fonts.com blog
Archive for August, 2009

by Allan Haley

What do designers need to know in order to work with both Latin and Arabic typography? Plenty.

For a myriad of reasons, the western world has become aware of and, hopefully, more sensitive to the Arabic culture. As a result, graphic communicators in the western world are being asked to add insight into Arabic culture and graphic communication to their creative palette. This, however, is clearly easier said than done. Creating design that will perform acceptably in the Arabic community takes a lot more than adding a new suite of fonts to your hard drive. It takes the realization that the foundation of Arabic graphic communication is very different from that in the western world.

The good news is that there is a book that goes a long way in helping the western design community learn about this issue. Extensively illustrated with more than 200 examples of the best in contemporary Arabic typography and graphic design, “Arabic for Designers” by Mourad Boutros is an authoritative guide for designers unfamiliar with Arabic script.

Arabic For Designers

Using visual examples and case studies, Mourad Boutros takes the reader through the entire range of graphic design applications – newspaper and television news typefaces, book jacket designs, corporate and brand identity, logotype conversions, advertising, design for print and fine art.

The author shows how non-Arabic speaking designers can work with the language and understand and respect its cultural nuances, whilst avoiding the pitfalls and mistakes to which many others have fallen victim.

Arabic for Designers demonstrates how designing with Arabic can yield incredibly innovative, beautiful and successful results. Based upon over 40 years’ experience of working with an array of corporate and creative clients, Mourad Boutros addresses the rise in global awareness about Arab culture in ways that inform and inspire.

This book is an invaluable reference for design students, design professionals, marketers and anyone interested in Arabic culture and language.

Allan Haley
Allan Haley is Director of Words & Letters at Monotype Imaging. Here he is responsible for strategic planning and creative implementation of just about everything related to typeface designs.



by Allan Haley

Fonts for metal and early phototypesetting machines like the Linotype and Monotype had to be created within a crude system of predetermined character width values. Every letter had to fit within, and have its spacing determined by, a grid of only 18 units. This meant that if the ideal proportions of a particular character did not fit within a subset of these 18 units, it had to be altered so that it did. As a result, type designers were often compelled to compromise their designs from what they felt was ideal so they would work within the confines of the technology.

Spacing Comparisons

The original Frutiger™ typeface was such a design. The face dates back to 1968, when Adrian Frutiger was commissioned to design the signage for the then-new Charles de Gaulle Airport in Roissy, France. Frutiger’s goal was to create a sans serif typeface with the rationality and clean lines of his Univers design, but softened with organic, almost calligraphic, nuances.

The Frutiger signage was completed and installed at de Gaulle airport in 1975. It took two more years to convert it into fonts for phototypesetting. In the process, Frutiger was forced to make changes to many characters to accommodate the spacing limitations of early phototypesetting technology.

Neue Frutiger™, drawn as a collaboration between Adrian Frutiger and Linotype type director Akira Kobayashi, is based on the original Frutiger typeface, but incorporates many changes. The most obvious is an increase in the family’s range of weights. Neue Frutiger has ten roman weights – each with an italic counterpart. Other, more subtle, improvements were also made. Because the new design is not bound by the design restrictions put on the first Frutiger, Neue Frutiger improves on the original design in important areas, such as character design and spacing. Kobayashi and Frutiger also concentrated on enhancing character legibility at small sizes. Neue Frutiger enjoys all the design and spacing refinements that current digital technology can provide.

Neue Frutiger Example Page

Allan Haley
Allan Haley is Director of Words & Letters at Monotype Imaging. Here he is responsible for strategic planning and creative implementation of just about everything related to typeface designs.



by Allan Haley

There a hundreds of Web sites dedicated to improving typographic communication. Some are directed to graphic designers, some to students, some to Web designers, but today I ran across the first (to my knowledge) typographic guide dedicated to lawyers.

It took a graphic designer, turned type designer, turned lawyer to come up with the idea. Started by Matthew Butterick a civil litigation attorney in Los Angeles who, before he turned to the law as a profession, received a degree in art from Harvard University, focusing on graphic design and typography. After college, he worked as type designer drawing four typeface families for the Font Bureau; and from here he went on to run website development studio.

While Butterick clearly has all the credentials needed to write about typography for lawyers, the site also provides simple, straightforward guidelines to anyone who uses type and fonts in their profession. In addition to answering questions like “What is typography and why is it important?” Butterick breaks his advice into the three categories of “Basic,” “Intermediate” and “Advanced” typography. Illustrations abound and there is an underlying sense of humor. Great stuff.

My only nit is Butterick’s advice regarding Times New Roman – but that’s probably because of my association with Monotype.

Go to the site (http://www.typographyforlawyers.com). Learn, enjoy and become a better typographic communicator.

Allan Haley
Allan Haley is Director of Words & Letters at Monotype Imaging. Here he is responsible for strategic planning and creative implementation of just about everything related to typeface designs.