Would a family of similar condensed widths be useful?

blank's picture

In the era of metal type there were a few condensed sans type families that came in a series of widths much less pronounced than what we’re used to today. The most obvious example is Alternate Gothic 1–3, which are closer in width than the extra condensed and condensed fonts of today’s typefaces. These designs allowed typesetters to get a really nice fit for ad copy and headlines. Would a series like this be useful today? Or do designers prefer to just track and kern to fit rather than mess with different fonts?

Nick Shinn's picture

Horizontal scaling does the trick.
This was true in phototypositor days also, when it was known as (photo) modification, or modding.
H&FJ's Knockout should satisfy anyone who is interested in subtleties beyond that.

If you are considering a condensed niche market, I can tell you that when I was designing trade book covers, there never seemed to be enough styles of extremely condensed display typefaces available. For instance, I would consider Phaeton as only moderately condensed. I'm talking Empire/Bordeaux condensed.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

For my part, I think I wouldn’t be able to justify the expense of more than one (at most two) condensed versions of a typeface. Someone working with news under tight deadlines might think otherwise.

Miss Tiffany's picture

I think it depends upon the typeface. I've licensed multiple widths of many sans simply because I know that in my work having a variety to fit different widths always helps. But if a width is too close to another then I won't license it. For instance. I will license Gotham X-Narrow, but I won't license Gotham Narrow. I can see how some people would find it useful. It isn't that it is bad or anything, it is just so close to the original I'd sooner just make the x-narrow or regular width work.

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