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William Caslon's Arabic

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Gavrilo Princip's picture
Joined: 20 Aug 2014 - 3:19am
William Caslon's Arabic

Hello all,

I am about to embark on designing a bilingual publication in English and Arabic. With the client we have been using Caslon for a couple of existing projects already however this is the first time that the project needs to be designed with arabic as well. Overall I am looking for an arabic typeface to match Caslon. From what I understand (I am an absolute novice at this) however this kind of matching is not necessarily always visual but more based on the specific cultural context of the arabic typeface is that correct?

As a westerner not accustomed to using arabic typefaces at all I would be interested in an arabic typeface that would visually (at least in it's grayness / contrast) match the Caslon I am otherwise using but would be interested in any opinion or advice on the matter.

William Caslon appears to have designed an arabic typeface as well - however I can't really discern what his interpretation was like in terms of readability and overall functionality as an arabic typeface - would anyone of you be familiar with any contemporary re-makes of his arabic type?

I hope this questions are not in any way offensive to the visitors to this board - as I said I am very much a novice to this.

Attached is the only image of Caslon's Arabic that appears to circulate the web...

Thank you in advance for any reply.

Fábio Duarte Martins's picture
Joined: 23 Nov 2005 - 10:27am

Well, image seems weird to me. Although it seems readable (I'm still on my first steps in Arabic), the Lamalif's odd shape and the dots stacked vertically seem very distracting.

And couldn't find an arabic pairing for Caslon. Perhaps the way to go is to get someone to design the arabic for it.

John Hudson's picture
Joined: 21 Dec 2002 - 11:00am

Which version of Caslon are you using? Your instinct re. harmonising the overall colour of text is sound, although note that you may need to set the Arabic at a larger nominal point size than the Latin.

A custom Arabic type would be a lovely idea, but if that's not reasonable given the budget, then I would go for something like Tim Holloway's Karim type, i.e. a fairly traditional neo-naskh style. However, you should check the weight, as it might be too dark for some versions of Caslon.

Mamoun's picture
Joined: 14 Sep 2009 - 1:33pm

The style of the Arabic font to use will depend in large part on the type of document you are producing and its audience.

Caslon Arabic, for all practical purposes, is not appropriate for a contemporary document. It was also not successful in its own time as well, due to its failure in capturing the natural spirit of Arabic Naskh writing of the period. Despite being a pioneering work in adapting Arabic to metal type, it can't be used nowadays.

John Hudson is right, most Naskh fonts will be too dark when compared to most versions of Caslon, and that includes the font Karim he recommended. I have the font but was not able to typeset a text with it to compare to Caslon because it did not work in InDesign. Perhaps I need to check with Linotype to see if they have an updated version.

I did however set a text for comparison using Arabic Typesetting, which has an excellent companion Latin designed by John Hudson, and believe that its color will work better than many Naskh fonts because it is already designed lighter in weight, and will be closer to the Latin font's color. As you can see in attached image, once you match the size of the Latin in Arabic Typesetting to Caslon, the size of the Arabic will be fairly compatible. I included two TT letters at the bottom of the English text to demonstrate, one is Caslon, the other Arabic Typesetting.

Line spacing will usually be more in Arabic compared with Latin text of the proper size, but if the two texts do not appear next each other and lines do not need to be the same, this should not be a problem. If the line spacing needs to be the same you may can adjust the leading so it is a little larger than usual in Latin, and perhaps a little tighter that usual in Arabic.


AzizMostafa's picture
Joined: 18 Apr 2006 - 10:43pm

> ... would anyone of you be familiar with any contemporary re-makes of his arabic type?

How if I remake Ha and Ta (ö) in my complementary fonts http://typophile.com/files/YS-Aziz.pdf look like the bunny ears?!