no Sunday Type. O vencedor receberá uma cópia dotypography today de Helmut Schmid.

Leitura futura:
One Book to Specify Them All. Khoi Vinh of Subtraction entrevista Stephen Coles do FontShop.
FontBook on FontShop, com amostras de páginas em PDF.
FontBook–o filme.

Porque Bembo Cansa

By Kris Sowersby

Num recente painel de discussão sobre o design do livro na Nova Zelândia, eu critiquei o excesso de Bembo em muitos livros na Nova Zelândia. Como muitas perguntas foram feitas mais do que poderiam ser respondidas, eu escrevi este artigo para explicar. Permitam-me começar com uma breve história.

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