Category Archives: Typographic Turn-ons

Typographic Turn-ons: The DL (Discretionary Ligatures)

The final installment of our turn-ons series. Hope it sufficiently steamed up your designs this week!


Script face seeks OpenType palette ready for discreet adventure – turning on discretionary ligatures a must. Ready to get everything out of how I was built. Open to experimentation to make my “Th” in “Throbbing” look subtly stunning. Up for roleplaying with some historical looks, such as the “st” in strap. Lest we get too crazy, must be okay with turning off certain discretionary ligatures to dial it back.

typeoturnons_type.cs5_to life & love

DIY: Dive into the Sudtipos catalog for hours of DL fun. For a non-script face, Mrs. Eaves is open to playing around.

Typographic Turn-ons: The Language of Love

Happy Valentine’s Day! Our penultimate post in our turn-ons series:


A train platform. A moonlit summer’s night. The air filled with smoke and revelry. Perhaps we’d make a great pair, but our languages are so different.

Judging by your accent, you may speak something Western Latin-based. Luckily my character set contains enough accents to support hundreds of languages in addition to English. I can totally be your Latin-based lover.


Hoping to hook up with someone who goes beyond the Latin-realm? You’ll find many faces that expand into Cyrillic and Greek. Fonts are increasingly extending into the realm of Arabic and Indic scripts too. Character-based languages such as Chinese, Japanese and Korean are also seeing more typographic development.

If you’re looking for someone who’s really been around the world, try a Unicode font.


DIY: Use the FontShop Language Filter to find typefaces compatible with whatever you speak. Any Pro FontFont supports all Western Latin-based languages. Check out Rosetta Type Foundry and Indian Type Foundry for some sultry selections of other scripts.

Typographic Turn-ons: Baby, I’m Kerning

Part three in our series:


Let’s face it, there’s something unspoken between us. No baby, it’s not the space between you and me, although sometimes it’s what’s between “u” and “i”.

I’ve been trying my darndest, but we’re just not fitting together right these days. Maybe it’s our increased size, but either we’re squishing into each other or we’re just too far apart. Frankly, it’s affecting my attraction to you.

There’s only one solution, sweet pea, we’ve got to kern. Our glyphs just need to get closer (but not too close) so that they fit better. And those times when we’re squished (especially when we’re playing as “scripts”), we need some positive kerning – pushing our characters farther apart.

typeoturnons_type.cs5_c'est la vie

I know, I know, you’re hesitant. Generally speaking, one doesn’t want to touch a type designer’s kerning. I mean, we were born this way. But y’know, sometimes I think we may have been born a text face, but with some manual kerning we could make it to a display. And yes, when we get that big, we look really loose. We’ve just got to pull it in a bit tighter.

Finally, if you’re not opposed to adding a third, I hear the best way to kern is to look at three letters at a time and make sure they look right.


DIY: Try your hand at tracking open and kerning Font Bureau’s William Caslon Text at a display size, such as in this photo.

Typographic Turn-ons: Sexy Swashes

Our  Typographic Turn-ons series continues.


He spotted her from across the room, her curves drawing him into the whole word, impossible to look away. Though italics always rang his bell, her forms brought something more to the table…he could never go back. Yes, he’d fallen head over heels for swashes.

Swashes derive from italics. When you look at the capitals from most italics, they’re just sort of oblique roman forms. Want to spice them up? Some fonts include extra glyphs to make those letters follow a more cursive construction.

typeoturnons_type.cs5_va va voom

Ready to start swinging with swashes? If swashes are available in your font, turn them on through the OpenType panel in your design program, or you can pick them one-by-one out of the glyph palette.

Contrary to popular assumption, swashes and flourishes are different – although if you want to get freaky with flourishes, by all means go ahead!

DIY: Want to find some sultry swashes! We recommend a dalliance with Farnham Display . We’ve also got a Fontlist full of Serifs with Swashes for you to explore.

Typographic Turn-ons: Contextual Alternate Lifestyles

Happy Valentine’s Week! Today we start our Typographic Turn-ons series for those who really love type and/or want to take their relationship with fonts to the next level. Check back here daily for tips and tricks to make your page sizzle.


Dear FontShop:

My partner and I are experiencing an awkward problem lately. Whenever we try to get cozy on the page, it seems our letterforms keep crashing into each other in a very unsexy way. The bigger we get, the more apparent this becomes. I’ve heard that contexual alternates may help, but it sounds a little scary. Any advice?

– Patty

Dear Patty,

It sounds as if you may be taking the wrong attitude toward contextual alternates. In fact, attitude is a perfect example of where this typographic feature will help. Don’t be shy, are your “tt”s jamming together? Turning on this feature (already built into your font) in your design program will make those letters better – and not look forced and awkward. If you’re a script face, you’ll really notice a difference and be as beautiful as you were designed to be.


Also, if you’re open to experimentation, may I recommend playing around with stylistic alternates as well? They just give you so many more options – you’ll never get bored. For example, if you have a lowercase a that defaults to a single-story “a” (in Apertura for example), but like a lot of people prefer a double-story, stylistic alternates will swap all those out. Same with hitting the right spot with a monocular or binocular “g”. Your font will have a default, which you’re probably using now. But to expand your options go to the OpenType menu within the Character palette in InDesign or Illustrator and start to play around in stylistic sets. Your world will never be the same.

Best of luck!

DIY: Spice up your week by trying Contextual Alternates in P22 Cezanne

Next Week: Typographic Turn-Ons


Have you ever been curious about contextual alternates? Sweat for swashes? Kinky about kerning? Don’t be embarrassed, we’ll indulge your font fetishes on the blog next Monday through Friday for Valentine’s Week. Get your scented candles, bubble bath and Barry White ready, next week we’re bringing you a Great Pairs series of a different kind – Typographic Turn-ons.

We suggest you read Meet Your Type as a primer and Typographic Horrors to remember what not to do (unless you’re into that sort of thing).

Watch this space and our Twitter and Facebook starting Monday!