Goudy Old Style - Adobe or LTC?

msilverz's picture

I'm an amateur typophile, and I was hoping to get some advice.

In my spare time I typeset the papers for an online philosophy journal. We use Goudy Old Style for the text, and until now I've been using the Adobe version. I've been frustrated the lack of a full set of superscripts in that font, though, and so I decided to purchase the LTC version (with its much larger character set).

Now that I've worked with it a bit, however, I'm very disappointed with the LTC take on Goudy Old Style. The spacing seems much too "open." (That is, there's too much white space between individual letters.) The words don't hold together as they should. This looks clear on screen, but is even more obvious when I see it on paper. In short, it seems to me like a very poorly designed font. I wonder, though, if my reaction is skewed by the fact that I've been working with the Adobe version for so long. That's why I'd like some feedback from the experts here.

I've attached the first four pages of a paper in two different versions. The first uses the Adobe font; the second uses the LTC font. Am I right in thinking that the LTC font is too widely spaced? (Look particularly at pages 3 and 4.) Or is there something obvious I'm missing? Is one of these more true to Goudy's original?

Thanks in advance for your comments and advice.


ALP - 2011 - Adobe Goudy Old Style.pdf79.14 KB
ALP - 2011 - LTC Goudy Old Style.pdf91.53 KB
EBDesign's picture

If you like the way that Adobe looks tighter than the LTC why can't you just set your tracking to be -10 or so? I mean, is it not possible to do that in the program you are using?

I don't think there is anything wrong with doing that, just as long as it doesn't get too close to read and then hinder the legibility of it.

I personally like the way the LTC font appears more than the Adobe, and I do agree that it's spaced a little far out. That's why I just recommend tracking it in a bit and having to potentially kern certain letters for headlines.

msilverz's picture

Thanks for that suggestion. I'm using InDesign, and so I can certainly adjust the tracking as you suggest. I just want to make sure I'm not making a horrible mistake -- butchering a perfectly good typeface. As I said, I'm an amateur, and I wanted to consult more experienced hands before adopting such a radical solution.

It also looks like your suggestion might require quite a bit of work. The numerals, for instance, are set quite tightly in the Lanston font, and so I won't be able to adjust the tracking across the board. I suppose it wouldn't be that hard to format the numerals separately . . .


kentlew's picture

Your links above are broken. You’ll need to reattach the sample files without spaces in the file names.

The spacing which would be “true to Goudy’s original” would vary by the size of the original — generally smaller sizes were spaced more openly than larger sizes. So, each of your two fonts could be potentially “true” to the original, while being completely different, if each was referencing a different size master.

(Not saying they were, just that “true” is an variable target.)

Without being able to see your samples, it’s hard to comment on specifics.

kentlew's picture

Sorry, my mistake. The links are working after all.

Looking at the faces more closely in your examples, I can now say pretty confidently that these two fonts are based on different sized masters of Goudy Old Style. If I had to guess, I’d say that the Adobe (Monotype) is based on the 12-point original, while I think the Lanston was based on a 10-point master.

The Lanston is not only spaced more loosely, it is overall a little wider in character shapes (as would be expected for a smaller size).

So, neither is more “true” than the other. The Lanston is not necessarily a poorly designed font. It’s just not performing the way you want (or have become accustomed to) — and probably was intended originally for use at smaller sizes than you’re using.

You can try adjusting your H&J settings to compensate for the differences, but to some extent, it will always be different than what you’re used to. It’ll be up to you to decide whether to forge ahead and make it work in order to get the extra characters, or to go back.

msilverz's picture

That's extremely helpful, Kent. I hadn't thought of that!

Since the main text is set at 12 points, I think I'll continue to use the Monotype version. That said, I might use the Lanston fonts for the superscripts. I'll check to see how well they sit next to one another.

I appreciate your input!


William Berkson's picture

In looking at the two side by side, in particular the third line on page 3, it looks to me like the spacing + kerning of the Adobe version is more even. It may be unevenness rather than overall looseness or tightness that is bothering you.

kentlew's picture

> It may be unevenness rather than overall looseness or tightness that is bothering you.

Matty — Make sure you *don’t* have InDesign’s Optical metrics turned on. In my experience, this wreaks havoc with many otherwise perfectly fine fonts.

msilverz's picture

Don't worry, Kent. I never use the Optical kerning in InDesign.

Thanks again for the help, everyone!

johndberry's picture

I'm coming to this a bit late, but it's an interesting comparison. For what it's worth, the Lanston version seems much easier to read. But then, the Adobe version of Goudy Old Style shares the problem of so many text faces that originated in metal and got adapted first to phototype and then to digital: they end up looking thin and spindly, not at all the way they would have appeared in print when they were set in metal and printed by letterpress. Goudy himself liked tight fitting – too tight, I think – but the letters he was fitting weren't as light and airy as these digital versions. In general, the lighter the weight of the typeface, the more room it needs between letters, to be comfortably readable.

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