Realist (serif), Baroque or/and Scotch?

hi Everyone,

I created several web-font stacks based on different styles: neo-grotesk (realist sans-serif); geometric; humanist body; humanist display; renaissance; neoclassic; baroque; romantic; and monospace. I am still puzzling with Georgia.

Georgia is a wonderful web-font for display and book, but I cannot classify it perfectly. Do you believe it is a realist serif, baroque typeface, or...?

Also, do you think Century Schoolbook is a good Georgia-alternative for web-body or/and display?
Is Century Schoolbook not somewhat different in style?

Thank you for you reactions.

Greetings,
Bart

oldnick's picture

Georgia is a Transitional; and, frankly, because it was designed specifically for video display use (and very well, indeed) rather than print, very few typefaces would be "good" alternatives for web use.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

I started something similar some time ago, but decided not to finish it because @font-face came along. @font-face also highlighted the need for extensive hinting for text on screen, and only a selected few (the web safe fonts plus a couple more) are really useable across platforms. Additionally, at small sizes on low res displays, the characteristics of genres does not play as huge a role compared to the x-height, when the jump from one to two pixel stems occur and how wide the font sets.

Bartelomeus's picture

Thank you for your reaction. Yes, Georgia is the best serif for screen and very popular too. I know it is designed for screen usage. The problem is that it is not that popular on Linux systems and I want to give a subtle alternative for if you want to pair it for example with Century Gothic or other geometric or realist fonts available on most computers. Century Schoolbook is also very readable on screen.

Transitional is too broad for me for creating font stacks that communicate a specific era.
The information I found until now point in the direction that Georgia is a realist serif font, but nobody writes it plainly.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

I’m not too strong on these classifications, but the natural companion for a transitional would be a grotesk or a neo grotesk. I have info on all the commonly avialable Linux fonts in the linked thread. You should also consider Android and iPad/iPhone! Feel free to contact me offline if you’d like to have a look at the source material I used.

Bartelomeus's picture

@frode frank

@font-face is of course wonderful. I still have some issues with it. I noticed some companies have download restrictions and cannot see custom font-face fonts. It is strange I know, but still a problem. Furthermore I have some difficulties with availability and price of the fonts, or the lack of italics and bolds.

The font-stacks I created can be found at http://www.bzzen.com/2010/06/lettertypes-voor-het-web/ . Although the text is in dutch you will probably understand the most important information ;-)

oldnick's picture

Transitional is a perfectly acceptable--and limited--Vox-ATypI type classification and, at least according to some sources, is synonymous with Realist, although the former, I believe, is preferred among type purists. The 3.3% of computer users who use Linux can probably limp along on some version of Century but, unless the specific font has been optimized for screen use, it just won't look as good as Georgia...

Bartelomeus's picture

I always thought Transitional was not preferred by type purists. Robert Bringhurst writes:

Several systems are in use for classifying typefaces. Some of them use fabricated terms such as 'geralde' and 'didone'. Others rely on familiar but vague labels such as 'old style', 'modern' and 'transitional.' All these systems work to a certain extend, but all leave much to be desired. They are neither good science nor good history.

I agree with Robert. Over 100 years, what we now call 'modern' could be 'old' or 'transitional'. These names are temporary.

Century is very readable on screen and sometimes style is an important factor. It also depends on other things like size, line height and line width.

Queneau's picture

Just a question from the sidelines: Why do you need to classify typefaces? Especially for web typefaces it seems pretty pointless, but maybe that's just me. It might be good to have a general framework for theory, but is it of any use in picking a typeface in practice?

Bartelomeus's picture

For the web it is very important, because that way you can make a stable font stack for display and/or body and keep the look and feel of the design on a broad range of operating systems. How do you create your font stacks?

Also, when new fonts are included in updated versions of operating systems it is easier to place them in the correct font stack.

oldnick's picture

I agree with Robert. Over 100 years, what we now call 'modern' could be 'old' or 'transitional'. These names are temporary.

Well, if your mind is already made up, why ask for anyone else's input?

The terms are neither arbitrary, nor temporary. Transitional makes perfect sense in that its typeforms reflect a transition from the angular stress of "Oldstyle" types to the vertical stress of "Modern" styles, whereas Realist doesn't explain anything, nor does it place the designs within their proper historical context.

Bartelomeus's picture

My mind is not made up about the classification of Georgia based on a more detailed classification system.

Realist typefaces belong to a period after 'Transitional' and 'Modern': the nineteenth and twentieth century. Baskerville belongs to Transitional based on what I have read, Georgia or Century Schoolbook are very different.

oldnick's picture

Realist typefaces belong to a period after 'Transitional' and 'Modern'

According to whom? The Association Typographique Internationale Vox-ATypI Classification and the British Standards Classification of Typefaces (BS 2961:1967) considered "Realist" a synonym for Transitional, which gets its name not from reality, but from royalty—Louis XIV, to be precise...

Bartelomeus's picture

Very strange classification. For example Baskerville is from 1754, Bodoni is from around 1810 and Clarendon (Realist) is from 1845...The 'Realism movement' is from late 18th/early 19th century and was about truth and accuracy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Realism_(arts)

oldnick's picture

You are discussing apples and oranges: the term "realist," when applied to type, has nothing to do with Realism in Art. Modernism in Art and in Literature do not reflect identical time periods nor identical undercurrents, and neither has anything to do with "Modern" as a type classification.

"Transitional" is not an historic classification, but a stylistic one, so your timeline is utterly irrelevant...

Bartelomeus's picture

But letterforms are not only objects of science. They also belong to the realm of art, and they participate in its history. They have changed over time just as music, painting and architecture have changed, and the same historical terms -- Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical, Romantic, and so on -- are useful in each of these fields. This approach to the classification of letterforms has another important advantage. Typography never occurs in isolation. Good typography demands not only a knowledge of type itself, but an understanding of the relationship between letterforms and the other things that humans make and do. Typographic history is just that: the study of the relationships between type designs and the rest of human activity -- politics, philosophy, the arts, and the history of ideas.

From the Elements of Typographic Style page 121-122

oldnick's picture

Okay, fine: Bringhurst believes that his approach to type classification trumps aTypi and the British Standards Board; that's his opinion and he's entitled to it. So, if his opinion is the only one that matters, why didn't you direct your question to him in the first place?

Maxim Zhukov's picture
  • I created several web-font stacks based on different styles: […] I am still puzzling with Georgia.

I am old school… To me Georgia is a beefed-up Scotch Roman (‘late Transitional’).

  • Also, do you think Century Schoolbook is a good Georgia-alternative for web-body or/and display? Is Century Schoolbook not somewhat different in style?

They are very different. In its turn, Century is a beefed-up Modern, bordering on Egyptian/Clarendon (‘Ionic’). James Craig even calls it ‘a refined Egyptian’.

Bartelomeus's picture

I uploaded an image to illustrate the differences between Clarendon, Century Schoolbook and Georgia.

kentlew's picture

If one accepts Miller Text as a representative of one species in the Scotch genus, then you can readily see that Georgia belongs in a similar category.

 
In this comparison, not so much beefed-up as pared back a bit (as befits a design intended for low resolutions).

Bartelomeus's picture

Thank you for your comparison.

MyFonts tags Century Schoolbook also as Scotch. How would set Scotch to Realist? Do you know any reading material on scotch fonts?

Maxim Zhukov's picture

There were many discussions of Scotch Roman on this forum. As to the reading material, Alexander Lawson’s coverage of this topic is probably the best there is in typographic literature.

Nick Shinn's picture

The Modern (Didone), the Scotch Roman, and the Scotch Modern are quite distinct genres of type, connected by an evolutionary causality -- although the Scotch Roman is, ironically, a step backwards in some respects.

I have described their relationship on page 5 of the Modern Suite PDF specimen.

The Scotch Roman is transitional, but between the Modern and Scotch Modern, not between the oldstyle and the modern, which is all about Baskerville.

Maxim Zhukov's picture

And, of course, if one prefers tracing the visual features of typefaces to the periods in Western art history (e.g., neoclassical, romantic, realist, modernist, etc.), Scotch Romans could be classified as Georgian (hence Georgia), and Scotch Moderns as Victorian.

eliason's picture

On Scotch Roman, James Mosley's blog entry is also readily accessible.

BTW, I'll be speaking about the "Transitional" label and its history at TypeCon.

Celeste's picture

> Old Nick
Please allow me to bring a little French-speaking perspective in the debate about the word "Realist".
In his classification, Maximilien Vox gave the name "RÉALES" to the category of typefaces which seemed to aknownledge the influence of the "Romain du Roi" (end of the seventeenth century) — which corresponds broadly to the "Transitional" word used in English-speaking countries. The word "Réales" itself doesn't exist in French (it is another of Vox's infamous neologisms) but etymologically alludes to "royalty", indeed.
I'm not sure you can equate it with "Realist" without causing some ambiguities : for example, as it was already mentioned, Bringhurst uses this very term for nineteenth-century typefaces (Clarendon, etc.) in reference to the Realist painters (Gustave Courbet et al.) of the same era.

oldnick's picture

@Celeste

I am aware that the word réales doesn't exist in French; however, the word real (with the e pronounced as an e acute in French) does exist in Spanish, and it is translated as "royal." I agree that Vox-aTYPI's adoption of the term only seems to cause confusion, especially when the picture is muddled with historical reference to Realist painting, which is entirely beside the point.

I have been operating under the apparently mistaken assumption that the kind of Type Classification we were discussing was structural: while the first Transitionals may have been designed during a specific period of time, it is still possible today for someone to design a typeface that is essentially Transitional in structure. If one mucks up the classifications by adding point-in-time as definitive of style, then what are we to call a Transitional typeface designed today? Postmodern Semi-Scotchy? What do you call this monstrosity, which made its appearance within the Realist period?

Celeste's picture

@Old Nick
The fact is, I never really was a fan of Vox's classification, which mixes structural facts and intellectual pretensions (IMHO). I've always been more at ease explaining the evolutions of type design to my students in relation to art history, which sometimes clarifies a few points : I can't, for example, put Fournier (in essence a rococo stylist) and Baskerville (an early neo-classicist) in the same "Réales" bag (without even mentioning the fact that the name itself overemphasizes the historical importance and the influence of the whole "Romain du Roi" affair).
I agree with you that historical categories are only points of departure (the very moment a particular style first appeared) and that it's still possible today to design typefaces which could eventually be labelled "rococo" (MVB Sirenne), "neo-classical" (FF Danubia), or whatever.

Miss Tiffany's picture

As much as Bringhurst has become part of the Typophile Triumvirate I have to say I really think the term Realist rubs me the wrong way. I'm with the others that thing of typographic nomenclature as a point of departure. I also think FontShop has the right idea with their Fonts by Subclass list.

oldnick's picture

I suppose it all boils down to whether or not the purpose of classification is Dilettantism or practical application. Frankly, I think the classification system that Daniel Will-Harris developed many moons ago--and which has been used by CorelDraw to classify the extensive type library which it distributes with its application--is a perfect example of the latter...

Nick Shinn's picture

Craig, if it's not venting too much of your TypeCon thunder, would you care to reveal here who coined the term "transitional", and when? (Think of it as a Hollywood-style promo.)

eliason's picture

IN A WORLD where classification nomenclature was chaotic and arbitrary...
ONE MAN had the vision to forge the term...
and the POWER to make it take over the world...
UPDIKE.

"TRANSITIONAL"
West coast premiere, August 22

Nick Shinn's picture

Too bad it wasn't Beatrice Warde.
I was thinking Hilary Swank for the part and Jude Law as Eric Gill.

Syndicate content Syndicate content