Relative copy length of English Vs French

spirit's picture

I have to design two brochures, one in English, one in French for a client.

Can anyone tell me the average relative length of French copy Vs English? (given the text is the same). Does it run longer or shorter and if so by how much?

I know German can run much longer, but not sure about French

thanks a lot

s

hrant's picture

Going by "Typographia polyglotta", about 10% more for French. But that's without accounting for translation "laterality", which will increase the gain (or decrease it if it's going from French to English).

But there's a complication: different languages have different typographic needs/traditions. For example, Ladislas Mandel (an old-school French font guy) insists that French needs a small x-height. And this could in fact be a key to maintaining the set-length of the two versions of your text.

Then there's linguistics: different languages use the letters in different proportions (and some have accents), which means they use the Cartesian area differently. From what I remember of some quick measurements I once did, French has a greater vertical span than English. And this might be yet another key for you: the French might need to be set a hair smaller in point size, which would help combat the text length gain.

hhp

spirit's picture

Excellent advice/links Hrant!

Setting the french slightly smaller seems like a relatively painless solution to regain the extra space. However, I dont see how a smaller x-height would affect copy length - unless the you mean the leading could be tighter and therefore more lines per page?

I have been reading some interesting articles about newspaper fonts which have the same width setting for sans/serif/slab variations recently (can't remember the links unfotunately) enabling designers to change the style without affecting the flow. Do you know if there are fonts which apply the same idea to x-height? Interesting idea...

thank you

s

hrant's picture

> I dont see how a smaller x-height would affect copy length

Well, besides the leading economy you mention, by smaller x-height I meant smaller x-height body, so it would take up less horizontal room too. But beware issues of apparent size: if the French ends up looking too small you might piss some people off.

> the same width setting

You must be talking about Linotype Compatil. Except it's not really a news face.
BTW, I call this approach "uniwidth" (and I love it).

hhp

spirit's picture

Doh!

those blasted server errors again!

this time it told me the server wasn't responding after 60 seconds (although it obviously was) Apologies for the triple post.

s

spirit's picture

>But beware issues of apparent size: if the French ends up looking too small you might piss some people off.

I'm not too worried about the smaller french type as I am producing 2 seperate brochures - not a polyglot.

>You must be talking about Linotype Compatil

Hmm, i don't think so, I think it was from a smaller foundry (maybe hoefler or something like that). I just looked through my web history to see if I could hunt it down (no luck) and realised I am averaging around 300 web pages per day - I really must do more work!

I remember the specimen had 4 very different types on top of each other that had exactly the same horizontal width. Uniwidth seems like a very good term to describe it.

s

hrant's picture

Then yes, it must be Hoefler's Proteus Project. But I thought you were talking about text fonts. (BTW, the three fonts in my Daam Entity are uniwidth, as are the Regular and Demi of my Patria).

hhp

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