Tricky search: "Pseudo", small-print squarish sans

I was fortunate enough to attend a presentation by Gerard Unger today, and he mentioned/showed a font I'm curious about. I took notes, but now can't find this anywhere. Maybe you guys have some pointers?

This is what I know:
– The font is optimized for especially small sizes; it's a pretty wide, squarish, and robust monoline sans.
– Its "g" has this basic structure (this is my quick sketch after a bad scribble):

- The font is named "Pseudo", or something that sounds similar.
– The designer's name is Michael Hernon (again, or similar, I may well have misheard).

I'm suspecting this might be unreleased, and/or student work.


Argh! Of course now that I asked, I found it myself.
And it's actually not a sans either! :-/  Sorry.
Specimen PDF

Well, that's a darn clever typeface. Thanks for pointing to it, anyway. I'm pretty envious of you people living in Central Europa, where typographical events like the one you attended happen. Up here in polar bear land, nothing but nothing is going on typographically.

Yeah, I'm pretty intrigued by it too. I hope it will be released.

I hear you – although I do love Scandinavia, it might be a bit out of the way!
Are you traveling down here sometime – maybe TypoBerlin?

Well, not really. I work as a designer and editor for a middle-sized national newspaper (circulation 16.000 and falling), we've had several horrid downsizing processes the last five years, and we're seriously broke, so I guess last year's SNDS Crash in Copenhagen was the last design-related conference I'll ever attend, unless I pay for it myself. 645 Euros is quite a lot these days. I spent ten days in Berlin last summer, however, and fell absolutely in love with Europe's true capital. And all the old, new, beautiful, weird and smart typography everywhere! Die U-Bahn! Olympia Stadion! Das Bauhaus Archiv! I'm going back this July, actually. Any suggestions on type-related must-sees? Where in Scandinavia have you been?

This is awesome - an impressive evolution of Hernan's previous work in reviving Javal. Somebody has really been thinking about what serifs [need to] do, as opposed to merely where they happen to come from.* It's also interesting that he has not opted to implement thorns - probably because the whole is extremely soft, and I think it works. My only worry is that this will be relegated mostly to display use, since it looks so stylish large. Oh, and what did I tell you about the imminent revival of that "g" form? :-)

* I have to say this is something that couldn't have happened at KABK.

BTW, it's fitting that Unger would bring this up - it's quite reminiscent of his own work in the 70s, namely Praxis/Demos. Fortunately however this looks totally 21st century.


Hrant, what's a thorn?

And do you happen to have a link to the previous work of his that you mentioned? I can't seem to find anything much on his site.

"Oh, and what did I tell you about the imminent revival of that “g” form? :-)"
Hell yeah! 100 oracle points to you. Can you imagine how happy I was to see that "g" in there? (Especially in my type class, where I've had to argue the case of the "g" quite a bit.)


Sindre, guess I shouldn't have asked – sorry. :-/ But, I'll keep my eyes peeled for things type-related to recommend in Berlin. Scandinavia: I've been to Denmark (many times), Norway (twice), Sweden, and Iceland. Iceland was the craziest. I'd love to go back.

A thorn is the opposite of a trap: corners that point out in a spike.
They "melt away" in lo-fi output, keeping the corner sharp.

A quick thing on the Javal connection:

BTW, to be fair, Thomas Huot-Marchand has done much
more Javal work:



> Sindre, guess I shouldn’t have asked

No worries, Nina, I shouldn't have whined like that. It's just so damn frustrating.

And Hrant, thanks for those links! I've been looking for that.

There are a few things I might be able to comment on...

Firstly, thanks @altaira for bring my attention to this node =)

Actually, the early drawings *were* for a sans with the 'pseudo' serif structures happening on the a n p &. But this caused frequency and line length problems where the characters without the outcropping serif fixtures did not mix well with the straight letters when set in running text.

I still have not got the g right yet - there have been many versions - I guess you got to keep going till one fits right and doesn't grab too much attention from the rest of the characters especially when set together like >suggest<. Think Matrix!

As far as release - it will be - but I am thinking it should be released in a way (package) so a designer has all the typographic tools that they need (at least in one weight) to accomplish technical work - so that means a text weight and a footnote variant. There will be a communiqué at FontGroup when imminent. I guess Debut: Jan 2010.

I will have to come back later to reply to @hrant as he has revealed some interesting insights – I will have to proceed carefully...

Michael Hernan

Michael, great to see you here!

When you go into more detail on Hrant's comments, I'd also love to hear how much direct inspiration from Javal (or other sources) is in Pseudo, and how much of your process was experimentation & finding out what works, without direct external "models".
I'm asking because it looks very fresh I think (on top of being functional).

Oh, and would you mind announcing the release here on Typophile as well? :-)

>Somebody has really been thinking about what serifs [need to] do, as opposed to merely where they happen to come from.

Hrant, that sounds very you mean that serifs are there to facilitate readability rather than simply balance letter shapes? Or is there something more to it?

OK Some thing weird is happening when I come to the fitting of the Small caps. Due to the nature of curves needing less space in the side bearing zones and the fact that the serifs require a negative compensation - the fitting has ended up equal. This would have been pretty cool if you were making metal type, so I wonder if there is an extra benifit to serifs - that being that you could potentially control the side bearings of the type!!!!

back soon...

Michael Hernan

@altaira has got it right - Pseudo is a sans (that has serifs)
It had to have serifs because of the odd outcrops seen in the n g p etc. When set the type was proving too difficult to control along the base line so started in investigating serifs to hold the line. The soft nature of the type means I can move everything around like using putty. There is quite allot of difference between each instance of the serif depending on the angle of attack and the thickness of the stem etc. The aim is to maintain density no matter where on the letter you are. I guess there are two states Serif density and letter density. By keeping these even a the typeface develops its frequency.

The pseudo project was initiated on the MA course at Reading in 2008 and I am continuing to develop it after some time off the project. @hrant - Gerard Unger's work has to be influential as he has managed to get really close to the archtypal shape of letters. MOL and Praxis are massive favorites. But his is not the only influence in this and my other projects. Melior and Jenson are contributors in offering direction. Melior - Zapf's square circle concept was in line with my thinking and the text weight of Pseudo matches the set text density of Jenson. (I was using it as a comparitive reference in the early stages of the project untill one day I did and overlay (set solid) and it pretty much fitted exactly!

This last week I have added a set of Small caps and totally refreshed and simplified all of the Caps. Have I mentioned I am rocking 25 OpenType features?

back to it....


Michael Hernan

Here's 2 ways to draw an M: The new way with a strong horizontal emphasis (seen in Univers) or the 'old-way' which has a tendency to close up.

Michael Hernan

I noticed that the Reflection on Practice documenting the process in the design of the Pseudo typeface has been published over at


New: Comparison between two designs based on use.

Pseudo Text vs Pseudo Footnote

Michael, I just came across the Pseudo Specimen and RoP on the Reading website and I cannot wait to use the font.

Please keep up the good work!