Archive through June 12, 2003

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Colin Hartnett's picture
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Archive through June 12, 2003
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Even my design-saavy friends fail to sympathize when I groan at otherwise-decent designs that are unoriginal in their type selection. They say,

Jean F Porchez's picture
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DinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDin
DinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDin
DinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinBoringDinDinDinDinDinDinDin
DinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDin
DinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDin
DinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDin
DinDinBoringDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDin
DinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDinDin

Fabio Augusto's picture
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Why people use Arial?

Perhaps… Because Arial is one of
the first options in fontmenu… ;D

(The same happens with Avant Gard…)

Keith Tam's picture
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We ALWAYS care because we are designers/typographers. Why have text at all if we don’t expect anyone to read it? Craftsmanship is the heart of graphic design and typography. Whatever happened to it? I expect every bit of text that I design to be read. Yes, there are times when text is just ‘art’ or ‘illustration’, but more often than not we use text because there’s something we need to communicate. And I know I have to make every effort to making it 1. legible and/or readable; 2. typographically correct; 3. reproduces well technically; 4. appropriate for its purpose; 5. inviting to read; 6. visually pleasing, etc, etc. Not in any particular order. If we don’t even care if some text is going to be read or not, then we’re not doing our job properly. I ‘design’ a Microsoft Word template the same way I design a book. There’s no difference except maybe the context of use and the limitations of the software. I pay attention to details no matter how trivial the task might be. That makes me a designer (though I admit I’m more of a typographer than a ‘cool’ graphic designer… :-P )

Jean F Porchez's picture
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>Yeah, from almost 18 years ago (at age 17). Why?

Because Rotis destroyed his face from this time. :-P

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no reason, just wondering if it was you or an icon or whatever.

I agree with you about the readability issue. If there is language worth reading it should be set properly. Back to my reading experience I was reading a hardbound book recently and I was very happy with the way it was set, it allowed me to read faster and longer becuase of the typography.

You are all right that as graphic designers we need to communicate information, and as designers that means making it understandable and easy to digest. I didn’t mean to argue that point. Being professional and compitent dictates a high standard of typographic and editorial quality. Deffinately.

I suppose that my comments stem from my desire to explore different avenues of communication. Finding different ways of reaching. I dont wan to forget the past, but looking forward to new and more effective ways of accomplishing the task of communication by building on what we know instead of being limited by it.

Jacques Le Bailly's picture
Joined: 21 Dec 2001 - 2:09pm
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I am being boring by going back to the original discussion.

Having lived in Germany for almost 4 years, I have a problem with TheSans and Meta. The new german favorites.

I now just moved to holland, hoping to lose this. Wrong. They have the same illness over here. Although a little less with Meta. Might still come, now the international graphic style becoming more minimal….

— Jacques

steve paxton's picture
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» There was a Relativist miasma in the 90s, and somebody has to help clean up the residual phlegm
Hrant, the relativist miasma of the 90’s has a name — its called postmodernism. Its OK though, postmodernism is sufficiently relatavist to allow for your anti-relatavist post-modernism.

Returning to the original thread for the moment, is it me or is copperplate gothic taking over the world. Just this week, I’ve noticed that it seems to be everywhere.

I’ve spent a lot of time studying 20th century history, though not Germany too much, and I had not been aware of this issue with blackletter type and the third reich — does anyone have any good references for this, as the snippets of info posted so far clearly come from sources which contradict each other.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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> [it was] called postmodernism

Well, you see, I consider that stuff wannabe -or at best juvenile- PoMo.

> good references

A reference -which I already refereced- that’s both tight and deep:
“Blackletter: Type and National Identity” by Peter Bain and Paul Shaw.

hhp

Gerald Lange's picture
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There is a twist on the Nazi abandonment or censor of blackletter that may not have been mentioned here (getting hard to follow so I may have missed it if it was). As Germany expanded its holdings, so to speak, it found its proclamations, rules of order, etc were not well understood by the populace of the countrys they were occupying. This the result of the blackletter, which was unfamiliar. So they invented an excuse, one more false indictment of the Jews, and changed to roman faces and condemning the use of blackletter.

It is not the blackletter form that is hard to read, the letterforms are quite legible, it is more often the general setting in text, poorly rendered, which hinders readability.

HD Schellnack's picture
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>So they invented an excuse, one more false >indictment of the Jews, and changed to roman >faces and condemning the use of blackletter.

What excuse was that? I never heard an official reason for the abandonment of the blackletter. All I heard is that behind the scenes the Nazis learned of the original Jewish Schwabacher source of their Frakturschrift and corrected that error.

And I’d say that from todays POV, blackletter is kind of hard to read as people aren’t used to it anymore — and many people, at least in Germany have such a strong emotional response to it due to its usage during the fascist regime that the emotional aspect overwhelms the readability. The typeface isn’t neutral anymore — and a good text typeface shouldn’t be too special or emotional, imo.

Gerald Lange's picture
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HD

Well, now that I’ve had a bit of idle time on my hands I have gone back through this thread and it was previously mentioned. Hrant cites Bain and Shaw and I believe that is where I saw the mention of it.

Where, by the way, is the evidence for a Jewish Schwabacher source that would not already have been known.

To say that a “good text typeface shouldn’t be too special or emotional” is indeed a humble opinion. Beatrice Warde, Morison, et al would agree. But they had a product to sell, did they not?

steve paxton's picture
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»A reference -which I already refereced- that’s both tight and deep:
“Blackletter: Type and National Identity” by Peter Bain and Paul Shaw.

OK, Hrant I should have been clearer.
I noted your reference, but the argument that both you and Gerald say is presented there (Blacklettter was dropped by the Nazi’s in order to facilitate communication with populations in occupied countries) is obviously only half of the debate.
The counter argument (that blackletter was dropped because the Nazis discovered its jewish heritage) has been mentioned, but no references have so far been given.
I would like to read up on both sides of the argument.

I should say that I have no particular axe to grind on this one, I can’t really see it changing my views about the Nazis either way, but it is an interesting historical triviality. The thing is, I just don’t feel comfortable with the Bain & Shaw explanation.
Unless I’m missing something (and I might well be, as I have only the comments in this thread and the results of some late night googling to go on), the Bain & Shaw argument just doesn’t ring true — it seems so unlikely.
What they appear to be saying is that in order to communicate with people who were not used to blackletter, the nazis dropped the use of blackletter, not only for documents intended for foreign populations, but so completely that they had to make up a lie about blackletter being jewish in origin (a lie that could only make them look foolish given the fact that they had previously promoted blackletter).
(continued…)

Colin Hartnett's picture
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Impact, Compacta (movie titles)
Base 9/12

steve paxton's picture
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Now in many cases, documents intended for foreign populations would have had to be translated to the local language anyway, so why not just drop blackletter for documents which were not in German.
This act would have been far more practical, could have been easily explained from the nazi point of view (inferior foreigners not capable of comprehending superior german letterforms) and wouldn’t have required the nazis to pretend to admit to have been fooled into adopting a part of jewish culture.

The Bain & Shaw explanation, then, will need to come up with some pretty compelling evidence to convince anyone that the extraordinary events they describe did actually happen. Anyway, thanks for the reference Hrant, I’ve ordered the book already, but I would really like to know more about the counter argument, and if possible to read something by someone who has read both sides, and done further research to try to resolve this.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
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> I never heard an official reason for the abandonment of the blackletter.

Well, the “official” reason was that it was Jewish. But the real reason is that newly “acquired” citizens (de facto, if not de jure) couldn’t follow the new rules well because they couldn’t read them well.

I think they could have simply reformed the caps and 2-3 lc letters instead of dumping the thing wholesale.

> The typeface isn’t neutral anymore

Well, it’s getting more neutral every day. And with some encouragment (instead of a heavy boot keeping it down) it could flower again.

BTW, a text face can actually have too much neutrality too. Not every document is a memo about proper use of the office coffee-maker!

> I can’t really see it changing my views about the Nazis either way

!
We’re talking about a lettering style! One that apprently continues to be oppressed, if only through damning past association.

> they had to make up a lie about blackletter being jewish in origin

Well, yes, it’s the type of thing governments do all the time! So it in fact makes the most sense. “Look foolish”? To whom? Us, 50 years after the fact? Do Americans think (realize) that their government looks foolish to most of the rest of the world? And they’re the ones voting the government in power, so…

BTW, the Nazis didn’t think all foreigners were “inferior”.

hhp

steve paxton's picture
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(me)» I can’t really see it changing my views about the Nazis either way
(hhp)»We’re talking about a lettering style! One that apprently continues to be oppressed, if only through damning past association.

I can’t work this out Hrant — no emoticon suggests that you’re not joking, but surely you don’t think I’m going to base my judgement of Nazism on whether, in this particular case, they were liars or fools.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
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I guess I don’t get it either!  :-/

What I’m saying is this: hate the Nazis, sure, but don’t chain blackletter’s future to their past.

hhp

steve paxton's picture
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(me)»they had to make up a lie about blackletter being jewish in origin
(hhp)»Well, yes, it’s the type of thing governments do all the time! So it in fact makes the most sense.
“Look foolish”? To whom? Us, 50 years after the fact? Do Americans think (realize) that their government looks foolish to most of the rest of the world?

Yes of course governments lie all the time, and look foolish, you know I don’t dispute that. But even George Dubya isn’t making up lies about being even more stupid than he really is, just as an excuse to make changing a letter form seem innocent. (Why would the nazis have even bothered to lie, the reason you say they were trying to hide is less damaging to them than the one you say they made up to cover up for it).

Imagine:
English isn’t the native language of Iraq. Some Iraqi citizens would have difficulty reading documents in English. I assume that the US are printing documents in a more accessible form if those documents are intended for Iraqi consumption.
Wait a minute…surely the logical thing to do would be to abandon English throughout the western world and adopt a language more familiar to Iraqis — its OK, we’ll tell everyone its because we found out that the English language is part of a moslem plot to overthrow western capitalism.

Now I’m not saying the Bain & Shaw explanation cannot be corrrect, I’m just trying to illustrate what a bizzarre sequence of events this would be.
I’d really like to hear some more of the arguments against it (or some good evidence for it)

steve paxton's picture
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»What I’m saying is this: hate the Nazis, sure, but don’t chain blackletter’s future to their past

Oh, OK, that’s fine.
I agree. Surely the historical development of blackletter goes way back beyond the nazis.

I would have thought you might have an interest in getting to the bottom of this, though, particularly if the bain & shaw explanation turns out to be misguided. That would mean that blackletter would only be associated with the nazis through their error, and it might also be an interesting enough snippet of history to catch a wider imagination and bring your proposed blackletter revival into the public eye.
If the bain & shaw explanation turns out to be correct, though, its just too dull to get many people interested.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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You make good points.

> blackletter would only be associated with the nazis through their error

I wouldn’t say error — more like circumstance.

hhp

Gerald Lange's picture
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Steve

You are making all these arguments without having read the book. “If the bain & shaw explanation turns out to be correct, though, its just too dull to get many people interested.” What is this? The Bain and Shaw book is not a study attempting a popular understanding. It is a compilation of articles by many of the current fraktur scholars.

The article in question is “Fraktur and Nationalism” by Hans Peter Willberg. It is fully footnoted. In regard to the Schwabacher… “this theory could have had no connection to the book industry, since access to the printing trade at that time was absolutely forbidden to Jews….they could not have had any influence upon the previous 300-year growth of textura and fraktur. The Nazi argument was therefore totally unfounded…The real reason for the abolition of fraktur was power politics. In 1941, Hitler’s armies were victorious on every front. The future world power had to adapt to the “world type” (roman) in order to exercise its power…. fraktur was viewed as the writing of the occupier…”

Why is this so hard for you to imagine?

steve paxton's picture
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»You are making all these arguments without having read the book
True, but I’ve been very open about that, and the arguments I’ve made have been in the form of questions raised. The way the position offered by Willberg in Bain & Shaw’s volume was presented in earlier posts it seemed to me that either something was not being said (which is why I’ve ordered the book — so I can see the arguments for myself) or that the position was dubious. Now, remember, other posts in this thread mentioned an alternative explanation, and I would like to know more about that. I can’t be satisfied that I have any idea of the truth of the matter unless I have at least given both sides a fair hearing. Part of that process is to question everything and consider the answers. You can rest assured that if I ever manage to find some research that goes against Willberg’s view, I will be equally questioning and dubious about that.

»What is this? The Bain and Shaw book is not a study attempting a popular understanding
You have read my comment out of context. This was part of a small aside to Hrant suggesting that a revival of blackletter may be helped along by its role in an interesting historical situation. If, as you suggest, this was not the case, then so be it. I never suggested that it should concern Bain & Shaw whether or not the truth was intereting to a wider audience, and I would never suggest that one should twist the truth to make it interesting.

steve paxton's picture
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>The future world power had to adapt to the “world type” (roman) in order to exercise its power
>Why is this so hard for you to imagine?

This isn’t the bit that’s really hard for me to imagine — but why did the nazis feel they had to pretend that this wasn’t a simple practical measure. And the explanation they made up to cover the truth — all this seems beyond reason

I’ve said it before, but I think I need to say it again — I’m just wondering, that’s all. I’m not accusing anyone of anything, I would just like to know enough about this whole thing to make an informed judgement and to put my mind at rest.

Karen Huang's picture
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Trajan
Rotis
Helvetica Neue Ultra Thin used for fashion-related work
Gill Sans
Mini 7, which I love despite it’s being overused

John, what’s the quickest way to spot Minion?

> Why people use Arial?
Because it is free and if you want to send a word doc, setting it in Arial ensures that what you see is what they see.

Gerald Lange's picture
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One other reason, not yet mentioned here, is that the resistance printers were putting out counter-information. This was extremely threatening to the occupation. The resistance could use blackletter to their advantage and fake documents or they could use roman to enlist nationalistic sympathies. Somewhat of a problem for the occupier.

I have the special issue of the French literary magazine _Le Point_ titled “Imprimeries Clandestines,” a documentation of the French resistance printers that was released at the cessation of the war. Several of the printers pictured in the photo documentary were executed for their efforts.

Per anyone’s interest I’ve put up a half dozen of these photos over at PPLetterpress, the Yahoo group site.

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Hello everyone,

Since I happen to have a copy of Christopher Burke’s excellent book on Paul Renner, I figured I’d pop out of lurk-mode and offer some useful quotes (pp 165-166 if anyone’s got a copy).

“The Nazi decree, dated 3 January 1941, described gothic script as ‘Schwabacher-Jewish letters’ that infiltrated printing along with the Jewish ownership of printing businesses. Roman was now proclaimed the ‘Normalschrift’ (standard letter) to be used in all printing, beginning with those publications that already had a foreign circulation. ” (italics mine)

on to the next page:
“The ‘Jewish’ aspect to the Nazi argument was a fantasy, as one might expect. S.H. Steinberg, in a very perceptive analysis of the decree, remarked that by linking the term ‘Schwabacher’ to Jewishness the Nazis created associations with the leading Jewish banker of the 1930s, Paul von Schwabach. Steinberg believed that the official Nazi printer, Adolf M

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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This blackletter debate sprouting out of this thread is great! Which makes me ask people to take it up in the blackletter SIG. I’ve just set it up:

http://www.typophile.com/forums/messages/4077/11682.html

Thank you for your cooperation.  ;-)

hhp

angus young's picture
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Peoples uses ARIAL because them haven’t the helvetica typeface =)

HD Schellnack's picture
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Oh man, FF DIN is our house-font. It makes sense though, for a company named nodesign, bland as it is. I like the idea of using an almost faceless typeface for a company with that kinda name and attitude. Also, it works really nice with the very old-fashioned steel-engraving printing technique, which we used on letters and cards.

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John, what’s the quickest way to spot Minion?

Probably the lowercase e:
Minion lowercase e

Hrant H Papazian's picture
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That’s pretty nasty.

hhp

David Earls's picture
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hold on — it is possible to overuse Gill Sans now? ;)

Meta. (though I secretly like it)

Santiago Fuentes Bo's picture
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“Peoples uses ARIAL because them haven’t the helvetica typeface =)”
OK, just buy a Mac! ;)

Eric Olson's picture
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Yes! David secretly likes Meta.
Add me to that list.

I’ll add Mrs. Eaves and Conduit to the oversused list. Without fail you can find both on the new release/new fiction tables at most book stores.

Jean F Porchez's picture
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nothing against the designers of Din, nothing the first designers who start to use it, more against all others who follow without thinking 2 minutes.

John Butler's picture
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I can always tell Minion by the y.

My biggest pet peeve right now is seeing Mrs. Eaves used on the dust jacket and then opening up the book to see body copy set in Times. The few books I’ve seen with Mrs. Eaves as body copy actually look quite nice.

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I’d say the most overused font is probably Helvetica/Arial/Swiss. I had a meeting with a potential client yesterday, and kind of hinted at my dislike of Helvetica. He immedialy said he never uses Helvetica, but he likes Arial and Swiss! OMG! His current business card is clearly set in Helvetica… Not sure whether I should work with him.

Meta is still used a lot. Helvetica of the 90s [chuckle].

Mrs. Eaves and Minion are probably the most overused serifed types in North America.

Not to mention Interstate. It’s everywhere here.

And 90% of film titles use Trajan (actually works quite well on the movie screen).

How about typefaces that are underused?

ITC Charter is very underused. An extremely elegant workhorse type by Matthew Carter. I use it on my business card and all my general office things.

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Mrs. Eaves and Minion are probably the most overused serifed types in North America.

Are you omitting Times from that list for a reason, Keith?

Keith Tam's picture
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Just thought I didn’t have to restate the obvious ;-) You’re right, Stephen. Times (New Roman) is still the most overused typeface, simply because it’s on every single computer.

William Berkson's picture
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OK, here’s an amateur disagreeing.

Times New Roman is a great text face. Like Caslon, Baskerville or Garamond it will not wear out its welcome. It is just often wrongly used. For example on American letter size paper it, as a very condensed face, produces lines that are way longer than ideal. According to Bringhurst, the ideal is around 66 characters per line, and Times at 12 pt on letter paper with one inch margins is way longer than this. Courier is actually better on such a long line.

Minion is a Garamond with large x-height and also quite condensed, which is perhaps why it is so useful and used. Is it too condensed? Does it pull this off less well than Times?

I guess time will tell.

I think the issue of freshness applies much more to display type and overall design than to text types.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
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A font wide enough to fill a letter-size page with one column of ~66 chars would be totally unreadable.

Times:
It’s really a display face. It’s too light, too contrasty and too “architectural” for optimal reading. Its vertical proportions are good, as is its condensation, but that’s not enough to put it up there with the really good stuff. It used to be a text face when it was introduced as a metal (composition) face, “thanks” to ink gain (which increases weight and reduces contrast).

hhp

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>A font wide enough to fill a letter-size page with one column of ~66 chars would be totally unreadable.

Ok Hrant. The Courier l.c. alphabet at 12 pt. is 186 points wide. According to Bringhurst’s table an alphabet of this width set 36 picas (6 inches) takes up 68 characters. So Courier will set a letter sized paper with 1 1/4 inch margins to almost the ideal.

Currently, movie scripts still have to be done in Courier, and many law firms still use it on all their stuff.

Not to mention that for forty years a huge amount of correspondence and manuscripts were done in Courier.

Were all these and are they still all unreadable?

Jean F Porchez's picture
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>Minion is a Garamond with large x-height and also quite condensed, which is perhaps why it is so useful and used. Is it too condensed? Does it pull this off less well than Times?

I can’t agree with that!
Minion is too calligraphic to be a Garamond looklike, sorry. Too much contrast too. There too much presence of the action of the hand to be a true “typographical” typeface as Garamond or Time is.

Minion seems built on the idea of a new typeface with same economical quality as Times: similar xheight and similar proportions of the lc. A flavored Times in some way. Minion have some qualities.

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>Minion is a Garamond with large x-height and also quite condensed

I’ve been under the impression for some time — perhaps due to fallacious reading (or worse: fallacious thinking) that Minion was more of a Venetian/Bembo sort of thing. Am I totally wrong? If so, could someone let me know so I don’t make a total wank out of myself anymore. Thanks.

Nathan

ps: not that it makes Minion any less “overused” in either case…

Hrant H Papazian's picture
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Well, “unreadable” is too harsh, I admit.
And you can always set long lines with extra leading, although that’s not functional typography.

But Courier is no text face in my book (so to speak). Its wideness comes mostly through dysfunctionally loose spacing.

hhp

Colin Hartnett's picture
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Yeah. I should

Hrant H Papazian's picture
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> too much presence of the action of the hand to be a true “typographical” typeface as Garamond

Interesting.
Which Garamond?

hhp

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JFP, you beautifully describe Minion. Thanks! Your observation that Slimbach’s ambition was to be usable where Times is usable is insightful.

I didn’t mean to say that Minion was a copy of Garamond, only that Garamond seems to be its point of departure; it has calligraphic touches and opens up the a and e, etc. But there is still a noticable resemblence to Slimbach’s Adobe Garamond — a more beautiful face, but not as adaptable. ‘Myfonts’ classifies Minion as ‘Garald’, which I guess is the term I should have used.

As you are the designer of very impressive Sabon Next, I would love to hear what you think are the strengths and weaknesses of Minion!

Hrant, of course Courier is not a text face. It is a typewriter face, but I find it telling that it is still widely used on letter sized paper. I much prefer the European A4 paper, which is narrower; but even it is wide. I would be interested whether Courier is still used in Europe for legal work, etc.

I think there is a gap for some enterprising designer to do a better very wide face for correspondence on letter or A4 paper.

nad x's picture
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HELLvetica

Times

how about everytime a new wild font comes out and then every designer from sheboygan to key largo use it until it is dead…like„ any font from House Industries

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Rotis, Rotis, Rotis
Gill, Arial, Times, Verdana (for Print, uhhh..)
most of the types the most other guys allready said

Helvetica? mmhh.. think it is more the Arial wich is overused :-)

I guess there a some designer who can use this overused stuff in an area where the overuse come to a special use (for the german user: look at brand eins and McK)

greets jens