Author Archives: David Sudweeks

David Sudweeks is a letterer and type designer. He works at his home studio in Berkeley and at FontShop’s San Francisco Office as their type expert. He writes for FontShop,, and occasionally on The FontFeed,

Redirect me, please.

This blog has been eaten by a bigger, and frankly, better blog.

With the launch of the new FontShop site in December, we decided to take the best writing from this, the FontFeed, and the Berlin-based FontShop blogs and combine them in a nice package integrated with the new site. That’s all currently rolling out at We hope you love it. The best bits of this blog can be found in the archive of the new giant one whilst in the main news section you will find a variety of features and snippets spanning the world of type from Yves Peters, me, Sonja Knecht, Ferdinand Ulrich, and the FontShop Team. Here’s what it looks like:

FontShop-NewsAnd here’s where you subscribe to our RSS from now on:

FontShop News RSS, English language

Oder, wenn Sie es vorziehen, auf Deutsch: (I have no idea what I just said there.)

FontShop News RSS, German language

All that’s left now for me to add is the capstone.


Tiina and Monopol

Let’s take a look today at Valentin Brustaux’s Tiina with Tomas Brousil’s Monopol.
Tiina is a sturdy, contemporary serif face, drawn from no specific tradition or family line. Its low contrast and generous fit serve to keep the face both approachable and firmly affixed to the page. As a block of text, Tiina holds together exceptionally well.
Tiina-and-Monopol-2 Tiina-and-Monopol-3
Monopol exists solely as an extra compressed, or skyline sans in a range of weights from very thin to as heavy as heavy goes. Its construction is that of the draftsman-inspired alphabets of the early to mid-twentieth century, with several well-considered exceptions in form and fit. Depending on final size, you may need to track Monopol open some. Together, Tiina and Monopol form a fine working relationship, each offering more than sufficient ground to allow its companion’s distinguishing characteristics take the role as the figure.


Tiina-and-Monopol-4 Tiina-and-Monopol-5
Great Pairs land here each Wednesday. This great pair was originally published July 31, 2013.

JAF Lapture and Geogrotesque Stencil

Today we pair Tim Ahrens’s JAF Lapture, a careful reworking of Albert Kapr’s Leipziger Antiqua, with Eduardo Manso’s Geogrotesque Stencil. I love stencil faces.



JAF Lapture comes in a three weights (with companion italics) across a generous four optical sizes arranged below into columns: Caption, [Regular], Subhead, and Display. Geogrotesque Stencil spans seven weights from Thin to Bold.


The particular stencil variant shown above is one of three. See sets A, B, and C below, the difference between the them being the width of their bridges. A non-stencil version also exists, complete with italics.


Above: Geogrotesque Stencil C Light with JAF Lapture Display. The decisions made to preserve some characteristic signs of Lapture’s age and the age of its influences can cause it to come off a bit stern. Pairing it with a contemporary sans, and specifically this lighthearted stencil face, highlights Lapture’s easily overlooked newness and freshness.



Great Pairs land here each Wednesday. Today’s was originally written by me and published here on April 24, 2013.

Differentiation and Exclusivity

Just a quick point I’d like to raise, since today’s USA vs Germany match has completely thrown off my schedule.


When a potential investor approaches a business, one of the first concerns addressed is, “What’s proprietary about this business? What’s to stop a competing company from observing and then producing a product or service that’s just as good but at a lower cost?”

In graphic design, creating an image that’s easily authenticated and yet only with great difficulty successfully imitated follows the general principle of contrast. When something is very much unlike its surroundings, it becomes a definitive point of reference. (Its contrast is high.) When its surroundings respond by becoming similar in appearance, though the initial point of reference may not have changed its appearance, its contrast is lowered. Thus the perceived need for constant differentiation, endless updates and rebrands. And to some extent here, perception is reality, though I think you can feel my reluctance to such an approach, when the emphasis is on changing the appearance, rather than the substance. I’ve long seen great typography as one of the ways of solving this problem. And exclusively-licensed type as a particularly effective way of asserting ownership of one’s image.

Photo courtesy of Puma

Here’s one example: Soccer jerseys (my sincere apologies to the rest of the world who recognizes the sport as football) are commonly counterfeited and sold as authentic, misrepresenting their origin. Counterfeiters are foiled by the original manufacturers who commission new, distinctive typefaces and then exclusively license them from their designers. It’s for this reason that with each new wave of uniforms, something about the type catches your eye. Here’s one of Eduardo Manso’s custom typefaces done for Puma, above, on the Ivory Coast World Cup  jersey, and below on Italy’s. Note the curvature of the diagonal strokes, aiding legibility and also creating an easily-recognized distinguishing characteristic.

watermarked_thumbnail-2If you’re wondering how to go about licensing a typeface exclusively, just give us a call. That’s it. Using Type continues here Thursday. Thanks to Tobias Frere-Jones’s Armada for setting the title.

Skolar and HWT Artz

Today we look at David Brezina’s Skolar paired with Erik Spiekermann’s HWT Artz, the latter I might add is on sale now through June 30th.

Skolar-and-HWT-Artz-1 Skolar-and-HWT-Artz-2

Skolar, originally designed for academic publishing, creates an appealing, vigorous texture on the page. A close look at the forms themselves reveals the reliance upon the manual models that inform its appearance. The extensively gifted family, linguistically speaking, supports Greek and Cyrillic, as well as Gujarati and Devanagari, (you’ll need to contact the foundry directly for those). Typographically speaking, the glyph palette leaves little room for want, including small caps, math symbols, and all the most common super- and subscripts (scientific superiors and inferiors) and many you may wonder whose standards require. In sum, it’s a family with range.

When I first came across Erik Spiekermann’s HWT Artz, I didn’t know the backstory, and assuming the label meant that what I was seeing was a digital revival from the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum’s extensive holdings, I was surprised that they had inventoried anything from Germany at all. I wrote an e-mail to Erik. Then I found out the real story. HWT Artz, like HWT Van Lanen is one of a handful of original designs produced at the Hamilton Museum into working wood type having existed first as digital type. The other example that comes to mind is Nick Sherman’s Brylski. (All three of these carry the names of Hamilton Museum workers and founders.) From its conception, HWT Artz accepted as a design constraint that the forms require as little hand finishing as possible, meaning that all sharp angles were to be eliminated in order to allow the width of the pantographic router bit (the means of production) to traverse the tight interior and exterior spaces it left behind.

On its own, though only a single weight and with minimal alternates, HWT Artz makes a strong statement. With Skolar, the two lend each other support, though there’s no question who maintains the dominant role.

Skolar-and-HWT-Artz-3 Skolar-and-HWT-Artz-4

Great Pairs continues here Wednesday.

New Fonts This Week

New Fonts

Freight Macro by GarageFonts

2014 Week 25 000  Clasica Slab by Latinotype 2014 Week 25 0002

Normandie by FONTYOU

50% off till August 8

2014 Week 25 0003

Loads of summer discounts from Abdo Fonts and FONTYOU, and other continuing promotions

Hamilton Wood Type

HWT Artz20% off until 30 June

Abdo Fonts

Abdo Free, Abdo Line, Abdo Title, Abdo Screen, Abdo Logo, & Abdo Master15% off until 2 July

Abdo Egypt, Abdo Joody, & Abdo Misr25% off until 2 July

Abdo Rajab & Abdo Salem35% off until 2 July


Pinto50% off until 2 July


Sperling FY, Suzee FY, Wes FY40% off until 5 July

Gauthier FY & Zitrone FY50% off until 5 July

Brixton FY, Saya FY70% off until 5 July

Archille FY75% off until 5 July

Booster FY80% off until 5 July


Calavera Family, Chicha, Quincha, & Zipolite Rounded Family40% off until 15 July

More FaceType

Adria Slab and Adria Slab Web90% off until 15 July


Abelina Pro and Abelina Redux OT30% off until 20 July


Clasica Slab75% off until 23 July


Gauthier Next FY & Gauthier Display FY40% off until 24 July

Normandie FY, Marianina FY Extended / Wide / XWide50% off until 8 Aug

Bold Monday

Brando30% off until 15 Aug

Want detailed showing of new fonts straight to your inbox? Make sure you’re receiving them in your inbox. They may be getting lost in the promotions section. If you use Gmail then you can drag and drop the FontShop Newsletter from your Promotions Tab to your Primary Tab.


Picking up from last week’s discussion on substrates, today we talk about processes. Broadly speaking, we’re talking about putting images onto surfaces. Traditionally speaking, (in the context of graphic design studio work) it’s putting ink on paper.


Processes range widely, almost all (the old ones anyway) bearing their own typographic or letter-making traditions. Here’s a quick and incomplete run-down:

  • Offset, or lithographic printing, common commercial standard, seen in books made after 1970 or so, also nearly all maps
  • Digital, which generally means commercial inkjet printing
  • Letterpress, (relief printing) the first commercial printing process; it largely died out in the US in the 1980s and has since seen a resurgence of interest, creating the ’boutique’ printing sector.
  • Engraving, now most commonly seen on paper currency, the highest standard for calling cards / other stationery
  • Screen printing, T-shirts and (these days) only higher-end posters
  • Laser printing, toner (finely ground plastic) melted onto paper, likely your client’s process for day-to-day printing

Some uncommon results are possible with ordinary processes by changing the ink or rasterization method. Fluorescent, metallic, reflective, or glow in the dark inks are examples. Also, spot glosses are now a relatively simple thing to order. If you’re printing on plastic, a UV ink process requires a slightly different setup. There are also a number of special effect processes, including embossing, debossing, die cutting, laser etching / cutting, lenticular printing, holography, and special coatings. Short of seeing these in person, a perusal of one of Sappi’s (a paper company’s) exposition of special effect printing, via PDF is helpful to get an idea of what each is.

Within screen media, there’s also a dimension parallel to special effects printing that makes specific use of the physical properties of pixels, screen polarization, haptic feedback, and other infant technologies. Just as in print, there are simulated 3d effects on screen as well, done a number of ways, most of which requiring special glasses and sensors. Augmented reality interfaces would fit in here somewhere.

Three-dimensional processes

Again, there are innumerable industrial and artisanal processes that can result in letters on a surface, but just to name a few common ones: routing, sandblasting, minting, reproducible sculpture for molding and casting, and of course, 3d printing, and paper folding.

One-off and limited edition processes

Depending on the scale of the project, you may consider a single- or limited-run solution such as sign painting, neon, calligraphy, stone cutting, metal engraving, smithing (for cattle brands), and the mostly noncommercial printmaking processes, monoprint, intaglio, and Ukiyo-e.

Now, why make such a list? It’s important to consider all the possibilities of design from the outset of a project. I hope that by going through some of these it helps to expose new possibilities that just might be a good answer to a the need a project addresses. So for example, why design a paper label for a glass bottle, when the bottle itself can bear all the information just as successfully? Next week, we’ll get into the steps just after the brief’s second half gets firm.

Thanks for reading. Using Type continues here Thursday. Thanks to Nikola Djurek’s Nocturno Display for setting the title.


This is a continuation of the previous look at the typographer’s process at the beginning of a project, and we’ll end up talking about paper and other substrates.

Picture 1

A quick note on the creative brief before we proceed

Not only should the creative brief be clear about which objectives the project attempts to satisfy, it should articulate how it intends to do this as explicitly as possible. This second half of the brief is commonly overlooked or postponed in order to keep the process flexible. Make it explicit. Don’t let it just get rolled into the client approval process. My suggestion is to keep the brief updated and referred to regularly by both you and the client as the job progresses. That way, it serves as both a solid base and a structure from which the work can proceed, that adapts as necessary.

In the case of designing a set of concert tour materials, one example of an above adaptation may be to go from designing a single tour poster—to a small poster series done by studio collaborators. In the case of a publication, it may mean to transition from five 16-page daily broadsheets to a weekly-published 64-page tabloid.

Considerations the typographer is making at this point

As the brief solidifies, the job of the designer is to give the textual elements and their medium physical form. Even small projects pose big questions here, because of the seemingly endless possibilities and the constraints each imposes. In print design, getting the body copy working with the publication dimensions, adjusting each as one goes, and exploring substrates and the processes by which the piece is produced and bound is the first step toward putting real evidence behind this second part of the brief. With each serious paper option, run press checks and make a series of paper dummies to hold, heft, flip through, and examine how each feels.

What’s a substrate? Most commonly in print work, it’s paper. Substrate is a broad generic term for the underlying physical layer onto which one puts content. This includes all materials that carry the graphic information you apply to them, even physical pixels. And also in print there are a range of non-paper substrates used, each with its own limitations and peculiar processes for printing on or otherwise marking the sheet.

Paper and paper-like substrates

Paper, either hand-made or machine-made comes in a broad spectrum of weights, finishes, fiber content, colors, coatings, and specialized purposes. This is not to mention that there are fundamental differences in the ways that different classes of paper are produced. All laid, for example has a characteristic set of chain lines visible when held up to light. Most of the paper in use today is wove, which has a more or less uniform texture throughout. I could describe each category listed above in more detail, but I suggest instead a field trip to a paper supplier or well-stocked design studio, or that you order a range of samples for comparison. I do want to briefly focus on two important aspects of paper:

Basis Weight generally helps in determining the suitability of a paper stock to a given usage. It’s the paper’s density that the word ‘weight’ here is trying to describe. In the US, you need to pay close attention to whether it’s a cover weight or a text weight for the number to be remotely useful. It’s given in pounds, with the understanding that, for example, one ream of 40 pound text (40#t), weighs 40 pounds. You may be asking yourself, “Forty? Really? A ream is only 500 sheets. They must be huge sheets of paper.” You’d be right. For text grades, the sheet measured is 25 × 38 inches. Different grades are measured off of different standard sizes (and different quantities for what constitutes a ream). Without physically examining a given stock of paper from a manufacturer, it’s impossible to know what you’re getting. I really envy what the metric system has done elsewhere, with its no-nonsense paper density measured in grams per square meter.

Grain determines in which direction a sheet of paper naturally bends, and most successfully folds. To experience this, pick up any normal sheet of office paper. Put your hands together in front of you with palms facing up and place the paper on top. As you begin to close your palms together, as you would to fold the sheet in half, note the resistance the paper gives to being folded. Now open your hands, turn the sheet 90° and repeat the process. Feel that? One axis bends easily; the other is a bit stiffer. Put the paper back in front of you in the position where it bends easily, and raise your hands to eye level. You’re now looking along the grain. This means that the paper’s fibers lay primarily in the direction you’re now looking. When designing any printed piece with pages that a reader turns, this is the orientation the grain should be in—parallel with the spine. When ordering paper, the direction of the grain is marked either implicitly, 13 × 19, by the second number, or more explicitly, with an underline, 18 × 24. Knowing this stuff is especially important if the design requires folds.

You may be asking yourself at this point, “Didn’t this discussion leave the subject of typography a long way back?” Well, it turns out that the whole of type, the history of the forms themselves, their units of measurement, etc., are responses to the societal, economic, and technical constraints of the time, including for a long portion of its history, the means of printing and ranges of quality in paper. So, the consideration of the suitability of a given type family to a paper stock is one; and two, if the typographer’s expertise is to extend thus far in creating the feel of the book or other publication, should it not also consider how the pages move when turned?

Other substrates

Once you get started, there’s really no end. Wood, glass, metal, concrete, stone, porcelain, fabric, leather, even live animals are subject to branding. Each has its own processes.

We’ll pick up this discussion next week, and I’ll get a into inks and processes. That’s it for now. Using Type continues here Thursday. Thanks to Berton Hasebe’s Alda for setting the title.

The Typographer’s Approach to Typography

On the subject of getting into the head of the typographer, today we’ll walk through some decisions that graphic designers and typographers consider early on in the design process. Frankly, I hope this is useful stuff. Often while tracing the unconscious and intuitively made steps toward a given result, the final piece seems only obvious. Discussing these principles in the abstract and keeping my audience engaged long enough to hear it is the challenge I’ve accepted here.


First, some terms

I know I’ve mentioned this here before, but just for clarity’s sake: Typography is “writing with prefabricated characters.” (Gerrit Noordzij said that.) A type designer is someone who makes type, those prefabricated characters just mentioned. A typographer is someone who specializes in using type. Lastly, though it’s a related field, lettering is not type, and the use of lettering is not typography. Ready to get started? Great.

What is the need?

With client work, a sizeable part of the design process goes into properly forming not the answer, but the question to which the design brief responds. It’s often in the process of conducting proper research that certain strong concepts present themselves. If it’s a publisher seeking a book or book cover design, it’s in the text. If it’s a fashion label refresh, it’s in the cut of the clothes, the demographic data, the histories of its designers. If it’s product packaging, or a music tour, or a cryptocurrency, or a playbill redesign, or a geotagging app, a movie prop, something in the research of the thing, its history, or the people who make it will show up as a distinct piece of the solution. From the beginning of this process, I keep a dedicated book to draw and write down my ideas.

The answer to the brief

Working out what rough forms the project will take given its requirements and constraints, I get to work figuring out what content needs to be created, who best to do it, and what kind of meaning the typography should give to the copy it sets. Special attention is placed on the visual requirements: How do specific marks translate from one medium to the next? How will they perform at large and small sizes? On the store shelves and in the lower third of the morning talk shows? Which typefaces and treatments have the handpicked quality required? Which typefaces will deliver consistent results on screen and in other physical applications? Linguistic requirements: How many languages will this piece be translated into, and is the layout I’ve created flexible enough to function well in the common cases? Adaptable to extreme cases? It’s also during this phase that I consider incorporating substrates and other materials, disciplines, and processes that make sense.

Pause. We’ll hold it here for now. I’ll continue when Using Type picks back up on Thursday. Please let me know if you find this interesting. Thanks to Frank Grießhammer’s FF Quixo for setting the title.

Web Typography: HTML Defaults

Just a quick tip on web typography, since I’m not a practicing HTML man, and I don’t pretend to be.

Screen Shot 2014-05-23 at 3.42.07 PM

Turn kerning and standard ligatures on by default


When Elliot Jay Stocks came to TYPO San Francisco to talk about the current state of advanced web typography, he ran through a number of changes between two years ago and now in terms of CSS. My main takeaway can be summed up by the above presentation slide, and the following implementation to cover as wide a range of browsers as possible. The current best way to enable kerning and ligatures is to affix these attributes to the page’s body:

text-rendering: optimizeLegibility;
-moz-font-feature-settings: "kern";
-moz-font-feature-settings: "kern=1";
-ms-font-feature-settings: "kern";
-o-font-feature-settings: "kern";
-webkit-font-feature-settings: "kern";
font-feature-settings: "kern";
-webkit-font-feature-settings: "liga" 1;
-o-font-feature-settings: "liga" 1;
-moz-font-feature-settings: "liga" 1;
-moz-font-feature-settings: "liga=1";
-ms-font-feature-settings: "liga" 1;
font-feature-settings: "liga" 1;

The rest of the things that could be considered defaults, such as a paragraph’s line length, or hyphenation, etc., I recommend baking into your design after you’ve considered the conditions under which it may be viewed. While reviewing defaults, it may be a good time to also check to make sure any webfonts used have their styles properly set up.

A note on the value of global resets

I see these becoming less and less relevant. It feels like an over-controlling attitude to take with such a fluid medium, specifying every single element, and then resetting the browser defaults for each to zero, none, etc.. I’m more of the attitude of targeting a specific range of browsers, and then addressing problems as they arise. I’m sure there are reasons why I’m wrong. Please let me have them. Plus, there must be a lot of obvious stuff I’m missing here.

That’s it; and this concludes my series on defaults. Next week, I’ll try to get a better view of typography from inside the typographer’s brain. Using Type continues here Thursday. Thanks to Nick Shinn’s Brown Gothic for setting today’s title.

Kade and Freight Micro

Author’s note: I’m making transparency a central theme in this edition of Great Pairs.

Today we look at David Quay’s Kade together with Joshua Darden’s Freight Micro, and since I’m promoting the new Tryout feature at, all of the images shown here link you to their source, where you can go and mess around with the samples, and very possibly come up with something that works even better for your own purposes.

Quickly, let me add that this feature (the new Tryout feature) is limited to webfonts that we offer, so keeping this page open as a reference to what will work is advised: FontShop’s Webfonts. I also recommend against pasting text into the Tryout feature, and also, you should use a modern desktop browser. Going against this advice (as I have as part of testing the feature) will reveal what remains to be fixed, however, the feature’s failure to deliver the expected result looks a lot more like it’s simply not responding to your input. Sticking to options you can be somewhat confident will work will give you a much more positive experience with this tool. Today is May 23, 2013 and the above is all subject to change. Now on to Kade and Freight Micro.

Screen Shot 2014-05-23 at 10.04.11 AM

Reading about Kade, the concept comes from lettering on ships and docks in the Netherlands, an engineer’s approach to letter making. Getting my own good look at the face, I see it doing well in the portrayal of the idea of technical subjects, such as math and sciences. Freight Micro is one optical size of Freight (serif) drawn specifically to function at around 6 pt and below, and part of the larger Freight Super Family.

Screen Shot 2014-05-23 at 10.14.34 AMScreen Shot 2014-05-23 at 10.31.16 AM

The thing that really unifies this combination is its attention to the relationship between interior and exterior contours, hard lines wrapped with taut, smooth ones. In Kade, this is mainly a stylistic decision. In Freight Micro, similar results were arrived at under the constraints of performance at very small sizes. It’s fine, by the way to use a typeface intended for small sizes at larger ones, though be careful of it falling apart. The other way around (using type drawn for large sizes to set text) generally doesn’t work.

Screen Shot 2014-05-23 at 11.11.39 AM

That’s it. Great Pairs land here each *Wednesday.

*though you may have noticed today’s not Wednesday, it’s Friday. I had to replace a bad hard drive and got a little behind this week. Thanks for reading.

More InDesign Defaults: Keyboard Shortcuts

First of all, thanks everyone for reading and commenting on last week’s piece on InDesign Defaults. Before moving on, I think I should stress that I bring these things up (setting defaults) mainly so that if you haven’t considered them, you have a place to start. And though I recommend specific approaches because they work for me, if you’ve thought it through and what you’ve got better suits you or your process, do that. Typographer and friend André Mora commented on his method of taking time to experiment with size and leading values before locking things into a grid, rather than enabling alignment to baseline grid by default. Not only do I find this a totally valid approach, it’s also a great one. It’s one I often take. The reason why I prefer working the other way is because it forces me to think in context of a grid system.


Which I guess could veer us into today’s topic: Shortcuts. Adjusting one’s document-wide baseline grid settings can be cumbersome. Changing the increment by a half a point can mean hunting down the Preferences menu, then finding the appropriate dialog. For me, it makes more sense to just create a keyboard shortcut that takes me straight there. Since the default shortcut for Show/hide baseline grid is (alt/option + ’) which I already instinctively used, it seemed natural to make Open baseline grid settings relate somehow, so I set it to (shift + alt/option + ’).

Why working with standard keyboard defaults makes sense

Every designer selects and hones his or her own tools to some extent. The reasons why I choose to build off of standard keyboard shortcuts is because they’re the ones I learned first (so, out of comfort), and also because it helps keep my skills portable. For example, if I need to slip into someone else’s work environment for some reason, my hands won’t be tied. This also becomes a temporary consideration when an equipment failure requires one to wipe or reinstall a system.

Default InDesign shortcuts I use all the time

Beside the ones common to the OS/most programs, I most often find myself using these below. For Windows, substitute command with control.

Make selected text larger by 2 pt: shift + command + >

Make selected text smaller by 2 pt: shift + command + <

(2 pt is just the default increment by the way, set that in InDesign > Preferences > Units & Increments, Mac, or the same under the Edit menu in Windows.) Holding down alt/option with the above shortcuts changes size by 10 pt increments.

Toggle preview mode: W

Make me a new document, on the double!: alt + command + N

Bring forward / Bring to front: command + ] / shift + command + ]

Send backward / Send to back: command + [ / shift + command + [

Paste in place: alt + shift + command + V

Paste without formatting: shift + command + V

Toggle OpenType case feature: shift + command + K

In pro fonts, the case feature may do more than set the selected text in all caps, for example in MVB Verdigris, it also adjusts the spacing to a looser, all cap spacing. In JAF Bernini Sans, it substitutes in a set of mid-caps drawn just shorter than cap height, but taller than small caps, for use setting acronyms in running text.

Quick Apply: command + return

Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 9.58.09 PM

This last one is really handy, particularly when applying things that don’t appear on the menus, such as custom styles you create. Also, things that do appear on the menus but are often quite buried, like OpenType features (all small caps or stylistic sets). By the way, if it’s accessible through the menus, you can make a shortcut for it.

I know I’m leaving plenty out for brievity’s sake; There are lots more. Consulting a good chart and familiarizing yourself with the unknowns is best.

Here’s how custom shortcuts are made

Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 11.39.49 PM

Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts… opens the dialog. From here, pick your commands and assign a key sequence. The dialog will alert you to conflicts should you choose something that’s already taken. You can also save your set. This is handy because InDesign will every so often misplace all custom shortcuts. As I mentioned in the intro, it works best for me to make custom shortcuts that are intuitively similar to standard ones.

Consider adding these to your list of custom shortcuts

Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 10.34.52 PM

It seems like I’m always using the Type > Change Case commands to capitalize a title or tone down some ALL CAPS. So for me, control + command + U / L / T / S gets me there.

Open baseline grid settings: shift + alt/option + ’

Here’s where I’m really looking for input: What’s missing from my list of suggestions—any shortcuts making your life better?

Mac-specific tip: This means Alt/Option.


Sometimes checking the menu because I’ve forgotten the shortcut doesn’t seem to clear up anything at all. Anyway, the above broken pair of salad tongs ⌥ refers to your alt/option key. The outlined up arrow ⇧ is shift, the chevron or up arrow resembling a caret or circumflex ^ is control, and the cloverleaf, clearly marked on the keyboard, is command.

Okay, that’s it. Thanks for reading and please leave your suggestions and ask your questions in the comments section below. This series, Using Type continues Thursday. Thanks to  Charles Bigelow & Kris Holmes’s Lucida Grande for setting the opening title, and quite a few of my menus.


Essay Text and Carter Sans

Today we look at the nice, natural relationship between Ellmer Stefan’s Essay Text and Matthew Carter’s eponymous Carter Sans, which was co-produced by Dan Reynolds.

The thing I see most pronouncedly in Essay Text is a deliberate leaving in of the details—things that would be stripped or otherwise rationalized away. To make it clear that these small touches (such as its pointed curves or a seemingly misplaced heaviness in the tail of the y)  have a purpose, the same are emphasized to allow demonstration of the principle.

Essay-Text-and-Carter-Sans-2 Essay-Text-and-Carter-Sans-3
Together with Essay Text, I’ve paired Carter Sans. A sans it is, though its flared terminals land this also in the category of Glyphic, or Thorn Serif. (The term glyphic here makes reference to lapidary inscription.) Carter Sans has a nice, hearty and uncomplicated feel to it. Seeing the two together was enough to convince me of their compatibility.
Essay-Text-and-Carter-Sans-4 Essay-Text-and-Carter-Sans-5

Great Pairs continues here Wednesday.

InDesign Defaults

When Matthew Butterick mentioned this series as a good online source for reading about typography, he also mentioned its general bias towards InDesign in the examples I give. That’s true. And while I deal with and have dealt with plenty of other tools, software and otherwise, for editing, writing, drawing, setting and composing what will ultimately become design that’s typographic in nature, InDesign, particularly the few-generations-old InDesign, is the one I regularly turn to when working with digital type.

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I have to a limited extent touched on the most popular typographic medium, hypertext, and its conveyance, your browser, but it’s still unnecessarily complicated to talk about a simple concept in a simple way, say, kerning, or small caps, when web standards aren’t there yet, and there’s no good way of ensuring that the results I’m getting are the ones you’ll get. Other stuff like columnar layout and text flow, H&J, baseline grids, and the ability to detect the size of final output, are altogether missing from browsers or in their infancy. All that, and the fact that a fixed medium  lends itself well to making a single set of arbitrary and finite adjustments here and there is one of the things that has always drawn me to print work, and for this specific purpose (demonstrating the principles of typography), caused me to remain with a tool made for print production. (That said, I do plan to focus more on typography in the new medium as part of Using Type, but I’ve had a good long run so far sticking to the basics in the old.)

Internal note

As a kind of wrap to what I’ve written in the series thus far I thought, ‘This writing isn’t really giving much of a glimpse into the typographer’s brain; more like the brain stem.’ These principles I’ve covered aren’t what typographers talk about, just as musicians rarely discuss fingerings, or emergency room doctors their stitching technique. These become built-in, and felt, and what happens beyond that point in the creative process becomes much harder to describe. That’s where I want to go though. At least get to something concrete that articulates a principle better than, ‘You’ve just got to feel it.’ There’s wisdom in following one’s instincts, but if the reader doesn’t see the reasoning that leads to the platform from which the typographer instinctively leaps—to the next decision, little good it does. Those benefited are almost exclusively the readers who already understand the concept, those who also ‘just feel it.’

Anyway, forget all this. I’ll get to it and either strike gold or retreat. Today, and over the next couple of weeks, I want to talk more about what happens inside that typographer’s brain stem. And this is shop talk, the painter reviewing his list of brushes and ladders, the photographer his lenses. Kind of as a last final rundown, I want to go specifically over the conscious decisions made working with InDesign before the first project file opens.

General note on setting defaults

When in InDesign, or any of the major CS or CC Adobe apps, the way to set a program-wide default is by setting something while no documents are open. To make document-wide defaults, (and I’m actually not sure this works everywhere) you specify something while nothing in the document is selected. There are other defaults, such as New Document and Print menu defaults, which are set within those menus using a Save Preset dialog.

The defaults

With no documents open, consider what to keep from what’s already chosen for you by default. In the Character palette, set the font family and size if you have one in mind. Here I set mine to Jordi Embodas’s Pona 9 pt and leave the leading set to auto. That’s what the parentheses mean.

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Now, this next part is important. Set the kerning value to Metrics. This, not optical, should be your default. See above.

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Also, through the top rightmost button on the Character palette, which looks like a tiny down arrow next to three horizontal lines, enable Ligatures and Contextual alternates. This last one allows for example complex connected scripts to work as intended.

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On to Paragraph. Select the Align to baseline grid option at the lower right. I also recommend hyphenation being on by default. Change if you disagree, or if the language you primarily work in doesn’t have a very good hyphenation dictionary or whatever.

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The place you set up the baseline grid is under (on the Mac) InDesign > Preferences > Grids, or the same under the Edit menu in Windows. Here I set my increment to 6 pt, and Start at the top, 0 in.

And of course I use points and inches because I’m an American, but if you’d prefer millimeters and centimeters, the same can be set one dialog up from Grids in Units and Increments.

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Unless you work primarily with Pro fonts, the following is ill-advised: Go to Advanced Type and set the Small Cap height to 25%. And while you’re at it, you may consider altering the superscript and subscript values. What will this do? Instead of InDesign surreptitiously inserting fake small caps, this setting will make all fake small caps terribly noticeable. You can then go and replace them with properly drawn and proportioned real small caps. The same goes with these settings for super- and subscripts.

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Lastly, hyphenation and justification. Follow these settings, referring to my post on the subject to know when to deviate, for example, when exporting a PDF to be read primarily on-screen you should never scale glyphs. These are set from the top rightmost corner of the Paragraph palette. After looking at it, I think I’ll have to revisit my decisions on the hyphenation of certain words or words that lie in precarious places.

That’s it for now. What am I leaving out? Next week we’ll continue on the subject of defaults. Thanks again goes to Jordi Embodas’s Pona (my new default!) for setting the title.

Berling Nova and Neuzeit S

Today we take a brief look at Karl Erik Forsberg’s Berling Nova and Wilhelm Pischner’s Neuzeit S.

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One thing quite evident in Berling Nova is its ability to set running text with confidence – the way it carries its weight, and how much it dares use in a text face. The complete set comes also with two display cuts, for larger work, above. Something about this face, its cleanness and lack of ornament led me to find a similarity with Neuzeit S, while looking through the Helvetica Alternatives FontList. Neuzeit S’s roundness, spareness, possession of eccentricity, and generous spacing is as much of a unifier as I required. Reading about our sans companion today, I found out that the S stands for Siemens, the original client for whom the face was made. Should you require more than two weights of Roman, Akira Kobayashi completed and re-released a set of optically corrected obliques in the Neuzeit Office set. A Rounded variant also exists.
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Together the two slip tightly into dominant and subservient roles, or mesh as well-fit, well-oiled gears.

Great Pairs continues here Wednesday.