Monthly Archives: December 2011

Typographic Countdown—13 Days Left ’til—Really?

Really. S means the new year’s less than two weeks away. The Phoenicians rendered their S-sounding letter (one of them) more like what became the Greek Sigma, Σ. It meant teeth. The Romans were the first to apply the curve to the letter bringing about the shape that’s become synonymous with S.
As mentioned previously, the long-s is not an f, and double-s is not a b.

Typonine Stencil by Nikola Djurek shows us what sophisticated stencil typography looks like.

Typographic Countdown — 14 Days Left ’til 2012

R is for Roman. That’s who we can credit for giving us the R as we know it. Prior to the Etruscan civilization’s downfall, R looked much like P. The late Etruscans added a small mark descending below the bowl at the stem. To draw further distinction the Romans extended this tail to the baseline.

Rhode Black by David Berlow makes up for lack of space by slimming down interior strokes, like here in R.

Typographic Countdown — 15 Days Left ’til 2012

Q concludes our set of letters that sound too much like K. It’s for this specific reason that Q has had difficulty staying in a given alphabet, like in Greek (Qoppa) where it  serves as a numeral symbol only. The Phoenician Qoph seems to be the first discovered pairing of the shape and the sound. The tail of the Q in Mark van Bronkhorst’s Sweet Sans Hairline purposely and expertly pierces the plane of its round.

Behind the FontFont Tiers

FontShop International (FSI) announced a major restructuring of its award-winning FontFont® typeface library this week. The FontFont Library Tier system splits the collection into three distinct tiers designed to save customers valuable time in selecting typefaces. Read on to learn a little more about this new set up!

Finding Faces Faster: FontShop International introduces the FontFont Library Tier system

The FontFont® brand debuted in 1990, built around one simple premise: Erik Spiekermann and Neville Brody conceived of a library of innovative digital typefaces created by designers for designers. FontFont launched with a handful of types the founders commissioned from their colleagues and up and coming young talent. From those humble beginnings, the FontFont library has grown to include 750 families representing the work of more than 160 designers worldwide.

FontShop International carefully developed the FontFont library to meet the demands of type users with diverse needs. Hand picked twice yearly by the FontFont type board — helmed by Spiekermann, a self-proclaimed “typomaniac”—each typeface in the library has been chosen for aesthetic appeal, innovation, and craftsmanship. FontFonts are technically perfected and thoroughly road tested before release, ensuring that designers have the best possible experience when using these high-quality fonts in their typographic projects.

With 2,500 fonts and counting, FontFont has become one of the largest contemporary type libraries in the world. Having so many designs to choose from can be both a blessing and a curse; leisurely sifting through thousands of fonts online is pleasurable for any type lover, but it can be a daunting task at 3 a.m. when deadlines loom.

Enter the FontFont think tank: FSI’s dedicated team of type fanatics and technical gurus were determined to make font selection as easy as possible. After countless hours spent on research and in talking with type users, their mission was to minimize the
amount of time each customer had to spend on selecting fonts. To achieve this goal, they decided to split the FontFont library into three distinct tiers.

FontFont Premium Tier: The Most Popular FontFonts

FontFont’s Premium Tier includes today’s most popular FontFonts and will feature the latest releases going forward. This tier, the largest in the new system, showcases international favorites like Albert-Jan Pool’s FF DIN®, FF Scala® by Martin Majoor, FF Dax® from Hans Reichel, and Spiekermann’s FF Meta® and FF Unit®.

Premium Tier FontFonts anchor the library in three formats to address every need — OpenType, Offc, and Web.* By next summer, all fonts in the Premium Tier will feature Pro language support, including Cyrillic, Greek, Hebrew, and Arabic in some designs. Customers are not restricted to licensing full packages in this tier, but may choose single weights from these bestselling type families.

(*Offc and Web versions of some Premium Tier FontFonts are still in development and will be available soon.)

FontFont Collection Tier: Extraordinary Pricing and Hidden Gems

The FontFont Collection Tier is a selection of economically priced typographic treasures, including Xavier Dupré’s FF Reminga™, FF Mambo® by Val Fullard, and experimental designs like the FF FUSE Classics.

The Collection Tier is offered in full-family packages only—fonts are available in OpenType with Standard language support (with a few key exceptions). All packages in this tier are affordably priced at less than 100€/$, making it easier than ever for customers to build a quality type collection.

FontFont Free Tier: Giving Something Back

As a bonus to loyal customers, FontFont now offers a variety of free typefaces, including Paul Sych’s FF Dig, Dog, Hip™, FF Peecol™ from Steffen Sauerteig and Kai Vermehr (Eboy), and Timothy Donaldson’s FF FancyWriting™. Free Tier titles contain the complete family in a single package, and are available in OpenType with Standard language support.

It Just Gets Better: New Additions to the FontFont Family

FontFont is growing again with a stellar new text design and significant extensions to five favorite families. FF Ernestine, Swiss designer Nina Stössinger’s first typeface, is a wide wedge/slab serif family developed for text setting. Solid yet feminine, FF Ernestine includes roman and italic cuts in four weights. Los Angeles-based designer Hrant Papazian contributed a complementary Armenian character set, available in the Pro version.

Fred Smeijers has revised the design of FF Quadraat® and added a much-needed demi bold weight. Two companion families—FF Quadraat® Sans and Sans Condensed — have undergone design revisions, and have been expanded with thin, extra light, and demi bold weights. All three families now include Pro versions with Latin Extended and Cyrillic character sets. Ole Søndergaard’s FF Signa™ has been extended with extra light, extra black, and ultra weights, while Spiekermann’s FF Meta® Serif now offers Cyrillic and Greek language support.

Typographic Countdown — 16 Days ’til the New Year

Before we begin with today’s letter, a note on position: We’re to the heart of December. Sixteen days in and 16 days left until this countdown rings in the new year. It seems to have flown by.

The earliest discovered traces of P render the character as simply a bent line. The Greeks stylized the character into a completely different shape, Pi, while their Rho, indistinguishable in form from our P, went on to grow a tail. Thanks Etruscans.

FF Schmalhans by Hans Reichel gives us this playfully high-waisted P.

Typographic Countdown — 17 Days Left ’til 2012

Up next is O. The letter’s form has changed little from the Phoenician ’ayin, which depicts an eye. Yes, ’ayin starts with an apostrophe. The Greeks, who pioneered the concept of vowels, separated O into small and large versions (both capital letters) called Omikron and Omega.

O’s stroke freely flows and remains open in FF Mister K Informal by Julia Sysmäläinen.

Webfont Wednesday: Tweet This

It’s been awhile since we had a Webfont Wednesday, but we were thrilled when this caught our eye:

Yes, the folks over at (newly redesigned) Twitter put FF Tisa Web to simple and beautiful use in their 2011 Year in Review.

Easy to read, the typeface brings a unique clarity to summarizing a year on a service designed to get the message across quickly. We’re excited that FontFont webfonts can be a part of looking back at 2011, as we look forward to both tweets and typefaces in 2012!

Typographic Countdown — 18 Days ’til the New Year

N historically represented the shape of a serpent. When the Romans introduced the broad serif to the alphabet, N developed a single serif pointing outward at its top left. In many inscriptions, this detail was ‘cleaned up’ by the letter cutter who finished the stone work.

FF Chambers Sans by Verena Gerlach introduces some looseness to an otherwise tight tech sans with its gestural swash N.

App Store Rewind 2011 Features FontBook App for iPad

We may open our champagne before New Year’s in these parts. We were recently thrilled to learn that App Store just named FontBook for iPad the best of the iPad Reference category in App Store Rewind 2011 in the US. (Make sure to toggle to the iPad button).

We look forward to sharing more FontBook news in 2012, but a huge congrats to the team who launched it into the world this past summer.


Typographic Countdown — 19 Days Left ’til 2012

M seems to have started out as a jagged line representing water. The Phoenicians may (again) have to credit the Egyptians for having a similar glyph, though in this case the two did not share the same sound.

Skolar by David Brezina forces a bit of white into the counters of its M by splaying its stems and cutting traps into the spots most prone to filling in.

Typographic Countdown — 20 Days ’til 2012 is Here

L is another letter with evidence of origins in Egyptian writing. The symbol for ox goad, or whip used to drive the ox, reappears in Phoenician, Etruscan, and Greek, each with a degree more of refinement. If you ever need an A without the crossbar, take a look at capital Lambda. (And I’ll put that tip with A where it belongs.)

The stylized L with a line through it that symbolizes the British Pound, £, is said to have come from a blackletter-style L, like the one in  Jim Parkinson’s Avebury, though I’d like to see more evidence before passing this off as fact.

Typographic Countdown — 21 Days ’til the New Year

Open broadly your left hand and spread your fingers wide. Looking at your palm you now see what was initially represented by the letter K. Upon closer inspection, I seem to have one too many fingers. K probably represented the right hand though, since ours is a reflection of the Phoenician alphabet, which read from right to left.

In Malabar Pro by Dan Reynolds, the k lets some light in by allowing the counters to push open the join between the stem and diagonal strokes.

Typographic Countdown — 22 Days ’til the New Year

J the character has existed since the days of the Roman Republic, though J the letter didn’t get its distinction from the letter I until moveable type had been in production for 100 years. Grammarian Gian Giorgio Trissino is responsible for making this and other proposals to change the written Italian language. The idea grew to be adopted by several languages across Europe. Phill Grimshaw’s Oberon lifts J up off the surface with a tight linear shadow.

Typographic Countdown — 23 Days Left ’til 2012

I is historically the smallest and simplest, and therefore also one of the most easily confused letters of the alphabet. Lowercase L is simple too. In a sans face like Gill Sans, one is hard-pressed to find an iota of difference between the two. The dot atop i and j can also correctly be termed a tittle, though dot’s generally clear enough.

Pieter van Rosmalen’s Nitti uses broad slab serifs on i to inhabit a body that’s otherwise an impossible fit.

Typographic Countdown — 24 Days ’til the New Year

H appears to have its earliest recorded origins in Egypt, where the character depicted a fence or wall. Its form hasn’t changed much through the years, though its sound, and whether it’s silent or spoken, has seen plenty of debate. In Spanish, H is for looks only.

DeVinne by Gustav Schroeder renders H in a sharp, rationalized manner. Looking for something technically up-to-speed with optical sizes in the same style? Try Nick Shinn’s Scotch Modern.