What are your pet peeves about common typefaces?

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Michael Ebert's picture
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Joined: 18 Aug 2004 - 9:18pm
What are your pet peeves about common typefaces?
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OK, yesterday I rejected Freight Sans for a project. It's simply beautiful, but I believe its narrow word spaces hinder legibility, especially in comparison with other humanist sans faces.

This morning I briefly considered using TheSans, until I got a look at that uppercase "Q" with its disconnected tilde for a tail. Please, Lucas! I absolutely love TheSans, but no alternate for that Q?!!

So it got me thinking... What common typefaces are "spoiled" for you by their quirks? And what makes these features deal-breakers?

Thanks in advance,
--Michael.

Tiffany Wardle's picture
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Joined: 13 Jul 2001 - 11:00am
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Hi Michael, just out of curiosity, What is the project that you couldn't set up new H&Js to suit your needs?

Great thread. I'm generally against typefaces with open bowls in the P and especially in the B. I'll have to go find a sample.

Andy Van Engen's picture
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Joined: 25 Jun 2013 - 11:43pm
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Yes! The open bowl in the P of Stone Sans is why I hate using it.
Openings in 2-story lowercase g's bug me too.

Michael Ebert's picture
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Joined: 18 Aug 2004 - 9:18pm
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You're right, I could have. But we were under a major time pressure and I wanted it to work "right out of the box."

--Michael.

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// love what you do or do something else. //
Michael Ebert -- graphic designer, jazz saxophonist, horror movie devotee
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Dave Bailey's picture
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Joined: 25 Jul 2005 - 3:07pm
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Wow, I didn't realize how small the wordspace is on FreightSans. Definitely too small for extended reading!

Michael Ebert's picture
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See, I'm not crazy. Lazy not to have set up custom H&Js, perhaps, but not crazy... :-)

--Michael.

------------------------------------------------------
// love what you do or do something else. //
Michael Ebert -- graphic designer, jazz saxophonist, horror movie devotee
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kris sowersby's picture
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Joined: 18 Feb 2003 - 11:00am
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The Freight word spaces aren't that small. How hard is it for you to set them yourself? It would take about 5 seconds.

—K

Florian Hardwig's picture
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Joined: 18 Feb 2007 - 6:41am
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What I meant is: I know a number of Germans (it's not just me) who say Dolly is essentially not usable for German-language text, because the eszett glyph does not work.

Count me in.

Igor Freiberger's picture
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Joined: 20 Jun 2008 - 8:44pm
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Sorry, I did mean the absence of small caps as an OT feature.

Now I see there is an Iowan Pro version which must have proper small caps inside the fonts. But strangely its information is incomplete both in MyFonts and in FontShop. Tries to show smcp/c2sp preview always return errors and the character set does not shows small caps (http://www.fontshop.com/fonts/singles/bitstream/iowan_old_style_bt_pro_r...).

Does anybody know if Iowan Pro has small caps and old style figures as an OT feature? Is this available for the whole family?

Thomas Binder's picture
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Joined: 13 Jan 2006 - 9:04am
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Ok Frode, then Marc Simmonson will loose a potential client. I don't like the two storey a either. The a is such an dominant letter that makes it sometimes nearly impossible to go with a typeface. I like the a in vista sans, or malaga – others don't.

Nick Shinn's picture
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Joined: 8 Jul 2003 - 11:00am
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Thanks Nina, that's what I suspected.
Perhaps some of the present wave of ultra-blacks also have such a feature.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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Many designers have become used to the conventional closed-botton binocular "g", and they assume that what jumps out at a designer at display sizes is the same thing as what harms readability among layman at text sides. I don't think those are the same at all, and I believe the open-bottom bino form is more natural to reading. It's just harder to make well because good precedents are so rare.

hhp

Jens Giese's picture
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Joined: 23 Oct 2003 - 2:46am
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Regarding Freight in it's Sans and Text variants: I, inter alios, have to say that they're pretty much unusable for German. The esteemed Mr. Darden decided to not design an ß for them, but to prove instead that he knows about its ancestry, the Antiqua's ſs ligature (an assumedly younger, but still century-old variant of the Textura's and the Fraktur's ſʒ ligature which gave the ß one of its names, the Eszett). No modern ß is provided as an alternate glyph.

The other Freight family members (Big, Display, Micro) do have an ß, but for some curious reason, Micro's ß changes into ſs in its italic, so Micro falls into the unusable-for-German-unless-you-don't-plan-on-using-the-italic category.


Freight has been a little overfreighted with
well-meant typographical fanciness

This inconsistency alone would make the Freight family an iffy choice for German, even if the ſs ligature wasn't completely out of use. While the elderly or typographically educated may recognize the ſs as ß (and yet trip over each instance), the rest will just wonder Whatthefont this is (and/or read it as fs).

I've heard the ß being referred to as an ſs ligature, but it's more precisely a single letter that evolved from the ſs ligature. Freight illustrates the point.

Claudio Piccinini's picture
Joined: 11 Jan 2003 - 9:32am
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I think most people started mixing questions of actual problems in usability and simple taste preferences or dislikes. This does not make sense.
The [Q] of Bookman is perfectly fine. The [Q] in Scala may present problems of immediate recognizability, since it‘s too detached.
But as Hrant said, its style should be preserved.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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A good example of the danger in historical pedantism.

hhp

Nina Stössinger's picture
Joined: 19 Jun 2006 - 3:01pm
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"an fl (sic) ligature instead of an Eszett"
That seems to be a not-entirely-uncommon encoding (?) issue (see this find).

Speaking of eszetts, to many Germans Dolly has a serious German-usability issue too, because its eszett is too short (it should really reach the height of the other ascenders). I myself have only ever been able to use it in Swiss contexts, where no eszett was needed.

Chris Lozos's picture
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Joined: 25 Feb 2004 - 11:00am
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Mili, that looks like small caps. Is that what they did to all the cap diacritic glyphs?

Stephen Coles's picture
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"Often Emigre doesn't style link … I think that's crap, especially for mere mortals who use word processing programs."

But they do have a point. What’s good for some is not good for all. Style-linking isn't great for Adobe CS users, or those who use a Regular, a Medium, and a Bold for instance. The solution — inelegant as it may be — is to offer separate versions to please both camps. This is FSI’s goal with Office FontFonts.

Nick Shinn's picture
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Joined: 8 Jul 2003 - 11:00am
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The serifed capital I in Verdana.
I can understand its use in small pixel text, to disambiguate I from l and 1, but in all other uses, it looks like a "wrong font" letter.
Especially in all-cap settings, e.g.

bigbill's picture
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Joined: 12 Oct 2009 - 3:16am
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"Evolution" of Swedish tabloids!


Aftonbladet, 1953.
"fYllde kyrkan" Great solution!
"ÖSTERMALM" is looking rather nice (seriously).

-


Aftonbladet, 197X? Huge dots.

-


Aftonbladet,1994

-


Aftonbladet, 2009.
Needs to be set tighter.

Stephen Coles's picture
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Joined: 14 May 2001 - 11:00am
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How about the cap "I" in Bell Gothic?

Nick Shinn's picture
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And Griffith Gothic?
I don't mind that so much, because there are other strangenesses.
(That's why I didn't mind including a serifed "I" in a couple of my sans designs.)
But everything else in Verdana is so orthodox, notwithstanding the occasionally J/j, that the "I" really stands out.

Briän M Zick's picture
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Joined: 8 Nov 2008 - 9:38pm
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> I don't think those are the same at all, and I believe the open-bottom bino form is more natural to reading.

I'm not sure it's more natural or not. But I have seen it done very well with a very natural feeling. It's certainly more natural in certain cases.

Chris Lozos's picture
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Joined: 25 Feb 2004 - 11:00am
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As with all things, the proof is in the pudding.

Nick Shinn's picture
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I'm still not seeing any with accents reversed out of the glyph.
Surely someone has given it a try?

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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I believe it's more natural because the closed form is topologically too alien. The open form harmonizes with other forms better (like the "s").

hhp

Brian D. McFann's picture
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Joined: 13 Jan 2009 - 3:41pm
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I like a capital "R" that sticks its leg out and tries to trip the next letter, like this (Albertina) one:

This (Utopia) one is too polite:


It seems to be saying "Oh, do you have enough room? How about if I cross my legs? Is that better?"

Brian

Christopher Adams's picture
Joined: 30 Aug 2009 - 12:23am
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For those still keeping score, the Q's of Luc(as) de Groot's TheSans:

Craig Eliason's picture
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Joined: 19 Mar 2004 - 1:44pm
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I'd guess /Ä/s (and /Ö/s?) would look too much like faces that way.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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I can see a good reason to make it short (it's heavier
than anything else up top) but that's way too short.

hhp

Wouter Ramaker's picture
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Joined: 27 Aug 2007 - 9:40am
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a pet peeve of mine: The almost perfectly geometrically round oldstyle zero in Sabon, with no hint of weight distribution.

Kent Lew's picture
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Sindre (satyagraha) -- Question: Is that opinion about the Å being separated widespread among readers in the various languages that use this character?

For instance, I had heard once from a Dane that the preferred form of Å is merged.

When designing Whitman Display, I was directed by FB to have the ring merge with the A. (Whitman text, on the other hand, has the two separated.) I didn't argue because I could find no definitive answer.

Brian Jongseong Park's picture
Joined: 15 Mar 2006 - 12:53pm
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I'm most familiar with Swedish, and I've only heard that Å should be separated. But I suspect most people don't really care either way.

Nick Shinn's picture
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As opposed to Mickey Mouse?

Elias Stenalt Werner's picture
Joined: 14 Mar 2007 - 10:52am
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I don't have a huge problem with the merged Å, and I honestly don't understand how merging the ring and the A makes it less a letter in its own right than taking an A and placing a ring accent above it. But maybe that's just me being Danish. For the record, I know a few people who despise the å and insist on the old spelling, aa.

To me, it's a lot more repelling when lowercase æ looks like a clash between a and e (example: Bembo), instead of being drawn as one, unified letter.

Nina Stössinger's picture
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Steve Marston's picture
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Proof is never in the pudding. The proof of the pudding is in the tasting.

David Berlow's picture
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Nick: "...everything else in Verdana is so orthodox..."

There is a stylistic alt I and small cap alt I in Verdana Pro, though not labeled "orthodox."

Chris Lozos's picture
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Joined: 25 Feb 2004 - 11:00am
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>>though not labeled "orthodox."

perhaps "reform", then?

John Hudson's picture
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You know, I've never-ever-not-even-once had any difficulty reading a letter g with a closed lower loop, nor found any open looped g easier to read. Some of the latter I've certainly found distracting because, ironically, they are topologically alien to most of what I've spent my life reading.

Why not, for that matter, declare the s to be the topologically alien one? It's terminals seldom correspond to those of the lowercase c, with which one would expect it to share such features. Or maybe its the c that it topologically alien. Or maybe its that none of these things have any measurable impact on reading.

Chris Lozos's picture
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"I believe the open-bottom bino form is more natural to reading."

Perhaps this is simply your own particular take on the issue. I have never heard of this from any other source. Do you have any data?

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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Measurable? Data? Sorry guys, I forgot I was on soilmechanicsophile.com...

hhp

Nina Stössinger's picture
Joined: 19 Jun 2006 - 3:01pm
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Yes, it's tempting – I've been there too. But that there just looks wrong.

Christian R Szabo's picture
Joined: 3 Oct 2008 - 7:28pm
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Designers sometimes (alright, all to often!) try to make them different and quirky for the sake of doing so. It's better to make something good than to make something original. Just browse around Dutch Type Library's and Enschedé's offerings. It's occurred to me more than once that DTL Documenta and Documenta Sans is the only font family I'll ever need. A bit daft, I know, but no one ever got fired for using Documenta.

Take Dederon Serif. It's *actually* advertised as a Book font. Are they serious?

Ludwig Übele's Mokka is another example. Lately it's become fashionable for some reason to shape the top-most serif of the letter "a" into a sharp, downward-pointing beak. The reasons for this escape me, although it seems like an artful attempt at style. It doesn't aid reading, nor does it make text look good. Skolar seems to suffer from the same non-psittacine beak disease. Another example of what appears to be artfulness for its own sake is the bowl of the letter "a" in Mokka.

Florian Hardwig's picture
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Joined: 18 Feb 2007 - 6:41am
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FYI: Underware’s recent library upgrade brought a new eszett for Dolly, among other things.
http://www.underware.nl/blog/2013/06/behind-the-font-upgrade/

Nick Shinn's picture
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Joined: 8 Jul 2003 - 11:00am
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It does appear to be intentional.
At first I thought it was a mistake -- matching the eszett to cap height, rather than ascenders.
But the descender is also a lot shorter than other descenders.
Perhaps if it had been designed by a German it would be more acceptable :-)

Mili Carr's picture
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Chris, I believe the font is like that. It repeats in all such headlines in several issues of the magazine, and there are only Äs Ös and perhaps Ås, as it's a Finnish magazine. It would be too much trouble to do it by hand, I guess.

Steve Marston's picture
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I agree with pattyfab 6.Sep.2006 8.30pm

Often Emigre doesn't style link:

We don't do style link by default because many users prefer to select it themselves or the fonts don't fall into a traditional style. We can do that as a *custom job* if you like. —Tim Starback, January 26, 2010

I think that's crap, especially for mere mortals who use word processing programs.

Chris Lozos's picture
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Thanks, Mili. Those short letters just look so apologetic compared to their full-sized neighbors. Kind of like Ben Stein standing next to Shaq in all those commercials :-)

Stephen Coles's picture
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Joined: 14 May 2001 - 11:00am
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One of my favorite logos is a Swedish company with a combined Å.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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You don't have to be German, you just have to listen.

hhp