Archive for the ‘Type for Print’ Category

by Allan Haley

Carl Crossgrove’s new Burlingame® family is a classic example of the subtlety type designers bring to typeface design. At first glance, Burlingame appears to be square sans design with understated humanistic overtones. A closer look, however, reveals myriad details that define the typeface.

BurlingameOne of the primary goals behind the Burlingame design is legibility. “Overall design traits, individual character shaping and even letterspacing were carefully considered in the design process,” says Crossgrove, senior type designer at Monotype. “While these considerations are part of every typeface I design, they took on an increased importance in Burlingame.”


The impetus for Burlingame was a branding proposal for a major gaming platform – which meant that the design had to perform well on a small screen. While it was not incorporated into a video game, Burlingame was eventually licensed for use in human-machine interface displays for automobiles. The process of fine-tuning Burlingame for its new home, however, imposed new legibility issues for the design.

“I modified the original Burlingame renderings based on findings from automotive user interface legibility research Monotype undertook previously,” explains Crossgrove, referring to an exploratory study sponsored by Monotype and conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) AgeLab and the New England University Transportation Center, which examined the role typeface design may play in minimizing glance time – the time a driver takes away from watching the road to interact with in-vehicle displays.


Crossgrove carefully introduced design traits, such as the triangular cuts where strokes join, flat tips on sharp counters, and character bowls that he describes as “superelliptical” to improve character legibility. He also applied generous character spacing to enable clearer character definition. In addition, Crossgrove incorporated character designs from the German DIN 1450 initiative for barrier-free legibility. “There are characters such as the footed l and t, open c and s, and simple bowl and tail g,” says Crossgrove. “I included these, and many other traits into the Burlingame design, intending that they would aid in character recognition and easy reading.”

To help ensure legibility at small sizes and in modest resolution digital environments, Crossgrove made Burlingame’s proportions almost extended. Realizing, however, that there are many instances where economy of space (in addition to legibility) is required, he also drew a series of slightly condensed designs.


The Burlingame family is comprised of 36 typefaces – nine weights from thin to extra black with condensed counterparts – each with an italic complement. The designs are available for desktop licensing, as well as Web fonts through all Web Fonts paid subscription plans. As a special introductory offer, a sampling of the Burlingame family (Burlingame Light and Burlingame Condensed Black) is available at no charge. Simply load them into your shopping cart and check out. Want all 36 fonts of this great new design? Until May 7th you can get the complete Burlingame family for 50% off!

Learn more about – and license – the Burlingame family today.

by Ryan Arruda Big Script Sale

Here at we’re excited to kick off our Big Script Sale, a three-day promo event where you can save up to 80% on leading script typefaces. Running through Friday, we’ve got 60 script designs from a dozen leading foundries, so you’re sure to find a typeface that’s perfect for your next design project.


60 Great Families to Choose From

Selections run the gamut, from formal scripts — such as ITC’s Elegy and Canada Type’s Maestro — to more expressive, playful designs like Laura Worthington’s Hummingbird and Sudtipos’ Affair collection. There’s also handwriting inspired faces, like Monotype’s Julietrose family, and Steinweiss Script from Alphabet Soup.

Be sure to check out our Big Script Sale page on to see all the discounts we’re offering through our event. And make sure to take advantage of these deals now, because they’re only available for three days!

Win Prizes

Spread the Word and Win

Win typographically themed prizes when you tell the world about your Big Script Sale experience. Just tweet @Fontscom with hashtag #bigscriptsale. We’re giving away professional lettering supplies from our friends at Sakura of America, and even an original piece of lettering art by one of the Big Script Sale’s talented type designers. See all the official giveaway details on our Big Script Sale page on

by Allan Haley

Silica Blog takes a fresh look at the Silica™ typeface this month. In its honor, we wanted to look back at the family’s typographic heritage.

Slab serif, or Egyptian, typefaces first appeared in 1815, developed in response to the fledging advertising industry’s appetite for heavy, attention-getting alphabets. Slab serif designs were intended to be display typefaces of the highest order.

The slab serif typestyle was introduced about the same time as sans serif typefaces. Interestingly, both originated in England and were initially only available as cap-only designs. Coincidentally, William Caslon IV, who produced the first commercial sans serif, called his design “Egyptian,” the term also used to designate slab serif typefaces.

Also interesting is that the first slab serif typefaces were generally maligned by the intelligentsia of the typographic community.

A prominent typographic critic of the time described the new slab serif style as “a typographical monstrosity.” And well into the 1920s, The Fleuron, the famed British journal about typography and book arts, ignored the typefaces altogether. Daniel Berkeley Updike, the great type historian of the period, went so far as to refer to the design style as one of the plagues of Egypt.

And yet, despite its many detractors, the slab serif typestyle flourished. Advertisers, for whom these designs were originally intended, loved their commanding power and straightforward, no nonsense demeanor. Slab serif typefaces were the “flavor of the day” until the first part of the 20th century, when newer designs eclipsed their popularity.

Slab serif typefaces fell into disuse for almost 30 years, until they were revived as text designs by several German type founders. (Actually the Boston Breton family, one of the first revivals, was released by American Type Founders in 1900, but it didn’t attract much interest until the German slab serif designs began to be imported to North America.)

The Memphis® typeface, from the Stempel foundry, is credited with starting the slab serif revival in 1929. It was followed by the Bauer foundry’s Beton, the City® family from Berthold, and Luxor from Ludwig & Mayer – all German companies. Other European foundries followed suit: the Nilo and Egizio typefaces were released in Italy, Monotype’s Rockwell® and the Scarab designs in Britain.

Sumner Stone’s Silica typeface family is an important – and particularly handsome – addition to the lineage of slab serif typefaces. It also perpetuates the Egyptian typestyle tradition of versatility and candor.

The complete Silica family is available for desktop licensing from, as well as for online use through subscriptions to the Web Fonts service.

by Allan Haley

Lately it seems that every new typeface release is either a sans serif or a script. What has become of the stalwart, straightforward – or even quirky and delightfully fancy – serif typeface? Happily, the serif’s back in town.

Take a look at Jovica Veljović’s Agmena™ typeface family. The design – first announced a little over a year ago – quickly became a “New Best Seller” on It’s now risen to become the first traditional serif typeface on the “All Best Sellers” list – albeit below a bevy of sans serif and a couple of slab serif families. The Agmena collection also won recognition in the Type Directors Club Typography Competition in 2013 as well.


Veljović based Agmena’s design on calligraphic letterforms, his primary intention being the setting of long – and beautiful – blocks of text copy. (Old timers might refer to Agmena as a “book face.”) To this end, Agmena is available in four weights: book, regular, semibold and bold, each with a complementary italic. The book and regular weights provide an optical balance between various point sizes – with the more robust regular being well suited for small sizes­. Designers can also choose the best weight for different paper stocks. The regular holds up remarkably well when printed on paper with a bit of “tooth,” while the book is ideal for smooth “calendered” stock.)

Agmena’s extensive character set makes setting refined text copy a pleasure. Each weight of the family offers small caps, old style and lining figures, a throng of ligatures, swash characters and even a suite of dingbats. Not stopping there, Veljović also designed Cyrillic and Greek versions of the Agmena alphabet.

While designed for publications, Agmena has also been welcomed into advertising, branding, and even online environments.

The complete Agmena family is available as desktop fonts from the and websites. It is also available as Web fonts.

Click here to learn more about – and to license – the Agmena family.

by Allan Haley

Stefan Claudius designs type, but this has not been his only profession. “Type design is currently my main occupation,” he says, “but I have spent more time as a typographer and graphic designer.” Claudius also teaches typography and typeface design at several German colleges and design schools.

“Teaching has considerably broadened my horizons,” he continues. “I have had to research things that I previously knew little about, to ensure that I provide my students with the best information.”

Yalta Sans

Claudius also acknowledges learning a great deal about the process of typeface design while developing his Yalta Sans family.

From his first trial sketches in 2005 to the official announcement of Yalta Sans eight years later, Claudius was as much a student of typeface design as he was a typeface designer. His first drawings were basically experimentations – pushing characters to their limits, discovering how subtle, and not so subtle, modifications might change the demeanor of the design.

“Fortunately, typeface design is a field in which things don’t move all that rapidly,” Claudius observes. “Although, of course there are always fashions and fads. The most positive aspect for me is that I have matured along with the typeface.” Thanks to breaks in the development process, Claudius was able to cast a fresh critical eye over his work.

Yalta Sans

As it happened, the most challenging part of the design development came almost at the end of the process. “When I first showed the typeface to Monotype, I thought it was more or less complete,” Claudius reflects. “However, it turned out that additional intermediate weights were required. And the personality of the typeface needed to be made more consistent across the various members of the family.”

These realizations meant that Claudius would need to redraw the entire family (with the help of an intern designer and digital design tools) and then completely revise the italic styles to complement the new romans. The final result is a strikingly handsome design that blends diverse sensibilities into a remarkably versatile and extremely legible typeface family.

Click here to learn more about – and to license – the Yalta Sans family.



by Ryan Arruda

Happy New Year everybody!

As we march into 2014, we wanted to look back at some of our favorite releases from last year. Our most recent newsletter presents a roundup of designs that really knocked our typographic socks off. As a bonus, many of the families feature 30% off their complete family packs until January 10th. So you have to act fast!



Laura Worthington’s delightfully expansive Charcuterie collection — this family features a bevy of complementary styles and ornaments, 22 in total. It’s a great choice for adding a vintage, eclectic, and charming edge to your designs.

Metro Nova


The expertly crafted humanist sans Metro Nova family — Toshi Omagari’s expert update to a classic W.A. Dwiggins design released by Linotype.



The Xenois superfamily designed by Erik Faulhaber; consisting of 6 distinct styles — each with five weights and matching italics — this collection provides a comprehensive typographic system, at ease with tackling the most demanding branding or publication design projects. Save 30% off each of the complete subfamily packs: Xenois Sans, Xenois Serif, Xenois Slab, Xenois Semi, Xenois Soft, and Xenois Super.

We’re also featuring 30% off discounts on the complete family packs of the Avenir Next Rounded, Espuma Pro, Excritura, Grey Sans, Capita, Ciutadella families too!

These discounts will only last until this Friday, January 10th. Be sure to check them out and take advantage of some awesome deals!

by Ryan Arruda


As Fontacular barrels through its final day, we wanted to remind you all that there’s still time to take advantage of ALL the wild deals from this week. That’s right, Fontacular best sellers such as the Neue Haas Grotesk, DIN Next, Mercury Script, and Veneer families are STILL on sale. Gander at the Fontacular page to see what’s up for grabs. Remember: get these deals now, because come end of day today they’ll be gone!

We want to take this opportunity to thank all of you who joined us for Fontacular, we hope you had as fun a time as we did. Don’t be sad that Fontacular is coming to a close, be happy because it happened and you were there. We also want to thank our amazing partners, including TattlyMama’s SauceField Notes, and Typefight for providing awesome giveaways, as well as the amazing Fontacular design work from Brad Woodard of Brave the Woods.

Many of you have been asking how such a monumental and herculean event like Fontacular came to fruition. We wanted to give you a behind-the-scenes look of one facet of the event’s planning. Here are some Fontacular giveaway items that didn’t quite make the cut.


1. A series of fine porcelain plates commemorating historic typefaces.

2. Free fonts for life to those who tattoo anywhere above their neck.

3. Get a second set of fonts for free — just pay processing and handling.

4. Fontacular points — earn loyalty points to unlock rewards including a branded leather bomber jacket, belt buckle, travel mug or fanny pack.


5. Intellectual property rights to the complete Papyrus family.

6. The Fontacular soundtrack — easy listening and atmospheric hits from contemporary artists.


7. The “Font of the Month” club — an expertly curated assortment of artisan, gourmet, and free-range fonts delivered to your doorstep once a month.

8. A 30 cassette spoken word audio catalogue listing every product we have.

9. Official Fontacular Brand Brand — A livestock brand in the shape of the Fontacular logo. (Rejected because we thought it was cruel to the animals and some of the cows thought “o” and “n” were kerned too tightly.)

10. Certified pre-owned fonts.


by Ryan Arruda

The truly monumental milestones in the evolution of typographic history can no longer be counted off on one hand. Accredited scientists and peer-reviewed statistical studies show such hallmarks to be:

• Written language
• Illuminated manuscripts
• Movable type
• The microprocessor
• Arial



Have you always wanted all your dreams to come true? Look no further, dear reader, because for one week – December 2nd through 6th – is hosting the most impressive typographic event ever seen in the modern age. Fontacular will change the way you look at type. And life. Unlock all your type fantasies.


We’ve got single weights of type. We’ve got type selections. We’ve got complete type families…and they’re all up for grabs. Here’s what you need to know, hoss: each day we’ll reveal a brand new batch of deals that will drive you wild — with prices starting as low as $9, you’d be a fool to miss these deals. And because we idolize Laurence “Mr. T”  Tureaud, we shall pity you. Because come Friday, these deals will be gone forever. Keep constant watch on our Fontacular page for new products and excitement each day.


Plus, all week we’ll be featuring giveaways from our great partners, including Tattly, Mama’s Sauce (who printed an awesome Fontacular poster designed by our pals at Brave the Woods), Field Notes and Typefight. Just tweet to us @fontscom and use hashtag #fontacular to tell the world how our event has changed your life, and you could be showered with typographic goodies as well as held in high esteem in your community.

Have the pride of telling your children “I was there for Fontacular.

Be there for Fontacular.

by Alyson Kuhn

Jim Wasco loves to talk about type, and when he does, he enthuses equally about highly specific details on the one hand, and the typographic big picture on the other. It’s not an either/or discussion – it’s a seamless interplay of influences and inspirations. With Wasco, you can indeed have it both ways. His newest typeface design, the Harmonia Sans family, is a perfect example.

Harmonia Sans

The name Harmonia Sans alludes to harmony in two realms, music and typography – and on two levels, the individual and the collective. Each musical note must be ‘right’ on its own, to ring true with the other notes in the phrase, and it must add to the composition as a whole. (Wasco, by the way, plays jazz piano every week as part of a sextet.) The letterforms of a typeface are even more inter-dependent, in that they must achieve visual harmony in almost infinite combinations. On the ‘collective continuum,’ Harmonia Sans also blends what Wasco describes as his “favorite aspects of the different sans – grotesque, humanist and geometric” in a new geometric design. He adds, “Harmonia Sans is geometric because the letters are based on a square, circle and triangle, just like architecture.”


The alignment comparison above illustrates Wasco’s decision to use calligraphic cap to x-height proportions for Harmonia Sans. The ITC Avant Garde Gothic design has a larger x-height, and relatively short ascenders and descenders, while the Futura family has a smaller x-height, with elongated ascenders and descenders. Wasco determined that the calligraphic proportions would serve to increase both legibility and typographic harmony.

Calligraphy instruction sheet from Paul Standard (circa 1950)

Calligraphy instruction sheet from Paul Standard (circa 1950)

Wasco neatly sums up his ‘calligraphic lineage’: “Dad went to The Cooper Union in the ‘50s. His calligraphy teacher was Paul Standard, who was a friend of Hermann Zapf’s. When I met Hermann, I mentioned Paul – and his face lit up. Many people credit Paul with popularizing calligraphy in America in the ‘50s.” Standard’s calligraphy instruction sheet above is based on a cap to x-height ratio of 7.5 to 5.

Calligraphy by Jim Wasco:  banner on a piano recital invitation (2007)

Calligraphy by Jim Wasco: banner on a piano recital invitation (2007)

Wasco has always favored a ratio of 7:5 for his own calligraphy, and the Harmonia Sans proportion is close to 7:5 as well. Click here to learn more about – and to license – the Harmonia Sans family.


Alyson Kuhn
Alyson Kuhn (a.k.a. Kuhncierge) writes frequently about paper and printing, including typography and postage stamps. On occasion, she teaches envelope-folding workshops. She lives in Carmel, California.


by Dr Hermann Püterschein

Bill Dwiggins got me hooked on type. His marionette shows were what attracted me to his studio, but it was his passion for calligraphy, type and typography that lured me into a life of letters. Serious stuff, but I was a pretty serious kid back then. I guess that’s how I got my “Doctor” nickname. Bill also gave me my start in the type business – but that was much later.

Toshi Omagari’s re-envisiong of Dwiggins’ original Metro

Toshi Omagari’s re-envisiong of Dwiggins’ original Metro

I believe that the Electra typeface was the first of Bill’s that I wrote about. (I wasn’t around when he drew the Metro design back in 1930.) But I did write a review of Metro Office when Linotype released the small family for, well, office use, in 2006. If memory serves, I gave it a “36 point” rating (“worth the ticket price”).

When Monotype invited me to have a preview look at Toshi Omagari’s re-envisioning of Bill’s original Metro, I jumped at the chance. The new design, Metro Nova, is quite a nice piece of work. Bill’s Metro had to make do with just four weights – and only three of them had italic complements. Omagari’s design offers a full range of seven weights of roman designs – each with an italic companion – plus six weights of condensed designs with italic counterparts as well. Now that’s an excellent enhancement.

Seven weights with italic counterparts, and six condensed weights—also with italic counterparts.

Seven weights with italic counterparts, and six condensed weights—also with italic counterparts.

Omagari also made improvements to some of the original Metro’s character designs. Not that Bill wasn’t a good designer – he was, but he had to put up with Linotype’s antiquated unit system and the firm’s insistence that every typeface family under the sun duplex – you know, share common character width values. Bill worked around these mechanical restrictions pretty well, but Omagari’s design is digital. And what a dramatic difference that makes! You won’t find any compromises in proportions or spacing in Omagari’s Metro Nova.

The new design is also available as OpenType Pro fonts, allowing for automatic insertion of ligatures and those alternate characters Bill drew for his original design. Pro fonts also have extended character sets to support most Central European and many Eastern European languages. Omagari even added the alternate Icelandic ð to the character suite! (He has friends in Iceland.)

Metro Nova Pro alternate accented Latin characters; alternate umlaud, accent “a” and Icelandic “eth” characters

Metro Nova Pro alternate accented Latin characters; alternate umlaud, accent “a” and Icelandic “eth” characters

While it’s not the second coming of Garamond, I really like the new Metro Nova. Omagari has done a terrific job of building on Bill’s original design. Metro Nova is a rock solid typeface family that’s not going to gather dust on anyone’s hard drive.

Click here to learn more about – and to license – the Metro Nova family.

Alternate and Standard setting of capital M

Alternate and Standard setting of capital M


Dr. Hermann Püterschein is President of the Society of Calligraphers and a noted typeface & typographic critic. He can be reached at