Partly to thank the author for writing the OP, but also because I find it just fascinating that he found a niche not just in typography, but the importance of typography in the legal arena.
Seems like there should be an equally important niche for a book, "Programming for Lawyers", much of which would involve batch document scanning and analysis.
What do you mean 'vegetarian' doesn't mean what I think it means?
It has lots of detail on typography, but focussed around the web. It also covers things like colour and layout amongst other topics (e.g. research and workflow, which I find less insightful). It's a great and fairly quick read :)
I've always been interested in fonts, but I have a question regarding their price. Why are they so expensive? I don't know how long it takes to design a good font, but is it longer than writing a good smartphone app? Font pricing feels outdated. It feels from an era when publishing was done by large companies.
If I could buy an excellent font for $10-$20 I would literally buy dozens. But font designers are making their work a serious expense, making me ask myself "is it worth it?" In most cases, the answer is no.
If what I just typed makes no sense at all, I blame either my insomnia or the ambien which I refuse to take for it.
Obviously, the other issue is that a publication will pay a gigantic amount of money for a typeface, but HN readers will only reluctantly spend $21. Rather than trying to bridge the gap, it makes sense to sell to the party that values your work the most. Again, this is a very common and sensible pricing dynamic.
Operators of $5/yr SAAS services take heed!
People buy lots of stupid stuff. If they buy hats that their characters can wear in a computer game, they will probably buy fonts, too.
In the meantime, you're not where their bread is buttered yet, so the urgency isn't there.
I can't imagine a reason why you'd want dozens of fonts, any more than I could understand wanting dozens of pairs of dress shoes.
Moreover, like an expensive suit (note: I don't own one of those), there is little intrinsic utility in a premium font; it's practically the definition of a digital luxury. It can thus be priced as a Veblen good --- which it in effect is, to its real market (publications, agencies).
And they link to a law paper, "The Piracy Paradox: Innovation and Intellectual Property in Fashion Design" (http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=878401) by Kal Raustiala and Christopher Jon Sprigman that says: "Yet a significant empirical anomaly exists: the global fashion industry, which produces a huge variety of creative goods without strong IP protection. Copying is rampant as the orthodox account would predict."
Perhaps what you mean is that you can't claim that a knock-off is from one of the big names in fashion? Because it looks like people copy the designs frequently. Fashion, however, is partly about status, and people attribute status to brands. So even though if a design is similar, people may not value it as high simply because it doesn't have the "right" brand on it.
I actually agree with your point about "okay, so buy two good fonts instead of dozens of crappy ones' -- but I disagree there is little intrinsic utility in a high-quality 'premium' font.
A better font will make the work that uses it more readable and intelligible. It adds _utility_, not just beauty, to the text that uses it.
The next question is how you identify a better font, and if most $99 fonts are better than most free fonts or not. Certainly there are going to be some crappy $99 fonts, and perhaps a couple good free fonts, sure, the price isn't a guarantee.
App store games, music, etc. are vastly cheaper and hold more than their explicit production value. They provide entertainment, and to an extent, even an artform.
Because I like trying things on for size. And my mood changes. That's why I bought five different writing apps.
Well, I most certainly wouldn't. Mostly because I wouldn't buy dozens of them all at once, but over a period of weeks/years.
On the other hand, designers need to buy many different fonts since each client needs a unique brand – unless you're one of those designers that impresses your own brand on your clients.
It’s a combination of the attention to detail that goes into a professional-quality font and the sheer scale of the work, which is multiple orders of magnitude greater than writing a good smartphone app.
I wrote about this once before if you’re interested in a deeper explanation:
yet charge ~10$.
Games can be incredibly complex, you're underestimating
the amount of effort it takes to write one. You're also
assuming that he's selling his game on a mobile app store,
which may not be case (there's Steam, Desura, and other
Sometimes you do see that quite directly. A font might be available as a basic version, probably with enough characters to set text in a few common Western languages but few frills, and a “professional” version, which might have a much larger character set, more support for OpenType features, or other enhancements.
There are other ways that pricing scales as well. For example, professional-grade fonts are almost always presented as part of a family, with different variations of weight (often far more than just regular vs. bold), style (roman/italic/slanted) and perhaps other characteristics. Buying a single font (just one style/weight variant) is usually disproportionately expensive, so most people would buy a bundle. An entry-level bundle might contain just a couple of weights and plain vs. italic versions of them, and those four variations might be more than enough for a lot of users. On the other hand, professionals typesetting a book or magazine would almost certainly want a wider typographical palette, and would therefore buy a more comprehensive bundle with perhaps dozens of different variations within just one font family. The price-per-font for both bundles might be about the same, but that means the comprehensive set is many times more expensive in absolute terms.
Another common means of scaling is that, like software, computer fonts tend to be licensed per device. That means someone buying one copy to use for a personal project will pay far less than a company of 500 people that wants to install a font for their new corporate look on every employee’s PC.
There is also the possibility of exclusivity. Some professional-grade fonts start life as a commissioned work for the exclusive use of a specific client, again usually as part of a branding exercise. Of course those clients will pay a premium for that work, which is far beyond the budget of most of us. In many cases they will only pay for exclusivity for a limited time, and the font’s creators can then add that font to their public catalogue for others to buy.
As a final example, with the rise of fonts-as-a-service on the Web, we now commonly see licensing based on page views, so large sites with many visitors are paying significantly more to the hosting service (though almost certainly at a lower cost per individual page view). Given that a major web site will receive orders of magnitude more hits than a typical personal blog or small company, that can make a big difference in how much a font service brings in if their fonts are chosen for major sites. As far as I’ve seen, the fonts themselves tend to be identical in these cases, though.
There are lots of dinosaurs in typography—Linotype etc—but the best studios are tiny. Some great links to great studios here: http://jessicahische.is/thinkingthoughts
Jesting aside, there are a handful of large foundries who are still behind the times somewhat. They're used to dealing with only a few clients (design agencies usually) and certainly not the web. A few have thankfully started coming around, especially thanks to work by TypeKit/Adobe. For example, HF&J now has a surprisingly good webfont service.
But unless you're going for something really specific (Proxima Nova, Whitney, etc.) you can very likely find a great similar font that is already open and even CDN'd by Google. (Though their browser is lousy.) https://www.google.com/fonts/
No if you spend years on an app! Seriously, developing a good type, from the idea to the final font files, is massive undertaking and can’t be compared to developing software. (I’m an experienced software developer and also a not-so-experienced type designer.)
They have a great collection.
OK, I appreciate the advice, but why is Arial bad? I mean, I can't even tell the difference!
> My aversion to Comic Sans—king of the goofy fonts—probably comes as no surprise. But why Arial? Arial was created as a Helvetica substitute. To many, they’re indistinguishable. But to typographers...
Right. So what I get from that is, if you care about making sure your content is fashionable to typographers, don't use Arial. Otherwise (i.e. nearly all the time) Arial is fine.
As for why not Helvetica or Times New Roman, it's because they're boring. Using either of these typefaces is a non-choice. It's like not using any color in your design. If you do it right, your design can look timeless, transparent, minimal. If you do it wrong, you look lazy. Arial is a great choice for somebody like Google who wants to position their brand as if it's the very substance of the internet. Before the recent re-branding, they looked lazy (because they were). Now they look timeless. But if you want your brand to have a unique character, or you have interesting typographical problems to solve, you should look into other typefaces.
Some of the other 'Microsoft core fonts' (Arial was originally designed by Monotype in 1982, not Microsoft) were actually designed for low resolution screen display, like Georgia and Verdana. Arial is better hinted than some of the versions of Helvetica out there, especially some of the lousy ones more common to older PCs. It has a high x-height and was designed to be readable at smaller sizes—in print. But so was Helvetica.
In fact, one of the virtues of Helvetica is that it's pretty legible as body text. Like any typeface, it can be abused, but it's not a crime to use it for body copy. Just make sure not to track it too tightly.
As high resolution displays become more commonplace, concerns about hinted type should lessen. And having to design fat, wide letters for crude raster grids will hopefully become a thing of the past—like old terminal displays.
One last thing: Helvetica's a pretty sweet looking typeface; contrary to its reputation, not at all 'neutral', it has midcentury charm and character without looking too dated. Give it its due!
I just did a quick comparison of Helvetica and Arial at 13px and, while they are very nearly identical at that size, enough of the superiority of Helvetica shows through (the q and R look nicer, for instance) that I'm willing to completely reverse my opinion.
Helvetica Neue on the other hand still looks awful at 13px on a standard resolution screen due to the tracking being too tight.
But in five years we'll all have high-DPI displays, right? (For certain values of "high-DPI" and "all.")
it has people on both sides of the aisle and people often switch back and forth (see jan tschichold for the canonical example of this)
As an aside, when i was in grad school, the style coming out of yale and the werkplaats typografie was this severely default design aesthetic. Times new roman massively overlaid atop a xeroxed image at times abandoning legibility. It was like high-art zine culture blended with dutch sensibility, i.e. http://ffffound.com/image/d6f63117fcf5ea64c59c66b8af85e2389d...
But to the point about what makes arial "good" or "bad" is the same thing that makes Didot a bit tough as a text face (it just wasn't designed to be used that way). And same with arial, it was designed as a screen font that prints ok. I don't think the whole "lesser helveltica" claim is entirely fair to arial, but you have to accept it for what it's for: a generic screen font. If that is the look you are hoping to rock, use it wherever you want.
And to the larger point: all prescriptive advice should be treated like training wheels. if you already have the sense to know what you're doing, you can safely avoid the advice. if you don't know how to critique your own work, then it helps to think about what the prescriptive advice is getting you to avoid.
If you are at the point where you are making intentional decisions about what your design should look like, then keep on keeping on. But it helps to be aware of the cultural baggage that those choices bring along with them. I critted somebody's poster once and made the offhand comment: "oh, that looks computery" and i was basically trying to say "that has that homemade camcorder feel that home movies have, but if it were a poster that had been made with a computer." and it turned out after some period of time that i was actually reacting, subconsciously, to the fact that it was set with arial. How weird is that? But it was because i was so familiar with that look as something that tasted digital that is seemed weird in print. It wasn't wrong, it was just giving off that vibe.
Likewise, butterick is trying to make his own mark, setting his own tone. That's his right, he's alluding to certain traditions and aesthetics. It's fashion, yes, but it's also all the choices and feelings that those fashion choices bring along with them.
Sigh - another source for a rule that shows evidence of thinking like a writer, not as a typographer. We can forgive Bringhurst, but ... the single vs. double space choice is a false dichotomy in a world with proportional fonts, font expansion, stretchable space, and the like, since there is no such thing as the width of a space.
TeX, for instance, allows the space after sentences to stretch more than interword space, and gives inter-sentence space that is 1/3 wider than interword space where there is no space (default for CMR).
This particular document doesn't even touch on more advanced tings like this so it makes sense to leave it out and keep it to the simplified but still correct statement: One space, nothing else. That's it. If you do something else you are wrong.
It's just a typographical shibboleth, nothing more.
Seeing as the original article always tells you how to do things in Word, it means exactly that. Any system that is not not WYSIWYG will have no problems here, Word does. And since most people use Word, this is relevant. It doesn't matter that TeX doesn't take it into account, because this is not primarily written for TeX users. TeX does many of these things, but it is not what most people use, especially those who do not know anything at all about typography.
To emphasise what I said above: the book is passing off a didactic point about authoring (yes, many newspapers and publishers want their journalists and authors to follow the one-space rule in their copy) into a simplistic rule of typography, one which happens to be meaningless in many contexts and is based on fallacious reasoning.
If I put two spaces after a period, am I wrong, or simply differently habituated from people who learned keyboarding in the electronic age? And even if I am objectively wrong, I maintain that my wrong is less egregious than the wrong committed by a program that cannot accommodate that very well-documented and widespread typing error.
In the TeX source code, you can put as many spaces you want between words and sentences, TeX does not mind and will produce the exact same result.
So in the context of TeX documents, "One space is correct and nothing else" is either meaningless or false.
One space is correct. It's so correct, TeX will even automatically strip spaces away if you make more than one. (Happens on the web, too, by the way.)
Just in case that sounds too simple, there is an exception for initials: `P. G. Wodehouse` is treated the same as `P.\@ G.\@ Wodehouse`. If you want to cancel this, prefix the period by `\@`.
This kind of thing makes Latex a hard sell to a general audience.
For abbreviations, you should explicitly insert a space control sequence (\<space>) or a non-breaking space (~) after the period.
I think if you think about it, you'll realize this is just TeX agreeing with what he said about one space.
That being said, spacing is obviously very different in justified type (and a huge pain to set by hand), where it will change depending on which words fit in the line.
This use is also in contrast with Nielsen's advise since 2004: "Textual links should be colored and underlined to achieve the best perceived affordance of clickability, though there are a few exceptions to these guidelines", on http://www.nngroup.com/articles/guidelines-for-visualizing-l...
> I programmed a new web-publishing system.
I seem can't find any other reference to that, and still not sure about emailing the author directly yet. My google-fu failed me on this one. Anyone know if the author's system has been published or sold?
> The book was written and designed using Pollen,
> a book-publishing system that I created for this
> project. Pollen was built with Racket, a programming
> language descended from Scheme & Lisp.
So no, it doesn't seem to be published.
Ihmo every (web-)designer should read at least a few essays from Jan Tschichold: http://www.modernism101.com/tschichold_form_of_the_book.php
And I say that as a typography enthusiastic software engineer. The thing about typography is, when you do it right, it pretty much doesn't leave any room for creativity. There is one right way to print text in a given format.
For the web I can only insist that the users choice of font and size should be respected. From there on you can only work in EMs. The first rule is that a line has to span 8-12 words. That leaves you a text width of about 66em. The line height should be 1.2 times the size of the font, e.g. 1.2em. Every element of the text (paragraphs, headings, listings, tables, images, ...) should be spaced by multiples of the line width to keep the text rythm (important).
To get an idea what I am talking about you can visit my web site:
PS: justified alignment is to be avoided since the browsers lack proper algorithms. bSad but true.
Perhaps it looks good on a tablet computer. But it feels odd to learn about typography from a page that feels difficult to read.
(I think they're fine but hardly awe-inspiring. Certainly better than the defaults though.)
I don't know what it is, but feels like my eye sight is only able to comprehend the point focus of what I'm looking at.
From a cursory glance at the CSS, it's solid black text on a solid white background. This can have slightly too much contrast, which can become tiring to read. Off-black text on an off-white background tends to help I find. Apparently this effect is even worse for dyslexics, and "not-white" is specifically mentioned in: http://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/about-dyslexia/further-informa...
the page definitely looks a lot better with CSS disabled.
Typography and content aside using it feels like a book, but not in the good way.
Look at that, the lowercase L looks like a one.
Times is great! I would say that any hate for Times is a repressed memory from the days when it was the default font in Microsoft Word. I mean, wow, remember this?
<div style="font-family:Times New Roman;font-size:105%">
I went to another page of his and copied a paragraph, setting one paragraph to use Times New Roman and another to use Equity. Without saying which is which, I'll leave it to you to decide which is "better": http://cl.ly/image/0I333L3d0O2H
I suggest not "cheating" by comparing the font shapes to the example Equity at the top of the page. :D
Any advice on this matter?
I don't expect to become a brilliant designer, I am only hoping to avoid what an expert would regard as ghastly errors, or perhaps better said, to help me make some reasonable choices.
The font distinction you really care about is the one between display fonts and text fonts. Put simply, text fonts are the ones designed for setting lots of text, and, to keep things simple for yourself, you should constrain yourself to those fonts.
Most every place that will sell you fonts will have a category or tag somewhere that will tell you what the text fonts are (they're easy to identify: they're the ones that look boring compared to Lobster and whatnot).
Actually, if you go to the web page for the book, http://designforhackers.com/book/ you can get a free PDF cheat sheet for simplifying your font choices.
An example of misuse of typography; he advises you not to use various forms of emphasis at the same time (bold, italic and underline all at once), and to use a regular and limited progression of headings to indicate importance and hierarchy. I have seen clients attempting to design making all these mistakes without considering the result of those choices and ending up with an unsatisfactory result which fails in difficult to quantify ways. They sense it isn't quite right, but don't pin the blame in the right place (on the lack of coherence).
The good news is you can learn by trying, none of this is particularly hard, it's like learning to write well - it comes with practice, really looking at what others do, and listening to criticism when it appears justified. Some of this is subjective of course, and dependent on the culture and sensibilities of the reader, so it's something you're going to acquire by osmosis rather than by reading a brief guide I'm afraid. For some subjects, there is no TL;DR.
I am certainly not a typography or design expert, but I know these basics. And the comment about clients is right on. I have upon several occasions set up a CMS for a client with (to me) considered and conservative typographic choices, only to have the client start adding their own content, and use not only multiple forms of emphasis but also tossing in completely different fonts as well as colors.
Nothing like a bold, underlined, italic, lime green block of text in a different font to completely destroy the look you've created.
Hearing that advice isn't going to make me a threat to professional designers (who I work with and admire tremendously), but some very basic rules of thumb are all I am looking for.
Sorry if it came across that way, that wasn't the intended message at all. There are plenty of little pieces of advice in this book, a couple of which I highlighted in my reply - those I'd indicate are good rules to live by if you don't want to have to dig deeper. They don't answer your question directly, because choosing a font is only one choice amongst many important choices you make in presenting information, and probably middling in importance. So don't only ask that question, and note that it's only one chapter in this book - there are lots of little decisions which go into typography which I'd learn first.
To say that isn't to imply that it takes a lifetime, or that no-one should learn, or that non-designers somehow threaten designers (!), just that it's a complex topic which rewards study. I'd absolutely encourage you to learn a little about typography, designer or not, it's a fascinating subject, but like most subjects rules of thumb vary depending on who you ask, and it's hard to condense it into just a few rules (though this book is one such attempt). Here's some refs on typography:
Just My Type - a fun introduction to the subject for the layperson
Counterpunch by Fred Smeijers - perhaps a bit dry, but I found it engaging, a history of type
The Elements of Typographic Style - perhaps a bit dry, but informative
Those books go into detail about different types of fonts and their meaning (which is tied up in their origins), but also all the other little things that dictate the form of our thoughts on the page.
If you want a more superficial guide, then I'd simply say just pick one mainstream sans and one serif, and you won't go too far wrong in your font choice. You're unlikely to find a more useful summary of where to use which fonts without lots more detail, because the right answer is it depends, and there are other more important choices you make when styling text.
The author lays out four basic principles: Contrast, Repetition, Alignment and Proximity (CRAP - I love it; it's very memorable). The idea is that if you follow these principles, regardless of the types/fonts you choose, you'll have a better looking, easier to read document.
This looks great, I'm anxious to give it a thorough going-through in the next couple days. There are some good tips outside of just type as well, including this bit from the resume sample:
"Avoid dense text by using a second page. [...] Students, this advice doesn’t apply to you. You’ve only got one page of material. Really."
At the time, it was perhaps unique in its perspective.
It was so well written that, regardless of how much computer technology has "advanced", I suspect it would still be a good, useful, and entertaining introduction.
Unfortunately, my copy was the victim of some flooding and I don't currently have ready access to go back and revisit it. But if you have access or are particularly intrigued, it might be worth a look.
The very first chapter starts with three hyphenated lines in a row! I’m imaging my typography professors facepalming right now…
But, what is this about read only fonts? If the browser can see the font then the browser can steal the font (I mean the program and the user of the program respectively).
If it were my font I'd aim for detecting cheaters instead of preventing cheaters. Maybe the font file can include an hmac? When I don't need money, either after death or maybe before, I want them to steal my font so it becomes popular (more popular than Arial so the world will improve). Until then I'll litigate, or publicly shame or whatever I want.
Also this part of the license made me laugh (http://mbtype.com/license/):
"If you have unusual or excessive technical support needs, I can terminate your license by
refunding your license fee."
PostScript itself (vs PDF) is pretty much a dead letter at this point.
> Computer scientists and documentation writers, take note: straight quotes and backticks in software code should never be converted to curly quotes. Those marks are, of course, part of the functional syntax of the code and must be reproduced literally. While fans of LaTeX have often written me to trumpet its typesetting superiority, I’ve never seen any LaTeX-created documentation that’s gotten this right.
As a LaTeX user (and not a very good one) I'm not too sure what I've been doing wrong.
... upquote=true ...
He's using some kind of condensed serif at an enormous size that makes it very uncomfortable for screen reading. His list numbers are illegible, misaligned, and extremely far away from the list items. He sprinkles SMALL CAPS everywhere FOR SOME REASON. The contents page is particularly bad, using a Futura-esque font against a serif at the same size, with bizarre spacing, failing to make a hierarchy or pleasing design.
There are many great design documents. This is not one of them. If you want to improve your design skills, do yourself a favor and avoid this charlatan.
It hurts my eyes, especially at night, and gives a sort of condescending vibe - "what I'm saying is really important so I'll spell this out like you were reading an alphabet book".
Yes. I thought it looked good.
> Writing as if you have unlimited reader attention is also dangerous, because running out of reader attention is fatal to your writing. The goal of most professional writing is persuasion, and attention is a prerequisite for persuasion. Once the reader’s attention expires, you have no chance to persuade. You’re just giving a monologue in an empty theater.
Well, then... Don't write that chapter and let's get down to business! I guess I'll skip that chapter.
Edit: Oh boy. I hadn't read about Violet's and Trixie's resumés. I like typography and give it a great deal of thought in every digital undertaking; but I will surely not hire Trixie because she used a better template: she gives less information and the whole resumé feels like it has as much negative space as content. When, and if, I hire someone, I want information, not thin air.
Edit 2: Another thing, regarding the 1.25 to 1.45 line-height he recommends. I feel like it's a lawyer's thing. Anything smaller than 1.5 looks very clamped, and most times people use 1.5 to 1.75. Kudo for the font size though. My poor eyes are grateful.
It depends of the font and the font size: sometimes, 1.3 is too much.
whenever i see talk of typography i always run to the thoughts on monospace fonts,
perhaps lawyers lack the same needs from monospace fonts as programmers...
both of his suggestions for courier alternatives:
FB Alix... his own,
; lack even basic needs such as easily distinguishable 0 and O and 1 and l...
of course i type this comment into a textarea using courier... that then prints Verdana... on a site arguably for people interested in programming and its tangential influence,
so perhaps i am the only audience
i was looking at his site typographyforlawyers.com page,
on the page linked he has a few other suggestions:
; and Nitti seems to satisfy those simple needs,
i think i will take a look
Also, this mixed in writing / content advice. Would be stronger if it was just typography.
btw as a user I fucking hate curly apostrophes and emdashes.