Re: Fonts used in print

Subject: Re: Fonts used in print
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 12 Dec 2002 17:29:20 -0800

JB Foster wrote:

My first question is about the type of fonts currently popular with
technical manuals. I see lots of Arial, and Times New Roman, as the chosen
fonts for such manuals, and have always wondered if the real reason for this
is due to DTP 'default' settings for fonts.

That, and the fact that most computer systems have them installed.. Times Roman and New Roman are reasonably useful if you want legible test in a confined space; as the names suggest, they were originally designed for newspapers. However, there's no shortage of fonts designed for similar purposes.

I personally find that
news-print fonts (such as Times New Roman) are over-used and at times
un-appealing in manuals.

One good reason not to use Arial and Times is that you forfeit all ability to create a brand for your company by giving your work a distinctive look and feel.

> As well, I'm a bit
surprised that Palatino Linotype (which is my current favorite) isn't used
at all, considering that I find it pleasing to look at (or read).

I"ve used Palatino from time to time. You might also have a look at Aldus, which is inspired by the same fonts as Palatino, but has a slightly different look, and prints much better than Palatino at sizes below 10 points.

So I
guess what I'm asking is this - are there any current trends in the use of
fonts for printed manuals, and text books as well (especially with regards
to fonts that cross over the readability barrier of PDF)?

I've read that, about fourteen years ago, almost half the manuals in North America used Garamond, probably in imitation of Apple, which has its own copyrighted version of the font.

I've noticed that British books are using Plantin and Meridien reasonably frequently now, but few other trends.

For business purposes, I use Gill Sans and Joanna, both created by Eric Gill. Gill may have been a pervert, but he was also a brilliant artist. Few other designers have the same sense of line that he does. Joanna reads well in small sizes, and has one of the best italic typefaces around (so does Gill's Perpetua), while, if you avoid the bold weights, Gill Sans is one of the most versatile sans serifs I've seen.

Other fonts that I keep returning to: Adrian Frutiger's Avenir, Meridien, Frutiger, and Universal; Sumner Stone's Stone Sans (although I'm less font of Stone Serif); Baskerville, Goudy Old Style, and various Caslons.

And the last question has to do with the amount of fonts you can safely get
away with, before your Printer takes a fit? I am considering going from
using two types of fonts, to using three, for a medium-sized manual. Is
there any maximum amount of fonts that a Printer (considering the cost)
would prefer? ... other than one!

That depends on the printer memory, and the resolution at which you print. My printer has 18 megs of RAM, so I rarely have any problems, even at 1200 dpi. However, when I got the printer, it only had 2 megs, and even printing a document with 1 font at 1200 dpi could take a long time.

Bruce Byfield bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com 604.421.7177

"'To be, or not to be; that's the question,' said Eeyore. 'Some of us can, and some of us can't, and that's all there is to it. You know what I've been suffering, Piglet? Slings and arrows, that's what. And it's my birthday as well. I would have liked a balloon. But what do I get? Slings and arrows. Not to mention a sea of troubles. Did I mention a sea of troubles, Piglet?'"
- Les Barker, "Eeyore's Speech From 'Piglet'"

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Fonts used in print: From: JB Foster

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