Academic writing fonts

sjorsmahler's picture

Since I have very limited knowledge about typography, I'm reaching out to you guys for some help. I'm currently finishing my Master's thesis and looking for a nice typeface to go with it. I'm looking for a serif, but I don't want it to be too classical. What would you recommend for the body text? And for the headers?

Hope you guys can help me out. Thanks in advance!

hrant's picture

First things first:
- What is the thesis about?
- How long is it?
- What kind of illustrations?

hhp

sjorsmahler's picture

The thesis is a qualitative study about 'generational differences in cause-related marketing'. There are almost no illustrations, just some diagrams and a couple of tables. The thesis is approximately 35 pages long.
I find it important the font is easy to read and fits in an academic paper.

hrant's picture

Except for the thesis being qualitative the only real typeface selection "guidance" here seems to be the need for high readability (which was to be expected).

This makes me gravitate to recommending something from a personal favorite foundry: http://www.type-together.com/
Such as:
http://www.myfonts.com/fonts/type-together/essay-text/
or
http://www.myfonts.com/fonts/type-together/athelas/

hhp

R.'s picture

For an academic thesis, Essay Text feels too lyrical and playful to me with its rather modest x-height and its narrow, calligraphic italics. Athelas is probably a little better. But if you want something from Type Together, I’d rather try a more robust typeface, such as Adelle, Karmina or Skolar (now distributed via Rosetta). And speaking of Rosetta: Huronia is very nice. What’s also nice is that both Type Together and Rosetta offer educational discounts that you might profit from.

hrant's picture

Ah, good point on the educational discount.

hhp

sjorsmahler's picture

Thank you both a lot! I really like Huronia and Skolar, probably going with Huronia though. Little shocked by the prices, but the educational discount makes it a little better. Again, thanks!

R.'s picture

Nice to hear that you’ve found something to your liking! Don’t be shocked by the prices. Creating digital letters is a sophisticated and complex venture. It’ll take you between eight and ten hours on average—not for the whole font, mind you, for one glyph (≈ letter). The Rosetta fonts are very reasonably priced. I think you won’t regret licensing Huronia. It’ll make your thesis stand out for sure.

charles ellertson's picture

It’ll take you between eight and ten hours on average—not for the whole font, mind you, for one glyph (≈ letter).

I think I know what you mean, but as a whole, this could be misleading. Better, probably, to just give a time for, say, populating both *Controls and Basic Latin* plus *Controls and Basic Latin-1 Supplement* (basically, and older PostScript font, having about 190 glyphs out of the 256 available spots). That should not take 1,710 hours (about a full year, using a conventional 8 hour day minus vacations & holidays), even for four weights -- though it could be close, I suppose (though all four weights is not "a single glyph"). Finally, getting paid the full amount for each glyph's cost may be appropriate for commissioned work where there will be only one sale, harder to argue when a font is released as available for multiple users and multiple purchasers.

If your general point is that the price of $30-$40 each is rather too low even for retail fonts, I'd go alone with that. One technology back from PostScript (say, Linotron 202), the list price for a single font (e.g., just the roman) was about $150. Less for smaller players like Compugraphic, but that would be the price of a Linotype font for one of their digital machines like the 202 or 505. While it did take a little longer, production of those fonts didn't involve *substantially* more work than today's digital fonts.

But that number too can be illusory -- another marketing trick. If you bought a 20-font pack from Linotype & drew on it as you needed new fonts, you wound up paying about $50 a single font -- in 1980 dollars, of course, when a brand-new Chevy Malibu was about $6,000. So, closer to $200 a single font in 2015 dollars.

It's good to let people know the amount of work & attendant costs that go into font production, no need to use a number that could lead to confusion.

hrant's picture

Actually the figure of eight hours per letter might seem misleading, but to my surprised I fully realized its relevance a few years ago. The first outline font I made where time was no object resulted in that figure; so did my Mana grayscale bitmap fonts many years later! And at one point I read an account from a punchcutter of yesteryear (sadly I forget who) citing the same figure! So I think there's something there...

That said, it's also become pretty clear to me that few type designers are actually that meticulous; many of them whip out a complete font in days.

And of course, the amount a font house charges is very weakly correlated with the effort required...

hhp

charles ellertson's picture

Let's suppose it takes eight hours for a lowecase n. Your choices are now limited with the m, h, r, etc.. No, an h is not exactly an n with a stem, but there is a best answer, and it's close. You are not starting over. And those choices inform the b, etc. You pretty quickly get to a point where, while not falling off a log, subsequent letters in a series don't take anywhere near as long -- or you've got a wonky font, unsuitable for text, masters thesis or not.

Alternative for a M.A. -- take (& pass) your Ph.D. exams & just don't write a dissertation. They give you a M.A. for a consolation prize. Don't have to write anything...

hrant's picture

Of course I was talking about averaging. A binocular "g" for example can take as much time as half a dozen of the easier letters.

Also, I for one am not at all a fan of copy-paste modularity; I try very hard to make each letter itself (while not destroying the texture of the whole).

hhp

charles ellertson's picture

See
http://typophile.com/node/68060

On John Hudsons's pricing, character design averages $40/glyph, hinting $30/glyph, and $480/day for writing the features code. I've written a lot of feature code -- It would be an odd font for it to take me more than a few hours, except for kerning. It takes me around 12 to 18 hours to kern a roman font, and 6 to 12 hours for an italic, but that's for a working roman for academic publishing, which for me includes a lot more than 192 characters -- arbitrary fractions, true-cut superiors, small caps. etc.. For Latin Basic plus Latin 1 only, 8 hours for both positioning (includes kerning) and substitution features.

So, on John's pricing, $70 per glyph for design and hinting, on simple features (one day) add another $2.50/glyph, but realistically, I'd add $7.50/glyph. For very complicated fonts, the features code will take longer, but then, there will be more characters...

That yields between $72.50 and $77.50 per glyph. If each one takes you 8 hours, you may need another line of work -- your return would around $9.00/hr. The truth is, it doesn't take anyone 8 hours for each glyph. An "aacute," for example, doesn't take 8 hours over and above an "a" plus a "combining acute." Nor an "agrave," "acircumflex," etc. a comma and a period give the pieces for a colon & semicolon, though spacing may be a it different. But not 16 hours worth.

That was my whole point, someone saying "it takes 8 hours a glyph" is misleading, and in the end will lead to people not trusting what's generally calimed.

BTW, if you read the referenced post, those charges are for a commissioned work -- one sale only. Two things: (1) it does not take 8 hours per glyph, and (2) most fonts, like Huronia, are not commissioned work, but will be purchased by multiple buyers.

192 x $77.50 = $61,380. Seems a it high. If you have to sell the font for $35, you'll need to sell 1,753 copies to make the same amount of money. And while there are added costs for a full family, there are also econ0mies.

(By the way, for the Original Poster, John Hudson is Ross Mills business partner at Tiro Typeworks. Ross Mills did much of the work on Huronia, with Rosetta handling some further details. Ross will never get rich off Huronia, if you look at the pro version, you'll see it is a labor of love.)

In the end, while the publisher can always set the price as they choose, there is another party in all this, the user. If they feel a font overpriced, as long as there are alternatives, they won't buy. How hard the designer did or did not have to work isn't particularly relevant to them.

hrant's picture

Instead of basically calling us (at a minimum that's me, R and that forgotten punchcutter) liars, consider what we probably really mean. We're not talking about things like "n" and "ñ" each taking eight hours – certainly not just their black bodies. I for one don't produce fonts with very large character sets, so I'm not factoring in those armies of near-trivial composites. So, for example, when you divide the ~800 hours I spent making Maral with the number of character it has (~100), guess what you get. And there are characters in Mana that did take me way over 8 hours each.

you may need another line of work

NOW is my "labor of cultural love" finally sinking in? :-)
Or maybe you think I spend too much time on details you consider unimportant. You certainly wouldn't be alone. Well, I can totally live with that, and have been for over three decades.

hhp

charles ellertson's picture

Last time I looked, this was a users forum. "Typhophile > Typography/Composition." In such a forum, you might consider the needs of people who use type, rather than simply ignoring them.

The impression you give to those of us who use type is that ideally, type is created by artists. Like painting or sculpture, there are people out there who commission the artist to make fonts (for reasons unknown). For the masses to see type, I suppose the sale of fonts has to be to museums, like other works of art. The costs of all this are to recovered by the museum charging admission, where interested people pay to look at the fonts.

I don't know much about people who create type this way. Whatever. But if that is your model, there is little point in "instructing" all of us about all the time and skill involved, since we aren't the audience you're aiming at anyway.

There is a marketplace out there. If you can get $1,000 a font (I own Trinité, remember? A customer wanted it, and paid for it. But just one, no one else uses it.) do it. If, on the other hand, the marketplace refuses to pay the amounts you want to charge, you might want to reexamine your assumptions. If it takes you 1,750 hours to create 190 characters, but no one will pay $87,500 ($50/hr) for the font, what now? Most people who sell fonts would say, well, that time spent factor has to come down. By all means, make your own choices. But stop whining about it and asserting it is the norm. Pointless, in any case. You won't get much sympathy from the people who use type to create products.

I use type. I get $3.75 a page for the composition of scholarly monographs (not straight text), and have to compete with Asia, where for $3.00 a page, from a reputable company doing acceptable work, you can get (1) the printer-ready pdf, (2) an archival pdf, (3) a "Universal" pdf (contents page & maybe hooked up for on-line viewing), (4) a usable ePUB file to send to Amazon & Apple, and and (5) a TEI-encoded XML file. It would be silly for me to compete by claiming that all Asians are stupid and do shoddy work. Stupid, and racist.

And yes, occasionally someone on Typophile makes the claim that typesetting books yields $20 a page. Your statements seem about parallel to that situation. So we have to ask, "On exactly what data do you base your claims?"

And yes, it is a kind of a lie to imply that the way you would like to work, which is not supported by a marketplace, is how everyone should work.

hrant's picture

The impression you give to those of us who use type is that ideally, type is created by artists.

No, in fact I have little respect for Art, and typefaces do not belong in museums! When I made my Type Table, even though it was meant to celebrate type, I made sure the font remained usable:
http://www.typophile.com/node/28118

And yes, it is a kind of a lie to imply that the way you would like to work, which is not supported by a marketplace, is how everyone should work.

But when did I say that?
In fact it would be spineless and stupid of me to want others to be like me.

My only point is that some people do average eight or more hours per (non-trivial) glyph, and I suspect most of those do so because they feel it's the right way to do it; I know that's what I do it. You don't go to that level, because you're clearly a more astute businessman. I for one have never done any of the math you've been doing concerning $/hr etc. Only hr/letter, and only out of curiosity.

Just because I've want to make some money from type design (nevermind that spending time on Typophile isn't exactly good business sense...) you want to cast me as some sort of parasite, while in fact it increasingly seems like I'm much more idealistic than you...

hhp

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