Example test words for aesthetics - and umlauts too

ebensorkin's picture

The type community has a variety of means for testing characters - pangrams, brute force testing, language based character frequency lists ( and words ), all of which are good, but I may have thought of another wrinkle. No doubt others have preceded me if it's a good idea (or perhaps it's a silly one), but in any event:

What do you think of making a shared Unicode text file that has words made to highlight a glyph in use? It's purpose could extend to kerning etc but the emphasis I want to give the list is aesthtic and and to a certain extent cultural and linguistic.

So for example for C, I think Cancer & CANCER are quite good. These two forms of the word seem like an elegant and concise way of examining if you like the way the C & c in your font looks. For Cap W I think WAVE, Wave, LAWYER, Lawyer would be good ones to use. The idea being that when a glyph has cases where it fits well and also where it sometimes fits poorly ideally they should both be presented. It would probably be good to have 3-5 words in each case to allow for a variety of aesthetic issues and combinational issues like double letters, round vs. flat neighbor glyphs and position in the word as well. So for C again maybe we would have cc: (the contaction), PINOCCHIO, Pinocchio, as well as a word with c At the end like ZINC, Zinc. And maybe one or two more.

The real reason I started thinking like this has nothing to do the glyphs used in English. Instead, I started thinking about this when I was looking at glyphs whose diacritics seemed especially aesthetically challenging because of their novelty. And what I wanted to see was a word that used them so I could start to build aesthetic context. Of course it would be good to have samples of the glyphs in use to look at too but what I want to have words which highlight the aesthetic concerns for glyphs like: ẗ, ť, ǻ Ǻ and ď etc. Ideally someone from or well versed in the cuture or cultures that use the glyph would give the examples.

Let me know if these last glyphs don't render for you. They were: latin small letter t with diaeresis, latin small letter t with caron, latin small letter a with ring above and acute, latin capital letter a with ring above and acute, and latin small letter d with caron.

Does something like this exist already?

Obviously there is

http://diacritics.typo.cz/
and
http://diacritics.typo.cz/index.php?id=10

Which will continue to improve (and provide in-use examples) which is excellent!

But for the purposes of testing my fonts I would like to go further and have a text file like the one I have described as well!

What do you think?

William Berkson's picture

Tiffany Wardle mentioned that she tries setting her full name in the type as a test, not out of vanity, because it shows how the characters work.

Generalizing this, I find that a good aesthetic test is to set proper names in the type, perferably somebody you know and respect, either current or historical.

Somehow the emotional weight of a proper name, and thinking of it on a letter head or sign makes the success or failure of the glyphs more obvious.

Miss Tiffany's picture

Well it might be a little bit to do with vanity. :^/ But I always look for the double-f ligature as well as how the Ti and Wa have been kerned. If those three things are there it shows a certain level of attention to detail. IMHO

ebensorkin's picture

Those are interesting points! I shall add Tiffany to my T and/or f lists!

Any more?

Bill, Tiff:

Does my distinction re: aesthetics vs kerning value work for you or not really? Maybe I should rephrase. I thought the word 'cancer' was an excellent test word not just because it has a 'c' at the beginning & in the middle but because it does a good job of showing the 'c-ness' of the c's used in it. Perhaps I am just being odd.

Grot Esqué's picture

Töötätä – to honk
Hämäläinen – a finnish last name or a person from a certain area in Finland
Tänään – today
Yö – night

William Berkson's picture

Well, I don't know. To me it's important to put a letter between both straight and round letters to see how it relates. You can use all kinds of words for the goal here, like 'rhythm' and 'color' and 'notan', but this is all about getting the letters to work together. To me there's an additional 'pizzaz' factor, which is that it doesn't only work, but brings some beauty or excitement or authority to the words.

I switch back and forth between faces, comparing the same name in the Preview Panel in my typeface and in other type faces I admire. This is a humbling experience! When mine starts to look better to me, in some respects anyway, I figure I'm getting somewhere.

ebensorkin's picture

Wow! Thank you!

Can you tell me about these words?

Are there Words with ö as the 1st letter? The last? These would be Suomi( Finnish ) words. Correct?

BTW, Anybody can have a copy of this doc when I am done making it or take it to modify for their own use.

Grot Esqué's picture

Veistämö – carving workshop or something like that
Öylätti - I don’t know what this means but I’m pretty sure it’s a word… :^)
Äänestää - to vote

And yes, these are Finnish. So that was the learn a word of Finnish this week.

Edit: Yes, öylätti is a word. It means a host as in (from Wikipedia) A host is a thin, round wafer made from bread and used for Holy Communion in many Christian churches.

ilmiö - phenomenon
šakki - chess

ebensorkin's picture

Awesome! Your the best Lari!

BTW - I Found a way to use Wikipedia to help me. Not as Good as having Lari's direct insight of course but...

For A breve I found : căciulă . I don't know what it means yet, but bit by bit. Now to find a Cap A breve word.

Lari, do you speak other languages too? Besides English obviously! ;-)

Grot Esqué's picture

Well, yes. I speak Swedish and German. Why?

Grot Esqué's picture

… :^O

Åbo – the swedish name of Turku
Uleåborg – the swedish name of Oulu
Über

Generally fonts don’t look as good when you set Finnish with them compared to English. Finnish sentences contain long words and the words contain lots of double consonants. Plus many finnish words are really boring, like koko (size/whole). Maybe they could be fixed with alternate glyphs that were almost identical but not quite.

ebensorkin's picture

I see you got me already. I was just writing: 'I was wondering is you have aesthetic favorite words that use: double s/eszet. Or Aring /Å ... and so on.'

BTW - Would you have any use for this document I am making?

I am keen on making fonts that have nice diacritics and vary their glyphs in the way you describe.

Grot Esqué's picture

Schaiße, of course.
Also, Spaß, Straßenbahn, Schlafmütze.

Yes, I’d like to get your finished document. I love to have a need for it soon, that is get some of my duhsigns into Fontlab and polished.

It’s great that you’re interested in this. Some otherwise usable fonts have bad umlauts.

ebensorkin's picture

Would you mind having a look at a monospace in PDF to comment on some umlauts? Oddly enough I was just working on them. Now it's the Macrons.

I will send it to you then. I have no idea how long it will take to do - maybe a year. But if you don't mind I'll send you beta versions for comment.

dezcom's picture

There was I thread I started a year or 2 ago regarding very long German words and Czech words with few vowels. Several Typophilers including some of our Finn members contributed some wonderful vowel-rich long words. Lari and Mili were part of it. I have to think of some good search words to find it.

Eben, I think different language text really helps. Itallian is very rhythmic and even while the CE countries texts are much more likelyto be incluusive of typographic kerning issues. I use both in testing (among others).

ChrisL

ebensorkin's picture

I will have to look for that thread. Thanks for your comments!

I will keep watching this thread for pointers from my fellows here and then begin making the document next week.

dezcom's picture

Eben,
The following is some silly text which I wrote in 2004 to test my first text face. I don't know that you would call it aesthetic but perhaps just silly. I was just trying to think of words with certain letter combinations and then just free associated stream of conciousness bable.

ChrisL

________

Rainy Days and Sundays always get Quaint affluent Taffy vendors officiating Quid pro quo an aggast angler drew his rod and rheeled in a big fish therefore no bread was had by anyone save for the birds of prey who were polluting where they may willy-nilly down the road of life from now until the hereafter fun fascia fell fondled from here to eternity many may mourn her passage though. “Lord Save us!” she said. Hath no women scorned been here to see the debackle? Rally Round the Flag Boys and quit calling me sweetheart before I plant you perminently in the Petunias Portnoy!

Red Roses Rested Religiously as Ghosts of Christmas Past Paddled Saucy Sail Boats. What Wretch is this when Giddy School Girls Blossom Eating Fowl from a farthing’s fling. God save King John

dezcom's picture

Eben,
Here is that link from last year that I told you about:

http://typophile.com/node/21117

ChrisL

ebensorkin's picture

Thank you & Thank you!

I like your free associations & pangramic style. If this I am making is good there is reason it should not be a bit poetic. Thanks for reminding me of that!

William Berkson's picture

>Some otherwise usable fonts have bad umlauts.

Since Finnish seems to give umlauts the biggest work-outs, I'd be interested in what you think makes for bad and good umlauts. Could you give some examples and say what you think is good and bad about them?

poms's picture

Maybe helpful – some words in german with umlauts.

Täler. Töten. Tücher. | Tä; Tö; Tü
Während. Wörter. Wünsche. | Wä; Wö; Wü
Räkeln. Röhre. Rüssel. | Rä; Rö; Rü
Gänse. Gönner. Güter. | Gä; Gö; Gü
Sämig. Sören. Sümpfe. | Sä; Sö; Sü
Lächeln. Löschen. Lüstern. | Lä; Lö; Lü
Änderung, Österreich. Üppig. | Ä; Ö; Ü

> bad umlauts
I'm interested in your examples also

ebensorkin's picture

It's not that the umlauts are good or bad - it's their form that is less or more ideal I suspect. Bad looking umlauts would be interesting. And good looking ones too.

Grot Esqué's picture

Note that these are just my personal opinions. This is no way the worst umlauts ever list, I just randomly browsed my library for examples. Also, I’m no font designer.


The lower case umlauts look too big, the letters cannot carry them so to speak. Compare to Helvetica:


I personally don’t like umlauts that are so close to the letter. (Upper case.) Though Meta’s umlauts are big, I think the letters can handle them quite nicely.


Almost perfect.


These are nice, too. I write umlauts like this myself, two vertical lines. Some people write one horizontal.


These should be moved just a bit to the right. This is something I notice relatively often.

William Berkson's picture

Thanks so much Lari! I haven't seen such a comparison and analysis anywhere else, so it's really helpful.

One more issue, which I raised in another thread, concerns the height of the single dot--over the i and j--compared to the umlaut. Do you see any fonts with higher i dots than umlauts, and that work? In the font I am working on, Caslon, it traditionally has rather high dots on the i and j. Currently I have the umlauts smaller and lower. Have you seen this work, or only with all the same height?

kentlew's picture

William --

Whitman's dieresis is smaller and lower than the dot on the i. I don't think this is uncommon.

One of the first magazines to adopt Whitman as part of their type palette (alongside Relay) was the Finnish magazine Trendi. The art director told me in an e-mail "Whitman seems to tackle the strange Finnish language very well." So, I can only assume that the relation of the i-dot and the dieresis characters is acceptable.

-- Kent.

dezcom's picture

Whitman does far more than the acceptable, it is flat out gorgeous!

ChrisL

mili's picture

One font where the umlauts are, in my opinion, in a totally wrong place.

http://typophile.com/node/29532

dezcom's picture

Mili, can you explain why the umlauts are so wrong in that face? I am just reying to make sure I do them correctly in my own typeface designs and don't make the same mistake.

ChrisL

mili's picture

I mean the one in all caps with the umlauts "embedded" in the font, so that the A part looks smaller than the rest of the letters. I just find it ugly and difficult to read.

dezcom's picture

Mili, would you mind if I sent you samples of my typefaces in Finnish to look at and see if my diacritics are correct?

ChrisL

mili's picture

Not at all, Chris. Remember, though, I'm not a type designer, just interested in type.

dezcom's picture

Thanks Mili. That is exactly what I need, a users eye--and one well aquainted with reading Finnish glyphs :-)

ChrisL

William Berkson's picture

Hi Kent, great to see you on typophile once again. I only see the diaresis a bit on the PDF on your personal site. There it seems that the i dot is only slightly higher than the dieresis. What I do notice especially is that you've given a comfortable amount of 'air' between the letters and the dieresis. As excessive tightness is one of the 'bad' features that Lari illustrated, perhaps this is what the Finns liked about your handling of the dieresis or umlaut. At any rate, with your example and the Meta regular weight, I have a pretty good idea of where to go.

Thanks!

ebensorkin's picture

Mili, would you comment on these umlauts?

http://typophile.com/node/29761

Looking at your comments I wonder if I should alter mine.

Thanks!

Choz Cunningham's picture

I'm late to the party, but I have to say I use my name not out of vanity, but because I have a good solid idea of what it should look like virtually any face, even if I've never seen it before. More precisely, in a new face, I can tell instantly if it looks like it should more quickly than just about any other phrase.

Another trick is, how does the font's name look? If that doesn't look right, either the name or the characters are all wrong.

Grot Esqué's picture

Eben, Mili was talking about the umlauts in the all caps section. The treatment Mili showed is quite common in low res matrix screens, unfortunately.

William, I don’t think the dots have to be strictly aligned.

Another annoying but thankfully not common way is placing the umlauts under the x height. Like this:

It would be very nice to have some one named Erik Spiekermann to share their views.

ebensorkin's picture

There is always going to be a tension for screen type about how much x & cap height you carve out vs how much space is left for diacritics. Aringacute is a killer.

Choz Cunningham's picture

Isn't that only as long as screen resolution is far poorer than print? I keep hearing about electronic ink, IBM's advances in scree resolution, and other technology, though little has come to market yet. But, supposing the mass market gets 300+ dpi and higher screens, won't that make things even?

I know that there is nothing like the present, but it seems that all the hinting in the world is possibly just a stopgap.

ebensorkin's picture

It is a stop-gap in some sense yes, to be sure. I see your point I think. More rez more subtlty and less being forced. That's true up to a point. But even if you magically get a device with greater rez than paper - ( say what? - it's just an agrgument - hang in there ) the deeper tension between elements is going to remain. 300+dpi can't make things 'even'. Why?

If you know your going to carry umlauts in your design it's good to know that from the beginning. If you have a Finnish audience in mind specifically then it's good to know that too. And so on. Think about this : it has been noted that type made for german looks better in german & type made for latin in latin. It's true. There are real reasons for this. Lots of them. All the little details! They all interact. Plus the pattens and habits seen in the language/s supported must be factored in and in that a balance has to be struck. So type made specifically for say Danish if it's well made will express itself in the context of Danish needs and priorities and will look and 'act' differently than one made for English. That is why you have to design for a specific set of circumstances every time.

Think about a custom shoe vs a really well designed shoe made for the masses. They will both have alot in common, and might both be plenty good but if the level of quality is the same something made to fit youspecifically will always 'suit you' better.

poms's picture

Yes Eben, so true.

That is one handicap of the international market, the typedesigners try to design new faces that fit the bill for all markets.
Example, i have to reduce the wordspacing in "nearly every" typeface coming from e.g. GB or USA, when it comes to textsetting in german language. Wordspacing would be "correct" for english or french generally, but not for german. Ok, this is no big thing, but it has to be made.

dan_reynolds's picture

>Wordspacing would be “correct” for english or french generally, but not for german.

Is this because the capital letters need more space before them? Or is because German words are longer?

thierry blancpain's picture

if you need any more german words with umlauts, give a shout - i could make poms list a bit longer if needed. though not with eszetts, because in switzerland we dont use that glyph (even when writing books in high german - its out of use here).

if you make a long s, make extended kerning tests, it often sucks from what i've seen (altough i dont know many people who'd use a long s in anything than a blackscript).

as said, Chuchichäschtli can be a real killer. Östrogen could be a nice test, too (its the main female hormone). or Önologie, the science of wines.

ebensorkin's picture

What is 'Poms List'?

Thanks for additional test words! Do you have words where Ö is doubled? What about where it appears at the end of a word? Is suspect the answer is no but...

Since you guys know what I am talking about I would love to hear what accomodations you may habe noticed or made to better intergrate dicritics of various kinds. The other things is that when I was working on some for my latest font the method I used was to try to center the marks on each other to some degree. The dot on the i is the 'exception'. Would you let me know what you think of this attached example? I should note that it's a monospace. Please feel free to tell me if you think it's all wrong. But if so please also say how you would correct it!

Or is because German words are longer?

Does it also have to do with Caps being too dark/heavy in US & UK designed fonts for german setting? I need to get caught up on modern german typesetting.

What kind of relation does the presence of many diacritics in a language have to the ideal length of descenders/ascenders ?

poms's picture

@Dan
>Is this because the capital letters need more space before them? Or is because German words are longer?
Hm, less space, because it is more easy to separate words.
Longer german words - yes, you can add this.

#

For non-german speakers – a nonsense text; "Wortberge" (what is Blindtext called in english?) to get an "original feel" for the "rhythm of german". Maybe you should add an text out of the medical, technical, science field to get the feeling for the real long words .

http://www.newmediadesigner.de/
Blindtexte
Wortberge

#

@Eben
I brought the list because i thought i could be interesting to see caps followed by an umlaut in real words. Maybe an kerning issue, too.

>Do you have words where Ö is doubled?
I think there is no doubled umlaut, i don't remember

>umlaut at the end
Malmö ist eine Stadt in Schweden. (Malmö is a swedish city.)

>Does it also have to do with Caps being too dark/heavy in US & UK designed fonts for german setting?
Do you mean something like Caslon?

Nick Shinn's picture

A couple of years ago:
http://typophile.com/node/9373

Now, I think the solution may be to do an OpenType font with a "German Caps with Lowered Umlauts" stylistic set.

Grot Esqué's picture

Interiööri, miljöö… not exactly traditional finnish words but…

There are lots of words that end with ö.

I think your diaresis could be heavier but the aring looks splendid! How does the cap look like?

dezcom's picture

You hav't tell what those 2 beauts mean Lari!

ChrisL

Nick Shinn's picture

Eben, the zdot will appear in Polish close to i in quite a few words, so IMO it looks like a mistake to have it lower than the i dot. And when you get into Celtic....

As a principle, I'd say it's OK to have umlaut dot accents a tad lower than the i dot, if they're also smaller, and because they're two of them. But really, the dot on the eye IS an accent (note Turkish), so it should be treated consistently.

thierry blancpain's picture

eben: "poms list" is the list of german words by the user "poms" earlier in this thread. and as he notes, i cant think of any german words ending with an ö or having two ö's after each other. i could probably find a swiss german word doing it, but swiss german is only written in emails and sms, otherwhise it only gets used while talking. but if we write swiss german, we use lots of umlauts.

Grot Esqué's picture

Oh, they’re quite boring, interior and milieu. There are completely finnish words to be used instead of these. Öland, an island is Sweden is known as Öölanti in Finland. Also the err, am(?), well equivalent is öö, with the exception that the Finnish öö can last several seconds, if you don’t know what to say. Kööri ≈ gang (as in the gang that sometimes ids faces around here).

poms's picture

Turkish is an important "umlaut language" also. Ünlü, Gül and such. In Germany there live some million people with turkish heritage or being turkish. Not so unimportant.
What a nice thread :) – ööööööööööööööööööööööööööööööööööööööö

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