Typographic terminology is sometimes very specific, and the nuances can be confusing. Understanding the distinctions will enable you to communicate more clearly, typographically speaking, and help you to make the best use of your fonts and software.
Character vs. glyph: A character is the symbol representing an individual letter, numeral, punctuation, sign, symbol, accent, or other elements in a typeface. A glyph is the actual representation of that character.
Several glyphs may represent one character, such as the lowercase a being represented by the default lowercase a, swash version, small cap, and superior a.
Typeface vs. font: A typeface is all the letters, numbers, punctuation, and other signs and symbols of a language system designed in a particular style.
A font (in today’s digital world) is a complete character set of a particular weight and style of a typeface in digital form. It is the delivery mechanism of a typeface, and is considered software.
Each font consists of one digital outline for every glyph, which then can be scaled to any size. In the days of metal type, a font was one version of a typestyle in one particular size. A typeface would then consist of many fonts, one for each size: thus Caslon Regular 10 point was one font, while every other size was considered a different font.
Italic vs. oblique: Italics are a slanted typestyle most commonly designed as a companion to a roman, or upright version.
It is usually a unique and separate design, and is often somewhat calligraphic in nature. Oblique refers to a slanted version of its upright companion with few or no design changes other than the angle. (A proper oblique is designed by the typeface designer, and not slanted by a computer command.)
Although these two terms have slightly different meanings, not all typefaces apply the technically correct term. For instance, in the many versions and rereleases of Helvetica, one can see both italic and oblique used for the name of the same design.
Slash vs. fraction bar: The slash (aka forward slash) is a diagonal line going from upper right to lower left, occasionally extending slightly below the baseline.
It is easily found on the keyboard, and is frequently used in numerical dates as in 1/25/58, as a substitute for a conjunction such as in East/West and Y/N, math and ratios, and URLs.
The fraction bar is also a diagonal line, but it is on a more extreme angle, and extends from the cap height to the baseline, and not above or below as do some slashes. It is designed specifically for diagonal fractions, and thus its width and weight is sensitive to each typeface design.
Diagonal vs. nut fractions: Diagonal fractions are those where the numerator and denominator are separated by a diagonal stroke (usually a fraction bar), while nut fractions, also called stacked or vertical fractions, are those where the top and bottom numerals are separated by a horizontal line.
Diagonal fractions are used for proportions, ratios and percentages, while nut fractions are frequently used in – but not limited to – math and scientific formulas.
Kerning vs. tracking: Kerning in the digital world is the addition or reduction of space between a pair of characters to improve the overall balance and consistency of the spacing.
Tracking, on the other hand, is the digital term for the addition or reduction of spacing between a range of characters.
This can be used to improve the overall spacing of a font at a particular size, or to create the appearance of a more open, letterspaced look, usually reserved for a brief, all cap setting.
Widow vs. orphan: A widow is a word, hyphenated word, or several short words that appear at the end of a paragraph.
They are considered undesirable in fine typography as they create a visual hole, whether they appear in-between two paragraphs, or on the bottom of a column of type.
An orphan, on the other hand, is similar, in that it too is a word, hyphenated word, or several short words, but appearing at the top of a column.
Orphans also create a visual hole in a line of type, resulting in a disturbance of the alignment and symmetry at the top of one or more columns. Both should be checked for towards the end of a project, and fixed if possible, either by altering the line breaks or column width, or by editing the copy to either eliminate the short line, or lengthen it.
Monospaced vs. proportional spacing: A monospaced font is one in which each character has the same total width (the width of the glyph plus the space added to the right and left) as in typewriter type as well as tabular ﬁgures.
The width and design of some glyphs are occasionally altered to create a better fit within the fixed width of the font.
Proportional spacing is the spacing used in most typefaces where each character has a unique width in proportion to the shape of each glyph.
Copyeditor vs. proofreader: A copy editor checks the text for accuracy, clarity, usage, consistency of style, as well as house style, if a requirement. This is most often done at the beginning of the design and typesetting process.
A proofreader is generally the last person to check the text before (and sometimes after) it goes into final production, whether it be print or digital media.
It usually consists of checking for spelling, grammar and tense, syntax, punctuation, extra spaces, and sometimes font size, styling, and other characteristics.
August 17th, 2016 by Jim Kidwell
Learn font distribution best practices so you don’t get caught in a font licensing conundrum
Think of font distribution as a process. Not only does it keep your fonts organized and efficiently distributed, it also helps you maintain the appropriate number of font licenses by helping track which fonts are authorized, purchased, shared (with appropriate team members), and reviewed.
A proper font distribution process helps in many areas:
- Time and money spent. Incorrect font usage can cause unnecessary misprints from text reflows and require reprints that waste time and money.
- Tracking issues. Without a proper font distribution process, your team has little (if any) insight into which fonts are being used. Some fonts may be underutilized which can result in purchasing more font licenses than needed. Proper tracking and reporting give you a meaningful way to make future font purchase decisions.
- Unhappy employees. Confusion and frustration reign when your design team can’t find the fonts they need when they need them. Life is easier when a process is in place that allows them to find what they are looking for.
- Legal concerns regarding font licensing. Without a controlled distribution and system of font access, unlicensed fonts can gain easy access into your organization or even worse, custom fonts could be released into the wild. All of which could potentially lead to a lawsuit.
Read on to learn font distribution basics and best practices to help alleviate these potential problems.
Five Font Distribution Best Practices
1. Decide how you want to organize your font collection
We recommend organizing your teams by workgroups. Workgroups are groups of fonts and users. Basically, you give a specific number of users access to specific fonts. Below are three common methods to choose from.
User Type: user types may vary, but we commonly hear about editorial, design, and production user types. These different groups have different needs and will use fonts for different reasons so it makes sense for some organizations to divide their font teams by user type.
Client: Every client is unique and so are the fonts they are using. For example, Times New Roman was built specifically for the Times of London. Companies want a specific brand identity and they can do this by creating and commissioning their own typeface, or selecting groups of fonts that most effectively represent their brand.
Project: Just like each client is unique, so is each project. However, since projects don’t have to be client specific, sometimes grouping by project makes more sense.
2. Set up compliance using permissions
One of the easiest ways to be compliant and avoid piracy issues is to set up user permissions. Instead of a whole department or company having access to certain fonts, only people who need rights to particular fonts have permission to use them. Permissions ensure your company is following branding guidelines and avoiding even inadvertent piracy because users can only use approved and/or purchased fonts that they have access to.
3. Choose roles
Who is going to be choosing, purchasing, and uploading fonts into your system? Is it your Lead Graphic Designer? Is it someone in your IT department? Having a key person who is in charge of this process helps you avoid a guessing game that can lead to problems.
4. Keep record of your font licenses and track usage
When you’re managing the distribution of your fonts, you can gain a level of control over font compliance. You have direct access into who has access to your fonts, and how many users are activating them. This helps ensure you have the right number of licenses for your actual usage and lets you make improved future font purchasing decisions – remember when we discussed saving time and money? This is your ticket to doing just that. Keeping track of all this can be a huge challenge, but font management software can help you.
5. Pick the right enterprise font management software:
Having reliable, robust font management software to save time, money, and maintain license compliance is key to making font distribution possible and successful. Look for a solution that has a dashboard allowing you to easily compare fonts side by side. Check for the ability to search for a font by specific type and set up user permissions by workgroups. Make sure reports are available so you are able to see if more font licenses need to be purchased or scaled back for future use.
What does your font distribution process look like? Let us know in the comments section.
August 10th, 2016 by Extensis
In a recent What’s New in Publishing article Jim Kidwell, Senior Product Marketing Manager from Extensis, takes a closer look on how typography is trending in today’s society and what it means for publishers.
What’s New in Publishing is a United Kingdom news portal focused on the Publishing industry and reports on innovative solutions; case studies and success stories relevant to publishers worldwide.
In Jim’s own words: “If you’ve been in business more than a few months, you’ve likely been building up quite a collection of fonts. Average solo design professionals have around 4,000 fonts in their collections, and the average business can easily have many multiples of that baseline number.”
Sounds familiar? In the full article Jim highlights how the increasing number of fonts launched to the market daily is increasing the number of challenges publishers and designers are facing with managing their font libraries… And, how to best deal with it!
Read the full article here: http://www.whatsnewinpublishing.co.uk/content/beyond-fad-typography-mainstream
August 3rd, 2016 by Ilene Strizver
Hyphens, en and em dashes appear with great frequency in typeset copy. Unlike the days of typewriters where the only character available to represent these three punctuation marks was a hyphen, all three are available in today’s fonts. They all have different usages, as well as varying design characteristics for each typeface design.
In today’s digital world where graphic designers are responsible for so many aspects of typesetting and production, it is up to us to know the difference between these three symbols, and to check for appropriate usage and appearance in every job we come into contact with. From reviewing the initial copy (text) to proofreading the final output, designers need to be aware of these punctuation marks, and edit typeset copy accordingly for typographic accuracy as well as good taste.
When to Use Hyphens, En and Em Dashes in a Sentence
Hyphens ( – ) are the shortest of the three, and are used to hyphenate words at the end of line. They are also used for compound, or hyphenated words and phrases, such as sister-in-law and merry-go-round. In addition, they are the correct punctuation for phone numbers, as well as game and sport scores, and contest results.
En dashes ( – ) are the middle width of the three, and are used to indicate a break in time, or a span or range. (An easy way to know if an en dash is the correct punctuation for a range is if it can be replaced with a preposition, such as to or through.) They are also used to indicate a connection or contrast between pairs of words, such as an east–west flight, and a Democrat–Republican split. The en dash is probably the least understood and most incorrectly used of the three; it is often substituted with either a hyphen or an em dash, both of which are wrong when the en dash is the correct punctuation.
Em dashes ( — ) are the widest of the three. They are most often used for a break in thought, or a thought within a thought or a sentence.
While hyphens are usually consistent in their design relative to each typeface (usually short horizontal or slightly angled strokes), en and em dashes can vary greatly from typeface to typeface. They can differ both in the width of the actual glyph, as well their overall spacing, that is, the space added (or not added) to both sides of the glyph to give them ‘breathing room’ when they appear next to other characters.
The historical standards in the days of metal type for the width of both dashes were fixed for each point size, that being 1000 units to the em square, while en dashes were half that, at 500 units to the em dash. (An em is a measurement relative to the point size of the type, therefore in a 12-point typeface an em is 12 points.)
In addition, dashes had little or no additional space on both sides (referred to as side-bearings in the world of type design). Today’s specs are not that rigid, and can (and should in my opinion) vary dependent on the overall width of the typeface design.
A good rule of thumb is for en dashes to approximate the width of the cap or lowercase ‘n’, while the em dash to approximate the cap or lowercase ‘m’. This results in dashes that are in proportion to the typeface they are designed for: dashes in condensed or compressed typestyles will be narrower, while regular or expanded typefaces will have dashes that are wider, and in proportion to their width.
In addition, dashes should have some space surrounding them so they aren’t crowded and don’t appear to crash into other characters.
So how does the type-sensitive designer deal with em dashes that look too wide in any particular typeface? And what about either dash that appears too tight? It is an accepted practice by many designers to substitute an en dash for a very wide em dash.
While this might not be ‘grammatically correct’ according to grammar references and style manuals, it is a typographic practice that takes into account the varying widths of dashes from typeface to typeface, and serves to eliminate the visual holes that a very wide em dash can create.
As for any dash that appears too tight, space can be added to the right and left to give them a more open appearance. This can be achieved via kerning, or with the use of thin spaces if you are using InDesign. Keep in mind that this should be done on a case-by-case basis, and done consistently for any particular typeface, project, web site or client.
Final Thoughts On How To Use Hyphens In Writing
Never use two hyphens in place of a dash in professional typography. This is a holdover from the typewriter days when the limited keyboard did not include dashes, thus two hyphens were used in place of dashes.
The problem arises today because many copywriters continue to use this outdated practice, and submit copy with double hyphens that are not corrected by designers and webmasters. The best way to avoid this is to proofread and correct all copy before it is typeset.
In addition, when setting type for the web or other digital media, always try to adhere to professional standards of typesetting, including the correct usage of en and em dashes. While there are some instances where this is not possible (such as some email clients which do not support the use of dashes), in most cases it is.
Some instances might require special HTML coding, so be sure to inform all those responsible for the type styling, including webmasters and developers who might not be aware of the correct typographic practices.
June 1st, 2016 by Extensis
In honor of June we’re featuring five fonts that take their names from the first official month of summer.
1. You may think this month is going to be just like it was a year ago, but you’d better wipe away that June Gloom…
2. Because, as NewJune will assure you…
3. Summer’s the best time for barbecues, rooftop parties, weddings, and more. Say, what are you doing June 15?
4. For our parts, when we think about days at the beach, we get as excited as Junegull:
5. One pro tip for all that summer fun, though, from Junebug:
So enjoy the first month of summer. And if you use any of these fonts, let us know!
May 27th, 2016 by Extensis
The Indy 500 happens this weekend, and although we have to admit we’re amazed by the power and excitement these contemporary racing machines generate, we’ve found ourselves waxing nostalgic about a different kind of car, from a different kind of era.
Enter: Chromeography, a site so rich with classic typography that you could spend the better part of a day browsing its gorgeous images. Chromeography is run by Stephen Coles, an editor and typographer who literally wrote the book on The Anatomy of Type. (Coles also publishes Fonts In Use and Typographica.)
Say what you will about contemporary cars. They may be faster, louder, and more powerful. But there’s nothing like the feeling you get from these classic beauties. It’s a feeling that starts with the lettering of their logos. Because they were custom-designed for each car, each of these typographic logos cleverly embodies some aspect of the car itself. Here are some of our favorites, grouped by style and vibe.
With their long, connecting horizontals, these logos seem to reference the open road itself—that classic symbol of American possibility.
- The reverse italicization of the lettering on this 1955 DeSoto Fireflite Coronado gives it a windblown effect, reminiscent of driving with the top down.
- Note how cleverly the simple horizontal transforms the “444” in the logo for the 1957 Volvo 444 into an abstract pattern, the design of which recalls a truss or suspension bridge.
- You’d really feel like a Vagabond in this 1951 Frazer.
- The lettering of the 1962 Dodge Lancer is so mannered as to be almost abstract. But it doesn’t come close to as abstract as the logos that follow….
Some logos famously communicate rebellion. Others are so free and easy they’re essentially illegible.
- Nothing says “rebel” like the angular script of the old Mustang logo. Note how the final “g” is pushed up as if the lettering itself is coming to a screeching halt.
- Between 1957 and the 1960s, the Plymouth Fury got a little more… furious.
- This fabulous, nearly illegible logo is from a Polish car, the Jelcz Star 25 Fire Engine.
- This one is Dutch; it’s from the Daf 33.
- The logo for the Ford Zephyr Mark II Overdrive reads like a hastily scrawled signature—although the chrome lends it a timeless quality.
Not all signature-style logos communicate freedom and abandon. Some evoke the mannered, practiced signature on a check. These logos signify one thing above all: money.
- The ornate, luxuriating script in the Chrysler Fifth Avenue logo feels pretty dated today.
- So does the very ’60s cursive in logo for the 1962 Chrysler Imperial. Yet the long extender on the upper-case “I” and the tall verticals on the “I” and “l” lend it a certain character that’s missing in the Chrysler Fifth Avenue.
- Before it went tall, the Chrysler Imperial logo went wide. Here’s an earlier version, from the 1957-58 model. Love how the backslant from the upper-case “I” becomes the dot for the lower-case one.
- The underline in the signature-style logo for the 1968 Triumph Vitesse 2 Litre convertible communicates confidence, and formally echoes the bar across the “t”.
Beautiful, right? Let’s just say, while the fans at the Indy 500 are cheering on those monster machines of theirs, we’ll be over here quietly drooling over vintage automobile logos. In the words of typography enthusiasts Michael Banovsky and Laurent Nivalle, “If you love typography, go to car shows.“ Or, if you can’t get to a car show anytime soon, you can just visit our Pinterest collection.
“There is no harm in ‘novelty,’ indeed, novelty keeps things fresh & alive.” – Frederic Goudy
A “short, plump, pinkish, and puckish gentleman,” Frederic Goudy was not always a type designer. In fact, until the age of 40, he was a bookkeeper for a realtor in Chicago. But despite being a late bloomer, he never lost his taste for novelty.
Cheers, Goudy! Today we’re partying “Old Style” with you.
May 9th, 2016 by Joe Spencer
Ever see a font you like and wonder what it is? Or need to find a font that’s similar to one you have already? Great news! Font identification apps, software, games, and videos are available to relieve your fontstipation (yeah, I said it).
Got a picture or image you want to match?
Here are a few easy-to-use online resources if you already have a scanned image or a photo of the font you’d like to identify:
Simply upload your image and the Matcherator will tell you what font it is and find others that match. It even allows you to match Open Type features.
This search tool by MyFont also finds and identifies fonts based on an uploaded image. WhatTheFont offers helpful advice, like “use characters that have a distinct shape” and “make sure letters aren’t touching.” If WhatTheFont’s tool can’t identify it, you can post your font to the forum and interact with other humans.
This desktop app features a handy tool for capturing images from sites and documents. Unlike free online services that only identify fonts sold on THEIR sites, FontGenius is a universal source that directs you to any site where the font you seek is available.
No picture/image? No problem.
IdentifontIdentifont helps you identify a typeface by answering questions about key appearance features. For instance, “Do the characters have serifs?” You can also search by font name, similarity, picture/symbol, and designer. Identifont claims to be the “largest independent directory of digital fonts on the internet.”
Rather watch a video than read more articles?
Some dude named Typography Guru made a video tutorial called 5 Best Tricks to Find a Font that’s clear, concise, and easy-to-follow.
Streamline your workflow
Font Sense™ is an innovative font identification technology that ensures a smooth workflow by identifying, locating, and activating the exact fonts used in documents.
Font Sense works by building a complete font specification that contains information such as the name, type, foundry, and version number.
Fun and (font) games!
Happy hunting, type nerds!
Choosing the right font style can be a time-consuming and difficult challenge. Typography experts estimate that there are over 30,000 font families to choose from. Yikes!
So…how do you find the RIGHT font/typeface in an endless sea of options? Some basic guidelines might help.
April 29th, 2016 by Joe Spencer
Handwriting fonts are everywhere these days. Designers love the organic aesthetic they convey and consumers respond to them on a personal level because of their handmade, human quality.
Examples of handwriting (also known as handwritten, cursive, or script) fonts
But did you know that modern handwriting evolved because of the Fall of the Roman Empire? When the Romans succumbed to invading barbarian hordes, widespread plague, and political corruption, the educated world experienced a major lull in literary and cultural works.
An Italian poet and writer named Petrarch labeled this period “The Dark Ages” and began to campaign for a form of writing that was infinitely more “simple” and “clear” than the ornate Gothic lettering which was popular with the ruling class at the time.