Monthly Archives: January 2013

Understanding Cascading Styles in Print and Web

First let me start by saying that particularly if you only work with short texts, having a solid understanding of how styles cascade is pretty optional. That’s true of both print and web. Yes, even if you’re writing your own CSS it’s still common to not quite have a grasp of what the term cascade means. So that’s the job I’ve given myself in this piece—to explain something that’s fundamental to working with long texts, simple and straightforward, but largely misunderstood. I’ll not get into any of the technical specifics just yet, but start with the theory.

Using Type, set in Prelo

I also realize I’m using the words Cascading and Print somewhat provocatively in the title, since most don’t associate the two. I do it not to confuse, but to get you, the reader thinking about what CSS-defined styles and InDesign’s Character and Paragraph Styles have in common, specifically, how they cascade one into another.

Styles depend on one another

When I start some typographically-heavy piece of design, I generally begin by taking appropriately representative content and determining the scale and measure of the body copy in relation to the overall document hierarchy, the same for other text elements, layout features and grid dimensions, etc.. This is the play stage, and I think it’s here, as well as during testing and production, that understanding and creating interdependent styles properly can save lots of time.

The first paragraph style you set up should be the most common case, body copy. It’s here you specify the font family, size, text alignment (flush left, justified, etc.), first line indent value, and so forth. The second style you create might be a version of the above, but without the first line indent, for a crisp start at the top of a chapter or subhead. This you’ll base on the first style, meaning it inherits (or implicitly gets applied to it) all the stuff you specified in the first style. Next, you might create a block quote style based on one of the above styles, with space before and after, indents on either or both sides, italic applied, etc.. When testing, should you need to adjust the size slightly, or change to a different font family, you change it in one place, and it updates everywhere the dependent styles are applied. That’s what cascade means—the general style rules apply down through every specific instance.

Change the underlying style, they all change.

What’s the rule, and what’s the exception?

The rest of the theory behind setting up complex typographic systems really comes down to the above question. From here the task is to plan how you’ll specify as little as possible in as few places as possible, so that implementing a minor change to the design is a manageably quick process. Thursday’s post on creating and applying and generally using cascading styles will be a much more practice-based discussion on macrotypography. Catch you then.

FF Clifford and Trio Grotesk

FF Clifford, Trio Grotesk

Maybe the clearest lesson to take from this particular pairing is that generously spaced, wide sanses tend to dominate the composition, typographically speaking. Providing a closer look at this interaction are our actors, the even-colored and very readable FF Clifford by Akira Kobayashi, and the softened, cartographically inspired Trio Grotesk by Florian Schick.

FF Clifford, Trio Grotesk

As with any of these, a good place to start is to line up a few words and see what’s working, and what each face is good for.

Trio Grotesk, FF Clifford

FF Clifford, Trio Grotesk

Below, the different optical sizes of FF Clifford are shown in relation to one another: Eighteen, Nine, and Six. And if you’re wondering, all samples are set on a 6 pt baseline grid.

FF Clifford optical sizes

New Great Pairs land here on the blog every Wednesday.

New Fonts This Week

This week we’re happy to welcome a new slab face, Capita from Hoftype, to our library. Get 30% off Platinus Script from Sudtipos for just a couple more days (until January 31).

As always, subscribe to our newsletter and read this blog for tips on using type, Pinterest updates, and more.



Capita Complete OT

Buyer’s Guide: Finding the End User License Agreement


Here at FontShop, we have thousands of fonts. In turn, we sell fonts from many different foundries. Each foundry has their own End User License Agreement (EULA), which is important to read before purchasing a font.

There are a couple different ways to find the EULA for a font. If you know the foundry of the font you’re interested in, you can go to our Licenses page, which lists out every EULA by foundry.

You can also find a link to a font’s EULA at the bottom of its product’s page:


End User License Agreements are rules to follow when you want to use a font. You’ll want to keep in mind that you are not purchasing the typeface itself, but a license to use the font software. Don’t forget to read the EULA!

Pinterested: New board this week


This week, we have one new Pinterest board that focuses on a FontFont. The super family of FF Clan is showcased in various uses in our In Your Face: FF Clan pinboard, from its thin weights to its ultra weights. We love FF Clan since it’s such a versatile typeface — it’s also the official typeface of TYPO!

Have you seen FF Clan in use in your city?

Using Baseline Grids

Let’s dive in. If you missed the theoretical introduction on baseline grids, you may want to review it first. It’s a quick read. In this section I’ll give a few pointers on getting the interval right, some specifics on how to set up an InDesign document, and I’ll likely keep it pretty vague discussing baseline grids on screen media.

Using Type, set in Premiéra

Adhering to an appropriately adjusted baseline grid irons out small mistakes and makes the large ones you really should know about much more evident. Here’s a text frame with some bobbles in the vertical spacing, and the same text frame aligned to the document’s baseline grid. Note how when the leading or line spacing is slightly under the set increment of our grid, the line of copy is still forced to the next spot down. Near the bottom of the text frame, the leading is greater than the baseline grid’s increment, so again, the line is kicked down to the next indicated spot for a baseline on the baseline grid. If you’re wondering how to make it align, here’s how: Select the text frame, then ‘Align to baseline grid’ at the bottom right corner of the Paragraph panel.

Align to baseline grid

Above: On the right, lines of copy are kicked down to the next marked baseline on the grid.

To turn the grid on and off, either use View > Grids & Guides > Show/Hide Baseline Grid, or I’d suggest using a keyboard shortcut. You can assign your own if the default doesn’t make sense to you. While you’re at it, assign a similar shortcut to access the baseline grid settings. The dialog you’re looking for is at Edit > Preferences > Grids (Windows) or InDesign > Preferences > Grids (Mac OS).

Baseline grid dialog

Tip: Open this dialog without any documents open, put in some values. Close. It’s now your default baseline grid setting.

Finally, a few general design concerns: Baseline grids should relate to the overall composition of the piece you produce. If it’s a print piece especially, find a measure and grid increment that relates well to the physical size of the medium. This may be, but isn’t necessarily a dimension derived from the larger document. Don’t be too dogmatic about it though, use your eyes and adjust as needed.

InDesign is quite capable of rendering baseline grids set to increment in fractional units. There’s nothing special about the 6 pt setting above. If 5.718 pt works better, use that.

Grouping bits of pertinent info

Letting your body text land on every other or every third grid increment is advisable. When testing your grid, make sure to account for cases such as multi-line bulleted list items.

That’s all for now. Using Type continues here Thursday. Our supporting typeface is Thomas Gabriel’s Premiéra. I’ll add more to this bit on baseline grids if there’s demand for it. Is this helpful? Let me know.

Glosa and Relato Sans

Moving now to an Iberian match-up, we visit the pairing of Dino dos Santos’s Glosa and Eduardo Manso’s Relato Sans.

Glosa, Relato Sans

Our serif face is the contemporary, rationalized Glosa. Glosa offers a good set of optical sizes to choose from. Its Text weights perform well in editorial settings at normal text sizes. The refined Display weights create a striking high-contrast option for large settings. And the in-between Headline fills its headspace with an appropriate increase in x-height and slight bump in ascender height.

Glosa, Relato Sans

Together with the warm, yet somewhat reserved Relato Sans, each does its part to maintain a crisp look. Certain characteristics such as the rationalized axis, and small details, such as the counter shape in the lowercase e tie the designs together well. There is a seriffed counterpart to Relato Sans, in case you’re interested in something a bit closer in pedigree.

Relato Sans, GlosaGlosa, Relato Sans

Glosa, Relato Sans

Of course mentioning this may be a deal breaker, but I happen to really appreciate the stiff, angular structure of Relato Sans’s Triplex-like italic. At small sizes, the angularity nearly disappears.

Relato Sans, Glosa

New Fonts This Week

FontShop welcomes a fun selection of new fonts from Comicraft and Hamilton Wood Type. Get 30% off Platinus Script from Sudtipos through January 31, and as always, subscribe to our newsletter and read this blog for the full stories.



Cool Beans International


Excalibur Stone International


Excalibur Sword International


Legendary Legerdemain International


Legendary Legerdemain Leggy International

Hamilton Wood Type


HWT Antique Tuscan No. 9


HWT Borders One


HWT Roman Extended Lightface

Buyer’s Guide: Can this webfont be linked to Typekit?

Update April 2016: Recent changes to the FontShop website have temporarily made this automated “Bring Your Own License to Typekit”unavailable. To use your Web FontFonts on Typekit, visit your order history and click the green button to request a Typekit web voucher.


Currently, you can only link webfonts from FontFont (also known as Web FontFonts) — webfonts that begin with “FF” in their name, such as FF Meta Web or FF Suhmo Web — to your Typekit account.

Hosting with Typekit

When you purchase a Web FontFont, you will be given a voucher code that links your Web FontFonts to your Typekit account. Send your Web FontFonts to Typekit by clicking on the link given to you when your purchase is complete. When you click on this link, you should be taken to a page that should look something like this:

At this point, you will be able to double-check to make sure you are linking the correct Web FontFonts to your Typekit account. You can then sign in to your Typekit account or create a new account.

If you don’t find a yellow box with a link to send your webfonts to Typekit when you’ve completed your purchase, you can still use webfonts. Remember, Typekit is completely optional and all webfonts on FontShop can be self-hosted!

Pinterested: New pins this week


It’s a new year and with a new year comes new trends. As we pointed out last week, we won’t stop pinning in our Type Trends pinboard, but don’t forget to check out our other pinboards to see what’s happening out there in the type world!

Our Found Type board will show well-known (and a few not so obvious) typefaces used in different ways to help demonstrate how something as common as Didot or Avant Garde can still make a design look good. Or if you’re stuck in a creative block, how about visiting our Ideas & Inpiration pinboard? Here, you’ll find various uses of type from lettering to lasercut acrylic or wood (and other physical type) as well as fun and awesome uses of typography.

Follow us on Pinterest and have fun look at type all weekend long!

Understanding Grids

Let’s call today’s Using Type the first real discussion in the series on the theory and practice of typography. While I could start anywhere, I’ve decided to begin somewhere in the middle of practical use (grids) rather than structure the series like an introductory typography class. Like most disciplines, in typography there’s a lot of theory and terminology that requires its own understanding and practice before discussion on the subject does any good. I could go the route of starting from the beginning, but prefer to assume some design-specific foreknowledge, and let any who need a hand ask for it.

In addition to hoping I’ve neither chosen to speak over the heads of, nor down to my audience, I might clarify also that while the principles discussed are true both in print and on screen, I favor and will give more examples related to print. When web comes up, it will mostly fit into the practice portion.

Using Type, set in Miller Banner

So let’s get started. When typographers refer to document grids, they’re generally talking about the kind of grid they most often interact with, baseline grids. Enabling a baseline grid forces a block of text’s vertical spacing into alignment with the document’s fixed vertical increment. This keeps text from being nudged just a little above or below where it should be. While baseline grids can be seen as an abstract concept replicable in any number of media, I’ll talk about them mainly in the scope of print, and use terms compatible with Adobe InDesign, a print-focused layout app that supports adherence to a baseline grid.

First, a little theory, next week, some practice and tips. Like the document you’re creating, grids exist to serve the reader, and the designer. How one spaces the lines of type affects the color and unification of the body text, as well as the pacing of the document, and the perceived quality of the production. Grids should therefore be prepared to assert some authority regarding what goes where. Well-designed grids work as part of the greater structure of the document, allow flexibility of composition, and remain in the typographer’s service.

Everything lines up.

What some typographers do, out of preference or convention, or because they’re after a specific aesthetic, is work within a coarse grid where each line lines up with any adjacent line of text. Ten point text on a twelve point grid. Hierarchy is mostly determined by scale (type size). In certain cases this works great. In others, all the inflexibility shows. Example set in Akira Kobayashi’s FF Clifford,  Tim Ahrens’s JAF Bernina Sans.

Things sort of line up.

This is the one I tend more toward when setting long documents. Rather than a consistent single drumbeat as the reader’s eye works down the page, the line spacing differs between body and other text elements, but carries an overall harmony about its composition. Here the grid increment is set to a third of the body’s line spacing (or leading). Body below set in Nicole Dotin’s Elena.

There are lots of different kinds of effects one can achieve with baseline grids, but these two are the most common. We’ll pick this discussion back up on Thursday.

Youthful: Parry and ARS Maquette

ARS Maquette, Parry

Striking what I see as a youthful balance is this pairing of Artur Schmal’s Parry and Angus R. Shamal’s ARS Maquette. Parry follows a traditional 18th-century text construction, but encourages rather than restrains certain of its elements from wobbling off axis, resulting in a sensitive and playful face.

Parry, ARS MaquetteARS Maquette, Parry

ARS Maquette is an almost geometric grotesque, providing just what Parry needs to support this kind of a relationship. I would encourage the typographer to explore Parry’s display capabilities, at both the very light and heavy ends of its weight spectrum. And of course, Parry has its own grotesque should you decide to go for a more British flavor, or allow the serif face to play the more distinguished role.

Parry, ARS Maquette

New Fonts This Week

FontShop welcomes new foundries Lettering Inc. and, a great selection of new faces, as well as some deals we’d like to share with you. Get 30% off Platinus Script from Sudtipos through January 31. Only two more days to get 50% off on Indian Type Foundry‘s Latin fonts Kohinoor and Engrez (until January 17). And as always, subscribe to our newsletter and read this blog for the full stories.

Borges Lettering


Mocha Script



Cultura New

Lettering Inc.


Feather Script

Letters from Sweden


Trim Poster Complete







Platinus Script (30% off until January 31)



Iskra Latin & Iskra Cyrillic






Copte Scripte


Joos Classique & Joos Pro

Buyer’s Guide: Rendering Sample Text

If you’ve ever wanted to see just a few letters together in a font or how a short phrase looks in a certain typeface, you can use our Custom Sample Toolbar.

buyersguide-sampletext1 There’s a small text field in the Custom Sample Toolbar that will say “Enter sample text…” — type in your phrase or the glyphs you want to see and remember to hit Return or Enter (your sample text will not render automatically as you type). Once you’ve pressed Enter, the fonts in your search result or FontList will render:


If you see blank spots or empty squares in place of a letter or glyph, then that means that font does not contain that specific character. This is more likely to happen if you enter sample text in a different language, but we do have many fonts that have wide language support.

If you need to compare how the text looks between certain fonts that aren’t right by each other in a list, you can Favorite the font and the font will be saved in your Favorites list with the sample text you originally previewed it in.

You can also use the Custom Sample Toolbar to preview OpenType features of a font!

And don’t forget: for the majority of fonts that we do have available on FontShop, we have a plug-in that allows people to play around and test fonts within Adobe Creative Suite CS5 or higher (Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign only) before buying — this is completely free and easy to download and use.

Pinterest: FontShop blog series boards


As our Type Trends series comes to a close, we want to remind you that you can always take a quick peek at our Type Trends pinboard to refresh your memory about what’s currently trending. Even though our font expert, David, won’t be going in-depth about the current trends anymore, that doesn’t mean polychromatic type, stenciling, or handmade signage is going out of style anytime soon!

We also have our Great Pairs series pinned so you can visualize some of the type pairings that David has put together for the past couple months. Check out our Great Pairs pinboard for classic pairings like Benton Sans and Benton Modern or unsettling couplings such as Maxime and FF Legato.

Stay tuned for David’s next series, Using Type!