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Archive for March, 2010

by Allan Haley

The sixth installment in Illuminating Letters will be about the Century typeface family – the first typographic “super family.” The lineage of the first super family dates back to1894, to the fruits of the collaborative labors between publisher Theodore Lowe DeVinne and typographer Linn Boyd Benton. The Century family is in fact a dynasty. After several generations, it is now enjoying its third century as a powerful typographic communicator.

The Illuminating Letters series is about the most significant and enduring typeface families. Each article provides a brief history of the typeface; its design attributes, the availability of the original design and newer versions of the design, and tips for using the family. The first five Illuminating Letters articles have been about the Bodoni, Garamond, Franklin Gothic and Optima® typefaces. Future articles are scheduled to cover the Bembo®, Frutiger® and ITC Galliard™ designs. Each issue can also be downloaded as a print-friendly PDF.

If you would like us to shed some light on your favorite typeface, please let us know by commenting here – or by sending an email to allan.haley@fonts.com, and we will consider it for our growing list of future topics for Illuminating Letters.

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

Most graphic designers don’t deliberately steal fonts. But there are a number of ways that a graphic designer can run afoul of ethics and the law when it comes to fonts – without even being aware of these pitfalls. One of the most prevalent is purchasing fonts from a site that sells them illegally.

Font Piracy

Unfortunately, there are probably more illegal or “pirate” font distribution Web sites than there are legitimate sites. These pirate sites often tout themselves as legitimate file-sharing sites and may even seem to shun the posting of copyright materials. But the truth is that they are run by people with no regard for the intellectual property rights of others. They get bundles of fonts – and sometimes even the complete offering – from a legitimate foundry and then sell illegal copies at a fraction of their true cost. Eradicating these pirate sites is like trying to control a virulent fungus: even when they are shut down, they crop up again elsewhere, often under a new name.

Although the fonts might seem fine, if you purchase them from a pirate, you are receiving stolen goods. Most of us wouldn’t consider buying a television off the back of a semi trailer. Buying from a font pirate would be doing essentially the same thing.

The trouble is, although it is easy to know if you’re being asked to purchase a stolen TV, the same does not hold true for pirated fonts. The Web site might look legitimate, and the fonts might seem to be the real thing. But ask yourself, does the price look too good to be true? If so, it probably is.

A Compromised Position

Consider the following scenario. It’s midnight and your deadline is looming. Suddenly you realize you don’t have the font you need to complete the job. Knowing the freelancer next to you does have it, you ask him to send it to you. You install the font, meet your deadline, and head for home. The next day your manager informs the team that the freelancer is no longer on the project. Turns out that it was unclear whether all the software—including the fonts—on his computer was acquired legally or not. Your “satisfied” client is about to receive 20,000 copies of a brochure you created using a bogus copy of their corporate font. Both your studio and the client are legally exposed.

Using fonts of dubious origin can compromise not only your reputation but also the integrity of your computer and the veracity of the documents you create. Pirated fonts can bring viruses onto your computer, can affect the performance of your other, legitimate, software, and can perform unpredictably in documents. You wouldn’t download a file from SPAM email; likewise, you should steer clear of fonts whose lineage you can’t vouch for.

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

I have spent most of my life and all of my career with type and typography. As a result, I’m often asked about my favorite typeface. Almost always, I dodge the question. Truth be known, I don’t have a favorite. There are a few typefaces, however, I have a great fondness for. One of those is the ITC American Typewriter™ family.

ITC American Typewriter is a happy melding of its office forerunner, traits that make it a friendly, broad-shouldered typeface at large sizes, and time-proven characteristics that ensure high levels of legibility in text copy. The design does away with the typewriter’s rigid spacing (which assigns the same amount of space to a lowercase “i” as it does to a capital “W”). And while the letterforms of ITC American Typewriter are clearly influenced by a typewriter font, they are far more legible and ultimately more readable than any standard typewriter output. What’s not to like?

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

Italics are the aristocrats of type: elegant, beautiful, and dignified. Their history can be traced back to a time when only scribes and the most educated communicated with the written word. When they were first made into fonts, italics were designed to be communication tools for the most affluent readers.

Traditional typographic history would have us believe that Aldus Manutius invented italic types, in the 14th century, as a space saving device. The story is told that Aldus paid the type designer Francesco Griffo da Bologna to develop a cursive type for a new series of small books that he was planning to produce. It is said that Aldus’s goal was to cut paper costs and thus make his publications less expensive. These inexpensive books would thus be available to those who previously could not afford them. Then, as now, paper was expensive, but saving paper was not Aldus’s goal in the creating of italic type – and Aldus never sold an “inexpensive” book.

Aldus’s italic type evolved from a popular writing style used by the educated. Its heritage can be traced back to Niccolo de Niccoli, an Italian scholar of the early 15th century. De Niccoli started to oblique and added flourishes to his letters when “he wished to write in a faster more relaxed fashion than usual.” By the mid-century other scholars began to imitate his writing style, and by the late 1400s, italic became the official writing style of the educated, and of the professional scribes of southern Italy. In fact, the style came to be called Cancellaresca because of the large volume of work produced in that type for the city chancelleries.

Most of Aldus’ customers for his books were the same people who used the cursive style of writing. In adapting the style to print, he and Griffo were making books more appealing to their intended audience. Today, we would call this concept creative marketing.

Aldus’s Idea proved very successful; so successful in fact that other printers felt obliged to produce their own books in this new typestyle. The problem was that Aldus knew a product differentiator when he saw one, and was not about to sell fonts of his new invention to the competition. So the early printers did what has become a tradition in the history of type design – they copied the designs they could not buy. Not wishing to call attention to the plagiarism, but still needing to give the new offering a name, they chose “italic,” after Italy, the country in which Aldus worked.

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.


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