Type News: With or Without
This week brings us a slew of new type, some peculiar research, and plenty of news.
Let’s get right to the good stuff—new type. What’s old is new again … or at least that seems to be the case for a goodly portion of this week’s releases.
Kris Sowersby has been working overtime in the type shed, expanding last year’s Founders Grotesk by another two widths. The new Condensed and X-Condensed families sport five weights apiece, but without the italics of the regular width faces.
Since making its first appearance at FontShop back in 1994, Nick Shinn’s FF Fontesque has aged surprisingly well for a rather frenetic, grunge-era display type. In an impressive OpenType upgrade, FF Fontesque gains display weights, “pseudo-random” contextual alternates, optical sizes, a playful set of ornaments specific to each weight, and Cyrillic language support. An overview of the new features are available in Nick’s carefully prepared user guide (PDF).
Oh, and Jos Buivenga hands out a quick hit of tilt, by adding italics to his semi-slab Museo. Nuf said.
Now, out with the new “old” and in with some new “new.”
Matthew Carter describes the eponymous Carter Sans as a “humanist stressed sans”—lightly chiseled with some gorgeous details and “unfussy” italics. All the things you’d expect from the likes of Carter and collaborator Dan Reynolds.
Barcelona’s Typerepublic gives us the clean, slightly condensed Barna. Designed by Andreu Balius primarily as a text face, the multi-weight Barna also includes a pair of dapper stencil cuts for display settings.
Blurring the line between text and titling typefaces, Suitcase Type Foundry has released Tabac Sans. A broad, humanist-based family that complements the old style serifs of Tabac, creating a substantial and contemporary superfamily. A considerable collection of faces on its own—Tabac Sans covers eight weights—hairline through black, plus italics.
Typonine’s latest was inspired by a famous cabaret performer, and it’s a fitting tribute. The generous counters, offset horizontals, sizable x-height, and geometric construction of Delvard and Delvard Display echo with Art Nouveau undertones.
Bully for Bullen! Juliet Shen mixed readability and eccentricity in somewhat equal parts—creating this typographic nod to the quirkier bits in the American Type Founders quiver. This might just be my favourite typeface of the year so far.
René Verkaart’s Ballet Méchanique began as a custom font for musician Jeroen Borrenbergs, whose electronic musical persona goes by the same name. An extremely narrow, monocase sans—Ballet Mechanique belies its linear structure with arguably organic stroke transitions and details.
Joining this week’s new type are a couple promising new type resources. Beautiful Type collects photos and illustrations from around the web, curated for your delight and edification. More scholarly and ambitious in its scope is The Typographic Hub, a resource for type and typographic information, history, and original research. Set aside a few hours and prepare to be engrossed.
The web was abuzz this week with recent research out of Princeton University that suggests that Comic Sans can make learning easier. The research was really about the effect of type selection on retention, which suggests that harder-to-read typefaces are beneficial to learning. No matter the spin, there are several problems with the research and its conclusions. The researchers limited their type choices to standard system fonts (Comic Sans, Arial, Bodoni MT, Haettenschweiler, and Monotype Corsiva). In a classroom setting a teacher might be limited to the default system fonts, but textbook publishers generally don’t face such constraints. In any case this decision suggests laziness on the part of the researchers. Equally grievous is their assertion that Comic Sans is harder to read than Arial. (Research into dyslexia suggests otherwise, though there are better options.) Until they have conducted more thorough research on a wider range of typefaces—and until they have considered the impact of “disfluency” on students with dyslexia, et al.—their conclusions are difficult to take seriously.
Wash the bitter taste out of your mouth with some of this week’s many other items of interest:
- The dates and venue have been announced for TypeCon2011: Surge.
- Chris Hamamoto reviews Jan Tschichold: Master Typographer.
- Not all reviews are so well-written and thoughtful. But they can still be fun, as “Dot Dot Dot” proves.
- Want to pursue additional education in type design and typography? The Department of Typography at the University of Reading is accepting applicants, some of whom may be awarded studentships.
- Do you use Microsoft Windows? The OpenType font driver has a vulnerability. Be careful out there!
- Simon Garfield continues to make the rounds, this time in an interview with 200%. His ten favorite typefaces may surprise you.
- Can you read Korean? If so, this interview with Cyrus Highsmith may be of interest.
- Paul Shaw is offering a two-session course on classical typefaces at the Type Directors Club, March 24 and April 7. Get your name in quickly if you want to attend.
- Also at the TDC, on January 27 be sure to check out “Prototypes: The Experimental Typography of Andrew Byrom.”
- Ralf Hermann recommends the latest issue of Typo magazine.
- Do you find yourself wondering about the identity of a corporate typeface? Typografie.info has a thorough list.
- James Mosely has compiled a handy index of his Typefoundry blog.
- On Quora, Stephen Coles and Naz Hamid share their experience with Webtype and Typekit. (Have you used either service, or preferably both? Feel free to contribute to the discussion.)
- Harry Roberts shares some quick tips for good web typography.
- Test your type knowledge by playing Cheese or Font.
That’s it for this week. Is anything missing, unclear, or just plain wrong? Let us know in the comments.
Thanks to Grant Hutchinson, who got us off to a rousing start with this week’s new type!
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