About Jim Kidwell

As a writer, speaker and general software nerd, Jim Kidwell evangelizes the effective integration of fonts and digital asset management in creative workflows. Focusing on how effective management can affect all levels of an organization - from the legal, creative and branding standpoints - Jim has shared his unique perspective with audiences at SXSW, Future of Web Design, WebVisions and more. You can reach Jim on: Google+

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hacked

It was recently reported that free font site DaFont.com was hacked.

Hackers gained access to almost 700,000 usernames, passwords, forum posts and private messages.

The site hosts a very large collection of free fonts. While some of these are original creations, there are some fonts where an unscrupulous person has slightly modified, renamed, or outright pirated professional, paid fonts and uploaded as their own creation.

Using fonts that have unknown origins like the second case poses a real risk to any professional designer. If discovered in use, the type foundry who created the original work can go after the designer for use of unlicensed fonts. This can cause embarrassment for you, your clients, and even lead to legal entanglements.

Extensis recommends only working with legitimate type foundries and retailers who are creating and distributing fonts for sale.

If you choose to work with “free” fonts, be sure that your fonts are coming from a reputable distributor, such as Google Fonts, or directly download fonts from the type foundry itself. For example, many foundries like FontFabric give away some weights of their font collection for free use.

Of course, you will always want to consult the End User License Agreement (EULA) to ensure that your intended use is covered. For example, many “free” fonts are free for personal use only, and if the intended use is commercial, you will be required to purchase a separate license. If you’re in doubt about usage restrictions, contact the foundry to clarify.

When you are managing your font collection, we highly recommend that you track your purchases, and ensure that the right number of licenses are purchased for your intended use.

Extensis font managers can help you track your collection, usage and ensure that fonts are properly distributed to your entire team. Take one of our font managers out for a spin and see for yourself with a free trial:

  • Universal Type Server  – for teams that want efficient font distribution, synchronization and complete font license management compliance and control, provided by an on-premise server.
  • Suitcase TeamSync – for small teams that need fast font distribution through a cloud-based font server.
  • Suitcase Fusion – font single users who want to manage fonts on up to two machines.

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Neon Bonyard - Stardust

 

Font expert, Jim Kidwell, rolls the dice along the famous Neon Boneyard in Las Vegas!

Last week I was fortunate enough to attend a new conference for Extensis, IAITAM ACE. This conference covered everything from managing the hardware of workstations in worldwide organizations to the license compliance management of fonts across teams.

The session that I presented covered the risks that fonts introduce into organizations who aren’t properly managing and tracking their font licenses. If you weren’t able to attend, or missed the session, you are welcome to check out the slides from the presentation.

While I was in the Las Vegas area, I would have been very sad if I didn’t make a trek to the Neon Museum and most importantly, the Neon Boneyard. As a typography nerd and sign enthusiast, it’s been on my list ever since it opened.

If you are able to make it to Vegas, I highly recommend scheduling a visit. In the meantime, I’m happy to share a few of my pictures as a bit of enticement. Definitely worth a visit, don’t you think?

Neon Bonyard - Sin Neon Boneyard - RT 04-casino 05-bones 06-s 07-steak 08-rimio 09-jumble 10-jumble2 11-lido 12-gamb 13-el-cortez 14-jumble3 15-city

 

Do you want some more font entertainment? Check out our interview with type designer Mark Simonson. He discusses his type design expertise and why he loves what he does.


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Comic Sans: The Problem, The Solution, The Alternatives

The Problem

Vincent Connare was trying to fix a communication problem: He was working on a computer program called Microsoft Bob that was intended to appeal to children—but the Times New Roman typeface being used in the word balloons felt too serious for the unsophisticated, cartoony artwork. He needed something more whimsical and silly to make the design feel coherent.

The Solution

Connare created a brand new typeface (based on the lettering style of his favorite comic books) that he felt would be more appropriate for the target demographic.

And that’s how Comic Sans was born! To achieve visual unity, to properly convey the right feeling to the right audience. (Oh, the irony…)

 

Comic Sans

Comic Sans quickly became popular with educators and parents as the go-to typeface for everything kid-friendly.

That was 1994. Fast-forward to 2016 and no typeface has been used more frequently to convey the wrong message to the wrong audience than Comic Sans.

Learn more about the latest trends in typography. Check out our Type Trends Survey Report. You’ll learn all about what’s hot and what’s not straight from graphic designers and art directors from around the globe.

The Horror

You’re probably heard of the EPIC DESIGN FAILS. Comic Sans at the Dutch war memorial. Comic Sans on printed materials giving advice to rape victims. The salty Comic Sans letter that Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert wrote when LeBron James decided to leave Cleveland in 2010.

TragiComic Sans, indeed.

The internet went meme crazy with snarky delight. Artists everywhere created intentionally crappy designs with Comic Sans as the centerpiece. The much-maligned typeface (“most hated” by countless surveys) became such a punchline that eventually designers banded together to speak out against it, some even (semi-seriously) calling for its demise.

Here’s a witty excerpt from the BanComicSans Manifesto:

“Like the tone of a spoken voice, the characteristics of a typeface convey meaning. The design of the typeface is, in itself, its voice. Often this voice speaks louder than the text itself. Thus when designing a “Do Not Enter” sign the use of a heavy-stroked, attention-commanding font such as Impact or Arial Black is appropriate. Typesetting such a message in Comic Sans would be ludicrous. Though this is sort of misuse is frequent, it is unjustified. Clearly, Comic Sans as a voice conveys silliness, childish naivete, irreverence, and is far too casual for such a purpose. It is analogous to showing up for a black tie event in a clown costume.”

So naturally there was a rebuttal from “defenders of Comic Sans” who imagined an entire Comic Sans world because “Helvetica is so 2011.”

The Alternatives

It’s really fun to ridicule Comic Sans. We’ve all done it. But if you’re designing some artwork for a very casual event—a kid’s birthday party, school function, or lemonade stand—you might be considering Comic Sans. Or wondering where to find alternatives to Comic Sans that won’t incur the wrath of your judgmental designer buddies. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Our friends at Identifont, Fontspring, Typewolf, and MyFonts recommended several similar typefaces to help you broaden your design palette:

Lexia (or Lexie) Readable

Lexia Font

Lexia was designed by Ron Carpenter in 2007 as an alternative to Comic Sans that had maximum legibility and clarity but without the comic book associations. The non-symmetrical letter forms are widely believed to assist dyslexic readers, though no official proof of this exists.

Short Stack

Comic Sans Font

Designed by James Greishaber in 2011, this “low contrast, semi-geometric typeface” is a suitable Comic Sans replacement that works well for medium-large text sizes.

Comic Neue

Comic Neue Font

 

Craig Rozynski designed Comic Neue in 2014 specifically to be a modern, more refined version of Comic Sans.

“Comic Neue aspires to be the casual script choice for everyone, including the typographically savvy. The squashed, wonky, and weird glyphs of CS have been beaten into shape while mantaining the honesty that made CS so popular.” -from ComicNeue.com

Some other options include Toms Pinky, Jolly Good Sans, Omniscript, and Fast Hand.

I hope these suggestions are useful in making your design elements feel more connected and complete. There’s a time and a place to be silly…and you need to be armed with the right typefaces to make sure that nobody takes those moments too seriously.

Vincent Connare didn’t create Comic Sans to be the laughingstock of the industry. He was simply ensuring that the message of his work wasn’t being lost because of a disconnect between visual and text. FWIW he also designed Trebuchet and Magpie and has a reputation as an excellent graphic communicator.

Looking for alternatives to Helvetica next? Check out my previous post here.

Want to learn more about Type Trends? Check out what’s hot and what’s not in our Type Trends Survey Report. You’ll learn all about the latest trends in typography
.

Type Trends Report Survey Results


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We published this article last year and it was hit. So, we thought we would publish this article again as a refresher. Enjoy!

Learn how to get free fonts via Google Fonts

As designers, we all love having a wide selection of tools to get the job done. My obsession, and probably yours as well, is fonts.

Whether you’re just starting out as a designer, or have been in the industry for years, tapping into a new source of fonts is desirable, and when that source of fonts is FREE, well, hey, it’s almost a requirement! And this is where our hero, Google Fonts steps through the door.

Originally conceived as a fast and easy way to use new and interesting fonts on the web, the fonts are all open-source and available for download and use on your desktop.

Want to download all of the Google Fonts quickly and automatically as they are added? Suitcase Fusion can do that. With the connection enabled, all of the current Google Fonts are always, automatically downloaded to your machine.

To enable the Google Fonts connection in Suitcase Fusion:

  1. Launch Suitcase Fusion
  2. Choose File > Enable Google Fonts
  3. A new Google Fonts library is added and the font collection is automatically synched to your machine. The fonts can be activated and deactivated like any other font.
  4. At any time, you can check for new Google Fonts. To do so choose File > Synchronize Fonts. 

Google Fonts & Suitcase Fusion

 

Want to know more about which typefaces are currently the “most loved” or “most hated” by experts in the design industry? Check out our Type Trends Survey Report. You’ll see what’s hot and what’s not in the world of typography.

Type Trends Report Survey Results


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fonts like Helvetica

Helvetica is one of the world’s most recognizable typefaces. Originally named Neue Haas Grotesk, Helvetica was created in 1957 by designer Max Miedinger with input from Eduard Hoffman (its name was changed 4 years later when it was licensed by Linotype). Helvetica quickly rose to prominence because of its legibility and versatility. 50 years later, it’s still going strong. In 2007, Gary Hustwit released a critically-acclaimed feature-length documentary (called “Helvetica”) about its impact and influence on the world of design.

What’s hot and what’s not in the world of typography? Our Type Trends Survey Report will tell you just that. Download the report and learn the latest trends.

But familiarity often breeds contempt.

Erik Spiekermann said “People use Helvetica because it’s ubiquitous. It’s like going to McDonalds instead of thinking about food.”

Wolfgang Weingart went a step further: “Anyone who uses Helvetica knows nothing about typefaces.”

Other well-known designers were not quite as harsh.

Steff Geissbuhler called Helvetica “still the most versatile, classic, and readable of all typefaces.”

And Hamish Muir joked that “We hate to like Helvetica.”

So…if you’re a designer, you might be looking for fonts like Helvetica that aren’t so overused. Good news! Our friends at Identifont, Fontspring, Typewolf, and MyFonts recommended several similar grotesk sans-serif typefaces that we’ve assembled here to help you broaden your design pallette:

Nimbus Sans

Created by the URW++ foundry in 1995 as an alternative to Helvetica, Nimbus Sans serves as an effective Helvetica doppelgänger.

Identifont did a side-by-side comparison of the two. Have a look for yourself!

Fonts Like Helvetica: Nimbus Sans

Fonts Like Helvetica: Nimbus Sans

Pragmatica

Inspired by Helvetica, Pragmatica was designed at ParaType (ParaGraph) in 1989 by Vladimir Yefimov (later styles were developed by Olga Chaeva, Alexander Tarbeev, and Manvel Shmavonyan with participation from Dmitry Kirsanov).

Again, practically identical to Helvetica and Nimbus Sans.

Fonts Like Helvetica: Pragmatica

Fonts Like Helvetica: Pragmatica

Volkart

Designed by Jeremie Hornus, Volkart is a Latin-script typeface that was published by Indian Type Foundry in 2015.

Fonts Like Helvetica: Volkart

Fonts Like Helvetica: Volkart

Looking for some options that aren’t so close to the vest? Extensis wrote this great piece about Helvetica alternatives that feel “modern, classic, and universal” without being quite so similar.

Helvetica alternative recommendations:

Stag Sans (Commercial Type)

Open Sans (Google Fonts)

Avenir (Linotype)

Theinhardt (Optimo)

Proxima Nova (Mark Simonson)

Effra (Jonas Schudel)

Aktiv Grotesk (Bruno Maag)

Brown (Lineto)

LFT Etica (TypeTogether)

Franklin Gothic URW T (URW++)

News Gothic  (Bitstream)

So there you have it—several typefaces that are remarkably similar to Helvetica and a few that deviate a bit but still serve the same purpose.

Want to know more about which typefaces are currently the “most loved” or “most hated” by experts in the design industry? Check out our Type Trends Survey Report. You’ll see what’s hot and what’s not in the world of typography.
 
Type Trends Report Survey Results


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“Does Ob stand for Oblique?” You’ll find out as we crack the code to this and other font abbreviation mysteries.

font management

A while back, we came up with a list of font name abbreviations. We’ve decided to provide that list again! Here are a few abbreviations that many of you may need help deciphering:

Kinds of Font Abbreviations

Font Abbreviations mostly fall in several common categories:

Foundry name: usually in the form of one or two letters at the beginning or end of the name (LT, MT, A, BT, FB, URW). “Foundries” are the companies that create fonts, a term going back to the days of metal type.

Language designation: comes at the end of a name (Cyr, Grk, CE). Generally this only applies to older fonts where a separate font was issued for different languages. In most cases, newer fonts put all the languages in a single font.

Font size as intended in print: (Text, Display, Poster/Caption, Small Text, Regular, Subhead, Display).

Read up on optical size for more on this concept. Note that this is usually a print-focused designation; if one is using print fonts for screen/web, using fonts designed for smaller sizes in print at somewhat bigger sizes on screen is often a good idea. A “caption” font might be great for body text on screen.

Download the complete list of font abbreviations here.

Extremely light and extremely heavy weights are generally only useful at very large sizes. The full names for some common weights, in approximate increasing order: Hairline, UltraThin, UltraLight, Thin, ExtraLight, Light, Regular, Book, Medium, Semibold or Demibold, Bold, ExtraBold, Heavy, Black, ExtraBlack, UltraBold or Ultra.

  • A: Adobe, the type foundry and software company based in California.
  • A2: Not an abbreviation. A foundry based in London.
  • AEF: Altered Ego Fonts Foundry
  • Bd: Bold
  • Bk: Book. A designation of weight close to “regular” which may exist in place of regular, or be slightly lighter or heavier, depending on the foundry’s preferences.
  • Bl, Blk: Black. A very bold weight, beyond Extra Bold
  • Com: Communication. Linotype’s name for fonts aimed at corporate customers, which are TrueType flavored OpenType fonts that have a specific extended character set (close to Western + CE, actually “LEEC”) and generally lack extensive OpenType alternate glyphs.
  • Dm, Demi: Demibold, a weight in between regular and bold.
  • IHOF: International House of Fonts. A distribution imprint of the P22 foundry.
  • LT: Linotype. A large foundry dating back to the 19th century (but see also Lt), later acquired by Monotype.
  • Lt: Light. A font with strokes a bit thinner than usual. (But see also LT)
  • LTC: Lanston Type Co. Originally the US counterpart of Monotype a century ago, recently acquired by P22.
  • M, Mono: Monospaced. A typewriter-like font in which all the characters have the same width. “M” by itself is URW’s abbreviation.
  • MT: Monotype. A large foundry dating back to the 19th century.
  • Ob, Obl: Oblique. A slanted counterpart to an upright font. Oblique differs from italic in that the design is essentially unchanged. In many cases there has not even been any compensation for the unpleasant optical effects caused by mechanical/mathematical slanting. Generally a real italic font is preferable. In most applications, hitting an “italic” button on a font that has no italic style available results in a particularly gruesome OS-improvised oblique, at about double the angle of typical designed obliques or italics.
  • URW, URW++: A foundry. No longer an abbreviation, as they no longer use their original full name at all (Unternehmensberatung Rubow Weber is a bit of a mouthful!). The original URW (1972) went bankrupt, and was revived as URW++ in 1995. The name is a play on the name of the programming language C++, a sequel to C.

Wait! There’s more. Check out our Abbreviations in Font Names – The Definitive Guide. You’ll get a comprehensive list of font abbreviations and acronyms to help you get on your way to font management success.

Or if you have a few minutes, read our previous post on finding fonts. We detail some great resources on finding the best fonts for a variety of applications.


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How do you improve font management with your new MacBook?

Mac OS Font Management Best PracticesYou’ve got that snazzy new MacBook on your desk. You’ve figured out how to use the new Touch Bar, and are now ready to get that machine primed and ready for you to be productive.

I recommend that you take a moment to look at how your fonts are handled on your machine. Where they’re stored, how many are kept active, and how best to manage them.

To help you get started, we’ve created a Font Management Best Practices Guide that is specifically focused on macOS. We recently updated this guide to cover multiple versions of macOS, including Sierra v10.12.

This free guide will help you make the most of that machine, and keep it from being bogged-down with unnecessary font clutter.

Download the Guide


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futuretech
 

Explore how technology is evolving to enable a business to successfully manage its fonts and digital assets.

Today’s work environment forces creative workflows to constantly adapt to fluctuating user needs and take advantage of new technologies. Add the ongoing need to increase the speed of production, and you have a situation that can be difficult to navigate as a creative or an IT team supporting creative departments.

We’ve pulled together a full-day event with industry experts who will help you get up to speed quickly and prepare for the future of tech.

Featured presenters and topics include:

Clarifai: Image Recognition for Automated Keywording
Extensis: Font Management and Digital Asset Management
FADEL: Rights Clearance for Your Digital Files
The Martinez Group PLLC: Intellectual Property Law
SANDOW: Publisher & Brand Manager

This full-day free event is broken into morning and afternoon sessions, and includes lunch.

In the morning we focus on font management, and in the afternoon turn to developments in digital asset management.

  • Thursday, March 2, 2017
  • 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. – join us for all or part of the day
  • 3 West Club, NYC
  • Includes hosted lunch

We will also be offering pre-release looks at Extensis software and 1-on-1 time with our engineers to get any detailed questions answered.

Come for all or part of the day – we’d be happy to have you!

Learn more and register here for this exciting event.

 


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Got font management needs? We’ve got answers.

SF3-FontGenius-Bundle-LP-FGWant to learn more about all of the font management applications that we carry? Here’s your chance to see them in action.

Join us for a detailed webcast where we will go through how you can use FontGenius, FontDoctor, Suitcase Fusion and Suitcase TeamSync to help speed your workflow.

You’ll learn:

  • How to identify unknown fonts
  • How to protect your fonts from corruption
  • Effective font organization, activation and usage efficiencies
  • Techniques for font sharing across multiple machines

If you register but can not attend, a recording will be emailed to you.

Register for the Webcast


Is Typekit a Font Manager?

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tkTypekit is a great service that Adobe provides for their creative cloud subscribers. It allows you to do two main things:

  1. Use a wide variety of fonts in the Typekit collection for text on websites
  2. Synchronize some of those fonts from Typekit for use with your desktop apps

Font managers like Suitcase Fusion and Universal Type Server are designed to manage your own collection of licensed fonts. They take your entire valuable collection of fonts and put them into a central location that is easily accessible by you and your team.

Typekit does not manage fonts that you have licensed or downloaded from locations other than Typekit.

There are spots where you may hear the term “font manager” in relation to Typekit. The Adobe documentation for Typekit does at times refer to the web tool that controls the download of fonts to your desktop as a “font manager.” This web tools only manages fonts in the sense that it pushes fonts from the Typekit database down to your machine, that is all.

When those Typekit fonts are available on your desktop, Suitcase Fusion and other professional font management tools automatically detect the downloaded fonts and make them available for use.

sf7-ss-typekit-en-full

Because the average designer has over 4,000 fonts in her collection, keeping all of those fonts available for use, while not necessarily active on the system is critical for speedy, error-free design work.

If you are interested in testing a professional font manager in your workflow, all Extensis font managers are available for use in free 30-day trials.


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