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David Thometz's picture
Joined: 15 Mar 2002 - 11:00am

I’ve been lurking for months, but it’s time to
poke my head out again & re-join the discussion. :-)

What if Cloister (Jenson) and Plantin had a child
who went into the newspaper business?


Erwin is a news text face designed for use in
the Erwin Record, a small, weekly newspaper
in the town of Erwin in northeastern Tennessee.
The paper currently uses ITC Bookman as its
body text typeface, but the editor is considering
a re-design.

I based Erwin on two of my favorite text faces:
Plantin, the grand-daddy of all news faces, for
sturdiness and practicality; and Cloister, my
favorite Jenson-inspired design, for elegance
and beauty. The x-height was increased, extenders
decreased, and overall width condensed to aid
readability and space economy.

The chief concerns are, of course, readability,
coupled with the rigors of printing on newsprint.
In addition, we want a font with a warm, homey,
inviting feel. Plantin and Jenson seemed to fit
the bill as models from which to begin.

Old-style numerals will be posted soon.
Small caps, italics, bold and ornaments are also
among the planned extensions of this family.

Any and all comments will be greatly appreciated.


Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am

I think it’s pretty cool. The problems I see:
1) It’s highly expressive, which is sort of anti-news. On the other hand, the smaller the town the more “personal” news can be.
2) The x-height isn’t just big, it’s massive. The target for these proportions is more around the footnote scale. Especially since provincial newspapers tend to set their type a bit large (for various reasons).
3) I would shift more of the vertical space from the descenders to the ascenders, for optimal use of line height.
Or combining #2 and #3: just make the descenders taller.

BTW, FYI, AFAIK :-) Christian Schwartz’s recent face for the Houston Chronicle was the first Venetian news face. Let’s hope for a trend!


Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am

I meant make the ASCENDERS taller!


Juan Pablo De Gregorio's picture
Joined: 19 Aug 2003 - 11:00am

Me encanta tu tipograf

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am

> crecer la altura x

No, digo que hay que bajarla.


David Thometz's picture
Joined: 15 Mar 2002 - 11:00am

> David. It enchants your typography to me,
I believe that it has something of classic very
very old. I do not know if it needs a digital
type, but I like the respect that you have to him
to your ancestros. Perhaps you would have
preocuparte a little in messing up hair it, and
“ungerizarla” more;, in order to obtain better
results. Seeing in detail the curve of above of
the letters tipo”n”creo that are too round, this
makes a little less functional, it drains
contraforma, and the direction clears a little to
him that they try to look for the types of fast
reading. As far as the subject of contrafotma it
commits I believe that he is a little small, since
a type of text “en estructura” it must always look
for the square proportion, and not condense it as
much. I believe that Hrant is right that needs to
grow x-height, to have better results. In short, I
believe that you go by an excellent way, these
making a source very beautiful… … and i hope
you understand i wrotte in spanish, i have to
little of Time, and i need eats back to my work…
good luck JP

> to grow x-height
No, I say that there is to lower it.

[Alta Vista Babel Fish translation]

Part of the problem of exhibiting a news text font
at huge display sizes is that it shows it out of
its intended context.

I’ve enclosed a comparison of Erwin with three
other popular news text fonts: Nimrod MT,
Imperial BT and Olympian. Is the x-height/ascender
proportion really that far off?


I’ll take a look at the ascenders again.

The chief complaints that the editor has been
getting about ITC Bookman, believe it or not,
are from older readers saying it’s hard to read.
It is currently printed at 9.5/10.5, and the
editor doesn’t want to go much larger because
Bookman is a relatively wide font already. He’s
looking for a narrower font with an inviting look.

As far as Hrant’s comments about the expressive
nature of the font, I agree that it’s perceived
to be sort of anti-news, but that is sort of
the idea. Most news fonts are relatively cold
and sterile (not necessarily a bad thing), but
we’re attempting to bring some warmth back into
the design while still meeting the concerns of
space, printing demands and transparency.

Hrant: Yes! I saw Christian Schwartz’s Houston
font. It’s beautiful. And I agree

Juan Pablo De Gregorio's picture
Joined: 19 Aug 2003 - 11:00am

i think with the superior serifs design, can have around 3 or 5 tipographic points less.

but. the counter of verticals “lc” (h, n) is too litlle. look the curves gliphs.

sorry by the confussion.


Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am

» No, I say that there is to lower it.

Aaron Sittig's picture
Joined: 7 Jan 2003 - 11:00am

I think your graphic comparing Erwin to other newspaper types demonstrates well how soft your outlines are compared to what’s out there. The main change between Christian Schwartz’s Houston[1] and other venetian interpretations (Adobe Jenson, Goudy’s Californian) is that (aside from x-height, proportions) they have subtly modulated strokes and soft curves while Houston adopts the simple modulation and sharp lines of conventional newspaper type. Erwin would look to me more like a newspaper type, albeit a unique and inviting one, if it had more of sharpeness of other newspaper types.

Btw, I would like to see this set in columns. It’s hard to imagine exactly how it’ll set from the specimen but your copyright notice in the sample looks very promising.

[1] http://typographi.com/art/articles/houston/houston.pdf

Eduardo Omine's picture
Joined: 18 Jan 2003 - 6:08am

Pretty nice.
I agree that the ascenders could be slightly increased. And if we could see a paragraph set in this ‘face, it would be easier for us to comment about it too.

Two minor observations:
- Why are the square brackets thinner than the curly brackets and the parenthesis? I’d give the [] a little more weight. And very nice (), BTW.
- I’d make the $ more ‘conventional’. I like the idea of making it slanted, though.

David Thometz's picture
Joined: 15 Mar 2002 - 11:00am

Here are the changes so far:


I’ve increased the ascenders somewhat, and widened
the letterspacing significantly. Now that I see the
changes, I have to agree with both suggestions.

Here’s the new comparison with the other news
text faces:


And here are a couple of text settings, one at
a larger size, and one at near newspaper text
size (It will be printed at 10 points in the
paper, but I’ve shown it at 12 points here for
easier viewing on screen.)



Thanks for all your comments so far.

Juan Pablo:

> i think with the superior serifs design,
can have around 3 or 5 tipographic points less.

I’m not sure I understand what you mean here.

> but. the counter of verticals “lc” (h, n)
is too litlle. look the curves gliphs.

I’m not sure I agree. It looks right (to my eye)
in the text settings, and I have attempted to
make this a somewhat condensed design

Steve Peter's picture
Joined: 8 May 2004 - 11:00am

Overall, it looks great. The ess-tsett looks a tad too wide, though.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am

> Erwin can be set 1/2 a point larger and
> still have better word economy than Bookman.

But any comparison is incomplete without factoring in:
1) The apparent size (where Erwin will probably win).
2) The apparent leading (where Erwin will probably lose).
3) The readability, which is extremely hard to measure, but can be gauged through an observation of the vertical proportions, the ideal depending on point size. At your ~9.5 point, I think Erwin is a bit large on the body.

The “Z”/”z”: I’m no longer sure about what I said before. Although in the UC I think it’s tangibly distracting.

> I’m not convinced that sharp corners and
> straight lines are much of an advantage
> in newspaper type.

I think they do work better, because they’re more neutral/newsy.

Some micro stuff:
- I think the “g” is still off.
- The “r”, “v” and “y” are too wide.
- Killer OS zero!
- Dollar: try adding a ball to the top.
- Pilcrow: needs dark mass (to work).


Dominik B's picture
Joined: 19 Sep 2003 - 2:20am

Hi David,

Great face, I wish some of the german newspapers would use such a face. (worst example the FAZ).

Change the name if you want to have a market in Germany.

One Point: What I dislike, at least at the macro level, is the sharpness of your “a”. For me it would much more pleasing if the top was rounder.
It looks a little generic compared to the rest of the glyphs.



David Thometz's picture
Joined: 15 Mar 2002 - 11:00am

For several reasons, this project has been on the backburner for a couple of years, but it's coming off the backburner again. That means it's time to show you some of the progress. :)

Again, this will be used for body text in a weekly, small-town local newspaper. No hard-hitting news, just local stuff – so the purpose is to create a warm, friendly text face that will be legible and readable at small sizes, and will withstand the rigors of newspress printing.

The roman was designed using elements of Plantin and Cloister, with an increased body height, so it has a very Arts & Crafts feel to it:

The italic draws from both of these sources, but also contains many Baroque features:

As you can see, there are several alternate glyphs available, as well as small caps and three sets of numerals so far (with fractions in the works). There are also swash characters and ligatures that I'll post soon. I'll also post some text settings ASAP.

David Thometz

Randy Jones's picture
Joined: 10 Jun 2005 - 8:54am

Hi David,

Great to see this resurrected. I like the tone of this very much! Is that a scan of a print? There are some color issues and inconsistencies in the serifs that led me to ask.

The good people of Erwin are lucky to have you.


Amado Ohland's picture
Joined: 12 Apr 2011 - 8:09am

Where did this go?

I engaged in a bit of hyperbole here earlier, but I'd like to say that I like that you took Cloister as an inspiration, and made a large x-height typeface with it. I like the "arts & crafts" feel and that it's "designed for readability and economy." And the open /P/ is very nice -- something I like and that you don't typically find in a Jenson or a Golden Type.

I'd love to get a close look at the tops of your /b/d/h/k/l/. It;s a quirk, but I like the top serif on those letters in Golden Type and Phinney Jenson. URW's cut of Cloister may have my favorite rendering of these serifs, from what I've seen so far, but its x-height is unfashionable.

I would love to use your Erwin.

Please let us know what's up!