Monthly Archives: October 2012

Typographic Horrors: Impostrophes!!!

Happy Halloween! The final installment in our series, read if you dare:

A horrible feeling settled into her stomach as she read the article spelling out her impending doom. She didn’t know if she was being quoted or possessed. She felt dumb. Nothing was right and she worried it never would be again. 

A common typographic error of the modern era of which nary a designer is completely immune. Oftentimes, software guesses wrong and will turn your apostrophes into quotes or vice versa. Anticipate the problem and fix in proofreading. Bloggers should pay special attention and use html quotes or Macintosh keyboard shortcuts if necessary.

Graphic set in Sunrise Till Sunset Buried Deep International by Comicraft

Typographic Horrors: The Bolding That Wasn’t

Part five in our series, we hope you’re not getting nightmares:

He only noticed the effects of it over time, more like arsenic than the guillotine. Something so beautiful and young shouldn’t have to endure wearing such a horrific mask, when its real features are much bolder. But how could he have known? He wasn’t used to working in this platform and he realized his fatal error much too late.  He didn’t mean to inflict such a slow death on web typography.

Faux bolding and faux italic is a common crime for designers using webfonts. It happens by not specifying the font family properly. Instead of showing a true bold or a true italic, the browser or renderer will embolden or slant a regular weight. You can fix this issue by defining your font family properly in the CSS, including links to each font that will be required.

Graphic set in Confidential OT by FontFont

New Fonts This Week

Check it out! All new fresh faces. As always, subscribe to our newsletter and read this blog for the full stories. Now for all the latest from the following foundries:


Cinemascope Family


Filmotype Carmen

Typographic Horrors: Vertical Rhythm Vertigo

Part four in our series. Scared yet?:

Nausea swept over her. Looking at the body copy rendered her incapacitated. She couldn’t tell if the sentences belonged together in one cohesive paragraph or if text had gone missing. As her eyes leapt and jolted from one line to the next, she couldn’t tell if the previous thought had led her to the present, or if the text had by some malevolence been sliced apart and rearranged. She looked away into the stormy night and glanced back at the page once more, before passing out. As she awoke all she could see were gaping holes between lines of now meaningless words killed by inattentive designs.

Uneven vertical rhythm occurs when your line height shifts, having inconsistent values from one line to the next. It most generally occurs from testing out different leading values and not deciding on just one. It can also happen by patching together text layers in Frankenstein fashion. The best solution to avoid this is for designers to adhere to a strict baseline grid.

Graphic set in Mason Serif OT by Emigre

Buyer’s Guide: FontList

Do you love fonts and lists? Then FontLists were made just for you. Curated by FontShop experts, these lists may help you find the fonts you need.

Use it to find fonts by Alternates, Genre, Award Winners and more.

Typographic Horrors: Fake Small Decapitation

Part three in our series of blood-curdling common mistakes:

He shuddered, realizing something didn’t add up. An impostor had snuck into the midst and only those with  a trained eye such as his could spot the difference.“Good God!” he panicked, “The others don’t even know the horror right in front of their eyes! And they won’t until it’s too late.” He silently sobbed knowing that the real thing looked so much better than this typographic incubus. He vowed revenge on the designer who denied life to OpenType features, opting instead for fake small caps.

Certain desktop publishing programs allow you to too easily create ad hoc small caps. Fake small caps are simply scaled-down regular caps, their weight is too light and their proportions too narrow, which makes them look wispy (a tell-tale sign of an impostor). Instead, use them through the OpenType features or a separate small caps font. Your design will look the way the typographer intended, with the symphony of letterforms playing correctly together.

“FAKE” in graphic set in Poltergeist by GarageFonts

Pinterested: New boards this week

We have one new Pinterest board up this week to prepare you for next week’s festivities. Our Scary Faces board is filled with treats for those who want to trick-or-treat for type goodies on Halloween.

From images that scream bloody murder to fonts that will claw their way into your design instincts, we have a collection of spiky fonts available on FontShop and haunting images from fStop. If you’re not bothered by paranormal activity or snowy TV screens, you’ll find some spooky fonts you might like such as Static from GarageFonts or Alphabat Regular from Linotype. If you’re more likely to be watching movies like The Prophecy or The Exorcist next Wednesday night, you might be more interested in Exocet and Mason Serif from Emigre. Stop by our Pinterest page for some visual treats like FF Pitu Pro!

Typographic Horrors: The Ghost in the Machine Optical Spacing

Part two in our series of gory design:

In an unassuming office building, in Anywhere, U.S.A., a designer sits, her hand on the trigger. Thunder clashes outside, cold rain falls on her keyboard through a leak in the roof . Though the letters beautifully dance together on the page, their individual forms joining in unison to form words and sentences, she needs to fit in just that much more copy. A dark voice in her head whispers, “Just do this so you can go home. It’ll make it fit more easily, the reader be damned!” Temptation overcomes her and she changes the box from “Auto” and starts clicking arrows left and right. Somewhere a typographer dies a little.

In design programs like Adobe Creative Suite, there’s a built-in default for spacing that’s created to go with the metrics built into the professionally crafted font that you’ve purchased. The type designer carefully spaced and kerned the font: a conscious decision based on experience and know-how instead of a mechanical solution. By setting the kerning/spacing to “optical,” you negate the input of the type designer. Though more difficult to do now than the early days of such applications, sometimes people inadvertently end up fiddling with the setting.  So unless you’re a typographer, leave it as is.

“Ghost” in graphic set in FF Pitu by FontFont

Type Trends: Hand-lettered

The increasing call for letters to do what type can’t has resulted in newly forming presence of custom lettering in graphic design. This comes in answer with the design undercurrent I’ve noted here in our series toward a more substantive, personable, and relatable tone across the medium. Having started my career in type doing lettering projects for design studios, I see the industry’s renewed emphasis as most welcome. Find below a few examples of hand lettering at work.

Above, my own lettering explores a few styles generally: inscriptional, blackletter, grotesque, inline, brush script, and formal script, making use of the ball-point pen, pointed brush, and broad-nibbed fountain pen.

Here, letterer and illustrator Laura Serra’s work demonstrates how an image’s text can be personalized through a distinctive line quality and texture. It shows how lettering can solve some of the fit problems associated with type, such as with a similar-looking Scotch face. And one may also note that lettering’s role seems to have shifted lately to incorporate larger bits of copy than merely a short name or phrase.

Type and graphic designer Tânia Raposo shows some of her process in a vernacular lettering job for a Lisbon magazine.

And finally illustrator and letterer Alex Trochut delivers a slick piece of digital lettering, no doubt after working out a lot of the details on paper.

Typographic Horrors: Rivers of Terror

Halloween is just a week away and to get you in the mood we’ll be rolling out a series of tales about common typographic errors over the next few days. We won’t leave you completely in the cold and dark – we’ll also tell you how to avoid committing such deadly sins. And now, for our first horror story:

She opened the book and screamed. Remnants of the crime splattered across the page. Crimson in magnitude, the glaring error ran in deep rivulets throughout each paragraph. “RIVERS!” she shrieked. “RIIIIIVERS!”

It was a crime of negligence, really. A rookie mistake by a designer not bent toward mayhem, but hurried to finish the job. He simply hadn’t checked after full justifying the paragraphs in the text. As a result, his ignorance had created unsightly patterns of white space that ran the length of the pages in the document – rivers.

He could’ve easily avoided it all. By taking some extra time to adjust his hyphenation and justification settings or choosing a typeface with different letterspacing the reader would be spared. The ultimate fix to avoid such pain and suffering? Rewriting the copy to fit to the page.

“Rivers!!!” text in graphic set in Dead Mans Chest by Comicraft

New Fonts This Week

Just in! We have a nice variety of fresh new faces this week, including a few from Comicraft to get you in the halloween spirit! Be sure to check out the latest deal from Hamilton Wood Type on HWT American Chromatic. As always, subscribe to our newsletter and read this blog for the full stories. Now for all the latest from the following foundries:

New Foundry

Hamilton Wood Type

HWT American Chromatic Set

New Foundry

Mint Type

Cytia Complete Pack Pro




Dusk Till Dawn International

Sunrise Till Sunset International

Buyer’s Guide: History

With over 150,000 fonts to choose from, FontShop is a great place to browse for the perfect typeface you need. To help you with your journey we created the History section.

The History section, located in the upper right corner of FontShop, keeps track each font or product that you view on our site. If you’re logged in, then up to 250 products can be stored. Use it when you want to go back and see a font you may have forgotten to add to your Favorites.

Pinterested: New boards this week

We have one new board up this week that focuses on typography from Japan! I recently came back from a week-long trip to Tokyo and didn’t forget to pay attention to the typography overseas.

Many of us are used to seeing an A through Z alphabet or any mix in between, so it was definitely a change to be in country where the language is portrayed in more than just the Latin alphabet. I hardly know how to speak or read most Japanese, but I can still appreciate the beautiful brush strokes and the sharp turns of the different Japanese alphabets (hiragana, katakana, and kanji). Of course, there’s also the romanization of Japanese (romaji), so I was able to snap a few shots of letterforms many of us are more accustomed to seeing. Visit our Type Travels: Hello, Tokyo! board to see what I saw during my stay in Japan!

Also, in honor of Snoop Dogg’s birthday tomorrow, don’t forget about our Nuthin’ But A G Thang pinboard and check out some Gs!

TYPO London Livestreams

The second annual TYPO London kicks off Friday, October 19. Not in the UK? You can still get in on the action via livestreams on both Friday and Saturday.

On Friday, watch multimedia designer Anthony Burrill at 12 PM GMT discuss “Working Hard and Being Nice to People.” Too early for those in the Americas? Then tune back in at 8 PM GMT for Pentagram’s Paula Scher‘s talk on “Breakthroughs, Successes and Failures.”

Continue your weekend with more design inspiration by checking out legendary graphic designer Ken Garland speak to “Word and Image” at 10 AM GMT. Return later to view Irma Boom closing out the conference with “Manifesto for the Book.”

The theme this year is Social so make sure to follow the hashtag #typo12 in addition to @TYPOLDN to get in on all the action.

Type Trends: Hand-painted

Another method of letter making worth its own look, as we discuss the rise of manual processes in design, is sign painting. Though sign painting fits into the catch-all category of lettering, it remains independent largely due to the requirements of the job. In lettering, one can work on a small scale, recompose with tissue paper, or work partially or entirely digitally with endless back and forth in one’s workflow. Sign painters practice months and years in some cases developing the required eye and muscle memory before touching client work unsupervised. Though touch-ups are sometimes necessary, the process is understood to be permanent, and the workflow linear, so there’s an appropriate emphasis on getting it right the first time. Thus, where there’s a need for hand-made letters done at a large scale, sign painters will be the ones to answer the call.

In its traditional role, John Downer’s poster advertises to young designers the chance to have their faces critiqued by masters of the type and design industry. The casual but tight brushwork suggests a relaxed, yet accurate critique.

More and more, sign painting is turning into art and being presented as such. The work above is Heather Diane Hardison’s, a sign painter in San Francisco. Her carefully reversed window painting in monolinear script and gothic caps contrasts the speed letters of her above meat cut labels.

Emphasizing the art of the sign painting trade, the above piece from Robert Curry separates the form from its content by overlaying several recognizable logotypes in transparent colors. Both this and the below shot of master sign painter “Doc” Guthrie are production stills from Faythe Levine & Sam Macon’s forthcoming book and documentary film on the sign painting trade.

All this talk about sign painting makes me itch for a chance to pick up a brush and mahl stick and get busy painting letters. Our series continues next Thursday with a closer look into hand lettering and its growing role within graphic design.