Tag Archives: errors

Typographic Horrors: The Bolding That Wasn’t

Part five in our series, we hope you’re not getting nightmares:

He only noticed the effects of it over time, more like arsenic than the guillotine. Something so beautiful and young shouldn’t have to endure wearing such a horrific mask, when its real features are much bolder. But how could he have known? He wasn’t used to working in this platform and he realized his fatal error much too late.  He didn’t mean to inflict such a slow death on web typography.

Faux bolding and faux italic is a common crime for designers using webfonts. It happens by not specifying the font family properly. Instead of showing a true bold or a true italic, the browser or renderer will embolden or slant a regular weight. You can fix this issue by defining your font family properly in the CSS, including links to each font that will be required.

Graphic set in Confidential OT by FontFont

Typographic Horrors: Vertical Rhythm Vertigo

Part four in our series. Scared yet?:

Nausea swept over her. Looking at the body copy rendered her incapacitated. She couldn’t tell if the sentences belonged together in one cohesive paragraph or if text had gone missing. As her eyes leapt and jolted from one line to the next, she couldn’t tell if the previous thought had led her to the present, or if the text had by some malevolence been sliced apart and rearranged. She looked away into the stormy night and glanced back at the page once more, before passing out. As she awoke all she could see were gaping holes between lines of now meaningless words killed by inattentive designs.

Uneven vertical rhythm occurs when your line height shifts, having inconsistent values from one line to the next. It most generally occurs from testing out different leading values and not deciding on just one. It can also happen by patching together text layers in Frankenstein fashion. The best solution to avoid this is for designers to adhere to a strict baseline grid.

Graphic set in Mason Serif OT by Emigre

Typographic Horrors: Fake Small Decapitation

Part three in our series of blood-curdling common mistakes:

He shuddered, realizing something didn’t add up. An impostor had snuck into the midst and only those with  a trained eye such as his could spot the difference.“Good God!” he panicked, “The others don’t even know the horror right in front of their eyes! And they won’t until it’s too late.” He silently sobbed knowing that the real thing looked so much better than this typographic incubus. He vowed revenge on the designer who denied life to OpenType features, opting instead for fake small caps.

Certain desktop publishing programs allow you to too easily create ad hoc small caps. Fake small caps are simply scaled-down regular caps, their weight is too light and their proportions too narrow, which makes them look wispy (a tell-tale sign of an impostor). Instead, use them through the OpenType features or a separate small caps font. Your design will look the way the typographer intended, with the symphony of letterforms playing correctly together.

“FAKE” in graphic set in Poltergeist by GarageFonts

Typographic Horrors: The Ghost in the Machine Optical Spacing

Part two in our series of gory design:

In an unassuming office building, in Anywhere, U.S.A., a designer sits, her hand on the trigger. Thunder clashes outside, cold rain falls on her keyboard through a leak in the roof . Though the letters beautifully dance together on the page, their individual forms joining in unison to form words and sentences, she needs to fit in just that much more copy. A dark voice in her head whispers, “Just do this so you can go home. It’ll make it fit more easily, the reader be damned!” Temptation overcomes her and she changes the box from “Auto” and starts clicking arrows left and right. Somewhere a typographer dies a little.

In design programs like Adobe Creative Suite, there’s a built-in default for spacing that’s created to go with the metrics built into the professionally crafted font that you’ve purchased. The type designer carefully spaced and kerned the font: a conscious decision based on experience and know-how instead of a mechanical solution. By setting the kerning/spacing to “optical,” you negate the input of the type designer. Though more difficult to do now than the early days of such applications, sometimes people inadvertently end up fiddling with the setting.  So unless you’re a typographer, leave it as is.

“Ghost” in graphic set in FF Pitu by FontFont

Typographic Horrors: Rivers of Terror

Halloween is just a week away and to get you in the mood we’ll be rolling out a series of tales about common typographic errors over the next few days. We won’t leave you completely in the cold and dark – we’ll also tell you how to avoid committing such deadly sins. And now, for our first horror story:

She opened the book and screamed. Remnants of the crime splattered across the page. Crimson in magnitude, the glaring error ran in deep rivulets throughout each paragraph. “RIVERS!” she shrieked. “RIIIIIVERS!”

It was a crime of negligence, really. A rookie mistake by a designer not bent toward mayhem, but hurried to finish the job. He simply hadn’t checked after full justifying the paragraphs in the text. As a result, his ignorance had created unsightly patterns of white space that ran the length of the pages in the document – rivers.

He could’ve easily avoided it all. By taking some extra time to adjust his hyphenation and justification settings or choosing a typeface with different letterspacing the reader would be spared. The ultimate fix to avoid such pain and suffering? Rewriting the copy to fit to the page.

“Rivers!!!” text in graphic set in Dead Mans Chest by Comicraft

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