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by Allan Haley

Rod McDonald was clearly concerned. The designer of the newly released Classic Grotesque typeface family called me the other day about what he thought could be a problem. “I just went to a web site a friend told me about,” he told me, “and it is using Classic Grotesque for the text copy.”

“Not that this is a problem,” McDonald continued, “but I also went to a bunch of other sites – and they are all using Classic Grotesque.” McDonald’s concern was that, somehow, unauthorized versions of his new typeface were finding their way into a wide variety of web sites.

A little sleuthing revealed that the sites were calling for a sans serif text typeface and that the desktop version of Classic Grotesque, on McDonald’s computer, was providing the default font. After his initial concern was alleviated, McDonald became quite happy with his discovery. “The surprise I got when Classic Grotesque turned up as the default on my browser opened my eyes to the fact that the design is pretty darn good as a screen face,” he exclaimed. “I’ve since discovered more sites that also default to Classic Grotesque and I am very pleased with what I’m seeing – and these are just the desktop fonts.”

What McDonald meant by “just the desktop fonts,” was that the Web fonts of Classic Grotesque will look even better in on-screen environments. Classic Grotesque, like all fonts available through the Fonts.com Web Fonts service, underwent special work to ensure that it was optimized for on-screen use. This means that Classic Grotesque will be as commanding a communicator on screen as it is in hardcopy. Click here to learn more about Classic Grotesque Web Fonts.

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

Classic Grotesque

“The Classic Grotesque typeface began as a fairly straightforward reinterpretation of the early 20th century Monotype Grotesques,” recalls Rod McDonald, the face’s designer. “While I am delighted with the final results, I had no idea how difficult the design process would be.”

“The trouble was that I spent a lot of time looking at just the early Monotype Grotesques,” McDonald continues. “As a result, that face and its newer rendition, the Arial family, kept creeping into my design.” McDonald’s solution was to broaden his research.

“The Monotype Grotesques had strong influences from two other designs from the same time period: Venus and Ideal Grotesk. Once I began to let all three designs influence my work, I realized that this was what I wanted to do all along – and the problem when away.”Designer Rod McDonald

McDonald’s final product is a family of seven weights, each with a complementary italic, for a total of 14 designs. When asked about the size of the family, McDonald’s response was, “Normally I would not produce seven weights but I realized that I could ‘squeeze’ in an extra weight and it would give graphic designers more choices when reversing type and in dealing with the hierarchy of complex documents.”

In addition to the large suite of family weights, McDonald also drew a number of alternate characters. “I included the alternate characters for two reasons,” says McDonald. “I wanted to give designers more choice, and I wanted to better match the older grotesques which often had different characters (especially the lowercase g) in different weights or styles.”

McDonald wanted to ensure that the family was also versatile and a strong performer in other ways. “High legibility was an important goal,” he says. “I can’t imagine producing a typeface today that doesn’t take into consideration the restrictions of the small screen.”

Classic Grotesque

The complete Classic Grotesque family is available as desktop fonts from the Fonts.com, Linotype.com and ITCFonts.com websites. It is also available as Web fonts.

Click here to learn more about – and to license – the Classic Grotesque family

More information about Rod McDonald and images of Classic Grotesque and its influencers can be enjoyed by clicking here.

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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