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: Sun, 15 Dec 2002 12:40:48 -0800

Dick Margulis wrote:

In the hands of a skilled typographer--not necessarily in the hands of any randomly selected compositor or randomly selected tech writer--serif faces and sans serif faces, printed on paper, can be equally readable. (On a monitor, serif faces should be used with care.)

On the whole, I agree with you. However, at the risk of pointing out the obvious, some fonts lend themselves to specific purposes more easily than others. For example, Gill Sans can be made to work far more easily as body text than many sans serifs. So could Optima.

Also, technology can be a factor. For instance, I seriously doubt that any degree of skill would render Linotype Didot readable on-screen (at least with the present level of technology). Its strokes are simply too thin in too many places to be rendered decently on-screen.

The decision to use a serif or sans serif face for body text should be based on factors other than readability. Social convention is a good starting point, varying by country. Connotative nuances are another factor--I probably wouldn't set a thermodynamics text in Bembo.

Very true. When I first became interested in typography, I rather liked Optima. However, the fact that it's one of the favorite fonts for perfume ads means that it's not very suitable for most technical subjects, so I don't use it.

But your last comment reminds me of a manual that I once saw that not only used Bembo for technical material, but added Futura for headers - a culture clash if ever I saw one.

Which brings up a question for the list:

What are some of the most unsuitable font choices or combinations that you've seen?

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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RE: Fonts used in print: From: JB Foster
Re: Fonts used in print: From: Dick Margulis

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