Serrano: a custom typeface for Bank of New Zealand

kris's picture

Kia ora folks,

The rebranding of BNZ by DNA Design has just gone live. They're using Serrano, a custom typeface that I whipped up for them. Kiwis will see the new rebrand roll out through the country over the next few months. Your thoughts are welcome, as always.

--K

Nick Shinn's picture

You could say it was literal & simplistic, or you could say it was quite appropriate to the brief.

Yes, I said it was literal, simplistic, and appropriate.

Are you insinuating that this isn’t a thorough, from-scratch job?

I'm not insinuating. I'm offering my thoughts (as you requested) as to how the mechanics of the working relationship between a foundry, the foundry's client, and the client's client affect the design of a custom type. I'd be interested in your insights, rather than just a straight assertion of how perfectly the design delivers on the brief.

Whether or not you drew it completely from scratch, or modified another of your designs, is not the issue. There is certainly nothing unprofessional about modifying one's own work to produce new designs; at the same time, drawing completely from scratch is no guarantee of quality. Conceptually, the wine typeface you showed here recently is more thoroughly original.

The rounded bits are not just slapped on here & there to make it ’friendly’.

They aren't? You have said that your client started you off with three rounded types--surely the metaphor that a rounded styling is friendly (not to mention fashionable) is central to the typographic ethos of this project? However, you were, understandably, unwilling to remain at that superficial level, seeking a richer implementation of the desired qualities, with the "humanist" features and proportions that you gave to the face. Nonetheless, the application of rounded corners wherever they don't look too cutsey does seem to be a compromise. Despite your explanation of a system, there still seems to be a certain arbitrariness in the application of round corners. Why, for instance, is the top left of "u" sharp, but not the top left of "n"? Why no rounded corners in "w"?

There's absolutely nothing wrong with making styling decisions with a discriminating eye, in fact, it polishes faces to perfection. But conceptually, when a client specifies not just a brief of abstract qualities, but an execution such as a rounded finish, how can that free the designer to do a completely thorough, from scratch, job?

hrant's picture

> Whether or not you drew it completely from scratch,
> or modified another of your designs, is not the issue.

It certainly can be an issue, and I would say generally is, since a "custom" solution does mean something special to the client. Even if a client is not knowledgeable about type, he will feel cheated if the font they paid a lot of money for is based on an existing one. On the other hand, if one tells the client this is what will be happening (as I've done recently for a client in Armenia) then it's OK.

> There is certainly nothing unprofessional about modifying one’s own work to produce new designs

Nick, know that this was not the tone of your previous message.

> surely the metaphor that a rounded styling is friendly (not to mention
> fashionable) is central to the typographic ethos of this project?

You don't know that. Even if you or I think it's friendly, that doesn't mean the client thought so.

> how can that free the designer to do a completely thorough, from scratch, job?

Of course, nothing is completely from scratch. Duh.

hhp

eliason's picture

Why, for instance, is the top left of “u” sharp, but not the top left of “n”? Why no rounded corners in “w”?

I see logic in this, as Kris already explained - compare Bookman:

billtroop's picture

Wow, Kris ! Looks like your design has touched some sensitive nerves. Bravo!

hrant's picture

Segue from Craig: http://typophile.com/node/17047
"Head-serifs on lc 'u' - decision process?"

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

Nick, know that this was not the tone of your previous message.

Look again. I'm situating the discussion in terms of the professional process.

You don’t know that. Even if you or I think it’s friendly, that doesn’t mean the client thought so.

That's why I'm asking Kris, "Surely....?
From my perspective, the equation of rounded type with friendliness is pretty obvious.

Of course, nothing is completely from scratch. Duh.

Of course it is. If your brief consists of abstract qualities, then the conceptualization is entirely up to you; and if you draw all your characters (no tracing or re-using exisiting paths), that's from scratch. Duh.

William Berkson's picture

On the "slightly reversed contrast" I meant as I said the a, which goes from relatively thick to the reduced, curved terminal, doesn't work so well, whereas the g tail, which tapers first, to me is very successful. And for me the top of the e and the r seem to have a little too much 'meat' also. The s is better, and again the g just right.

I don't 'get' the illustration with Bookman; it seems to me totally different than Serrano. As to the treatment on the other verticals of the lower case, if you compare Meta, for example, on this there is not just horizontal sheers, but different treatment to go with the bent stem tops on the mnr. To me this is more harmonious.

hrant's picture

> “Surely....?

That's a classic rhetorical-question structure.

> ... if you draw all your characters ...

But to do that you have to have looked
at something during your lifetime!

> I don’t ’get’ the illustration with Bookman

Look at the head serifs.

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

That’s a classic rhetorical-question structure.

Surely not when directly addressing somebody?

But to do that you have to have looked at something during your lifetime!

Are you saying that "drawing from scratch" has no meaning?
I take it to mean that one starts with a blank page and works without tracing or pasting.

Miss Tiffany's picture

I wonder if all of this isn't just subjective. I mean if someone goes to a specific foundry, already knowing their other work, perhaps they are hoping for traces of what they like in the other typefaces. Whether or not something originates from a blank slate shouldn't matter. It is the final result that matters.

John Hudson's picture

Kris wrote: I’m not seeing the reversed contrast, there isn’t any in there. Serrano has a fairly standard contrast. Where are you seeing it?

I suspect the comments re. 'reversed contrast' are in response to the strong x-height and baseline horizontals and the correspondingly reduced weight in the mid-zone in the frequent letters a e and s, most notable in the heavier weight. You're right, Kris, this isn't 'reversed contrast', but I can see how this kind of weight manipulation might remind people of Evert's Balance. What Serrano actually has is Jean François Porchez-style ’orizontalité. Very nice, too.

k.l.'s picture

I am not sure the problem is that these matters are subjective. Describing or comparing visual features of typefaces, their roundness, edgyness etc, is part of our job, whether explicitly done or not. My problem is with describing type as "cute", "friendly", "beautiful". What we associate with a typeface is what happens in our's minds but is nothing found on paper as such. We better stick to describing what we see, like "rounded" (Nick) or "curve-to-a-point terminals"* (Kris) -- and then, maybe, if we feel like it, utter what we associate with this.

* Finally I have a term for this.  :)

Trying to make sense of what has been said: Maybe the issue is that quite a few typefaces use a curve-vs-corner trick so they look either a bit rounded or less rounded. 1. With curve-to-a-point terminals -- especially Underware's work (Dolly, Sauna) stimulated others to adopt this feature. 2. With point-in-curve counter, a corner inside "e" or "o" counters -- that's the opposite, to make it look less round, part of the Reading house-style. Both found in sanserif and serif typefaces alike. In so far it's not a "just slapped on" issue (using Kris' term, cannot find who brought this up), but that curve-to-a-point or point-in-curve appear as just two ingredients that can be switched on/off with virtually every kind of typeface -- 1. like "e" or "c" curve-to-a-point terminals in very different styles like Serrano or Omnes or seriffed Sauna, and 2. there was an entire Typophile thread dedicated to typefaces with point-in-curve counters (cannot find it now).

hrant's picture

> part of the Reading house-style.

Really? That seems more Dutch to me.
The Reading drive isn't so chirographic.

BTW, have you guys heard of the term "foxtail terminal"?

hhp

paul d hunt's picture

My problem is with describing type as “cute”, “friendly”, “beautiful”. What we associate with a typeface is what happens in our’s minds but is nothing found on paper as such.

I talked further with Kris about this and it's so hard to describe what you are seeing that what you are feeling is sometimes easier (and maybe clearer, even if less precise). It's not the terminal treatments that make this work 'cute', it's the handling of all of the curves: they're all a bit over-plump you might say (or tend towards the super-ellipse if you want more techy terminology). It's this feature that makes all of Kris' work 'friendly', IMO. To me it's this feature that really sets Seranno and Foco apart: despite the rounded terminals of Foco, it feels more 'neutral' (throw me a more techinical term for that!) to me because the handling of the curves is different (to my eyes at least).

terminology is such a tricky thing, really. even seemingly universal terms such as 'yellow' are cultural constructs and mean different things to different people. To me it's obvious that Kris' concept of a 'curve' is different from my own.

Florian Hardwig's picture

> part of the Reading house-style.

Well, judge for yourself: http://www.typefacedesign.org
I can see what Karsten means: most diversely implemented – for instance – in Paul Hunt’s Grandia, Rob Keller’s Vesper, Fermello’s Frida … Jelmar Geertsma digs that kind of counters, too.

Then again, this preference is not limited to Reading, of course. Jarno Lukkarila’s Xtra Sans is a prime example for the point-in-curve counter – and he studied at KABK.

There are a lot of other examples in this thread: Cut and then curved

paul d hunt's picture

in Paul Hunt’s Grandia

you'll see it to less an extent in the display sizes... here i'm using it mainly as a device for keeping counters open for fonts intended for small sizes for a calligraphicly-flavoured typeface. The rationlized cousin of Grandia will dispense with this device.

billtroop's picture

I have not seen anything of Serrano other than the web samples but based on those let me say again: this was conceptualized beautifully from scratch and is the very opposite of the kind of work that is done by designers who take something off the shelf and make a few (or many) changes -- an MO I frown on. Again, as near as I can judge, the Serrano implementation is superb in a way that is still extremely rare today. By implementation I mean primarily truly excellent fitting and other factors that make the typeface harmonious, usable, and useful. For example, I am crazy about Paul's Grandia typeface, which shows such deep understanding of the intangibles of serious reading, but I don't think the fitting is there yet based on the sample referenced here. Great fitting is a skill few great type designers have, and ideally would not have to worry about. Nick, I love your type but Richler proved you were not very comfortable with text fitting, remember? Part of what I am trying to say is that one of the reasons why Kris's decisions to treat this element (n) one way and that element (u) another way is not important is that the overall appearance of the set typeface is so overwhelmingly convincing. No doubt Serrano is open to criticism, but I have not yet heard a pertinent criticism expressed yet. As for prediction that

>Surviving corporations will need to rebrand.

I'll take a bet that this one will stick with Kris's identity for some time to come.

hrant's picture

Spacing requires a coupling of abstract analytical skill and the desire to use it. And somebody who feels like an artist is unlikely to enjoy the latter, even if he happens to enjoy the former (which is rare).

> I’ll take a bet that this one will stick with Kris’s identity for some time to come.

Sure. Five years to be exact (the duration of the exclusivity). But that doesn't mean Nick isn't right about it being too "friendly" -hence not sober enough- for these times (through no fault of Kris, since that's what the client asked for - although maybe DNAD should have said something, early on). The age of the straight line might be coming back, which is a shame, since that would seem to preclude organicity, which is just now taking flight for real (and I like it a lot).

hhp

kris's picture

I’m offering my thoughts (as you requested) as to how the mechanics of the working relationship between a foundry, the foundry’s client, and the client’s client affect the design of a custom type. I’d be interested in your insights, rather than just a straight assertion of how perfectly the design delivers on the brief.

The mechanics are pretty straight forward. They came to me wanting a custom typeface to fit into their new branding direction. I looked at what they had graphic design wise, their mood boards, which typefaces they were referencing & talked to the AD about what was good & bad about those typefaces. Once I had a clear idea of what they needed I started drawing (yes, from a blank slate). The design was sent through at various stages to get feedback & sign-off, all the way until it was finished. Isn't this how everyone does it?

Nonetheless, the application of rounded corners wherever they don’t look too cutsey does seem to be a compromise. Despite your explanation of a system, there still seems to be a certain arbitrariness in the application of round corners. Why, for instance, is the top left of “u” sharp, but not the top left of “n”? Why no rounded corners in “w”?

I put the curves in where it made visual sense to me. Any more would have ruined it. I tried rounded bits on the 'u' and 'w' but they looked wrong. If that is arbitrary, then so be it!

But conceptually, when a client specifies not just a brief of abstract qualities, but an execution such as a rounded finish, how can that free the designer to do a completely thorough, from scratch, job?

I'm not sure I understand why this is relevant. I'm a designer, not an artist. I want and need their feedback and input to make a typeface suitable for them. They initially wanted rounded corners, like Unit Rounded. I didn't do that, but we arrived at the rounded-to-a-point curve mutually during the collaborative design process. I think that client involvement makes a thorough job.

On the “slightly reversed contrast” I meant as I said the a, which goes from relatively thick to the reduced, curved terminal…

Ah. I thought you meant I had gone totally Antique Olive/Balance! Maybe one day, for something else.

What Serrano actually has is Jean François Porchez-style ’orizontalité.

What a lovely term for it!

I’ll take a bet that this one will stick with Kris’s identity for some time to come.

Hey Bill, just to clarify that the identity isn't mine, only the typeface. I'd hate to take credit where it's not due…

--K

Nick Shinn's picture

Richler proved you were not very comfortable with text fitting,

Bill, your opinion doesn't prove anything.

Nick Shinn's picture

Kris, thanks for the further detail.

k.l.'s picture

I tried rounded bits on the ’u’ and ’w’ but they looked wrong. If that is arbitrary, then so be it!

That makes sense. Maybe it's analog to serif typefaces where u v w x y serifs (need to?) differ from the others to look "right", horizontal rather than diagonal. Not arbitrary but by intention.

Miss Tiffany's picture

I had heard of fox tail but since forgotten about it. Does the wiki have a page for the terminal? I think a list of descriptive terminals should be added.

billtroop's picture

>Bill, your opinion doesn’t prove anything.

Nick, you're not going to learn how to fit until you give up that system (for I must admit that it is a system, in that it is calculated to do everything wrong rather than right). And you aspire to release a Scotch in competition with Matthew Carter?

Miss Tiffany's picture

Thanks for reminding me, Hrant.

Nick Shinn's picture

you’re not going to learn how to fit until you give up that system

You have no idea what you're talking about.
I used "that system" once, as an experiment--which was quite successful, actually.

...you aspire to release a Scotch...

I already have.

paul d hunt's picture

Paul’s Grandia typeface, which shows such deep understanding of the intangibles of serious reading, but I don’t think the fitting is there yet based on the sample referenced here.

thanks, bill! believe me, i'm keenly aware of the efficiencies of the fitting and struggled with it a long time before i had to give up in order to have something to submit for my practical. i fully intend on revisiting that, but have much yet to learn in the realms of inter-letter spacing. anyway, back to the lovely Seranno... :D

The age of the straight line might be coming back, which is a shame, since that would seem to preclude organicity

i'm sure the organic will be in vogue quite a bit longer...

hrant's picture

Nick (and/or Bill), how does this "system" work?

Concerning the "in competition with Matthew Carter" bit, if we're talking about commercial competition* then quite sadly, as Mrs Eaves has shown so well, good spacing doesn't necessarily matter much. It's been the best-selling Emigre font (and that's saying a lot) even though Robin Kinross has equated it with a loose bicycle (while I've equated it with a high attractive women with a severe speech impediment).

* As opposed to critical competition, which is not something Nick (or Matthew, who is however too modest to do so anyway) should present an opinion about, leaving it to others to determine.

Paul, I most certainly hope you're right.

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

...how does this “system” work?

A bit off topic for this thread, but it's explained in the Richler PDF.
http://www.shinntype.com/Richler.pdf

billtroop's picture

The theory apparently is that squarish rounds should be fitted as if they were straights, not rounds. (This has got nothing to do with DIN, which in Pool's version is fitted by a master.) The result is that rounds have about twice the sidebearings on either side that they need. (Strangely this did not occur to Zapf whose competently fitted Melior is the ultimate parent of this typeface -- not that Melior should be encouraged to breed.) Another global problem is that the caps are incorrectly fitted in relation to the lowercase, leading to the excessive gaps between uppercase letters followed by lowercase letters. Look at commissioned, where mmi is reasonable but co is too loose, om is looser still, and the snobbish e has erected a hedge to shield its unwelcome neighbours from view. Ca and Ra show the problem with the caps.

billtroop's picture

To forestall Hrant, the reason Mrs Eaves succeeds is not because of its bad spacing but in spite of it. The typeface has real charm and the looseness is tonic. Fixing the bad relationships but maintaining the looseness of Mrs Eaves, as more than one expert technician of my acquaintance has been paid well to do, only improves the typeface. One hopes that Licko has learnt something in the meantime, but refitting the commercial font would be impossible because of the necessity to preserve line integrity in older documents. On the other hand, there are people who are simply too invested in their sense of authority to learn.

Nick Shinn's picture

Bill, you are too tied to convention. Overly invested in a sense of authority, one might say.
Innovation is not, per se, incorrect. Of course, the sidebearings of Richler don't look right when one examines them closely and looks for divergence from standard theory and practice. In fact, I had to overcome my prejudices and concentrate on how the face reads in text, to fully commit to the concept.

Ultimately, "fit" is not a matter of right or wrong. Like other aspects of type design, it's more a question of style and tone, and the personal discrimination of the designer. There are different styles of fit, and Richler is wide and open, whether you like it or not.

The face hasn't been used much, due to the exclusive conditions of the licence, but if you'd care to see it in its intended context, you might enjoy this--and learn something:
http://www.amazon.ca/Dispatches-Sporting-Life-Mordecai-Richler/dp/067697...

William Berkson's picture

>Ultimately, “fit” is not a matter of right or wrong.

I don't agree. Getting good rhythm and color is important to readability, and so readability is a constraint on text faces that does make for "right" and "wrong". This is probably a range rather than a bright line, though.

hrant's picture

> The theory apparently is that squarish rounds
> should be fitted as if they were straights

It seems to go even further. For example, the left side of the "b" would be spaced the same as the left of the "h", right? Basically it sounds like it's aiming for uniform spacing of the main verticals, ignoring lesser parts of glyphs.

> Melior is the ultimate parent of this typeface

I'm not seeing that.

> To forestall Hrant, the reason Mrs Eaves succeeds
> is not because of its bad spacing but in spite of it.

Well, that's what I already said.

> Fixing the bad relationships but maintaining the looseness of
> Mrs Eaves, as more than one expert technician of my acquaintance
> has been paid well to do, only improves the typeface.

When it comes to text, I can't agree. There's a relationship between a font's vertical proportions, color and spacing, and Mrs Eaves has to either be a lot tighter (to work at around 14 point) or darker, larger on the body & a bit tighter (to work at smaller sizes). For display work though I can see its airiness being aesthetically useful.

BTW, who are these re-designers? Is it legal?

> refitting the commercial font would be impossible

Not impossible, just annoying to a minority of users who for some rarified reason have to go back and reset a large work with the new version. Plus those people could just have both versions on hand.

BTW, do I actually remember correctly that Emigre eventually -and quietly- released an updated version (I mean after the OT one) with the spacing fixed? (Maybe it was a dream I had...)

> there are people who are simply too invested
> in their sense of authority to learn.

This is the real problem.
Artistes.

--

BTW, to those of you who are weary of the chronic Mrs Eaves bashing and/or fearful of yet another flame war sparked by the bashing, understand that the bashing happens because of Mrs Eaves's combination of commercial success and poor craft. This combination unnerves some of us, because it makes us feel like all our attention to detail goes ignored by most graphic designers. And it does. But we have to remember why we really do apportion this attention.

hhp

hrant's picture

> concentrate on how the face reads in text

This is pretty much impossible for a designer to do
when it comes to his own work. One needs help.

> “fit” is not a matter of right or wrong.

That's art talk, not design talk.

Richler however does have great style. If/when the
exclusivity runs out you might consider respacing it.

> each would argue that the discrimination of his/her eye was best?

That doesn't mean they're using different philosophies of spacing. Plus some designers -like Paul in this very thread- are modest enough to admit they are not Perfect.

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

I don’t agree.

But Bill, surely if you asked several different type designers to "fit" the same set of glyphs, they would each do it differently, and each would argue that the discrimination of his/her eye was best?

Nick Shinn's picture

...how the face reads in text...This is pretty much impossible for a designer to do.

What I mean is that the designer should not apportion metrics primarily by examining large images of glyphs in the metrics window of FontLab, but by reading paragraphs of text printed out at book text size.

That’s art talk, not design talk.

Even though they may adhere to the same philosophy, can't type designers have personal style in implementing it?
Doesn't one type designer "fit" differently than another?
Slimbach and Licko, for instance, are at different ends of the tight/loose spectrum.
But why should there be only one acceptable philosophy of fit?

Nick Shinn's picture

Back to Serrano:

Kris, your website won't work for me.
Can you please post images of the Serrano fonts in this thread?

gohebrew's picture

> Getting good rhythm and color is important to readability, and so readability is a constraint on text faces....

I agree with William. Good rhythm is consistantcy in color. There should not be strips of white space between the letters or words due to the shapes of the sides of the letters. This is where good kerning comes into play, as certain letter pairs need to be closer together, whiles others need to be further apart.

Generally speaking, larger type is tighter to a fault, and smaller type is looser. Text faces for children are a little looser even at medium sizes, or the typeface design is very wide, like Schoolbook.

In a well-made OpenType font, kerning becomes obsolete, or is only used as an override, like in InDesign diacritics panel (I assume the non-ME regular version has this pallete).

I wonder if the leading OpenTpe font-makers are adding this extra feature. David Berlow of FontBureau, is this the case with your fonts? Thomas Pinney of Adobe, co-makers of OpenType, is this feature in your fonts? Is Linotype still around?

dezcom's picture

Fit should have more to do with the actual glyphs in the individual font than with an external philosophy. It is more about visual physics and balancing forces inherent in the font than a personal philosophy of either aesthetics or readability. The problem is that there is no true measure that fits what the human eye and mind does in the act of reading. There are several possible ways to balance an equation when most of the factors are unknowns. Each designer uses his or her own set of visual measurements and ratios to find an answer. There have been both successes and failures in fitting using any methods available. Perhaps it is not the system one uses but the quality of execution one arrives at?

ChrisL

Nick Shinn's picture

Right Chris, that's what I was trying to get at.

dezcom's picture

"I wonder if the leading OpenTpe font-makers are adding this extra feature."

What feature are you talking about? You can't mean the glyph palette, it is part of the application software.

ChrisL

William Berkson's picture

Israel, Open Type doesn't do away with the benefit of kerning, at least for roman fonts.

>Perhaps it is not the system one uses but the quality of execution one arrives at?

I think the problem is if you substitute a 'system' for the eye, which is I fear what Nick did with this one type face. But I would need to see it in text before judging.

Both Kern Master and iKern are reputed to do a pretty good job. That tells me that there is a lot of constraint on how much variation you can do, and still have it work well for small, extended text. In fact the constraint can be done as an algorithm, to a great extent. That tells me that the eye has pretty strict demands on what is successful in text.

>visual physics and balancing forces inherent in the font

But that is exactly what makes a font readable, Chris. If it were just personal expression, you could say to hell with balance. But you won't end up with a successful text face.

Nick Shinn's picture

Sorry, re. "Dispatches", the hardcover is a better option:

http://www.amazon.com/Dispatches-Sporting-Life-Mordecai-Richler/dp/B0001...

Nick Shinn's picture

if you substitute a ’system’ for the eye, which is I fear what Nick did with this one type face.

As I said, I had a non-standard "system", more of a general principle really, which I fine-tuned by eye, i.e. by according primacy to reading paragraphs of printed text, not the monitor. But yes, please judge the face in a book, not from a PDF on screen.

hrant's picture

> Slimbach and Licko, for instance, are at
> different ends of the tight/loose spectrum.

They're at different ends of other spectra as well.

--

BTW Kris, I was wondering but forgot to ask:
How did you (plural?) choose the name?

hhp

billtroop's picture

>There are several possible ways to balance an equation when most of the factors are unknowns. Each designer uses his or her own set of visual measurements and ratios to find an answer. There have been both successes and failures in fitting using any methods available. Perhaps it is not the system one uses but the quality of execution one arrives at?

Yes. There are four basic questions to answer: how do you space H, O, n, o ? Everything follows from that. So: you have four dependent parameters: cap straights, cap rounds, lc straights, lc rounds. (Not that these do not have variations. For example, left b will sometimes be substantially less than left l. And it can happen, not seldom in a 'Modern', that what is right for n is not right for m.)

The problem is that we look at these parameters as independent, when they are all dependent. Richler is a textbook example of this situation: the lc straights are a little loose, but the lc rounds are very, very loose. And the caps don't relate to either.

Nick, if you can't see the disharmony of the Richler spacing, it's time to take a fresh look. Don't you want to be remembered for your successes rather than your failures, interesting and educative as they may be?

Needless to say, spacing is only, ever, optimal at one point size. You hope, in a single master type, to have designed that optimal size such that positive tracking can take care of the smaller sizes and negative tracking can take care of the larger sizes. Or you design other sizes with different spacing. Or you tell your single master customers that they should only use the type at once size.

There is no one right way, but just because that is true, it doesn't make a wrong way a right way. For example, o spacing in relation to n spacing is typically looser in Lino metal (and photo/digital); tighter in Mono metal, and tighter still in ATF metal. (Benton liked tight o's.) Matthew Carter has suggested that one reason for this progression may simply have to do with the comparative fragility of the type in the three systems. However that may be, Sumner Stone for example prefers looser o's in relation to n's than Carter does.

Whatever way you solve the relationships, you must do so plausibly, without obvious rivers of space running through a single word. Like 'commission' in the Richler pdf where it will be obvious even to an un-typographically sophisticated reader that something is amiss. Look at 'personality'. lity is nicely spaced. But everything else is too loose, and the p looks as if it weren't even attached to the word.

I suspect there may be more subtle problems, too. Look at full. ll is very nice, but I would guess that u has the same right sidebearing as l. It needs less, because it is only at x-height. It's a pity, because the typeface could really sing with good fitting!

Nick Shinn's picture

Nick, if you can’t see the disharmony of the Richler spacing, it’s time to take a fresh look.

Bill, if you can’t see the harmony of the Richler spacing, it’s time to take a fresh look.
There is nothing wrong with the type's metrics.
Certainly, it looks strange when examined closely (as if it were a headline), but that's not how one reads a book, is it?
Please get hold of a book, take a look at the mise-en-page and reconsider your prejudices:
http://www.amazon.com/Dispatches-Sporting-Life-Mordecai-Richler/dp/B0001...
http://www.amazon.ca/This-My-Country-Whats-Yours/dp/0771075332

hrant's picture

> ... o spacing in relation to n spacing is ...

From my own experience I have a hunch that this might be due -at least in part- to the relative importance one gives to control-string spacing versus real-language spacing. If you rely too much on control-string spacing, the round-straight sequence (and by extension the overall) becomes too loose when you actually set text. One solution is to set round sidebearings tight, then gently kern the round-rounds positively. This is what I did in Harrier, and people seem to think highly of its spacing.

hhp

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