'display' vs regular sizes

William Berkson's picture

I am completing a book, 'Sayings of the Sages', that I

keith_tam's picture

Yes, laser prints almost always give slightly thicker letters, so that might be why you find the display version a little bit nicer. But what you also have to take into account is the quality of the final offset printing. Are you using a coated stock? What resolution are you printing at? Computer-to-plate? There are so many variables. Let's say you're using a really high quality coated stock, printing at 3000+ dpi, computer-to-plate. You might find the display version of Minion too light and contrasty.


William Berkson's picture

Thanks, Keith. I guess I need guidance from the printer. The paper will not be coated, at least if I have a say. Overall, I'm surprised that there isn't more discussion of and guidance, eg. from Adobe, on when to use what weights, especially given that they are now doing the 'opticals'. To me, the digital versions of typefaces should be just as sensitive to the changes in size as were the original foundry type, and the typeface developer should give guidance to graphic artists on how to use them.

kentlew's picture

Also, if the regular weight looks too closely set in 11 point, but not in 10 point -- which seems counter-intuitive to me -- then I wonder if your printer's RIP might not be playing tricks on you. If it is not a true Adobe Postscript RIP, then it may not be correctly interpreting hints.

There are several versions of Minion. The regular Type 1 fonts, which were released initially (and which it sounds like you are using) were revised when the family was released as a Multiple Master set. As I understand it, Robert completely refitted the fonts in addition to tweaking some of the outlines. The MM fonts have an optical axis and allow greater range than the initial release.

I believe that the OT Pro series has been further tweaked. The OT opticals are labelled to indicate the intended use -- Caption for the smallest sizes, Text for normal text sizes, Subhead for the mid-range, and Display for headline and on up. I don't know if a layout feature has been implemented to automatically pull the outlines for the designated point size.

Personally I prefer the MM versions because they provide the greatest flexibility in matching the grading to the output.

-- Kent.

keith_tam's picture

> To me, the digital versions of typefaces should be just as > sensitive to the changes in size as were the original foundry type,

I couldn't agree more. I've recently bought several Adobe OpenType optical families but I have yet to see how well they perform in offset printing.

> and the typeface developer should give guidance to graphic artists on > how to use them.

Agreed. The names of the variants (subhead, caption, display, etc.) are quite elusive. But as I said, every job is different and there are so many variables. The optical axes of the Multiple Masters at least give you an indication of the specific sizes they are meant to be used at.


kentlew's picture

I have a PDF specimen of Warnock Pro which describes the following target sizes:

Caption = 6–8 point
Text = 9–14 point
Subhead = 14–24 point
Display = 24 point and up

I would assume that the same general ranges apply to the other Pro opticals.

-- K.

William Berkson's picture

Very interesting, Kent. Yes I am using the regular Type 1 fonts and an HP laserjet that is not a postscript printer, though I thought - perhaps mistakenly - that this didn't make a difference. Now I have to decide if I need to buy the MM or OT opticals instead. Are there others who can tell me their experience with these & Minion or other faces? I gather that Keith also also uses the MM fonts - am I right that Adobe has abandoned producing more of these?

On a separate matter, I also have to decide whether it is worth upgrading from PageMaker to InDesign for the typesetting features.

hrant's picture

> the digital versions of typefaces should be
> just as sensitive to the changes in size as
> were the original foundry type

In an ideal world, yes. But the simple fact is that a font designed for 8 point can in effect be used at 80, and when the necessarily ugly small master is seen large, the [dumb] user will say: hey, that's ugly, I regret buying it.

Trying to explain the subvisible realities of type/reading is extremely hard... even to type designers! :-/

> Caption = 6

kentlew's picture

>Very interesting, Kent. Yes I am using the regular Type 1 fonts and an HP laserjet that is not a postscript printer, though I thought - perhaps mistakenly - that this didn't make a difference.

I think it makes a difference. In your case, I would definitely not make judgements about the display versus the regular grades of Minion based on your laser output. I would rely instead on printed examples, especially if I could find specimens printed under similar circumstances as my target.

The choice to purchase the MM fonts is entirely yours and budget will necessarily be a factor. Adobe will not be creating any more MM fonts, but I still find the existing ones invaluable. In the event that MM becomes unsupported, one can always generate instances as regular Type 1 fonts.

That said, the regular release fonts look just fine, they just aren't as flexible in terms of fine-tuning — but we’re talking about being pretty darn picky here.

Hrant, I tend to agree more with your divisions. I was just reporting Adobe’s characterization.

— K.

John Nolan's picture

I wholeheartedly agree that MM technology is great, and all things being equal, I'd choose MM over Adobe's Opticals, but to my eyes the adjustments Slimbach made on Minion Pro resulted in a much nicer face, especially in the display cuts.

Adobe's site says that the Minion character set supports:
"ISO-Adobe 2, Adobe CE, Greek, Cyrillic, Latin Extended ". That makes it pretty useful....And: I don't think Adobe is selling the MM!

William Berkson's picture

Yes, when I checked Abobe, they weren't selling the MM Minion font. If, John and Kent say, Slimbach adjusted Minion several times, it may be that what I found problematic, he did as well. In any case, it looks like I need to spring for the 'Pro' version to be confident about the result.

As to the sizes of the different regular and optical fonts, to me sometimes a font will look good at 10 point but not at 12 or visa versa. Maybe I am crazy about this, but I think something objective is going on. For example with Adobe Garamond I did some booklets that were printed in 12 point and looked great. But I think at 10 point, Adobe Garamond, with its small x-height doesn't work so well. But I find similar things with explanations I can't come up with.

To me, one of the things about great typefaces like Goudy or Palatino or Times is that you can feel the look of the typeface on the page without looking at individual characters. But I have seen for example Palatino looking really elegant or clumsy. Maybe this is just graphic designers knowing how to us them, but I think sizes and weights that work best is also part of the story.

kentlew's picture

It's too bad that you can't still buy the MM fonts, even if they aren't supporting them or making more.

I agree that some typefaces will look good at one size but not a point or two smaller or larger. The thing that I found unusual was that you felt Minion was too closely set at 11 point, but not at 10 point. Generally speaking, the smaller the point size, the looser the fit should be; so if a font looks too closely fitted at one size, I would expect it to look even more so when set smaller.

-- K.

kentlew's picture

BTW, I see that the Kepler MM fonts are still available. Presumably Adobe will soon be releasing OT opticals of this face as well. I am sure that for most users who even care about optical designs, the current OT optical range is quite adequate. But for those who want maximum flexibility, you might consider getting these fonts before there gone. Kepler is a very friendly and versatile Modern/Didone design. I've enjoyed using it several times.

The potential downside is that direct support for MM at the app and system level may disappear (I seem to recall something about future versions of ATM dropping MM support) so you may need to be comfortable with getting under the hood and generating instances as Type 1 for them to continue to be useful into the future.

-- K.

William Berkson's picture

Kent, maybe I was analyzing it wrongly. Maybe what looks better is the weight of the letters. The darker letters seem to look better at smaller sizes. I am relieved to hear from you that it is not just my insanity to think that a point or two makes a difference in how welcoming and readable a given typeface design is!

William Berkson's picture

Update on Minion and display vs regular weights. Thanks to all for your advice on this. I now have Minion Pro and InDesign, and am resetting (and finishing writing) the book in this.

When I tested Minion Pro against the old Minion, I found that the Pro regular is actually slimmed down, looks better and sets narrower - almost identical to the old Display minion in setting, but a bit darker. My old problems with it are largely overcome in the new version.

I do feel somewhat validated in that Slimbach actually corrected what was bothering me!

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