Beginning a Font Collection

Daniel Poindexter's picture

Apologies in advance if this has been covered before. If so, please refer me to the thread and this will die a quiet death.

If not, what are your recommendations? I've basically just got the fonts that came with my computer, plus a few free fonts I was able to find. What fonts are essential for a collection? What fonts will be most widely useful in graphic design? What packages are cost-effective?

Please keep in mind that many people (read: me) cannot afford the wishlist fonts. I'm just trying to figure out a good, cheap starting point. Concurrently, if there are any font-purchasing strategies to avoid, please let me know.

John Hudson's picture

What software are you using? Do you have page layout software such as InDesign, or will you mainly be working with word processing software such as Word? Also, what operating system are you using? This will determine whether it makes most sense for you to buy OpenType fonts or 8-bit Type 1 or TT fonts.

I recommend investing in one full-featured family with a good range of weights and with smallcaps, ligatures, swash letters, etc. This will give you more practical flexibility than a lot of different fonts which don't have all the bells and whistles you need to do decent typography.

Thomas Phinney's picture

Also, are you on a Mac or on Windows? (Not that I'm trying to start platform wars, but that tells us what you got free with your computer.)

I like John's comment, but there are cases where you can do that sort of thing while simultaneously getting a large selection of fonts. Our own "Adobe Type Basics, OpenType edition" for instance. Some of the other foundries have something similar.

Also, are you perchance a student?

Regards,

T

Daniel Poindexter's picture

I am running a Windows machine with Photoshop, soon to have InDesign ad Illustrator. I am also a student, incidentally.

John, I like the idea of having at least one full set. What do you recommend?

Nick Shinn's picture

I wrote an article on this a couple of years ago for Graphic Exchange magazine, which you may find useful. While the selection of 22 typefaces may not be to everyone's taste (and I would certainly change a few if I were to revisit the topic today), the selection is based on balancing the requirements of a number of principals, in particular affordability, usability, and comprehensiveness: The Perfect Set (1.5mb pdf)

gerald_giampa's picture

Daniel

The quick answer for all bells and whistles is Caslon, Caslon or Caslon.

Adobe has one of them. I prefer our own. There is yet another in England. All have different typographical attitudes.

This is ours. Lanston Caslon Oldstyle No. 337
http://www.lanstontype.com/CaslonFountEight.html

I would love to tell you why you should chose ours but Thomas is bigger than me, younger too. Besides this is a type forum so we don't ever advertise here.

Gerald Giampa
Lanston Type Company

Thomas Phinney's picture

I work at Adobe, but I honestly believe this is an amazing deal for somebody in exactly your situation. For students who are interested in serious typography, who also use InDesign and Illustrator, OpenType fonts with bells and whistles are of particular interest. In this area (or even without the OpenType angle) there is really one outstanding foundational choice, which is Adobe Type Classics for Learning.

http://www.adobe.com/education/ed_products/typeclassics.html

Full list of fonts is here:
http://www.adobeforums.com/cgi-bin/webx?50@29.VqUAbAGuOWS.0@.1de6de55

Only for students: over 400 fonts, only $99. All families represented are complete, in that all weights, widths and optical sizes Adobe has available are present.

I'd be really curious to hear some of the other folks on the list evaluate some of the options presented.

T

William Berkson's picture

The Adobe Classics for Learning is an amazing value, a must have if you are a student.

Nick Shinn's list is wonderful in having very high quality fonts with different looks and feels, and serving many needs, but it would cost way more.

You might consider getting Adobe student collection, and then start adding by looking at Houses with different aesthetics to supplement: brouse the libraries of FontBureau, Emigre, FontFont. And then look at the fonts of individuals, such as those who post here. Don't fail to look at the Dutch houses who are supurb and an education just to look at, even if you can't afford them.


Nick Shinn's picture

>I work at Adobe, but I honestly believe this is an amazing deal...

Thomas, playing the huckster, without shame, and no regard for conflict of interest, does not become you.

Keep your eyes open, Daniel. Don't stunt the growth of your typographic personality. Stay away from Adobe's sanitized, corporatized versions of the classics. These are many of the same fonts they distribute free by the million with their software apps. They saturate the professional graphics industry, homogenizing its typography. The bland leading the blind. Get a real education. Follow the path less trodden. Explore the wilderness.

hrant's picture

Until 1995 I would have recommended nothing but Caslon. But then MS released Comic Sans.

hhp

nwe44's picture

I agree with a lot of what Nick Shinn wrote in his article.

As a student toolbox, the Adobe student offer looks good but for the interesting ommision of Univers, Helvetica and Akzidenz. (Incidently, why is this? Is Helvetica just too good a seller? Is Myriad supposed to be there instead? I guess Akzidenz is not distributed by Adobe.)

____
Nick

Thomas Phinney's picture

I will simply note that it would be quite possible for Nick to communicate his general perspective without being... well, I guess I just shouldn't go there.

On to some more interesting discussion.

Bye,

T

nwe44's picture

Sorry, you're right, I thought that just after pushing post.

My apologies


____
Nick

hrant's picture

> without being...

candid.

And Nick, he must've meant the other Nick.

hhp

nwe44's picture

ah.

___
Nick

William Berkson's picture

Nick, you yourself recommend Adobe Garamond and Myriad in your list. The $99 for the student deal gets you those and more.

Not being in this game I have a different perspective: I would be glad to hear from you pros what you think is your best stuff - and that of others. I don't see anything wrong with it.

Your list is really interesting, and includes one of your own. And I don't think you were being a 'huckster'.

When people have poured their heart into producing something of value, I just don't see why they can't say they love it, even though it is for sale. We are smart enough to take into allowance the source, and discount accordingly.

In the case of Thomas, he identified his bias, and to me that makes his recommendation very fair and above board. Same with Giampa. People can look and make up their own minds. Advertising is just not 'dirty', so long as it is honest.

Nick Shinn's picture

Well William, I recommended Adobe Garamond as the "full sort" typeface. That was a couple years ago, before OT was so viable. Now there is a larger choice of typefaces that have all the bells and whistles.

Also, my list was for an educational establishment, and as you say William, individuals should personalize more.

I've been using Adobe Garamond since it came out. It was the first digital font with all the typographic goodies, and I loved it. As I say in my article, it restored the diginity of the Garamond line.

However, I recently received a book of poetry from a friend (the designer) who had set it in Adobe Garamond, and it has become so overexposed it just looked so bland and like a corporate brochure, I couldn't bring myself to read it.

Myriad I recommended as the most affordable extended-family sans, which was true. However, I have become increasingly anti-Adobe recently (primarily for their marketing policies, and that tends to color my feelings towards their type designs), and sensitive to plagiarism, and am now very critical of Myriad (along with FF Transit and Prima) as a knock-off of Frutiger.

So, in my list of recommendations, I compromised for affordability. Damn, it's so easy to get corrupted by money.

OK, you're right, Thomas did identify his bias, but he went ahead and used the phrase "amazing deal" anyway, as if identifying one's bias makes it then OK to be a total hypemeister.

The Display and Novelty fonts in the Adobe Type Classics for Learning are a terrible collection of cliches. Did Adobe actually consult with anyone in Education before putting together this collection? I doubt it.

While I'm on this hobby horse, many of the Type Classics are not even remotely classic! Chapparal, Warnock, Cronos, Nueva? Perhaps Myriad, Minion can be considered to have become classics recently, but in general the name of this package is somewaht misleading -- hardly the way to package a product for education.

In fact, some of the only classics here are those that Adobe elsewhere identifies as Adobe Originals -- Caslon, Jenson, Garamond. Talk about NewSpeak!

hrant's picture

Nick, I have to say I don't think it's "hype" if he simply means it - and I believe he does.

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

Hype is hype (ie exaggeration), irrespective of intent.

Given Adobe's near monopolistic position in type distribution for professional graphic designers, it's hard to consider Adobe Type Classics for Learning to be an "Amazing Deal" -- it's their usual deal, giving away fonts for next to nothing. Is anybody really amazed any more that they do this?

I would be pleasantly surprised if they had consulted with several leading typographic educators, and put together a package that showed more taste, restraint and accuracy.

Actually, a few years ago, I would have expected that. In the little "Adobe Type Library" catalogs (Type Guide), there is a very useful exposition of type styles; these categories could have been in some way integrated with a selection of Typefaces for Learning -- that would have been a more serious approach to education.

hrant's picture

But maybe Thomas is amazed. That would make it non-hype.
An opinion difficult to back up, perhaps, but not hype

hhp

John Hudson's picture

John, I like the idea of having at least one full set. What do you recommend?

If I were in your position, thinking of licensing a single family with the intent of really putting it through its paces and relying on it for a lot of work, I would consider Monotype Ehrhardt. I'm always amazed by how underused this great and pleasantly dark typeface is.

Nick Shinn's picture

Hrant, Thomas said he believed that the deal was amazing for somebody in Daniel's position, not that he was amazed by it himself. In fact, he does not even have to be amazed by the deal, in order to sincerely believe that it will amaze Daniel, which is what he said. However, as you say, maybe he's amazed.

John: Ehrhardt, making very serious sense. Which leads me to this:

Maybe we're going about this the wrong way, thinking that you have to start off a collection with a massive value-for-money deal.

Daniel, you did name the thread "Beginning..." why not acquire your "library" on a per-project basis?

gln's picture

I am running a Windows machine with Photoshop, soon to have InDesign and Illustrator. I am also a student, incidentally.

Both InDesign and Illustrator come with more than enough free fonts to get you started.

Maybe Thomas Phinney could elaborate on what free fonts are included with these programs.

I agree with John Hudson that you invest in one or two full-featured families with a good range of weights and with smallcaps, ligatures, swash letters, etc.

gln

John Hudson's picture

Daniel, if you are using Photoshop and will soon have InDesign and Illustrator, I seriously recommmend investing in OpenType fonts and not bothering with any Type 1 fonts unless there is a family you really, really want that isn't available in OT format yet. Not only will the OpenType fonts take advantage of the added OT layout features in those applications, they will be more versatile in your other Windows apps using Unicode encoding and, if you upgrade to the Longhorn operating system when it comes out (2005?) you'll get rich typography in all your Windows apps. Type 1 is an obsolete format whose days are numbered.

Nick Shinn's picture

>an obsolete format

That's not true John, Type 1 is still the graphics industry standard, by a huge margin.
I don't believe buyers are even requesting OT fonts from retailers.

However, your advice is good and practical, it just seems strange that a young designer will be using InDesign on a PC, with OT fonts -- because this is so differetn from the way the industry (certainly the print industry, stuck in 1997 with Quark on OS 8 or 9) actually functions!

Grant Hutchinson's picture

> That's not true John, Type 1 is still the graphics
> industry standard, by a huge margin. I don't
> believe buyers are even requesting OT fonts from
> retailers.

At Veer, we still get a significant number of customers asking specifically for Type 1 PostScript versions of fonts from the Adobe library, even though the entire PostScript side of the product line has been deprecated. The only other major vendor with a library in OpenType format is Elsner+Flake. That leaves a lot of mighty usable, popular, and desireable non-OT faces out there, don't you agree? Not every library is going to be OpenType right away - if ever. Even the bulk of the converted Adobe doesn't take advantage of the really cool features and glyph substitution that OpenType has to offer. There are countless smaller productions shops alongside large in-house agencies which simply cannot afford to simply change over to using another type format (as good as it is). In some cases, it's akin to switching computer platforms. Like it or not, PFBs and bitmap suitcases are going to be with us for a hell of long time yet.

antiuser's picture

> if you upgrade to the Longhorn operating system when it comes out (2005?)

Microsoft is saying 2006 now.

Grant Hutchinson's picture

Or later...

John Hudson's picture

That leaves a lot of mighty usable, popular, and desireable non-OT faces out there, don't you agree?

I didn't say that Type 1 fonts are obsolete in themselves -- they are still widely supported and useable and, yes, there are still lots of fonts that are only available as Type 1. What I said is that the format is obsolete, but which I mean it a) has been superceded by a superior format (superior in all the ways that TT has always been superior, and also smaller and more efficient, a single cross-platform binary, etc.), b) is inherently limited to 8-bit codepage support in an increasingly Unicode text processing environment, c) fails to take advantage of new features in major applications and systems. Continued support for the Type 1 format must be understood as backwards-compatibility support. When I said Type 1's days were numbered, I meant that this backwards-compatibility support is not going to continue indefinitely. My guess is that MS will be the first to stop offering system support for Type 1. Then either Adobe will have to restart the ATM programme (unlikely, since they want to kill off Type 1), or some third party will provide a user-installable Type 1 rasteriser (FreeType?), or Type 1 simply won't be useable on Windows. The history of type is littered with dead font formats, many of which were once the dominant formats for entire industries. Just because you have a lot of Type 1 fonts doesn't mean they're going to be supported forever.

Daniel Poindexter's picture

Some very interesting stuff posted here. I'm sorry I haven't been able to get back to it sooner, but I really appreciate all of the input.

So far, the two approaches recommended seem to be to aquire a large, nonspecific collection at bulk prices, and go from there, or to start with widely applicaple individual families and add on one by one.

To tell you the truth, I'm still torn. Does anyone else have anything to say on this topic? I don't have a lot of "jobs" per se; I'm not a professional and I'm probably not going to become one, so I don't know if it makes much sense to get them on a per job basis. Not to mention, I wouldn't necessarily know what specifically was needed for a job to begin with. I am, however, very interested in good typography and design, even if it's not commercial. I'll do it for myself if no one else.

I don't know if this helps. Maybe it just makes it more complicated. The three complete serif families tht have been recommended are Caslon, Adobe Garamond, and Monotype Ehrhardt. Are there any other recommendations in this line? What serif families would you recommend for a variety of weights?

Thomas, a question on the Type Classics for Learning package: Is at least one of the serif fonts offered the Open Type version that would include all the aforementioned bells and whistles? I couldn't tell from the PDF.

hrant's picture

What about this approach: Picture the kind of jobs in your future that would suit your purposes (in terms of both spiritual and matrial reward). Then tell us what those would be, and maybe we can recommend suitable fonts.

Or maybe you should wait for the jobs first! Otherwise I'd say just get fonts that turn you on personally.

hhp

Daniel Poindexter's picture

"Or maybe you should wait for the jobs first! Otherwise I'd say just get fonts that turn you on personally."

Yes, I'd say that was more or less what I was implying. But I also recognize that I have a very limited knowlege base, hence the recommendations.

hrant's picture

If you want high-quality type that's also underused (always an advantage), I think you should take a close look here: http://www.stormtype.com

hhp

refusenik's picture

>> superior in all the ways that TT has always been superior


Ah, this is interesting and something I'd really like to understand: How exactly are TT fonts superior to Type1 fonts?

I mean ok, I have so far understood that they are different in that TrueType uses quadratic beziers while Type1 uses the cubic variety, but how does that make one superior to the other? I had been explaining this difference myself as akin to how Illustrator (cubic) and Flash (quadratic) handle vector data, but this does not really suggest a qualitative hierarchy to me yet, so there must be more.

Let me put it like this: If you buy a set of fonts and the set includes both T1 and TTF versions of the same font, which one would you use and why?

kakaze's picture

TT is superior to T1 because it offers much better hinting and more than 256 glyphs.

T1 is superior to TT because the cubic beziers generally have fewer points and can provide better quality.

As far as T1 being obsolete...that's technically wrong. T1 as we know it today, with the .pfm and .pfb (screen fonts and suitcases on the mac side) files will eventually become obsolete. But the basics of the T1 format still live on inside of Opentype. Opentype .otf files are T1 outlines inside of an Opentype wrapper. While it supports the extended glyphs it doesn't support the advanced hinting that you get with standard TT fonts or TT fonts with an Opentype wrapper (which are still shown as .ttf and not .otf)

John Hudson's picture

But the basics of the T1 format still live on inside of Opentype. Opentype .otf files are T1 outlines inside of an Opentype wrapper.

No, that is not correct. PS-flavoured OpenType fonts contain CFF format font data, not Type 1. Yes, the two are related and both use the same kind of cubic bezier outlines -- although expressed in a different way in the binary --, but CFF is a different font format. This is really obvious when you consider that CFF and Type 1 require different rasterisers. This is why I suspect MS will be the first to ditch Type 1 support: they don't want to maintain three different system rasterisers, one of which is for a format that they consider inferior and obsolete.

One of the key things that made TT superior to Type 1 from the beginning is the extensibility of the sfnt font structure. The table structure of the sfnt format is what makes OT fonts possible; without it, we wouldn't be able to have a single binary format capable of containing different outline types. Type 1 fonts were a developmental dead end.

John Hudson's picture

T1 is superior to TT because the cubic beziers generally have fewer points and can provide better quality.

Cubic beziers require fewer points to define the same -- or very similar -- curve. The actual quality of the curve depends on how many points you want to use and, indeed, what kind of curve you want. The main advantage of cubic beziers is that they are easier to design with, but that has always struck me as a tool issue. It is possible to conceive of a native TT outline editor that would allow you to assign editing properties to points in the same way as you can specify a PS node as being smooth or tangent. Of course, the advantage of the TT quadratic b-spline outline is that both on- and off-curve points can be addressed in hinting.

kakaze's picture

I thought CFF was a form of compression?


And doesn't Fontlab let you edit in native truetype?

Daniel Poindexter's picture

In terms of the value of Adobe packages, I'd prefer not to get any fonts that I'm not going to use, but it seems that if I'd end up spending $200 to get an Adobe serif with all the bells and whistles, it's just better to spend $99 to get four of these, and just discard the stuff I don't need.

bieler's picture

Isn't FontLab supposed to be bringing out a new version of TransType (Pro?) that will allow batch conversion of T1 libraries to OT?

bieler's picture

Daniel

Very good idea. You've got my vote. But don't discard the stuff you don't need. Needs and wants have some very funny ups and downs over time.

Daniel Poindexter's picture

Dang, Hrant, I love Storm's stuff. Not sure I know enough to know why, but oh well. Just out of curiousity, which ones do you like from Storm?

bieler's picture

Daniel

FYI: You can get the Adobe OT "starter" packet for $89.95 (free shipping) from AcademicSuperstore.com. You need to provide proof of your academic credentials (student or educator).

hrant's picture

> T1 is superior to TT because the cubic beziers generally have fewer points and can provide better quality.

The only time cubic splines give better quality is when a given designer has trouble getting used to quadratics. And if you count the total number of points (on- and off-curve), the two schemes use the exact same number of points!

--

> Storm

What I liked most from Storm is gone - not a font, but a bit of explanation: in his explanation of Biblon he used to have a heated lambasting of ITC for requiring that he iron out all the wonderful idiosyncracies, otherwise they wouldn't release it - after he had signed a contract. The only trace of the lambasting left is this: "Their pastime is giving other people's type faces more decent look."

As for the fonts, Biblon still has an ingenue charm, but Tyfa and Serapion are more versatile. And among the sans designs I like Farao, Lexon and Sebastian.

hhp

John Hudson's picture

I thought CFF was a form of compression?

It is compact -- hence the name, Compact Font Format --, but it is not simply a compression of a Type 1 font. CFF uses Type 2 charstrings.

And doesn't Fontlab let you edit in native truetype?

Yes, but you work directly with the TT outline format, which doesn't include any ability to assign properties to on-curve points such as one has in PS editing. My point is that it would be possible to design an editing layer on top of the native outline that would make it easier to work with TT outlines. For example, at the moment if you want a smooth transition through an on-curve point on a diagonal you have to put in a guideline and manually make sure that appropriate points are aligned along it; there is no way to define a point as a smooth transition in the TT format, but that doesn't necessarily mean that one shouldn't be able to for editing purposes. I was discussing this a couple of years ago with Sampo Kaasila, the inventor of TrueType, and he expressed surprised that no one had made a really good and easy to use TT editing environment.

gerald_giampa's picture

Multiple weights are typefounders buff. I am not against a bold typeface, but common kids, who is fooling who with the click the autobold routines.

hrant's picture

> so incremental that you would be hard pressed finding the real face.

Fine gradations of weight are very useful for optimizing the setting depending
on point size (think optical scaling), ink gain, positive/negative rendering, etc.

hhp

gerald_giampa's picture

(think optical scaling)

I agree, but that's a variant species of mammal. Optical scaling requires additional treatments, subtle x-heights manifestations and perhaps in minuscule sizes, ink traps.

Naturally such things have little to do with this suggestion.

full-featured family with a good range of weights

However I have some things I would like to go over with you. An early digital project at Lanston. It was abandoned when T1 became the norm. This is not a good time for me though, the wife has family over for Christmas.

hrant's picture

> Optical scaling requires additional treatments

Of course, but every little bit helps. And color is right up there with vertical proportions in terms of importance (since you can always set a font looser, and trapping is a refinement), so having a slightly darker weight of a font when you set some footnotes or captions is nice.

--

BTW, I like the nautical excuses much better.

hhp

gerald_giampa's picture

So do I.

blairyo's picture

The December 2003 issue of Digit magazine (http://www.digitmag.co.uk/backissues/), has Canvas 7 for Mac and PC and a fine selection of URW fonts in both Type 1 and TrueType formats.

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