Carter Sans: The Road Less Traveled

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Allan Haley in News on August 11, 2015

It began with what seemed like a simple request: Can you make a sans serif version of ITC Charter? The request was to Matthew Carter, the designer of serif design. Carter’s reply was, “Sure, or at least I think so. Let’s give it a try.” And try he did.

While several serif typefaces have been made into successful sans – and vice versa – Carter found that removing the serifs from ITC Charter proved problematic. Its relatively narrow capitals and lowercase shapes with a suggestion of those found in 18th century French old style designs, while ideal for the distinctive and robust ITC Charter, did not provide a good foundation on which to build a sans.

Carter Sans

Undaunted, Carter decided to build a new sans serif design from scratch – but not just any new sans. He looked at the many models available: humanistic, 19th century grotesque, geometric and square. Instead of a traditional approach, however, Carter chose a road less traveled: a glyphic sans. It would be a typeface reflecting lapidary inscriptions rather than pen-drawn or constructed letters. Stroke weights would flair slightly, producing just the hint of a serif, and counters would not echo the outside character shapes. It was on this foundation that Carter Sans was built. Carter describes the final design as a “sanserif whose stroke-endings show the effect of the chisel more than the pen.”

“Carter decided to build a new sans serif design from scratch—he looked at the many models available and chose a road less traveled: a glyphic sans.”

Other distinguishing characteristics of Carter Sans are its old style figures and small caps. “There a few sans serif typefaces with old style figures,” says Carter, “and virtually none with small caps.” Drawn by Dan Reynolds, who collaborated with Carter on the design, these characters provide added readability and versatility to the family in text setting. The lining figures and lack of small caps in most sans serif typefaces force the use of full size characters that can be distracting if many are used in text copy. The result of these versatile characters is Carter Sans is a distinctive sans serif design with all the communication power of a traditional book face. For those who prefer lining figures, Carter Sans will not disappoint. It has those also.

For a brief time the complete Carter Sans family is available for desktop licensing for just $99. Carter Sans is also available for Web and desktop use through Fonts.com subscriptions too. Start using this great typeface collection now!

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