altering pt size in all-caps credentials

teaberry's picture

Would someone help me from committing any unforgivable type abominations?

I have been working on stationery for an accounting client. They want all partners' names on the letterhead with professional credentials following each name (e.g. John Smith CPA, CVA).

The typeface I'm using is Futura BT Light. The names are set in 8-pt.

I have 2 questions:

1. I don't like the way the all caps look following each name; they seem so overpowering. Is it acceptable to deemphasize them by applying small caps (from InDesign's type style palette) to those credentials? Or is it best to leave credentials in caps the same size as the first letter of the names? (I know that some typeface families have proper small caps sets, but haven't checked to see if it's available in Futura BT.)

2. My client saw a digital proof and says the capital A seems smaller than the other capital letters in the same line. She asked if we could make only the A larger to correct that. Is this acceptable? I've never changed the point size within single lines of type this way because I have faith the type designer knows best.


Don McCahill's picture

1. If the font has true small caps, use them.

2. No, don't mess with the sizing. It is probably only an optical illusion anyway.

pattyfab's picture

1. It is also ok to make the caps in his credentials a point or so smaller. This is commonly done with acronyms.

2. Not ok to mess around with the size of the A. Your client doesn't know what she's talking about. But does it look funny as is to you?

William Berkson's picture

On the A, check the kerning.

teaberry's picture

Thank you, Don and Pattyfab.

It's an optical illusion, but one that I don't share! I think the A looks perfectly fine, but the client is insistent.

I think I will change the credentials so that they're only slightly smaller than the caps in the name, but not as small as small caps. Maybe that will change the illusion in my favor.

teaberry's picture

William, the A is kerned rather tightly with the P and the V. Are you thinking that looser spacing might make the A seem bigger?

kentlew's picture

If you're looking at that A on a proof from a desktop laser printer, you may not be getting an accurate representation. The overshoot may be getting suppressed at lower resolutions, depending upon the hinting &c.

I would advise against increasing the size of the A. Even a seemingly negligible increase could lead to unwanted side effects regarding relative weight.

-- K.

William Berkson's picture

If something looks 'wrong' to your client, it may be, it isn't necessarily what they think it is.

The top of the A has a natural problem of light 'color', but this is handled in Futura by extending its sharply pointed top higher than the overshoot height of the O. However, in small sizes the sharp top may visually vanish, I don't know. I think somebody mentioned this on the thread about Gotham and Avenir. If you go to a heavier weight or use Avenir instead--which has a flat top that won't disappear at small sizes--it might improve things.

I have Futura Light BT on my machine and the built-in kerning looks good for PAV. However, if it is with other letters on either side, than can affect how loose or tight the whole thing should be. Also if you pushed for maximum tightness that would mess up the balance.

If you just shrink the caps, instead of using small caps, they may well also look 'wrong' by being too light. If you are going to shrink them you will probably have to go to the next heavier weight, then shrink, in order to look right.

So I don't know what's wrong, but it can be something other than you might think at first.

edit: I cross posted with Kent. I like his analysis. The problem may be *both* a proof and an optical effect of Futura Light at small sizes as well.

teaberry's picture

Kentlew, that was my concern about changing the size of the A but not the adjoining letters... unequal weight of the strokes, even though it might be almost imperceptible at the tiny size. I couldn't stand it though.

William, your points make sense. If I can't find a proper small caps set for Futura, then I shouldn't use the SC in the style palette of ID. I think the peak of the A might be too light at this small size. I need to experiment with weights and sizes here.

Thank you all so much for your helpful advice.

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