If we never knew about Franklin Gothic...

kosal's picture

And its design was posted on Typophile critique board, would we think the a was too wide, the n and o were too narrow, and the verticals of the N were too thin? Basically, with all the rule-breaking done with this face, would we see them as mistakes and obstacles to legibility?

blank's picture

Are you asking about the real Franklin Gothic, contemporary digitizations, or ITC Franklin? Because I’m staring at the original lowercase cast in metal and don’t see those problems, and I’ve studied the uppercase N enough to know that it’s fine.

And Franklin Gothic does not break any rules. There are no rules, save that letters must retain some semblance of their common forms to remain legible. The notion that type and typography are or should be governed by rules is a result of mediocre pedagogues trying to dumb things down.

kosal's picture

Yikes, I really have to watch my words. What I meant by "rule-breaking" in this case is that ITC Franklin Gothic has unique features that are not commonly seen. Those features, to me, are what make the typeface identifiable. About the N: I believe Doyald Young, in Fonts & Logos, referred to its stroke weights as backwards. What I'm trying to figure out here, is the rationale of the distinct features — whether they're done to solve certain issues, or done for distinction.

It matters to me because when I draw up glyphs, I follow certain patterns to ensure consistency amongst the others. There's a difference between a novice making daring decisions versus a master doing it. So I was curious. Does the N work because it's drawn that way? Or is the N's design just fine/acceptable because it doesn't hurt the typeface?

Jackson's picture

Does the N work because it's drawn that way? Or is the N's design just fine/acceptable because it doesn't hurt the typeface?

I'd be interested in seeing what you think a better, more "correct" Franklin Gothic N would look like.

blank's picture

whether they're done to solve certain issues, or done for distinction.

Functionality and visual distinctiveness are not mutually exclusive—in letterforms one will always impact the other. My guess is that when Benton designed Franklin he used the alternating stroke weights both to balance the color of the heavy letters and to give it a look more akin to serif type or writing than to monoweight designs, which the market had been flooded with for decades.

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