Archive for June, 2010

by Allan Haley

I was sent a press release yesterday about how a senior citizen was defrauded by sweepstakes scams. It’s a sad story about an 88-year-old woman who was bilked out of her life savings by truly bad people. Fortunately, it appears that she will be getting back at least some of her money.

The reason the press release was sent to me was because one of the culprits in the fraud was a typeface. And no, it wasn’t Comic Sans™.

Actually, it wasn’t a specific typeface, but a style of type. Italics were sited as part of the blame for misleading the octogenarian. According the release, “The words ‘no donation necessary’ were written at the bottom of the page in italics, which italicized fonts are 18% harder to read for seniors rather than regular fonts.” The poor woman could not read the copy that told her she did not have to send money to get money.

Truth be known, italic type is harder for everyone to read. A little while ago, I wrote about italic typefaces in my “Italics: Typography’s Aristocrats” post. In it, I extolled on the beauty of these designs – but I did not share any of their shortcomings.

So, to set the record straight, Italic typeface may be beautiful – but they can also be problematic. The first problem is that italic fonts, especially the cursive variety, are too pretty for most graphic communication – and too weak to be assertive. Readers may say that they think italics are attractive, but when it comes to reading them, studies have proved that italic fonts slow down the reading process by as much as 14 to 20 words per minute. Readers have to work harder to read text copy set in italics, which not only impedes the reading process, it also retards copy comprehension.

Italic types are also normally lighter in weight, and more condensed than their roman counterparts. This delicate quality may add to their beauty but it detracts from an italic design’s ability to be a graphic emphasizers. Truth is, italics don’t emphasize very well at all. Bold typefaces highlight. Italics, well, they just look pretty.

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 admin

Alice Savoie, typeface designer, discusses her proudest achievements, favorite typefaces, sources of inspiration, web fonts and the future of typography.

by Dave Gould

The e-book reader market is hot these days. But is the readability of text in those devices really top of mind to consumers buying a device when they have so many other things to consider? This includes price, brand, network capable, library and available content, battery life, design, file format compatibility, screen size, keyboard and other aspects. We at Monotype Imaging have been doing some of our own studies with consumers (see video link below), and I was quite interested to learn that the latest review of nine e-book reader products by Consumer Reports appears to have now included ‘readability’ in their coveted rating system. Consumer Reports said that the Amazon Kindle has crisper, more readable type than any other model in various lighting conditions. The full report is available at, but you need to subscribe to gain access to it. I am a subscriber, and so I checked to confirm that indeed readability is now part of the report under the heading Ratings and Test Results. This seems to raise the bar for device manufacturers while keeping readability ‘top of mind’ for consumers who have a bazillion other things to worry about in this fast changing device category. What do you think? Will the e-book market embrace readability through quality type?

by Chris Roberts

Just stumbled across a link to this old ad for Helvetica:

Helvetica Trade Advertising 02

Anyone else have any cool retro type ads to share?

by Chris Roberts

Seems like all of the sudden the term “HTML5” is everywhere. It must be incredibly irritating to highly technical people when civilians hijack and misuse their terms. HTML5 seems like it’s well on the way to “Web 2.0″ land. At the risk of further contributing to its over exposure, I’d like to hear and share some views concerning what HTML5 might mean for fonts and the people who love them.

First, a baseline definition from Wikipedia (where else?):

HTML5 is currently being developed as the next major revision of HTML (HyperText Markup Language), the core markup language of the World Wide Web. HTML5 is the proposed next standard for HTML 4.01, XHTML 1.0 and DOM Level 2 HTML. It aims to reduce the need for proprietary rich internet application (RIA) technologies such as Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight. In common usage, HTML5 may also refer to the additional use of CSS3, as both technologies are under development in parallel. source:

That last line does a few things for me: 1) supports my observations that the term “HTML5” has already achieved “common usage” (be very afraid), and 2) ropes in CSS3, which gives me my lead-in concerning font usage prospects. I’ll make a basic assumption here, which may be completely wrong (I’m sure someone out there will set me straight), that “Web fonts” will work where HTML5 is supported. CSS3 supports @font-face, which has now been adopted in every major browser, enabling foundries (like my employer, Monotype Imaging) to offer new services like Web Fonts. Combine my “HTML5 supports web fonts” assumption with the support being thrown behind the HTML5 movement by the likes of Apple and Google, and I am hopeful that the further extension of “real fonts” into rich media is set to accelerate. The reference to “real fonts” here is meaningful. I’m contrasting font formats like TTF, EOT, OTF and WOFF, which maintain the full typographic features of a font, to “derivative” formats like SVG and/or SWF. Conversion into “derivative” formats can represent a stumbling block for creative professionals who want to exercise the full capabilities of real fonts within rich media applications. When a real font is converted into one of these derivative formats, many valuable typographic features of the original font file are lost. For example, coded instruction that make the font look more legible at various point sizes when it is scaled up and down are lost (hinting). So, just how far can HTML5 be pushed as a replacement for proprietary rich media formats like Adobe Flash? Check out this demo from Sports Illustrated (Nice call out for “sophisticated typography” at 1:46.)

Last week, Jon von Tetzchner, Opera co-founder, suggested that HTML5 may represent a unified development environment for mobile applications. Considering that there are now reportedly over 4 billion mobile subscribers out there, I’m thinking this should be a good thing for creative professional who want to use “real fonts” in their mobile applications. What do you think?

by Allan Haley

I wonder about the importance of typeface library brand when it comes to purchasing of fonts. Those of us on the inside of type foundries tend to believe that brand is all important – that designers gravitate to a particular type library to look for fonts. True, type libraries tend to have “personalities” – or are collections of certain kinds of designs. The Monotype® library has many typefaces that are ideal for text setting, the Font Bureau® offering contains many nineteenth and early twentieth century revivals, the FontFont™ suite of fonts has several trendsetting designs, and the P22™ type library includes a large number antique and handwriting fonts.

Monotype P22 Type Foundry

Font Bureau FontFont

Brand Loyalty – Not

My guess is, however, when graphic designers are searching for a new font, they are looking for a particular design – or a particular kind of design. They may have their favorite online font store where they shop, but whether the font is from the Linotype® library, the International Typeface Corporation® (ITC) library, or the Font Bureau library is of little importance. I’m pretty sure that graphic designers shop for fonts – not foundries.

Linotype ITC

Come to think of it, graphic designers have always purchased fonts – or typeface designs. Back in the day, designers would create the layout and then order the type. Proofs were ordered from services that set type. Back then, Linotype and Monotype were primarily manufacturers of typesetting equipment. Savvy graphic designers may have bought their typesetting from a type shop that had a particular kind of typesetting equipment because they believed it produced better quality proofs than the competition – but most just purchased proofs of the Gill Sans® or Helvetica® or Century Old Style typefaces because that was the typeface they wanted their copy set in.

First Brands

The first important typographic brand that was not associated with a piece of typesetting equipment was probably American Type Founders – because it only made handset type. (No machines were necessary to use the type.) The next was ITC. In its first two decades of business, ITC only produced typeface designs, which it licensed to manufacturers of typesetting equipment. ITC did not start making fonts until the early 1990s.


I’m thinking that, today, it is more important for type foundries to invest in creating great new fonts than it is to spend money on brand building. Now, font stores – that’s where brand is very important. I’m pretty sure that FontShop is a much more important brand than FontFont.

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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