Page 1

Niko Spelbrink

Framing fonts

ngfonts


Method Typographic taxonomy In times past certain standards and routines evolved. From then on understandings which kept being relevant and still carried importance are part of the tools of the trade.

Slow typography

In addition new digital insights, practice and terminology developed and in part overlapped ideas and language embedded in the craft that was typography more than a generation ago. This sometimes is a source of confusion. A review of typographic taxonomy is required.

There was a time when typography relied on the combined knowledge of designers, compositors and their proofreaders. To do their work they, by

10

definition, were highly literate professionals. Generations of professionals employed defined styles, standards and routines to guide the quality of their product. Pride and fulfilment generated highly legible text as quickly as

IdentiďŹ cation, Measurements and Attributes are discussed extensively in class together with issues mentioned in Applying the toolbox on page 11. Framing a particular font finally presents the results of investigations and observations. See pages 12 and 13.

possible. However, this was a process without digital automation which at the time was not available.

Learning objectives How to engage students anew in the process of reading? I propose a presentation of typography based on detailed observation of properties of diverse character sets and on measurements which quantify these observations. This would reconnect to what was obvious at a time when typographic taxonomy was based on typesetting with movable metal type. Tracking the following parameters of any typeface builds proficiency.

t

1

f

2

w

3 4

g

5

a

1

Identification Typeface name Font range (roman, italic etc.) Weight (stroke weight: light, regular, bold etc.) Font width (condensed, normal, extended etc.) Glyph repertoire per font Letters in blue dots refer to recurring issues in Applying the toolbox, page 11 and in Framing a particular font, pages 12 and 13. Numerals refer to tasks set in Typographic briefs 1, 2, 3 and 4, pages 17 through 20.

v

6

d

7

b

8

h

9

x

10

k

11

p

12

i

13

j

14

Measurements Character width Bodysize, Body (rectangle framing glyph) Baseline position Capital [ H ] height ( from baseline) Lowercase [ x ] height ( from baseline) Ascender [ k ] length ( from x height) Descender [ p ] depth ( from baseline) Image height (depth descender to top ascender including accents) Image height versus Bodysize

Typographic briefs 1, 2, 3 and 4, pages 17 through 20 and three exercises, pages 19 through 23, are part of a method to address these parameters into great detail. About 60 hours on average are spent investigating and

c

15

r

16

r

17

s

18

o

19

n

20

m

21

l

22

u

23

Attributes Contrast and stress in stroke segments Vertical (stem) and horizontal (stroke) width Range of diagonal strokes ( in ° from baseline) Stroke terminals (serif / sans serif etc.) Counter form (enclosed white within characters) Space between characters (letter space) Standard white space between words Leading (space from baseline to baseline) Texture, ink and colour

H

quantifying legibility.

Bodysize an issue A character’s bodysize is inherited from the time when text was composed with loose and movable metal type to create words and text. Now, whenever a size of text is defined as set in 9 points or 11 points for instance, a precise measurement is suggested. This however is not the case. It is an example where taxonomy is not articulating actual practice. Unfortunately the digital revolution mentioned before has obscured bodysize which is now difficult to comprehend. The student of typography needs to work through a series of assumptions which finally make it possible to project an imaginary rectangle over the image of a character indicating its bodysize. However, while measuring by working keys, mouse or tablet a result is perceived. Slow typography instils an understanding of an organized whole which is more than the sum of its parts. Measurements help to precisely quantify and manipulate the appearance of text. Ink coverage calculation and fine-tuning texture become a reality. The minutiae of legibility emerge. It is then possible to appreciate the lyric qualities of a given typeface, an intelligence and understanding which lies at the basis of creating truly great typography.

The metal body of a capital H. The importance of separate metal letters (lead mixed with antimony) cast atop of a precisely machined and fitting little block is hard to exaggerate. Ideas started to flower and spread in earnest due to a significant increase of multiple copies of texts apparently finding a market. Five centuries of movable type Typography, writing with prefabricated letters, gave rise to a proud professional practice with ideas and understandings of which some do not seem to die out never mind our digital technologies.


F R A m I N G FO N TS

Both Garamonds consists of different fonts. Adobe Garamond Pro features a Roman font, an Italic font, a Bold font and a Bold Italic font.

w

Weight

Typefaces like Meta OT might have Hairline / Thin / Normal / Book / Medium and Bold versions. These different fonts are grouped as Weights.

g

Glyph repertoire

Each of these fonts might have multiple glyph sets: basic Latin characters, Greek characters, Cyrillic characters, punctuation marks, superscripts and subscripts, currency symbols, math symbols, alternates, text figures, lining figures, fractions etc. Sophisticated typefaces might have SmAll cAPITAlS which don’t stand out like a sore thumb and are handy with acronyms.

Small capital

v

r

s

Language

This multitude of glyphs, part of a particular font, part of a particular typeface, are designed to accommodate different languages, each with their special characters and accents and catering for different conventions. In the case of Adobe Garamond Pro, this involves 51 languages. For mathematical texts Adobe Garamond Pro features 29 mathematical symbols and Greek characters.

Width

Other typefaces sport special cuts like Narrow, Condensed, Normal, Extended and Wide. These fonts are grouped under the term Width. Each of these different cuts could come with a full range of weights. Separate glyphs feature individual widths according to the font they are part of.

Stroke

Serif, sans serif

Typefaces can be grouped by the way they are constructed. Continuous stroke, translation stroke, expansion stroke and broken or interrupted stroke are noticeably informed by the way writing developed in history. Geometric strokes are inspired by constructed circles, circle segments, more or less straight horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines. Typefaces can also be grouped by the way strokes are terminated. Serifs are extended endings perpendicular to the orientation of the strokes in a character. Sans serif typefaces do not have these endings.

c

Contrast

Serif faces often feature great contrast between the thin part and the heavy part of the same curved stroke. In straight strokes verticals are often heavier and horizontals thinner. Sans serif faces often feature subtle contrast. Single stroke sans serifs without any contrast don’t seem to work as well.

c

Up-stroke thin, down-stroke heavy

Very noticeable in typefaces constructed with translation strokes, contrast is often allocated according to whether when written a stroke goes up or down. Even in typefaces with subtle contrast like most sans serifs, this difference is perceptible in horizontal, vertical and diagonal strokes.

o

Counter form

Counter form indicates the white space enclosed by a letter form, whether wholly enclosed, as in p or o, or partially as in c or h.

a

Aperture

Aperture is the opening of letters, as in c or e and in numerals, as in 3, 6 or 9. In Serif typefaces such as this one, Proforma, aperture is usually large. In some Sans serif typefaces such as Helvetica for instance, aperture in 6 or 9 is tiny and could be misread as 8 defeating the purpose of numerals altogether.

m

Word space

The space between words. When text columns are justified the word space is usually elastic. If not, like in this column, word space is fixed with an optimal value neither too little nor too much: just right!

l

Leading

Originally a strip of metal (lead type metal, hence leading) used for spacing between lines of type. Now this indicates the vertical distance from the baseline of one line of text to the baseline of the next.

u

Texture, ink, colour

The darkness of type as set in mass. The spacing of words and letters, the leading of lines, and the incidence of capitals, all effect the colour and texture of type. With about any typeface creating perfect colour is one of the more powerful tactics available to typography to make text more legible.

12 to 120 points: headlines, subheads etcetera, matter meant to attract attention. 120 to 1200 points, wayfinding and where large is small relative to reading distance. 1200 points and larger: ‘in your face’ shouting, attracting attention, the sky is the limit. With the introduction of digital typesetting computer fonts are based on fully scalable outlines. Fonts are no longer size-specific, one font generates whichever size. Critics argue this is not ideal and suggest distinct outlines fit for display on one hand and for reading substantial text on the other.

H

> Ascender height Capital height

Baseline

Decender depth

< Side bearings

<

Character width

>

< >

Font

What does 4 points or 12 points actually mean? A fair question, although not one which is easy to answer. See Body, bodysize and character width below and Bodysize an issue on page 10.

>

f

4 to 7 points: small size for text in small quantities where space is at a premium. 7 to 12 points: reading matter in larger quantities where legibility is paramount.

Bodysize

A typeface has a name, Garamond for instance. Garamond, being a digital interpretation of a seventeenth century classic, is recreated more than once even by the same digital typeface designer. Robert Slimbach designed the Adobe Garamond Pro for the firm Adobe in 1989 and revised this design numerous times, most recently in 2001. In 2005, Robert designed the Garamond Premier Pro along the same principles, also for Adobe. Studying the differences between these interpretations is interesting. Students gain insight by observing, measuring and comparing of data and form.

Image height

Typeface

<

t

Size matters Text comes in many different appearances. Each application requires attention in a different way. The size of typeface should be informed by intended application:

<

Applying the toolbox

Talking shop Discussing typography can be confusing. Understandings are not quite clear and hard to comprehend. A basic and limited glossary of typographic terms is provided below.

>

Body, bodysize and character width In this illustration just the image of the letter H shows what students can see and measure. Everything else is to be imagined. Still, the size of any type is based on the so-called bodysize. Body is the prefabricated letter as on page 10. Bodysize is just the measure on the y-axis of an imaginary rectangle as indicated above. A line of text usually is composed of letters with identical bodysize. The letters of the words line up. Character width however, is the measure on the horizontal x-axis and depends on space needed. An m is usually wider than an i. Imaginary rectangles A rectangle helps to understand the relationship between foreground image and background. Where precisely on this rectangle letters are positioned or what their relative size is depends on the design of particular typefaces and varies dramatically from one design to the next. One can make an educated guess or actually take measurements digitally. The latter method is demonstrated in Framing a particular font, pages 12 and 13, and is definitely deemed to be slow typography.

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© 1989, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Adobe Systems Incorporated.

Garamond

t

f

d

w

Hx Adobe

v

>

All rights reserved. Protected by U S Patents D 318,290.

Pro

Roman

Regular

Bodysize 430 pt / 151.7 mm

v

H 122.5 mm Character width >

x 65.5 mm >

s

12.4 mm

r

r + 53°

– 55.6°

r

< [H] 100 mm Capital height >

6.1 mm

h

10 mm

5.2 mm

c

r

12.4 mm

10 mm

5.3 mm

b

n

+ 53.6°

– 55.2°

d

Body (rectangle framing H character)

g

430 pt x 347 pt / 151.7 mm x 122.5 mm

women love hugs & quiz crafty o

a

m

Lowercase repertoire

Text t

Languages

Minimal size still legible

PostScript name Full name Family Styles Kind Version Unique name Trademark Designer

& Ampersand Garamond Italic

Characters o and e used second time

AGaramondPro-Regular Adobe Garamond Pro Adobe Garamond Pro Regular, Italic, Bold, Bold italic OpenType PostScript 2.040;PS 2.000;hotconv 1.0.51;makeotf.lib2.0.18671 2.040;ADBE;AGaramondPro-Regular Adobe Garamond is either a registered trademark or a trademark of Adobe Systems Incorporated in the United States and/or other countries. Robert Slimbach

g

Font information copyright © by Font Book, 2003 – 2007 Apple Inc. Font measurements Niko Spelbrink 2011 Adobe Garamond Pro, Bodysize 4.3 pt

( ± 1%)

leading 6 pt.

Albanian, Basque, Catalan, Cornish, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Faroese, Finnish, French, Galician, German,

Supported by glyphs Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Malay, Manx, Norwegian Bokmål, Norwegian Nynorsk, Oromo, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian,

Slovak, Slovenian, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Turkish

u second time

Colour

Contrast 3.8 - 12.6 Ink 11% Counter 3.6% Letter space 7.1%

c u o n


FR Am ING FONTS

Framing a particular font: Adobe Garamond Pro Identification, Measurements and Attributes and issues discussed in Applying the toolbox demonstrated together in one frame. Forty odd fonts are investigated and measured this way, the basis of a Parameter matrix as discussed on page 16

xkp

< Hxkp 337.9 mm Total width > >

p 77 mm >

13

>

v

k 73.3 mm >

>

v

s

< [k] 45.3 mm Ascender

11.2 mm

r

+ 44°

s

k

>

r

Aperture

11.2 mm

>

10.5 mm

f g

Capital H height

h

Image height

i j

Ascender k length

k

Leading

l

Word space

m

Letter space

n

Counter form

o

>

s

a

p

i

Range of strokes

r

Serif / Sans serif

s

Typeface

t

Texture, colour, ink

u

Character width

v

Font weight

w

x height

x y z

d

{

Hxjkp bid 1234567890

< 143.7 mm Image height

11.2 mm

j

Bodysize 43 pt

( ± 10%)

m m

Text l

i second time

Modular lining numerals

Conversion

Legibility of paramount importance

Speech is a skill that toddlers master with delight and speed. Linguist Noam Chomsky has argued that humans are born with an innate ability to learn oral language. The complex rules of syntax appear to be genetically encoded. Any mother can attest to her child’s amazing ability to string words together in their proper sequence, even though the toddler has never heard the sentences she effortlessly speaks. Young children learning to talk handle case endings, plurals, and pronouns with relative aplomb. But this ease does not extend to writing. Writing is not genetically encoded. No one writes as she speaks. Adobe Garamond Pro, Bodysize 8.6 pt

( ± 2%)

leading 12 pt.

Leonard Shlain, The Alphabet versus the Godess, p 67

h x k p

[H] [x] [k] [p] i d

Millimetre to percentage values

Capital height Lower case x height Ascender length Descender depth

100 59.9 45.3 38.7

Image height Bodysize

143.7 151.8

H x k p

{

Capital H

j

Character width Character width Character width Character width

122.5 65.5 73.3 77

Total width Hxkp 338.3

Total width lowercase repertoire without numerals Rounding errors

p q

< [p] 38.7 mm Descender

r

Descender p depth

x

– 49°

e

>

3.9

12 mm

d

Typeface

< 430 pt / 151.7 mm Body size

o

11.2 mm

Body size

Image vs body size

< [x] 59.9 mm Lower case x height

c

c

Glyph repertoire

12.6 mm

4.7 mm

b

Contrast

Font

3.8 mm

c

a

Baseline

2469

v


Method

Ink coverage The spacing of letters and words, the leading of lines and the incidence of

14

capitals, not to mention the distinct properties of image in contrast to those of its background, all affect the colour and the texture of text on screen and in print. Various issues arise, too many to deal with in the framework of this essay. Perceived image on screen and ink coverage in print however, can be calculated using a low-tech method demonstrated below. A text box containing a repertoire of lowercase characters is subdivided in rectangles. Any horizontal x-axis represents the character width of the particular glyph within that rectangle. The y-axes on the other hand indicate ‘bodysize’ in text set without leading. In this case this concerns Adobe Garamond Pro, 86 pt also measuring 86 pt from baseline to baseline. . .

Areas between four dots . . which cover image are singled out. An estimate of image versus background is established for each area. The total of these estimates is calculated as a percentage of surface covering the textbox. The resulting value is indicated with the expression ‘ink’.

women love hugs & quiz crafty Hxkp measure bid

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Typeface design programmes like Fontlab or Fontographer divide bodysize height into 1000 positions creating a resolution high enough for intended purposes. The resolution pictured relates as one area to 40 x 40 positions, an adequate sample for global ink coverage calculation.


F RR AAmmI N IN G GFOFNOTS NTS

Weight

g

Glyph repertoire

Typefaces like Meta OT might have Hairline / Thin / Normal / Book / Medium and Bold versions. These different fonts are grouped as Weights.

Parameter matrix 16 have multiple glyph sets: basic Latin characters, Each of these fonts might Greek characters, Cyrillic characters, punctuation marks, superscripts and Dynamic diffusion of knowledge 16

subscripts, currency symbols, math symbols, alternates, text figures, lining figures, fractions etc. Sophisticated typefaces might have SmAll cAPITAlS which don’t stand out like a sore thumb and are handy with acronyms.

Typographic briefs 17

Small capital

Exercises

Language

1 2 3

v

r

s

Width

Stroke

Serif, sans serif

This of glyphs, Verymultitude small type 19 part of a particular font, part of a particular typeface, are designed to accommodate different languages, each with their special Different fonts 21 characters and accents and catering for different conventions. In the case of Reading versus looking 22 Adobe Garamond Pro, this involves 51 languages. For mathematical texts Adobe Garamond Pro features 29 mathematical symbols and Greek characters.

Scope 24

Other typefaces sport special cuts like Narrow, Condensed, Normal, Extended Conclusion 24 and Wide. These fonts are grouped under the term Width. Each of these different cuts could come with a full range of weights. Separate glyphs feature individual widths according to the font they are part of. Typefaces can be grouped by the way they are constructed. Continuous stroke, translation stroke, expansion stroke and broken or interrupted stroke are noticeably informed by the way writing developed in history. Geometric strokes are inspired by constructed circles, circle segments, more or less straight horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines. Typefaces can also be grouped by the way strokes are terminated. Serifs are extended endings perpendicular to the orientation of the strokes in a character. Sans serif typefaces do not have these endings.

c

Contrast

Serif faces often feature great contrast between the thin part and the heavy part of the same curved stroke. In straight strokes verticals are often heavier and horizontals thinner. Sans serif faces often feature subtle contrast. Single stroke sans serifs without any contrast don’t seem to work as well.

c

Up-stroke thin, down-stroke heavy

Very noticeable in typefaces constructed with translation strokes, contrast is often allocated according to whether when written a stroke goes up or down. Even in typefaces with subtle contrast like most sans serifs, this difference is perceptible in horizontal, vertical and diagonal strokes.

o

Counter form

Counter form indicates the white space enclosed by a letter form, whether wholly enclosed, as in p or o, or partially as in c or h.

a

Aperture

Aperture is the opening of letters, as in c or e and in numerals, as in 3, 6 or 9. In Serif typefaces such as this one, Proforma, aperture is usually large. In some Sans serif typefaces such as Helvetica for instance, aperture in 6 or 9 is tiny and could be misread as 8 defeating the purpose of numerals altogether.

m

Word space

The space between words. When text columns are justified the word space is usually elastic. If not, like in this column, word space is fixed with an optimal value neither too little nor too much: just right!

l

Leading

Originally a strip of metal (lead type metal, hence leading) used for spacing between lines of type. Now this indicates the vertical distance from the baseline of one line of text to the baseline of the next.

u

Texture, ink, colour

The darkness of type as set in mass. The spacing of words and letters, the leading of lines, and the incidence of capitals, all effect the colour and texture of type. With about any typeface creating perfect colour is one of the more powerful tactics available to typography to make text more legible.

12 to 120 points: headlines, subheads etcetera, matter meant to attract attention. 120 to 1200 points, wayfinding and where large is small relative to reading distance. 1200 points and larger: ‘in your face’ shouting, attracting attention, the sky is the limit. With the introduction of digital typesetting computer fonts are based on fully scalable outlines. Fonts are no longer size-specific, one font generates whichever size. Critics argue this is not ideal and suggest distinct outlines fit for display on one hand and for reading substantial text on the other.

H

> Ascender height Capital height

Baseline

Decender depth

< Side bearings

<

Character width

>

< >

w

Both Garamonds consists of different fonts. Adobe Garamond Pro features

The jumpfont, of faith. a Roman an Italic font, a Bold font and a Bold Italic font.

>

Font

What does 4 points or 12 points actually mean? A fair question, although not one which is easy to answer. See Body, bodysize and character width below and Bodysize an issue on page 10.

Bodysize

f

4 to 7 points: small size for text in small quantities where space is at a premium. 7 to 12 points: reading matter in larger quantities where legibility is paramount.

Image height

Typeface

<

t

Demonstration Applying the toolbox typeface has a name, Twenty Garamond for instance. Garamond, digital experiment. two students signbeing up afor the …Aan interpretation of a seventeenth century classic, is recreated more than once elective. Allsame very well to put theRobert bar this high, if for even by the digital typeface designer. Slimbach designed thewhatever Adobe Garamond Pro for the firm Adobe in 1989 and revised this design reason more than ten percent disappear during the numerous times, most recently in 2001. In 2005, Robert designed the Garamondthis Premier Pro along the same alsoup. for Adobe. Studying semester experiment doesprinciples, not add A source of the differences between these interpretations is interesting. Students gain discontent and a measuring waste ofandtime. insight by observing, comparing of data and form.

Size matters Text comes in many different appearances. Each application requires attention in a different way. The size of typeface should be informed by intended application:

<

Talking shop Discussing typography can be confusing. Understandings are not quite clear and hard to comprehend. A basic and limited glossary of typographic terms is provided below.

>

Body, bodysize and character width In this illustration just the image of the letter H shows what students can see and measure. Everything else is to be imagined. Still, the size of any type is based on the so-called bodysize. Body is the prefabricated letter as on page 10. Bodysize is just the measure on the y-axis of an imaginary rectangle as indicated above. A line of text usually is composed of letters with identical bodysize. The letters of the words line up. Character width however, is the measure on the horizontal x-axis and depends on space needed. An m is usually wider than an i. Imaginary rectangles A rectangle helps to understand the relationship between foreground image and background. Where precisely on this rectangle letters are positioned or what their relative size is depends on the design of particular typefaces and varies dramatically from one design to the next. One can make an educated guess or actually take measurements digitally. The latter method is demonstrated in Framing a particular font, pages 12 and 13, and is definitely deemed to be slow typography.

15 11


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Framing fonts  

Spelbrink (1940) bemerkte als docent dat er geen vakboek is dat uitvoerig omschrijft welke kenmerken van letters de leesbaarheid sterk beïnv...

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