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Help: need good typewriter font with italics

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Irren Mann's picture
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Joined: 16 Nov 2014 - 5:44pm
Help: need good typewriter font with italics
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Hello Typophiles,

I'm working on a book that draws a lot from old hard-boiled detective fiction, and a typewriter font just feels right. But ITC American Typewriter doesn't—too big, not quite low-tech or yesterday enough.

Problem is, as I try and run down other typewriter fonts that might work better, most (for obvious technological/historical reasons) don't have an italics variation. I have reluctantly concluded I do need to use italics at certain points, and therefore am having an even harder time finding the perfect font.

Please, can you knowledgeable folks throw me some recommendations for fonts that can pass as reasonably reminiscent of old-school typewriters, yet depart from that enough to have a proper italics variation included?

Thank you in advance!

Respectfully,
irrenmann

Donald H. Tucker's picture
Joined: 13 Dec 2012 - 3:47pm
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For an old fashioned typewriter style, that is not a grunge or distressed version, I suggest Remington Typewriter, which includes an Italic designed by Frederic Goudy in 1927.
http://www.myfonts.com/fonts/lanston/ltc-remington-typewriter/
This is monospace, just like an old time typewriter.
If you want a similar old time, well made typewriter font, with an italic, that is proportionately spaced we will have to look further.
Don

Donald H. Tucker's picture
Joined: 13 Dec 2012 - 3:47pm
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In the typewriter era Italic typefaces were very rare.
To produce a page with part of the text in Italic it would have been necessary to take the page out of the machine and put it in a different typewriter that used an Italic typeface, manually align the page and type the Italic portion of the text. Then take the page out and return it to the original typewriter to resume typing with the Roman typeface. A painstaking process, to say the least.
The usual practice for making Italic letters was to continue typing the Italic portion with the regular Roman typeface, then go back and type over the Italic portion with the underscore key.
Don

J. Tillman's picture
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Joined: 27 Sep 2009 - 11:31am
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Triplicate by Matthew Butterick
http://practicaltypography.com/triplicate.html
It has a monospace (real old typewriter look) and proportional spacing as well.

Riccardo Sartori's picture
Joined: 13 Jul 2009 - 4:20am
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Do you plan to set the entire book in a monospaced typewriter font? That could become tiresome to read quite fast.
If the typewriter setting is just for selected portions of text, I would go for full authenticity and follow Don’s advice about underscores instead of italics.
If all the text is to be equally set in the same typeface, I would go for something proportional in width that just hints at typewriter style or, maybe better yet, something that reprise the style of typefaces used in the old pulp paperbacks (perhaps keeping the monospaced typewriter treatment for headings).

Mark Simonson's picture
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Joined: 3 Dec 2001 - 11:00am
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I read a book once, "File Under Architecture" by Herbert Muschamp, that was entirely set in typewriter fonts. I don't recall having any trouble or fatigue from reading it. In fact it was printed on brown craft paper, sometimes using purple ink. Yet I remember it as being very enjoyable to read. I'm not saying it's necessarily a good idea to design a book this way (if the book had been dull, I might have had a different opinion about its design), but I think it can work.

Typewriter fonts are generally not as beautiful or refined as book typefaces, but most were at least designed to be legible, given their limitations. Their main drawback is that they are not very space efficient. A book face set poorly (too tight or too loose or too small or with too little leading) would probably be worse than a typewriter font in terms of reading fatigue.

(Anecdotal, I know.)

Donald H. Tucker's picture
Joined: 13 Dec 2012 - 3:47pm
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I had forgotten about Triplicate Poly [proportional spacing]. Of the suggestions so far it is the only one that gives you something of an old typewriter look, with Italics, that looks finished rather than distressed. It's seems to have comfortable spacing for extended text -- neither too tightly set or too loose -- and might work OK for a book length.

The mention of old pulps reminds me that many of them were set in Plantin. I posted a sample at the end of the following thread: http://typophile.com/node/117180

Plantin would work well in a book that used a Roman for much of the text and the typewriter look for some purposes.

If the typewritten stuff is relatively short, the underscore technique would give a real flavor of period authenticity.

Don

James Michaels's picture
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Joined: 6 Mar 2010 - 12:54am
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I agree with Riccardo's comment. Setting a whole book in a typewriter font isn't a good idea, wasn't used in old detective fiction, and it might make a self-published book look amateurish.

But it might work well on the cover.

Here's a sample from my father's 1930 edition of The Scarab Murder Case by S.S. Van Dine:

Donald H. Tucker's picture
Joined: 13 Dec 2012 - 3:47pm
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FWIIW there is a digital match to the unusual Italic _3_ in Nick Shinn's Scotch Modern http://www.myfonts.com/fonts/shinn/scotch-modern/ a version of the Scotch Roman fonts widely used in books for many years. A Scotch Roman might be a good alternative to Plantin for detective fiction, provided you use a lower contrast text version. This style includes fonts like Miller and Harriet.
Don

Irren Mann's picture
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Joined: 16 Nov 2014 - 5:44pm
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Some clarifications:

I would indeed prefer a proportional typewriter-styled font for this.

It's not for a self-publishing project, and I want the manuscript (not just portions) looking this way while I work on it for a certain vibe. It's largely out of my hands beyond that.

I'll try out Triplicate. Thank you. Please do keep the suggestions coming if anyone has more!

Riccardo Sartori's picture
Joined: 13 Jul 2009 - 4:20am
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While by no means historically accurate, Input Serif offers a typewriter look, proportional spacing, and a series of other possible customisations:
http://input.fontbureau.com

-'s picture
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Joined: 9 Jun 2010 - 1:39pm
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Courier Prime

James Michaels's picture
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Joined: 6 Mar 2010 - 12:54am
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> It's not for a self-publishing project, and I want the
> manuscript ... looking this way while I work on it

Okay, then disregard my comments.

John Savard's picture
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Joined: 23 Nov 2009 - 8:42pm
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Typewriter manufacturers did make italic faces for typewriters, even though they were not popular - emphasis was done by underlining, or by switching to the red side of the ribbon. When the IBM Selectric came along, at least you could change typestyles by changing the element.

And of course, before the Selectric, there was the Blickensderfer and the Hammond.

So a little research will turn up quite a few examples. There were even italic faces for the IBM Executive.

But I presume you're looking not just for the typeface, but for ready-to-use fonts in TTF or OTF format, of which I can't recall an example offhand.

Reynir Heiðberg Stefánsson's picture
Joined: 19 Nov 2010 - 11:15am
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Underlining was not the typist’s only means of emphasis. (S)he could letterspace, too. Peter Wiegel’s “Erika Type” has that kind of ‘italic’.

Karl Stange's picture
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Joined: 17 Sep 2009 - 10:07am
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Typewriter by A2-Type

EDIT: link fixed and thanks to Donald for posting a working one.

Donald H. Tucker's picture
Joined: 13 Dec 2012 - 3:47pm
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I agree that Typewriter by A2-Type is worth considering. More modern letter forms than the 1930s or 1940s faces, but is proportionate spaced and the Italic fits with the Roman. Working link https://vllg.com/a2-type/typewriter
Don

Irren Mann's picture
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Joined: 16 Nov 2014 - 5:44pm
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Many thanks to all of you! I can't quite afford Typewriter by A2-Type, but it's definitely one to aspire to.

Joshua Langman's picture
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Joined: 14 Nov 2010 - 12:22am
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"(S)he could letterspace, too."

Or, depending what kind of typewriter (s)he had, switch to red.

Misbourne's picture
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Joined: 5 Dec 2014 - 7:04pm
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If you want something a bit more eccentric, consider Archer. That is very typewriterish but not monospaced. Probably not what you have in mind but very beautiful.