New Font called Tramway. Any Suggestions?

hn2o's picture

tramway bold
I'm new to this forum, so hello everybody!

this is a typeface called tramway i've been working on recently. the pdf is an example from tramway regular, the gif above is from tramway bold, i'm also working on a light version. i've not really spent much time on the spacing yet.

Any suggestions are welcome.

application/pdftramway regular
tramway_reg.pdf (13.7 k)

hrant's picture

My first reaction was "oh, another geohumanist sans", but the more I look at it the more I think it's worthwhile. I like how you're not afraid to break some conventions, especially since it's done in such a confident, controlled manner.


Jon Whipple's picture


I like this okay. It's very sturdy. I like especially the boxyness of the 'S' and the shaping of the P and R. The 'a' is nice too.

A couple of things that I noticed. To my eye the 'C' doesn't appear to have enough weight. I think the 'J' needs to be wider or something. Maybe it shouldn't go beyond the baseline. The 'K' looks droopy compared to letters B E F H P and R. Upper arm terminates to low on the vertical I think. I like the 'Q' but I think the slight angle on the tail's terminus doesn't fly. I'd leave it horizontal. I'd think it's okay on the 'p' if it was angled the other way and on the 'q' it looks alright.

I like the rounded square dots a lot. Oh yeah.

The lc 'y' just doesn't do it for me. What about a hooked stem like the 'g'? Maybe terminate the 'v' portion of the glyph above the baseline?

This might be nice in a heavy black weight too.

Keep it up.


j_p_giese's picture

Hi Hanno,

nice work so far.

But the y doesn't really do it for me either. I find it a bit irritating, especially at text sizes. Its vertical descender has an optical tendency to the right (which may be partially due to the angled terminal). Maybe design an alternate version for text sizes (and leave the vertical descender to Displays sizes)?

S and s show a slight tendency to tip over to the right. (The S/s is almost always the character that's the most difficult to balance perfectly.)

The s and o look a tiny bit too small (next to the m, for instance).

The O (and Q and o) might need some optical compensation (rotate the bowl a tad counterclockwise?). Expecially next to the e, the o shows a slight tendency to the right.

The same goes for the D, which looks a bit top-heavy.

The t stem looks a bit heavy.

I'm not sure whether I like the J. Maybe include an alternate version?

The rounded square dots are nice, indeed.


hn2o's picture

Thanks for your comments and suggestions. After staring at these letters all by myself for a while now, it's great to get some new input.
An alternate version of the 'y' sounds like a good idea, although I think I'll keep the other one too. It just seemed right to me to draw the y like this, since the whole font has such a strong vertical emphasis.
I'll keep working and will post new stuff soon.


dezcom's picture

Nice even color. Overall, it is quite good. While I like the Greek y, I feel it stops you and gives itself too much attention with its symetry. The R and the P seem to be a bit too wide on top. Perhaps just a sliver less would do it.


Aaron Sittig's picture

New here eh? Welcome to typophile.


It just seemed right to me to draw the y like this, since the whole font has such a strong vertical emphasis.

It occurs to me that too much agreement between characters in their stress makes long stretches of body copy tiring to read. If all characters try to be as vertical as possible, you might end up with too consistent a pattern to be scanned quickly. Instead, angling the right stroke of the y makes it easier to distinguish for instance from the j which is predominantly vertical. Another nice thing about angling the stroke of the y is that many english words end in the letter y and so the end of the word slants and has a more recognizable shape.

punctuation - I'm liking the rounded square in your punctuation.
B - Need to optically lighten where the two strokes of the bowls come together.
G - Looks like it's falling over left. Extend the upper arm.
J - Stroke coming off the top there is a bit confusing. It's having trouble spacing with the I and I have a feeling it won't space well with the other capitals either. If you can come up with a good reason to keep it, maybe it should be shortened and lightened some.
N - Angled stroke might be too light.
M - I like the shape of this glyph on its own but it belongs to some other type. The miter on the two sloped strokes is the only pointed join in the capitals.
Q - Maybe it's caused by the angled terminus of the stroke but the tail looks closer to the left side of the bowl. Needs some optical compensation.
numerals - I like the four numerals you have in the sample paragraph, especially the 1 and 7. Wouldn't mind seeing the rest.

I don't have perfect typeface recall like some of the folks here, so I can't give you names, but this looks very similar to many other designs I've seen around. Is there some guiding principle that you started from to arrive at these shapes? Did you plan how you might arrive at something different than what's out there already? I ask because I spend a good amount of time trying to imagine designs that haven't already been built and I'm curious if others do the same and how.

hn2o's picture

hello everybody,
here's a new pdf showing some more glyphs and the three different weights i'm working on. unfortunately i haven't been able to work on most of the suggestions you made, but i will get to that soon.
to answer aaron's question: of course i thought about how to create something unique. the idea behind tramway was to create a font based more on rounded squares than on circles, that has a technical feel to it (that is, I think, what jon called "sturdy" and "boxy"), but that is working in small text sizes as well. the boxyness of the basic letterform, the lc 'o', is also how came up with the rounded punctuation.
In order to keep the font legible i try not to break too many conventions. This is why it doesn't look very unusual when you first look at it.
I think it's the details that make this font unique: it's "boxyness", the emphasis on the vertical und some unusual letterforms.

until then...

tramway_2.pdf (22.4 k)

hrant's picture

It's very 21st century. I'm liking it even more now.

The "J" could have a shorter top. The "K" is off. I'd make the "M" narrower.
I'd make the lc ascenders taller. The "k" is slightly dark in the arms. More body to the "t". Please don't "fix" the "y"!
The "5" is a bit mannered on top.
Your spacing is loose.
I'd make one darker weight too.


William Berkson's picture

Excellent job, congratulations. This has some resemblence to Apex Sans, but I think I like yours better. I do think some of your numerals look awkward, particularly the 2. Apex uses old style figures, which may be one direction you could explore.

hn2o's picture

hey everybody,
here's finally some new stuff from me. i started working on a darker weight, like hrant suggested, so here is the first attempt. i also tried some old style figures, but i think they still require a lot of work.
more additional characters for all styles will be coming soon...


tramway_black.pdf (23.9 k)

hrant's picture

Nice - like a 21st century Interstate.

I think you need to ramp up the stroke contrast towards the dark end - it looks sort of bloated like this, especially in the tight joins, like the bottom of the "b".

The only lc glyphs that are bothering me are the "k" (too narrow, too grot), and the "r" (too shy). I do have a "macro" suggestion though: add some shears, like at the stem-tops of the "i" and "j", and the bottoms of the "v" and "w".

In the UC, the "J" is imbalanced, and I might try shearing off the point at the bottom of the V of the "M" - it feels too sharp. Also, I'd make the head of the "P" larger, relieve the blotting in the tail of the "Q" (not sure how) and slighly lighten the bottom-right curve of the "S".

Your hybrid nums are quite nice to me. The "2" seems to need a more curvy spine, I'm not sure about the "4", and the top of the "7" seems a bit thick.

hn2o's picture

Hello again,
so here's what i've been working on. i changed some of the stroke contrasts, like in the "b", "d", "n" etc., not only in the bold version but in all styles. also i'm back to "normal" numerals for now (but i'm also still working on the hybrids).
as some people seem to have problems with the "y", i made an alternate version for text sizes. up to now it's only in the regular style, since i'm still not sure if i like it.
Hrant, i didn't have time to try out your suggestion to add shears yet, but hopefully i will get to that later.
thanks again for all comments, i really appreciate it.


Tramway0501.pdf (61.4 k)

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