Tell me about Arrows please. (This is a type question!)

ebensorkin's picture

Another obscure typographic corner: Arrows!

I am putting a new round of revisions into Software Developer and I am taking Kent Lew's advice and adding some arrows to it.

Any advice?

Have you used arrows in your work before?

Apart from signs at airports I can't recall seeing their use. Do chemists' use them? Electricians?

Certainly I see how they can be designed within a family style etc but what about their placement in the glyph? For instance: Other than the other arrows what glyphs should they work well with? A lower case o? Or the Numerals? Or Parentheses? Actually I see it could vary from arrow to arrow. The round ones vs the straight. The spilt vs. the whole...

Thanks!

timd's picture

I recently used arrows in a image-heavy document to point to illustrations (rather than ‘above left’, ‘above’ etc.) I needed them to work with Meta Plus Book and wanted something a little bolder than the body copy at about em height and to the 8 major points of the compass – in the end I used Wingdings, each arrow with slight positive and negative baseline shift, but would have preferred something a little lighter, they were mainly adjacent to non-aligning numerals but were in the main flow of the text so had to integrate with upper and lower case characters as well. I seem to remember Foundry Gridnik had some useful arrows.

Tim

KenBessie's picture

I've done the same thing as Tim, using arrows to indicate which cutline goes with which image. I've always built the arrows in Illustrator and imported them. Apart from Pi and dingbat fonts, I wouldn't consider looking for arrows in my font sets.

ebensorkin's picture

So in your use you were looking for something that aligned to text... yes? Interesting. Thanks!

Paul Cutler's picture

I used the font Geometric Arrows for years. Like this:

saturday july 12 -> el rey theatre

I now use the above combination (tweaked a bit) - but yes, I have a use for arrows.

Shu's picture

Hi Eben,

I am a fan of arrows. I am constantly making custom arrows (mostly for web designs these days). They are usually used for links or navigation clarity. It would be nice to have a set of arrows for different purposes. Often I set the size of the to the same x-height as its related typeface. But, its all about the style of the arrow. It needs to match the design aesthetic that is being created for the site as a whole. That is why multiple arrow styles would be great. I know I ask a lot . . .

ebensorkin's picture

Shu, Paul, more interesting still! What about multiple arrow forms within the same 'style'? That seems more likely in a single font. Unless you build an arrow only font...

Do you want to do that Shu?

Maybe I can post an examples of the 'standard' forms in Unicode later.

Don McCahill's picture

Arrows are used extensively in mathematical typesetting. Generally boring, thin arrows that balance with other math symbols. You need left, right, up and down, and angled would be nice too. An extension that will attach to the left and rights is good (the em dash will do if it fits) because sometimes you need to place a formula over (and under?) an arrow, and thus need to grow it.

timd's picture

http://www.myfonts.com/fonts/storm/sebastian-arrows/light-light/charmap....

Just noticed that, fittingly, Sebastian has an arrows supplement in a variety of heights and for each weight.

Tim

jupiterboy's picture

I'm with Paul. I've used them this same way.

dberlow's picture

I use InDesign's arrow-maker, which contains all the traditional arrow designs I need.

Cheers!

ebensorkin's picture

Given David's comments it sounds like the primary reason to include arrows ( to the extent that there is one ) would be to support specific math functions... All other uses are essentially clip art* related rather than typographic in nature. I can imagine that an arrow which matches the chosen font might be good to have as well but I suspect that custom arrows will be used more in part because the arrows in a font are harder to access ( I guess you could create a font in the Opentype set called 'symbols'....) but mostly because I think graphic designers will usually want something impossible to anticipate. In any event it probably isn't going to pay to sweat this very often even if you are just supporting Math use.

* This probably sounds more dismissive & pejorative than I intended...

James, Shu, Paul - What arrows would you want to match within a type face? I am guessing 12, 3, 6 & 9 o'clock and the points in between. Anything else?

Tim, nice find.

Don, would you expand on your comments?

kris's picture

For what it's worth, here are some arrows that I have designed recently. I try to harmonise the arrow with the typeface, and now (after Feijoa) align them to the cap dimensions. I don't italicise arrows. There are also 45° arrows as well.

I also do the opentype calt trick by subbing -> with arrowright or -^ with arrowdown for instance. Quite handy!

—K

ebensorkin's picture

Nice tips Kris! Thanks!

Have you done any math-arrows?

I also thought I would post this:

so that we could be specific.

BTW are these all the code points that are relevant or are their others lurking around?

kris's picture

Christ, look at all those arrows! I haven't done any Math arrows, I am not even too sure what constitutes a 'complete' Math glyphset. That would be interesting to know. What do people setting Math actually use & need?

—K

paul d hunt's picture

Just noticed that, fittingly, Sebastian has an arrows supplement in a variety of heights and for each weight.

Many of Storm's OpenType fonts contain these arrows. I haven't had a chance to use them yet, but it's nice to know they're in there. Also, Andrij Shevchenko's Zion Train includes arrows.

ebensorkin's picture

My sense is that some of these arrows are probably Math, some for Boxes ( this side up [ 21EB? ]), some for electrical /construction work [ 21DE? 21AF?], some for maps [21DF?] etc. But this is conjecture only. It would be great to Know? Maybe Adam Knows...

Kris, what code points do you use for arrows? Or is it all a glyph sub thing? If so, that would be cool too frankly!

My guess is also that Sebastian's arrows are on , ABCDEF etc. Are Storm's?

paul d hunt's picture

hmmm, the arrows in sebastian pro are accessed via the 'ornm' feature and are mapped to letters: i'm guessing the same as set up in the arrow supplement font. i'm adding a small set of arrows (8 in all) to a project i'm currently working on and using the Unicode points u+2190 to u+2191.

Nick Shinn's picture

Isn't this a waste of time?
In many years of advertising and design work, the only arrows I ever used came on the end of line rules in layout software, not in fonts.
Perhaps there is a place for them in math fonts or dingbat fonts, but not in general purpose fonts.
However, I note the above postings of Paul and James mentioning what is a genuine usage -- but surely there's only one arrow that's needed for that, the basic left to right?

ebensorkin's picture

but surely there’s only one arrow that’s needed for that, the basic left to right?

Don has not told us. We need more info.

I have suspended my judgement about this being a waste of time - but I suspect that you are correct about the real utility of this. Still, I am interested to see if my assumption holds up - or not.

And in the meantime I have been very interested to hear what designers and type makers have had to say.

Maybe Shu & I can make a world beating Arrow font in the future...

Don McCahill's picture

In terms of math fonts, the code page Eben listed looks comprehensive. The AMS (American Mathematical Society) financed a math set (2 fonts) to supplement the basic math characters provided in TeX (3 fonts). The AMS font that holds the arrows is here. http://www.micropress-inc.com/fonts/brmath/brf10.htm#font

The basic math characters are in Adobe Lucida Math font (among others) http://www.adobe.com/type/browser/F/LUCM/F_LUCM-10005002.html

ebensorkin's picture

Thanks Don!

dberlow's picture

"Maybe Shu & I can make a world beating Arrow font in the future..."

I'm all aquiver.

kris's picture

Don—so those dashes & squiggles & lines & wacky brackets in this font and in this font are all that would be needed to set complex math?
—K

crossgrove's picture

I don't know how you will see these, but look at what's included in the new Vista font Cambria; it's packed with math operators as well as a lot of arrows. This doesn't answer Eben's question of course.

ebensorkin's picture

This doesn’t answer Eben’s question of course.

No, but it's interesting. Thanks!

I’m all aquiver.

Yeah that's kinda what I meant too. I guess I didn't supply the needed emoticon... {Shrug} Still, maybe Shu can sell it to Veer. Although I agree, it probably does make more sense as a clip art project though - if at all.

all that would be needed

Ha! Is that all? ;-) Actually it wouldn't be that hard to make - but you would want to have a math guy/gal to take em for a spin I think... And I doubt that it is a super hot market. That said I don't LOVE what I am seeing.

It certainly looks like some of my guesses about use were quite wrong!

cuttlefish's picture

As kris illustrated, it would be nice to have complementary set of arrows with fonts for use in wayfinding signage, at least covering codepoints 2190–2199. When I was a signcutter I had to use the arrow generator included in FlexiSign, which was adequte enough, but always produced rather generic results. They served as directional pointers, but never really harmonized with the type.

ebensorkin's picture

at least covering codepoints 2190–2199

These are the eight I think Kent was advocating for.

cuttlefish's picture

There's ten of them actually, counting the horizontal and vertical double-headed arrows in the middle of the sequence.

Don McCahill's picture

Kris

Yep, all that is used in math. But that does not mean that it is all you would need to set math. Mathematicians are notorious for trying to come up with new symbols and such. But those are the basics that will cover the majority of math setting.

When a researcher comes up with a new formula, he/she often wants a special character to represent a certain important variable. First used are Greek characters ... you will be familiar with the large Sigma used for summation, and pi used for that number.

They also will use script characters (l is common to avoid confusion with 1, although a good designer should have chosen fonts where there is no confusion), Hebrew characters, Fracktur characters, and the outlined characters shown.

The symbols are variations of basic symbols. For instance, the less than or equal to sign can have one or two lines under it, or one or two curved lines, each meaning different things to different mathematicians. I'd tell you what they mean, but I can't. I just typeset the stuff (back then). I didn't understand it.

Nick Shinn's picture

it would be nice to have complementary set of arrows with fonts for use in wayfinding signage,

It would be nice to have a lot of things in fonts. I have recently been persuaded to include several historic Cyrillic characters in a retail font, why, I don't know, as there are probably 2 or 3 people in the world who might use such a thing, and they are not font buyers (I don't expect those who persuaded me to include the characters to buy the fonts either) --however, it is entertaining for a type designer to investigate such novelties, and we are "completists" by nature.

The WGL4 which includes arrows and boxes does so, I believe, because it covers four Unicode groupings, one of which includes arrows and boxes, for no particular reason, other than they might as well be grouped somewhere.

What is the correlation between what is useful to font buyers and what is in fonts?
This has been cocked up digitally from day one, as you can tell just by looking at your keyboard.

These days, wayfinding systems don't use serif fonts, conventional wisdom being that these are less legible and therefore unsuitable, so Kris, why bother? Why not add something equally useless, such as a unicase or Bold Italic Small Caps?

If your typeface really is designed for a specific use, then some special characters which address that usage can act as a "gimmick" to draw attention to that and position the typeface in the marketplace/collective conscious. Otherwise, they are a distraction and a dilution, and may even be counter-productive by suggesting inappropriate usage.

The astrological symbols in Josh Darden's Corundum were spot on, a genuine novelty in a font (quaint ct and st ligs have been done), but appropriate to the genre. So they serve a purpose, even if those who buy the font don't use them.

elliot100's picture

These days, wayfinding systems don’t use serif fonts, conventional wisdom being that these are less legible and therefore unsuitable, so Kris, why bother?

Basic NSEW arrows whose dimensions and stroke widths match the rest of the font are surely nice to have, rather than having to use an approximation from a dingbat font. Especially in a multi-weight family.

Also, assuming the kind of arrow made from 3 straight lines meeting at a point (surely there's a term for this?) the terminals might be square, diagonal or round to better match. More esoteric display faces (I'm thinking dot matrix) would also benefit.

jupiterboy's picture

This variant of the arrow is part of the Arrival font. There were almost 30 different versions in this series and I used all the arrow directions. But as mentioned, wayfinding is a special use situation.

http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y234/jupiterboy/3N.png

Shu's picture

“Maybe Shu & I can make a world beating Arrow font in the future...”

David - I am in! We'll talk. I'm sure I can squeeze in a few minutes during TypeCon. Sometime after that party and sometime before that other party. I'll have to check with my people...

ebensorkin's picture

There’s ten of them actually

Whoops. Yep. It must have been the single headed variety that Kent had in mind.

Nick, Elliot, nice points!

These days, wayfinding systems don’t use serif fonts, conventional wisdom

I have seen more & more shifting away from that over the last 10 years although in general that does seem to be the dominant outlook

James, your example makes me think that for the 8 single directions it might be nice to offer the arrow in a circle as a discretionary alt.

The thing about arrows is that in general they are pretty easy to make in the sense that unlike a b to d ( or n to m even) where you really do have to think a bit more a left arrow really is just a reverse of the right. Fancy Arrows with 3 shafts, flat or v shaped backs, or double heads & so on are something else again as are arrows in a monospace.

Also, Hunting around for the arrows not covered by Don's link to Math Arrows I found these:

U+21DE ⇞ upwards arrow with double stroke So 1.1
aka page up

U+21DF ⇟ downwards arrow with double stroke So 1.1
aka page down

U+21EA ⇪ upwards white arrow from bar So 1.1
aka caps lock

U+21EB ⇫ upwards white arrow on pedestal So 3.0
aka level 2 lock

U+21EC ⇬ upwards white arrow on pedestal with horizontal bar So 3.0
aka caps lock

U+21ED ⇭ upwards white arrow on pedestal with vertical bar So 3.0
aka numerics lock

U+21EE ⇮ upwards white double arrow So 3.0
aka level 3 select

U+21EF ⇯ upwards white double arrow on pedestal So 3.0
aka level 3 lock

U+21F0 ⇰ rightwards white arrow from wall So ON
aka group lock

U+21F1 ⇱ north west arrow to corner So ON
aka home

U+21F2 ⇲ south east arrow to corner So ON
aka end

U+21F3 ⇳ up down white arrow So ON
aka scrolling

U+232B ⌫ erase to the left So ON 1.1
aka delete to the left key

U+2326 ⌦ erase to the right So ON 1.1
aka delete to the right key

U+23CE ⏎ return symbol So ON 3.2
* may be shown with either hollow or filled glyph
ref U+21B5 ↵ downwards arrow with corner leftwards (Arrows)

U+23CF ⏏ eject symbol So ON 4.0
* UI symbol to eject media

ebensorkin's picture

There's a party over here.

There's a party over there...

Shu, ... After all having spent so much time with type folk isn't it time for a font of your own? ;-)

Shu's picture

Maybe. Maybe. There are only so many hours in the day. I am sometimes shocked at my own schedule, especially during the ramp up the TypeCon. Now that I think of it, back when I was in school I took a intensive type design class with Max Kisman.
I did create an experimental "font" made from cutting out letters in latex stretching them out with pins and the digitizing them in FontLab. Oh, those were the days. Experimental design just for the fun of it.

Actually, I think it was that class when Max first suggested I volunteer for TypeCon. The rest is history...

Type Design - flickr style

Paul Cutler's picture

A lot of this lost me but if you included arrows in a font and they matched the vibe - there's a good chance I would use them for design, not math. I use this combination all the time: ->

Also my needs are simple - a forward pointing arrow would do it.

pbc

cuttlefish's picture

There are situations where matching a decorative theme is more important than strict legibility in wayfinding, e.g., amusement park signage. If anything, Victorian wood types dominate in many parks, and those look quite dismal with generic arrows.

But yes, even there in more utilitarian areas off the main public paths they revert to a common sans face for directional signs.

kris's picture

These days, wayfinding systems don’t use serif fonts, conventional wisdom being that these are less legible and therefore unsuitable, so Kris, why bother?

As a practising graphic designer & typographer I find matching arrows extremely useful. They also don't take very long to draw, so I find it appropriate to include them. Why would you assume that arrows are only useful for wayfinding?

Why not add something equally useless, such as a unicase or Bold Italic Small Caps?

I also find Bold Italic SC useful, although the occasions to use them are rare. If you're going to do something, might as well do it properly!

Nick Shinn's picture

Why would you assume that arrows are only useful for wayfinding?

Because I never use them myself, and because I never come across them in use!

I could be mistaken, but will only be convinced if a few real-world examples are posted.

The printer's fist is, I suspect, more useful, (the Calgary Typophiles have one in their recent poster -- see their thread).

If you’re going to do something, might as well do it properly!

My sentiments too, but it's a question of priorities.

ebensorkin's picture

Nick, a printers fist is a pointing finger - right?

Also I have more code for us.

These arrows are not computer input symbols or math symbols. They are dingbat arrows. A whole new code area...

I am putting them in just so the record is more complete, to potentially help avoid confusion - some of these seem pretty close to the math symbols; and of course for the those “completists” lurking among us.

Dingbats block
➔ U+2794: HEAVY WIDE-HEADED RIGHTWARDS ARROW
➘ U+2798: HEAVY SOUTH EAST ARROW
➙ U+2799: HEAVY RIGHTWARDS ARROW
➚ U+279A: HEAVY NORTH EAST ARROW
➛ U+279B: DRAFTING POINT RIGHTWARDS ARROW
➜ U+279C: HEAVY ROUND-TIPPED RIGHTWARDS ARROW
➝ U+279D: TRIANGLE-HEADED RIGHTWARDS ARROW
➞ U+279E: HEAVY TRIANGLE-HEADED RIGHTWARDS ARROW
➟ U+279F: DASHED TRIANGLE-HEADED RIGHTWARDS ARROW
➠ U+27A0: HEAVY DASHED TRIANGLE-HEADED RIGHTWARDS ARROW
➡ U+27A1: BLACK RIGHTWARDS ARROW
➢ U+27A2: THREE-D TOP-LIGHTED RIGHTWARDS ARROWHEAD
➣ U+27A3: THREE-D BOTTOM-LIGHTED RIGHTWARDS ARROWHEAD
➤ U+27A4: BLACK RIGHTWARDS ARROWHEAD
➥ U+27A5: HEAVY BLACK CURVED DOWNWARDS AND RIGHTWARDS ARROW
➦ U+27A6: HEAVY BLACK CURVED UPWARDS AND RIGHTWARDS ARROW
➧ U+27A7: SQUAT BLACK RIGHTWARDS ARROW
➨ U+27A8: HEAVY CONCAVE-POINTED BLACK RIGHTWARDS ARROW
➩ U+27A9: RIGHT-SHADED WHITE RIGHTWARDS ARROW
➪ U+27AA: LEFT-SHADED WHITE RIGHTWARDS ARROW
➫ U+27AB: BACK-TILTED SHADOWED WHITE RIGHTWARDS ARROW
➬ U+27AC: FRONT-TILTED SHADOWED WHITE RIGHTWARDS ARROW
➭ U+27AD: HEAVY LOWER RIGHT-SHADOWED WHITE RIGHTWARDS ARROW
➮ U+27AE: HEAVY UPPER RIGHT-SHADOWED WHITE RIGHTWARDS ARROW
➯ U+27AF: NOTCHED LOWER RIGHT-SHADOWED WHITE RIGHTWARDS ARROW
➱ U+27B1: NOTCHED UPPER RIGHT-SHADOWED WHITE RIGHTWARDS ARROW
➲ U+27B2: CIRCLED HEAVY WHITE RIGHTWARDS ARROW
➳ U+27B3: WHITE-FEATHERED RIGHTWARDS ARROW
➴ U+27B4: BLACK-FEATHERED SOUTH EAST ARROW
➵ U+27B5: BLACK-FEATHERED RIGHTWARDS ARROW
➶ U+27B6: BLACK-FEATHERED NORTH EAST ARROW
➷ U+27B7: HEAVY BLACK-FEATHERED SOUTH EAST ARROW
➸ U+27B8: HEAVY BLACK-FEATHERED RIGHTWARDS ARROW
➹ U+27B9: HEAVY BLACK-FEATHERED NORTH EAST ARROW
➺ U+27BA: TEARDROP-BARBED RIGHTWARDS ARROW
➻ U+27BB: HEAVY TEARDROP-SHANKED RIGHTWARDS ARROW
➼ U+27BC: WEDGE-TAILED RIGHTWARDS ARROW
➽ U+27BD: HEAVY WEDGE-TAILED RIGHTWARDS ARROW
➾ U+27BE: OPEN-OUTLINED RIGHTWARDS ARROW

muzzer's picture

Why not add something equally useless, such as a unicase or Bold Italic Small Caps?

Nick mate what is so useful about a ten style monospace font in this case?? or that trendy outline font of yours??

-----------------------
Chopper Reid says "Harden the **** up".

Nick Shinn's picture

Pay attention Muzzer, we're talking characters not typefaces -- as the thread title might indicate.

But in reply to your question, my types appeal to a discriminating enough niche as it is, no point in narrowing it still further.

It does seem like a good idea to put one arrow in a font, though, a companion for the printer's fist (pointing hand).

jupiterboy's picture

For your reference, this image is from an invitation for an event featuring
the work of Daniel Bozhkov.

http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y234/jupiterboy/Arrow.jpg

http://www.danielbozhkov.com/

muzzer's picture

Pay attention Muzzer, we’re talking characters not typefaces — as the thread title might indicate.

I am mate! ears are pricked up and all, although the eyes are a bit buggeresd. I just find it funny that you question including arrows in a font when the idea of most entire fonts are questionable!! probably a bit sideways for this thread.

-----------------------
Chopper Reid says "Harden the **** up".

William Berkson's picture

>it’s a question of priorities.

Cyrus Highsmith at last year's TypeCon critique session mentioned--to Chris Lozos--his opinion that it is more worth your time to do new typefaces than to try to make them very complete as far as languages, symbols, etc.

Nick Shinn's picture

Muzz, "questionable" has nothing to do with it.
Someone, somewhere is licensing fonts you consider questionable, because there's no accounting for taste.

The issue for the foundry is this -- does the group of people who may licence a particular font overlap with the group of people who use arrows in their designs?

It's hard to say, because people use fonts in unexpected ways. But for me this thread has been informative, and at the moment I am considering adding one left-to-right arrow to my neverending typeface.

ebensorkin's picture

Thanks for the links James & Shu.

Thanks for clarifying about the 'fist' Nick.

I have learned a heck of a lot too. I am having a go at 10+ arrows for the heck of it. And a pointing hand as well. And some suns, and moons. And an umbrella. oh dear...

I expect that Cyrus is right.

paul d hunt's picture

Cyrus Highsmith at last year’s TypeCon critique session mentioned—to Chris Lozos—his opinion that it is more worth your time to do new typefaces than to try to make them very complete as far as languages, symbols, etc.

is that what you got out of it, chris? i thought he and matthew were saying that it's important to settle on your base design before expanding your typeface. but i might be wrong.

timd's picture

>And an umbrella. oh dear...

…hedera too.

Tim

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