Re: Font Peeves

Subject: Re: Font Peeves
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- AXIONET -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 9 Feb 1998 20:49:44 -0500

Michael Lewis <lewism -at- BRANDLE -dot- COM -dot- AU> wrote:

Kimberly Lyle-Wilson wrote:

>Yebbut we aren't (or at least I wasn't, and I don't think >Bruce Byfield was) talking about "uncommon" or (worse -- >infinitely worse) "cool" fonts.

Definitely not! It's only on Friday afternoons that I toy with the idea
of setting a manual in Giddyap or some grunge face. I admit I have a
perverse streak (I was the sort of kid who stuck cutlery into light
sockets, knowing I shouldn't), but I was definitely thinking of solid,
dependable workhorse types of fonts.

>By all means use familiar fonts; just be aware of their >limitations. By all means go a little beyond the familiar, and >use appropriate but uncommon fonts

I've just thought of a good reason for using uncommon fonts, especially
ones designed in the last fifteen years or so: fonts that were designed
for digital use, rather than adapted tot he computer, are - at least
potentially - easier to work with. They have fewer kerning problems, and
so you are less at the mercy of your software's kerning capabilities.
Nor do you have to manually adjust.

To see what I mean, try working with the Stone family some time. Or
compare Adrian Frutiger's Avenir to Futura, which it is loosely based
on. Both are multi-purpose, unobtrusive fonts that give an understated
finishing touch to documents they appear in.

>there's heaps of research to show that TNR on "normal" body >margins is somewhat inappropriate. (If it's boring too, that >only compounds the problem:

I think that one reason that Times has a reputation for being boring is
that on 20 or 24 lb paper, set with the default leading of most word or
document processors, it produces pages whose color is a kind of
washed-out gray. It can be improved with a little fiddling, but most
people don't bother.

Lack of color, by the way, may also be the reason that many writers
automatically use a bold weight for headings: Helvetica is such a widely
spaced font that it requires a bold weight to do its job. By contrast,
set something like Gill Sans in bold at any weight above 14 points, and
all the reader can see is little puddles of dark ink.

Bruce Byfield, Outlaw Communications
(bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com) (604) 421-7189 or 687-2133 X. 269 (redesigned and updated 07 Feb 1998)

"So in the spring of the year, we took the fleet,
Every cask and cannon and compass sheet,
And we flew a Jacobean flag to give us heart;
While Pitt stood helpless we were waiting for Bonaparte."
--The Men They Couldn't Hang, "The Colors"

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