What's in a (Yale) Typeface?

Reed Reibstein's picture

As a designer with the Yale Daily News, I had the pleasure last night of designing a terrific article about Matthew Carter's Yale typeface and the University's overall identity, featuring interviews with Carter, Michael Bierut, and others. The article is available here -- http://www.yaledailynews.com/articles/view/24465 -- but the visual aspect of the article on the site is limited. Below I've posted today's front page, a close-up of the article on the front, and the graphic I made for the inside jump. Critiques are welcome, although at this point obviously it's too late to be changed. Hope you enjoy.

Jongseong's picture

The Yale typeface is a thing of beauty.

Also see: http://www.typophile.com/node/29323

Yale is blessed to have Matthew Carter as senior critic for their graphic design program. I only wish Harvard had a discernible university-wide graphic identity (other than a colour scheme), let alone a classy bespoke typeface.

Good job overall on the design of the article, and I particularly like the drop cap A, a signature Yale glyph.

Reed Reibstein's picture

We're certainly lucky to have such an incredible graphic design program. I can't imagine a better place for me to be.

I'm glad you liked the drop cap; Paul (the reporter) and I discussed starting the article with either an "A" or "R" since those are two of the more distinctive glyphs in Yale.

EDIT: And, as a proud Yalie, I have to say that I'm very glad that our identity system blows Harvard's out of the water.

JeffPeppers's picture

It feels a little compacted to me, but I dont pretend for a moment to know more than a tiny bit about type.

That being said, I still find it to be really fitting for the situation/application and pretty beautiful. I like the flat changes to the previously rounded (earmarks?).

EDIT: actually the compactness I though I noticed was in the topmost image of the paper.. which isn't present in the other examples.. hrm.

Reed Reibstein's picture

Jeff, you probably are referring to our compressed headlines. We use Miller Headline, which is already condensed, but sometimes we Squoosh the letterforms mechanically to 90% or more. But change should be coming sometime soon ...

DrDoc's picture

My school (Rice) has had a really strong push for a consistent identity in the past year or two, but I think we're going about it all wrong. First of all, the official university typeface is Trajan, which is not at all distinctive. Anyone who is printing a Rice-related publication needs to use the official university logo, which is a slightly modified version of "RICE" spelled out in Trajan. We are not allowed to set the words "Rice University" or "Rice" in Trajan ourselves; we have to use the Illustrator file.

I like what is said in that article about thinking of the typeface as a sort of viral marketing for the university; you don't force anyone to use the Yale typeface--you just strongly encourage. You essentially make it as easy as possible for anyone on the campus to fit the identity system. That's not at all what Rice is doing.

Also (though this is not related to the Yale typeface at all, and I apologize), someone in our Public Affairs department decided that our beautiful 100-year-old crest needed to be updated from [Bad link] to [Bad link] Apparently we need to portray ourselves as an up-and-coming school looking towards the future, as opposed to a well-established, nearly-100-year-old institution that is well-respected throughout the country, despite the fact that that's what we are. Also, the new logo looks terrible when it's printed in grayscale (as most Web 2.0 logos are wont to do).

EDIT: Also, are students allowed to use the typeface for their academic work (the license doesn't make it clear enough)? Because if I went to Yale, I would totally set every paper I write in that typeface.

Jongseong's picture

To illustrate just how all over the place Harvard's signage is (not all the pics in the link are Harvard-related):


I don't even know if there is an official Harvard logo (contrary to what some Hollywood films suggest, there is no big sign saying "Harvard University" anywhere on campus). There's just a university shield with what I assume is custom lettering. Typeface-wise, it's a real free-for-all between the different schools, the Board of Overseers, different Harvard-related organizations... I do see Minion a lot, though. The Graduate School of Design I think has their own attempt at an identity system, based on Trade Gothic if I recall correctly.

And, as a proud Yalie, I have to say that I’m very glad that our identity system blows Harvard’s out of the water.

Hey, we still beat you six out of the last seven times in the Game!

charles ellertson's picture

t feels a little compacted to me, but I dont pretend for a moment to know more than a tiny bit about type.

There are times -- more than a few -- when a slightly compact font is just what you need.

As to the old school rivalries, I remember when JFK got an honorary degree from Yale. He said something like "Now I have the best: a Harvard education and a Yale degree."

Reed Reibstein's picture

Eric, you're right; the license agreement is a bit nebulous. I didn't think I could use the Yale typeface for school essays, but when I visited the University Printer I was told that this is a use they encourage.

Brian, thanks for pointing out the Harvard campus images. I've been starting to catalogue Yale's incredible lettering, the early results of which you can see here, so it's very interesting to see how the two compare. Maybe I'll celebrate our inevitable victory at the Game next year by touring Cambridge's lettering in person :-)

Nick Shinn's picture

the official university typeface is Trajan

2nd Century trumps 15th, if old-school is the name of the game.

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