Advice for using a chopped wedge serif?

smrvl's picture

I could use your knowledge & wisdom!

I'm a designer for a company that was re-branded just before I was hired, and the font chosen for the logotype was FF Olsen Bold, set with tight tracking (it's kerned, naturally, but it's in the -25/-50 zone), with Sentence Capitalization.

My problem is that I'm not sure of the best way to treat this typeface as a part of our visual identity, since I've rarely used a chopped wedge serif in the past. Do you have any insights into the best uses for this kind of face?

I'm looking for anything from type specimens that you think work particularly well for this type to "always" or "never" rules to general insights.

Any opinions, suggestions, rants, or suggestions welcome!

David Somerville

hrant's picture

I think sheared wedge serif fonts are awesome*, not
least because they're so versatile. Why so much worry?

* Requisite shameless plug:


Nick Shinn's picture

Take a look at the Saturday Globe and Mail (“Canada’s National Newspaper”), if you can pick up a copy at your local international newsagent.

A chopped-wedge serif typeface, bold and extra bold, is used throughout, with a super-tight treatment in the Style section.

smrvl's picture

Brilliant! Thank you, Nick!

Hrant, the only reason for the worry is that I'm trying to put together a style guide for other designers, based on this redesign, and so I need to get my head around what the face is best used for ... that way I can encourage designers to use it for the proper purpose, and not try and -- say -- set minutia in it when that should be put in a face optimized for small display.

But you're right, I'm probably over-thinking it. :) Just wanting to draw from the collected wisdom of the amazing Typophiles gathered here.

hrant's picture

I like over-thinking. :-)

That's one cool thing about sheared-wedge serifs (or
slanted-slab serifs, depending on how you look at it),
it's hard to mess up.

Ernestine for example has been tested down to 4 point and
it's shockingly readable (although the large x-height is a
major player in this). Olsen looks like it would be a solid
performer as well.

In terms of character however it's certainly possible
to misuse any font. Olsen conveys a no-nonsense
warmth, a let-me-tell-you-how-it-really-is honesty.
Don't use it for wedding invitations. :-)


smrvl's picture

Rats, wedding invitations are a major part of our business plan!

No, just kidding. Ha.

I like your analysis of Olsen, and wholly agree ... which is lovely, because that's exactly the tone I think we'd like to hit. I think I can build my recommendations off the personality of the font, actually, now that I think about it. Maybe it's better to suggest to designers to, "Use this font for no-nonsense warmth," rather than "only use this for headers." That might allow more flexibility and interest in the designs.

This is great stuff. Thank you so much for your input!

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