Which characters can be compressed the most and still be readable?

Bezier Abuser's picture

I remember reading somewhere (Unger maybe?) that "s" for is one of those letters that can be compressed more than others ("m" for example) and still be readable.

riccard0's picture

I suppose nothing beats I ;-)

Nick Shinn's picture

Frutiger “s” is quite narrow, its “w” very wide, especially in the heavier weights.

Futura capital L and T are very narrow.

When designing monowidth faces, obviously “m” and “w” are problematic, but in my experience stretching letters, apart from “i” and “l”, is more of an issue.

Bezier Abuser's picture

Ah! it was from "Balancing typeface legibility and economy" by Victor Gaultney, speaking of Dwiggins' Eldorado:
"The greatest danger in condensed design is to compress everything. Dwiggins, on the other hand, carefully chose which letters to compress. Those letters which naturally respond well to compression — a f r s t — are thinned to the extreme, without diminishing critical features. Note the strong form of a and the sharp shoulder on f. Letters with counters, however, such as b d g o p q are given generous space. The diagonal strokes on v w x y are steep, making them narrower. He is also careful not to let the internal space of m and n get too small. All of these features work together to create a pleasant, readable face with no strong sense of compression."

hrant's picture

I think the important thing to keep in mind is that there's
more to "compression" than economy (which might seem
like the main goal here). Making certain letters narrower
while leaving others "wide" increases divergence, which is
a help to readability. And when you decide to make an "s"
for example wider than it "needs" to be, for example to
give the font a certain character*, at least you're aware of
the little bit of functional damage you're doing.

* This is what I did in Patria.


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