Frutiger infant?

Fiona Wilson's picture

My client has suggested that I use 'Frutiger Infant' for a children's book (it has a single storey 'a'). Does anyone have any idea which foundry this would originate from? Or perhaps it has been customised for a particular publisher...

charles umana's picture

Frutiger Stones seem some unorthodox design...

J Weltin's picture

I wouldn’t know such a version of Frutiger. You can send me a personal mail if you like and i make you a suggestion.

paulstonier's picture

All the samples that I can find lead me to Cambridge University Press. Looks like it was possibly a custom job for them.

Fiona Wilson's picture

Thanks for your replies. I think an editor involved in this project previously worked for Cambridge University Press - which would explain this request. My client doesn't want to go to expense of having a customised font created.
Options for sans serif book fonts with an infant 'a' seem rather limited. Futura would be my choice, were it not for the question mark which seems rather jarring... Sassoon Primary looks a bit too young for our purposes... Super Grotesk is a possibility...

Florian Hardwig's picture

More sans-serif typefaces with single-storey a alternates:

Magma
Gill Sans Infant
P22 Underground
Gotham
Hypatia Sans
National
Proxima Nova
Galaxie Polaris
Bryant
DIN Next
Ezzo

Not as an alternate, but as default:
URW Grotesk

Fiona Wilson's picture

Florian, thanks very much for taking the time to compile this list. I think URW Grotesk is likely to be our choice for this situation. Proxima Nova is also a possibility, but I wonder if the larger x-height makes it a little less legible for younger readers. I will definitely be bookmarking the other fonts for future reference.

paulstonier's picture

Nice work on the list. I didn't realize so many of those had alternative a's.

I believe the larger x-height actually helps in readability and probably legibility as well for children.
I read a study a long time ago that tested that and I believe the higher the x-height, the better for children it was to read.

Jens Kutilek's picture

I think URW Grotesk may be problematic because bpdq are just mirrored and turned versions of the same form.

Florian Hardwig's picture

You’re welcome.
When compiling this list, I didn’t pay regard to your original request, sorry. That is, I won’t recommend most of those typefaces for setting a children’s book (including URW Grotesk, for the reason Jens mentioned).
In my opinion, the significance of a single-storey ‘a’ for children is, at least, debatable. Such a typeface might come in handy for teachers, when it is both used for reading and (as a model for) writing. Apart from that, the benefit of avoiding confusion of ‘a’ and ‘a’ is soon outweighed by the potential – and likely – confusion of ‘a’ and ‘o’.

Children are not stupid, they can handle more than one representational form per character. Their world doesn’t end at the edges of their primer. They do spot and effortlessly read a lot of different ‘a’ glyphs every day: caps, italics, serifs, sans-serifs, scripts, fat letters, condensed letters, single-storey and double-storey …

Sassoon Primary looks a bit too young for our purposes

Note that the Sassoon family is an elaborate system that consists of a number of members, each designed for a special purpose.
Club Type about Sassoon Sans: “A more mature font … Ideal for older pupils, perhaps at Seconday school, or adults, who no longer require ‘exit strokes’ to clump the letters together.”

F

Fiona Wilson's picture

Interesting points about x height and mirrored characters, thank you. Looks like there's a lot of research that could be done here...

I thought these pages were useful:

http://www.kidstype.org/The%20project/Testing%20typography/Typefaces/typ... (a compilation of links and author's opinion)

especially: http://www.hgrebdes.com/typefaces/academicbase.html

I'm also creating a sample in Sassoon Sans.

Fiona Wilson's picture

Sorry, my comments on URLs are the wrong way round:

http://www.hgrebdes.com/typefaces/academicbase.html (a compilation of links to research)

especially: http://www.kidstype.org/The%20project/Testing%20typography/Typefaces/typ...

ben_archer's picture

BTW I have seen an 'infant' version of Futura in the offices of a well-known children's publisher. At first glance I thought it was an oxymoron, but this thread convinces me otherwise; perhaps it has a larger x-height?

Unfortunately it's never suprising to see how many editors continue to insist on customised and proprietary typefaces that belong to their former employers and previous jobs... maybe they should take up positions in sales & marketing instead.

Andreas Stötzner's picture

And I always thought that Futura *is* the infant version …

(sorry for resurrecting this –)

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