The challenge is simple.

The typeface is Bembo. Identify the fonts A, B, C and D.

The majority of the sample type specimens are screen rendered and done to scale. There is a small and annoying message to this challenge.


just fast...memory...: sample c - Bembo 1 Monotype + Stanley Morison (earmarks - g+f) ?

sample b:I think this is the British (Foundry) version?

The message being that there's a difference between a font and a typeface?

A: Bembo Semibold (Monotype)
B: Bembo Book (Monotype)
C: Bembo Schoolbook (Monotype)
D: Bembo Semibold Small Caps?? *shrug*

David --

Sample C is not Bembo 1 Monotype.
Sample B is not the British (Foundry) version.

Annoying message No. 1>
While considering what topics or lessons that might be useful for the upcoming TypeCon 2006 in Boston, it seemed to me that many newcomers have a fascination for type ID. So here's annoying message number 1:

- It's easier to identify a typeface than a font.
(Whaaat!? You mean a typeface and a font are not the same thing?)

No more IDs for the next ten years...where's the window :-)

Jim --

A: Bembo Semibold (Monotype)-- Nope.
B: Bembo Book (Monotype)-- YES!!!! Wheehee!
C: Bembo Schoolbook (Monotype)-- Nope.
D: Bembo Semibold Small Caps?? *shrug* -- Nope. But you're close.

Annoying message No. 2 >
Though we are comparing low resolution screen rendered versions of most of the specimens, they are all done to scale.

When a person asks what typeface something is set in, it really depends on many variables. But when a person wants a font identified, one must really be a detective:

- When was it done?
- How big is the original sample?
- What do you know about the production of the sample?
- Why does it look subtly different than the samples you can find online?
- If it's Bembo (or insert another type name here) why can't I match it?
To list just a few key questions.

B: Bembo Book (Monotype)— YES!!!! Wheehee!

SWEET!!! I finally get one!

*happy dance around the computer lab*

--Jim K.

The samples were done or rendered at 60 pts and the image is at 100% (though it depends on what display settings your monitor is set at).

One of the samples is hot metal, the others are all digital.

A 60 pt hot metal type is designed differently than an 18 point hot metal type even though they are the same "typeface". Some digital foundries will or are trying to adapt for scalable fonts, while most produce a single master regardless of scale.

This is not meant as good or bad practice, but it will account for why certain pre-digital display size typefaces output differently than their digital counterparts.

Annoying message No. 3 >
An expert typographer will take into account all variants and renditions of a typeface. What works at 10 point for text may not work at all for display sizes. Selecting one foundry's font for body copy and another foundry's font of the same typeface for large display sizes may be what it takes to make the difference.

Selecting Bembo for the challenge was stricly based on getting a clean sample of the hot metal version at 60 pts. as well as there being several digital font versions available.

Bembo is essentially a text face, and scrutinizing it at large point sizes is almost pointless, unless it's going to be set for display. Selecting a typeface for bodycopy should always be done by examining blocks of text printed at high resolution (1200 dpi+). A pdf specimen file would give you such options for printing at hi-res, but sadly, such specimens are not always available for today's type specifiers.

Yet more annoying messages >

Asking the Typophile forum members for a font/typeface ID is taking only a small part of the vast type expertise they offer for free, and even less than can be actually learned about type and how best to use it.

There seems to be a deepening and widening gap between graphic designers who can name a font and those who can use it well. Getting a chance to learn about the black arts, and what your mother wouln't teach about type is a gift that can be had, at least in part, from active participation in the forum.

Finding out a font name is okay, but learning about type is better.