RE: Fonts?

Subject: RE: Fonts?
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 26 Oct 2004 09:24:57 -0700

Quoting "Broberg, Mats" <mabr -at- flir -dot- se>:

> True, if you refer to layout and graphic design.
> But probably not true if you talk about typefaces.

I'm not really sure you can separate layout from typefaces in a very meaningful
way. One ordinarily influences the other closely.

> A good typeface is a
> typeface that does not look dated in 50 years,

Maybe a distinction should be made between "dated" and "classic."

A dated font is one that instantly evokes a certain era. For example, Robin
Williams suggests, with some justification, that Helvetica suggests the early
Seventies (I would add the early days of digital design, too). Similarly, Futura
is all bound up with the 1930s ideas of the future, which makes its continued
use to suggest forward-thinking and progressiveness rather absurd. I always have
visions of Metropolis pass through my head when I notice Futura being used.

A classic font may also be identifiable with a certain era, but its proportions
or utility transcend the identification. For example, the proportions of Gill
Sans continue to make it highly effective, although it does carry some sense of
being old-fashioned. In the same way, Baskerville and the various forms of
Caslon, although a couple of centuries old, are so reliable as body text that
they can continue to be used for that purpose. In fact, the world would be
aesthetically much better off if some form of Caslon replaced Times Roman as the
standard serif.

(And Caslon could do it, too; one piece of advice you sometimes hear that has
apparently come down from British typesetters is, "When in doubt, use Caslon."
Times, by contrast, is a more utilitarian design, good for squeezing material
into the narrow columns of a newspaper, but in no other context, and never
well-proportioned by any stretch of the imagination.)

Bruce Byfield


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RE: Fonts?: From: Broberg, Mats

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