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Fall Fonts Festival

...about fonts, type and typography

During September and October we invited readers of the Design Cafe list and DTG to write in and relate a comment or suggestion relating to fonts, type or typography. More specifically:

Books to avoid 'bad' type

Melissa writes:
      "As a college professor in the graphic design program, I see ALOT of "bad" typography. However, with a little time, training and reading, the students can and WILL surprise you. Here are some of the books I recommend and teach from: typographic WORKBOOK [a primer to history, techniques, and artistry], Kate Clair; 20th - Century Type, Lewis Blackwell; About Face: Reviving the rules of typography, David Jury; Type Rules!, Ilene Strizver; Designing with Type: A Basic Course n Typography - Fourth Edition, James Craig; The Elements of Typographic Style, Robert Bringhurst, and last but definitely NOT least... Stop Stealing Sheep & find out how type works, Erik Spiekermann & E.M. Ginger. I also try to let the students know that typographic education is a life long endeavor for graphic designers.
      So although this might not be about "type that sucks", it demonstrates that in the beginning all type sucks... until you learn about how type works. Thanks. Mac PowerBook G4 - Panther 10.3.5 Any or all Adobe and Macromedia software..."
[END QUOTE] Melissa is a college professor from Mankato, MN, USA Melissa is our winner and we'll be sending her Deke McClelland's Photoshop TOTAL TRAINING collection. You can find our recommended set of typography books at the "Typography Bibliography" page

Type should enhance the sentiment

Donna writes:
      "I'm a computer technology teacher in high school. One of my first lessons surrounds the importance of choosing a font that enhances the sentiment of the message.
      To illustrate to my students exactly what I mean, I show them two examples of the same quote and have them decide which typeface better helps get the message across. On one poster, in a smooth, rounded, flourshing font such as Apple Chancery, I have the quote "Anger is one letter away from Danger". On the second poster I have the same quote in a font called Engravers MT. Its hard sharp and pointed serifs always win the vote as the preferred choice to use for this quote. It's obvious when pointed out, that any dangerous angry thing would involve features of sharp and jagged, while something smooth, flowing or curly denote soft and lovely or happy. I could probably go to a site and download more extreme examples of fonts but these stock fonts alone, manage to tell the tale.
      If you find you have some exploration time on your hands you should go to this site, it's an extensive source for free fonts. They boast of being the biggest free font site on the planet...9,329. So if you are obsessed about finding THE perfect font you might try there. I just bought a lovely new G5 (10.3.5). My favorite software is Photoshop. I think I would love Illustrator the best but I don't know how to use it nearly as well as PS. I have an old version of PageMaker and I like it fine but I'm told that quark is the way to go for DTP. As I said earlier I'm a teacher. I have MAC versions of what my school computers have. They are all PCs, yet I am able to communicate very well across platforms."
[END QUOTE] Donna is a high school technology teacher from Pittsfield, MA -- NOTE: Donna is our second big winner and we're sending her the highly collectible INTERNATIONAL FONT FOUNDERS book - including free fonts on CD-ROM... it's the only ONE!

Type: restraint is best

Jim writes:
      "Regarding type, restraint is best. Too many different faces or styles on a page always looks busy. Take a look at the information you are attempting to convey. Set similar information in similar type. Change the treatment of the type when the information is different. There's nothing more confusing to a viewer than when the type changes (even just to italics) for no apparent reason whatsoever. I'm on a Mac, using Quark, Photoshop, GoLive, Flash, etc."
[END QUOTE] Jim is a self employed freelancer from Sturgeon Bay, WI, USA

Font Theme found "Inspiring"

Tom writes:
      "This was a inspiring feature. I work hard to make my typograhy look good, and this month's fonts theme offered some new ideas that I intend to explore. I like developing a basic font look in Adobe Illustrator. This would include kerning, leading and baseline adjustments. I then import the AI file into Photoshop. I leave the text in the AI file black and use the color overlay or gradiant overlay layer styles to color the text in Phtoshop. I work on Macintosh and work heavily in Illustrator, Photoshop and Flash MX."
[END QUOTE] Tom is a design professional from Gastonia, NC USA

Often overlooked in mailing envelopes

Sudarshan writes:
      "Typography is often overlooked in mailing envelopes. We need to balance the needs of modern mail machines with aesthetics. The U.S. Postal Service recommends the use of fonts that make OCR (Optical Character Recognition) easy. In addition, barcodes can speed mail delivery. Users of TeX and LaTeX may wish to use the "envlab"(*) package, which typesets addresses in a machine-friendly font and, in addition, includes a barcode. It also permits creative use of fonts in the return address, which is not subject to the OCR restrictions. I use TeX on a Debian GNU/Linux system."
[END QUOTE] Sudarshan is a trainer in education from Silver Spring, Maryland, USA * Envlab

Mike writes about using fonts

Mike writes:
      "Mac OS X has opened up a new world of cross-platform font and design sharing, IMHO. OS X has the native ability BUILT RIGHT IN to use anyone's "old" style OS 9 Postscript and TrueType fonts AND Windows-PC TrueType fonts, too. These fonts may now peacefully co-exist in a single computing environment.
      While my article at is a bit dated, most of the principles of the article still apply to Panther, the latest incarnation of OS X. The Mac vs. PC war of fonts is now a cold war or police action. This means that graphic design files from Quark, Photoshop, Illustrator, Canvas, and other applications can now be truly cross-platform "out of the box," as long as one remembers to send fonts along with their projects. This makes the service bureau function of printing film negatives that much easier...they can print most projects from the Mac, long the choice of the graphic arts field.
      In addition, companies offering the latest affordable, short-run digital color technologies also profit from the Mac<->PC cold war for the same reasons.
      The final impact of OS X for this user in particular is the ability to find considerably more freeware and shareware fonts on the Internet, since most are for Windows PCs. One or a pair of such Windows PC fonts that I used on OS X resulted in this fine logo at, and in miscellaneous retail signage. With OS X's cutting edge font technology, i.e. the ability to use Windows PC TrueType fonts that are easily found on the Internet, I have considerably more font resources available for my graphic and web design projects."
[END QUOTE] Mike is a design professional from Wichita, Kansas, USA

Font Fairy tops the list

Martha writes:
      "My favorite free font download place used to be It featured a buxom, hot pink fairy who dispensed free (mostly Mac) fonts every month. I was devastated to learn today that the URL now comes up with links to buy fonts and other stuff. I have fond memories of the finding fonts from Three Islands, Font Diner, FontHead, some really strange grunge foundries, some Goth graveyard fonts and even the old standards like ITC. Some foundries even had a little history quiz with hints to learn the history of the font. I love free fonts, but even more, I loved learning about what's going on out there in creation land. My favorite font from was Good Dog Cool, Plain and Bones which led me to Fonthead. BTW, I'm on a Mac using OS X Panther Thanks again for all you do."
[END QUOTE] Martha is a self employed freelancer from USA Folio. NOTE: All of the FontHead fonts are available in the Publishers' Warehouse Fonts section

Type can 'make or break' the design

James writes:
      "The type of font chosen can make or break a design. It is the key elemnt in almost every design. The is no getting around it, you have to be properly trined in typography. The sad part is, that is almost every new designer's weakest point. The form of the typeface you chose has to capture the very essence of the design you wish to proclaim, or else your precious design intestions and future will be lost in the confusion.If you want to be a true professional, you must know your typefaces in and out, have the true type fonts that make printing a breeze and you must collect every font you possibly can, so your design will have a fresh and new appeal. In a one word statement, typography will effect your design's entire IMPACT."
[END QUOTE] James is a design professional from Knoxville, TN

A clean layout makes any font better

Allen writes:
      "I like a clean look in fonts. It must be the engineer in me, but fonts that are too frilly or fancy are almost always overused. A clean layout makes any font better; specialty fonts should be used sparingly. My platform is no longer apple, but pc. Favorite software is a tie between photoshop and signlab."
[END QUOTE] Allen is a design professional from Kanab, Utah USA

Different strokes... (No pun intended)

Everyone has their own favorite fonts and typography techniques. You'll notice however that most people can recognize good type from bad type. Something to think about next time you're faced with a visual communications project involving type and typography.

Be sure to see the Design Bookshelf's Typography department for more resources, and pay a visit to the DTG Typography department for lots of inspiration!

We invite your comment.

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