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CORBEL : anybody toasting?

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Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
CORBEL : anybody toasting?
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How popular is Corbel?
(Versus like Calibri.)

hhp

Frank Grießhammer's picture
Joined: 18 Nov 2008 - 6:57am
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In terms of sales figures, they should be pretty equal … :)
The only difference is that Corbel is not set as the standard font in MS Word as opposed to Calibri – but does that make it popular?
Or is the threshold for using Calibri just a tiny bit lower?

Also, it all depends on what you mean with ‘popular’.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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Actually Ascender does sell that stuff, and although they probably won't share the exact numbers maybe they can share relative measures?

But anyway to me more significant than installed-base is actual usage. So I guess I'm trying to get a rough idea of how often people consciously choose Corbel for a task.

hhp

Blank's picture
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Joined: 25 Sep 2006 - 2:15pm
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Calibri and Consolas are the only fonts out of that series that I've seen used. Ever. Kind of sad that people will keep beating the hell out of the old system fonts but never do anything with this good new(er) stuff.

Florian Hardwig's picture
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Joined: 18 Feb 2007 - 6:41am
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If that is any useful measure – MyFonts’ WhatTheFont forum saw ~122 cases of Corbel, vs. ~531 of Calibri. Maybe Corbel is just easier to recognize?

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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Florian, that is indeed a useful stat! Thanks. And the fact that Corbel is as you suggest easier to recognize (both because of its default status as well as its rounded finish) means maybe the reality is less lop-sided.

James: Agreed. Could have a silver lining though! :-)

hhp

John Hudson's picture
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Joined: 21 Dec 2002 - 11:00am
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And the fact that Corbel is as you suggest easier to recognize (both because of its default status as well as its rounded finish)...

That's Calibri, not Corbel.

Of the C* fonts (as they are referred to internally at Microsoft), Calibri is by far the most widely used because it is the default text font in MS Word. Corbel, by contrast, appears only in one of Word's predefined style sheets (the ‘Module’ style), which is one more than the sadly underused Candara. On the plus side, any use of Corbel that you do see represents conscious selection of that font, which is not the case with Calibri.

Thanks for the WTF forum link, Florian. I had not thought to check that. It is sort of disturbing to see how frequently people are horizontally compressing Constantia.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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Is anybody else wondering what a sans is doing
as the default choice for a word processor?
Hey, might that be Kevin's influence? ;-)

> That's Calibri, not Corbel.

I'm sorry - yes, I meant Calibri.

BTW, Candara is getting more WTF hits than Corbel.
I guess that makes sense since Corbel is much more
neutral and hence less likely to get selected for
logo-type tasks.

BTBTW, is there a way to get stats to see which
of those fonts is being spec-ed more on websites?

> horizontally compressing Constantia.

On that note let me share with all a photo
I took in Beirut that I sent to John recently:

It's a somewhat strange choice there,
but most of all that "oh" is a mystery...

hhp

David Sudweeks's picture
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Joined: 6 Jun 2007 - 12:44am
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I saw Corbel used recently in a series of presentation slides and wondered what it was, since it worked so well.

Nick Shinn's picture
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Joined: 8 Jul 2003 - 11:00am
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I studied Microsoft's book "Now Read This" extensively, but have a hard time remembering what the faces look like or what the names are, let alone pairing them up correctly; except Constantia with its pointy serifs.

"Good" faces now doubt, but lacking in personality (pardon me for applying a human quality to a typeface).

Whatever the individual merits of the typefaces, the C typeface project was fundamentally flawed at the level of product development.

If one considers the collection as a megafamily, which is what the "C" naming, simultaneous publishing, and genre diversity suggest, Calibri, Candara and Corbel (the sans components) are neither sufficiently differentiated, nor sufficiently familyish.

As a megafamily, it's clear where Cambria (chunky serif), Consolas (monospace), Constantia (classic serif) and Corbel (sans/Frutiger clone) stand, but Calibri is vague—neither really condensed nor really rounded, and Candara is tentatively flared.

What's missing is a geometric sibling (the "Gotham"), and that suggests what went wrong, because as I understand it, ClearType does not favor diagonals and circular curves. It would appear that the focus on ClearType rendering created the lacuna in product development.

J. Tillman's picture
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Joined: 27 Sep 2009 - 11:31am
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Nick Shinn, I think you're setting up a straw man for your argument, and then knocking it down hard.

I think these are six good work horse fonts supplied with the Windows operating system for worldwide use. They will definitely be over-used. Too much personality would probably be undesirable here.

You introduced the term "megafamily", based on the letter C. And then pronounced it "fundamentally flawed" because it didn't meet your definition of the term you introduced.

You're getting six good fonts, in addition to the many other fonts of course, with your operating system. Don't worry. Be happy.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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Nick, I'm no MS apologist, but:

I think C* is a very good job for such a mass-oriented corporation; just the fact they produced that nice booklet speaks volumes (pardon the pun). Look at what Apple -once revered for its typographic sensitivity- has been doing lately... Chalkboard?! I mean really, cloning Comic Sans. How low can you go? Anyway.

Could C* have been better? Well, for a malcontent like me that answer is always Yes! Specifically, there could indeed have been more harmony* between the fonts. But "megafamily"? Absolutely not. Think about how people are supposed to use them. Are half a dozen fonts supposed to cover all the bases anyway? Well, we type designers hope that answer is No! And when it comes to pairing, I think it's fair to state that the better such fonts pair the less versatile they will be individually (which is how most people do -and probably should- usually use them). So C* doesn't really replace anything, which is great.

* Note that the x-heights are normalized.

In terms of personality, I don't see how you could say that Constantia, Candara and even Calibri are lacking. And remember, these are supposed to be system fonts after all. Corbel for one thing is supposed to be neutral. Frankly only Cambria isn't my cup of tea in terms of styling - it seems... undecided of what it needs to be.

> What's missing is a geometric sibling (the "Gotham"), and that suggests
> what went wrong, because as I understand it, ClearType does not favor
> diagonals and circular curves.

On the contrary CT prefers regularity. Read for example how Jeremy Tankard had to give up on a more irregular "w" because of CT.

But yes, technical limitations did cause some design compromises. For one thing, the Bolds are too dark (just like in the old Core Fonts). But the question here is: did the compromise make sense? Is the solution balanced in terms of screen versus print, taking into account contemporary usage, and the sensitivity of users in terms of print versus screen? I think the balance is pretty good.

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture
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Joined: 8 Jul 2003 - 11:00am
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Too much personality would probably be undesirable here.

Right. But I was specifically focusing on Calibri and Candara as not being sufficiently differentiated from Corbel.

You introduced the term "megafamily", based on the letter C.

… and simultaneous release, and the fact that most of the faces fit clear genre niches. Surely if a company releases a group of types, in such niches, at the same time, with a similar technical gizmo, with a unifying naming scheme ("C…"), and, as Hrant notes, unified x-height, then they are de facto a megafamily or suite?

For Windows users, speaking of workhorses, why not provide them with a geometric style, a condensed style, and some Light weights? That would be way more use than three marginally different sans faces.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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> Calibri and Candara as not being sufficiently differentiated from Corbel.

That's strange coming from a type designer.

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture
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Joined: 8 Jul 2003 - 11:00am
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I was looking at it more from the point of view of the marketplace.
As I said, Windows users could do with geometric, light, and condensed styles. That would be differentiation.
However, Microsoft has left the door open for commercial type foundries to fill those niches, for which we should be thankful!

John Hudson's picture
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Joined: 21 Dec 2002 - 11:00am
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Nick, to clarify: the C* fonts were not conceived as a mega family. The decision to give them all names beginning with C was made after the faces were designed, by a Microsoft manager. I can't remember now what I originally intended to call Constantia; that name was the third or fourth that I suggested to MS after the others failed trademark searches. I actually don't like the name Constantia very much, and every time I see the sea birds on the dock while I'm waiting for the ferry I wish I'd thought to call it Cormorant. Oh, well.

Michael Duggan's picture
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Joined: 6 Feb 2005 - 11:54am
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make that anybody Roasting? Starbucks seem to like Corbel. :)

http://www.starbucks.com/coffee/whole-bean-coffee/latin-america/breakfas...

Nick Job's picture
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Joined: 24 Jun 2005 - 11:21am
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>>>...I wish I'd thought to call it Cormorant. Oh, well.

Don't worry, there are a lot of birds out there already.

I really like all of the ClearType fonts, I use Calibri a lot, then Consolas a little, then the others rather less but they are all well-crafted as far as I'm concerned, including Corbel (which this thread was about, once upon a time).

I agree that the bolds are largely overbold but better than not being bold enough and I'm pretty sure there would have been a rationale for thicker bolds. In the name of doing something graceful/tasteful, I'm sure some bolds err on the light side. Bold should after all be what it is (i.e. bold). However of all the CT fonts, Corbel is by no means the worst offender for overly-bold bolds.

Forrest Oakley's picture
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Joined: 20 Jun 2010 - 12:12pm
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I use Corbel in MS Office documents a lot - it's quite nice. It has one "distinctive" feature relative to other default Windows fonts, which is the oldstyle figures. This is both nice and sometime a liability. If had lining figures, as an option perhaps, I would be pushing hard at my office for it to be part of our house style.

Michael Duggan's picture
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Joined: 6 Feb 2005 - 11:54am
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forrest, Office 2010, does have support for this, but I am not sure if you are using the latest Office or not. Corbel does have lining figures.

http://blogs.office.com/b/office_blog/archive/2010/12/15/exploring-the-n...

Forrest Oakley's picture
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Joined: 20 Jun 2010 - 12:12pm
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Thanks Mike,

Still 2007 in our office (I have 2010 at home). I didn't realize that Corbel had lining figures, and will push for it when we move to 2010 at work.

Michael Duggan's picture
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Joined: 6 Feb 2005 - 11:54am
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just noticed when you change the background setting to grey in Readability, you get the sans serif font, Corbel.

https://www.readability.com/articles/ajv8p1eg