Mixed case and all-caps fonts?

juanacevedo's picture


I wonder if I am being too much of a zealot here, but I would tend to think that all-caps fonts, like Trajan, are best used without case changes, i.e. sticking to the upper case height. I know the opposite has become common practice, but I would attribute this to a certain lack of information and maybe even a lack of feel for the monumental, sigillary character of these designs (I am really having Trajan in mind, or similar designs). If I get the idea right, these fonts are not meant for prolonged reading, but for a short text that stays stamped on your forehead for ever, sort of...

On the above grounds, I would go for 2 or 3 in the attached sample (part of a project under way). Please disregard the second line, as my query only relates to the top Trajan line. This text will be at the centre and top of a website, all its subpages etc.

Comments, suggestions, chidings and admonishments are gratefully welcome.

TMT Trajan.jpg115.98 KB
riccard0's picture

Third one is the most powerful.

kentlew's picture

The whole thing would be more majestic if you utilized the natural spacing in the font. I don’t know if Optical metrics is to blame, or if you’ve manually fiddled with it, but the spacing on this title is a bit uneven. The natural fitting that Twombly built into the fonts is much more balanced in general.

juanacevedo's picture

Thank you both.
@kentlew: I confess to having manually fiddled with the kerning. I try to be a little wary of inbuilt kerning, and to try manual adjustments when it comes to this kind of stuff (following Tschichold's advice), but I'm very grateful for your comment. I'll try to come closer as natural as possible. Still, wouldn't you think that this font's natural HE pair (for instance) is a bit too open?

kentlew's picture

> Still, wouldn't you think that this font's natural HE pair (for instance) is a bit too open?

No. Especially not compared to the limitation of TH.

In your case, the TH pairs you have are always going to be open — that’s the nature of T. So everything else should be balanced against that visual space.

Also, Trajan has a very open O; there’s nothing you can do about that large counter. So, between the forced spaces of T and O, your HESON ends up looking unnaturally tight (at least to my eyes) and you’ve isolated and exacerbated the spaces under T and inside O.

Look at your primary word MATHESON — the MATH will always be open because of angular M and A and wide T. Next to these HES is too tight. SO and ON are also too tight for that O.

I suppose one could try to make an argument for a 1970s-style tight-but-not-touching setting, but that goes completely against the nature of Trajan and against the kind of majesty I think you’re trying to project with this title.

Nick Shinn's picture

Whether considered as Pagan or Christian, this style is rather Eurocentric for comparative religion.
Or is that the point?

juanacevedo's picture

@Kent: really grateful for your explanation. And we take our vision for granted! I shall have a slow new look at this case and in general to caps kerning. Gracias.

@Nick: we may have to stick to typographic Eurocentrism, alas, since we are in Londinium, publishing in English, within Western academic standards, travelling on the Tube...but seriously now, what would be an alternative? I would think for most people, who are unaware of Trajan's imperial associations, it is simply a beautiful font, or simply the same font on the film posters. They are used to it. What would be a less Eurocentric font using the Latin alphabet? I think I see your point, but I can't think of an alternative... may I have a hint?

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