Monthly Archives: November 2012

Buyer’s Guide: How to buy a Webfont

Update April 2016: Recent changes to the FontShop website have temporarily made this automated “Bring Your Own License to Typekit”unavailable. To use your Web FontFonts on Typekit, visit your order history and click the green button to request a Typekit web voucher.


We’re rounding up previous guides to help you demystify licensing webfonts on FontShop.

Need help finding webfonts on our site?

Read am I buying a webfont?

Confused about what webfont formats are and how to use them?

Then check out what is EOT or WOFF.

Don’t know the difference between a desktop license and a webfont license?

Read up  on how our webfonts are licensed.

Do you have a Typekit account and you want to link your webfonts to your account?

Then find out if your webfont can be linked to Typekit.


Pinterested: New boards this week

Considering Thanksgiving is next week, it should be safe to say that the holidays are near. Some of you may have started shopping for gifts already, some of you may have even finished, but what about those who still like and need to send out holiday greetings via snail mail?

If you’re planning on creating your own holiday cards this season, we have a new board up that might inspire you. Our Festive Fonts board features fonts such as Braga or Maraschino Black that would be great for warming up your loved ones with a letter. Or perhaps you might want to give these fonts as gifts!

Type Trends: Erbar ‘a’

This series is where I point out prominent trends and undercurrents in type and the lettering arts, typography, and graphic design. Up until now I’ve more or less stuck to my own narrative that design is taking a more relatable, personable approach to creating relationships between design clients and their customers. Turning the page now to cover trends I see in type design, I’ll focus more on pointing out the trends, and perhaps do my worst to come up with some sort of cogent explanation or rationale for why designers make the decisions they do, but I would invite the reader to exercise skepticism over any conclusions I put forward. This isn’t design history canon, just me calling it like I see it.

The a above I’m calling the Erbar a. Though it predates Jakob Erbar, he seems to show the most commitment to it. Rudolf Koch’s Kabel includes it. Paul Renner’s early drawings of Futura have it too, as an alternate. I’m referring to the geometric double-story a with a near-round or elliptical bowl. The above illustrates left to right a progression toward a rationalized geometric sans, each keeping its own elliptical bowl. And while this could perhaps fit into a meatier edition of Type Trends called “Faces with Jarring Character Constructions,” I’m happy to merely raise the point that these ‘Erbar as are something I’m seeing more and more of lately.

Just a little history: Jacob Erbar’s 1927 self-titled work, published by Ludwig and Mayer constitutes what we consider today the first geometric sans typeface. There’s evidence to suggest that at the time, the construction of his a wasn’t so out of the ordinary given its prevalence in signage, etc., but now I think it’s safe to say it’s uncommon.

Latching on to the newness of the uncommon are a number of type designers, many of whom distribute their faces exclusively or don’t offer them as retail products, who incorporate this character construction as a way of setting their faces apart, or merely because they find it fits.

Verena Gerlach & Ole Schäfer’s FF City Street series, 2000, is a faithful digitization of street signage alphabets from 1930s Berlin. As Jack Mohr notes in the comments below, ‘West Berlin’ would not have the same meaning to Berliners then as it has now, therefore the fonts are named after the place their source material survived, West Berlin.

Aldo Novarese’s Recta, 1958. (2011 revival by Patrick Griffin)

Mark Simonson’s Proxima Sans, 1994, & Proxima Nova, 2005.

Berton Hasebe’s Platform, 2010.

Kris Sowersby’s Metric & Calibre, 2012.

Sindre Bremnes’s Telefon, unreleased, Monokrom Type Foundry. Photo by Frode Bo Helland, 2012. Telefon began from the lettering of architect Georg Fredrik Fasting. (Update: FontShop now carries Monokrom’s library, including the above Telefon.)

Eric Olson’s Colfax, 2012, Bryant, 2005.

Seeing them all I find the Erbar a construction to be a nice quirk, that when used in conjunction with a strict adherence to geometric ideals adds character and maybe even a bit of age to one’s face. Not age that tires, but that takes you back—like encountering the familiar face of an old friend. Let me know in the comments where else you’re seeing this. I’m interested.

(Update: A few I missed/Thanks for your comments: Jason Castle’s Sonrisa, 2011, is a contrasty (with the exception of its thinnest weight) condensed display face based on Erbar’s Koloss. Rudolf Koch’s Kabel, 1928—How on earth did I just skip over this? Allesandro Butti’s Semplicità, 1930, (2011 revivial by Patrick Griffin) features several spurless characters, including the a in question. Tomas Brousil’s NudistaKulturista, 2009 & Purista, 2007, each a stylistic/structural variation on a theme that employs the Erbar a. Lastly, Hoefler & Frere-Jones’s Verlag, 2006, just barely makes it onto this list given the counter shape of the bowl. Also, thanks Nick Sherman for pointing out that a more objective way of identifying the letter construction is by looking at the angle of the top join of the bowl. It’s for this reason mainly, and because they’re not geometric sanses, that I didn’t include faces like H&FJ’s Gotham, MVB’s Sweet Sans, or Hendrik Weber’s Edward. Also thanks Joe Clark for pointing out our publishing platform’s knack for turning quotes upside down.)

Disparate Voices: Fakt and Typonine Stencil

I should have mentioned the FontShop Plugin from the start. The question it solves is one we get from time to time—How do I try out lots of options without buying everything? Install our plugin. Use it to test faces straight from InDesign, Illustrator, or Photoshop, or all three, however you prefer to work. Knowing which faces to license can be a big deal, and we want to make sure you know what you’re doing, and that you get what you need. If you have more questions about the plugin, just ask us here on the blog, or call, or tweet or read the FAQ.

Now to today’s great pair: Choosing two faces that work together well isn’t unlike pairing two instruments to achieve a particular sound, or pairing two garments—a jacket and skirt for instance—to make a certain look, or on a more fundamental level, pairing two different fibers to give the right texture to a piece of cloth.

One must take care in each case to determine which qualities will be accentuated, and which faces are best to support its pairing in playing up those qualities. In the included samples you can see that I’ve chosen a display face, Typonine Stencil, and one that’s a bit more robust, Fakt. The delicate nature of the one reinforces the strength of the other. When demonstrating that relationship, I’m careful to allow the display face to dominate the composition. If I were a more dogmatic typographer, I’d say something like, “A duet needs but one trumpet.” Striking the right balance is what you’re working toward, and however you get to it is alright with me. For the record, you can make two leading voices heard, it’s just more work, and usually involves a tertiary face playing backup.

When I start a project, I like to lay out a few styles together to see what’s working.

I could also mention that it pays to know what your type is capable of—see how Fakt’s tone warms when I enable one of its stylistic sets. (Compare above and below.)

The differences are seen easily in the text sizes, but more subconsciously felt when the same alternates are applied in text.

Above the cut line is Fakt out of the box, below it, Set 1 is selected within the OpenType Stylistic Sets menu. This allows the face to instantly span between a cooler grotesque feel, to a warmer geometric.

And I see there’s a little space at the end for questions. What’s missing from the Great Pairs series? What would you like to see more of? Let us know.

New Fonts This Week

Take a look! This week we have a couple fresh new faces as well as some great deals we’d like to share with you.

Get a 30% discount on Sudtipos‘s Fan Script until November 26. Also, for the month of November, NeubauLaden is offering 50% off on all packages. Over at Hamilton Wood Type, they’re currently offering 20% off all of their products until November 15th. And be sure to check out Hoftype’s Carat Light—it’s FREE! As always, subscribe to our newsletter and read this blog for the full stories. Now for all the latest from the following foundries:

New Foundry

Kevin Thrasher

EXT Unicase

Red OT


Fan Script (30% discount until November 26)

Buyer’s Guide: OpenType Feature Controls

Last week we went over the Character Set tab and how you can view OpenType features that are available within a font. But did you know you can test OpenType features in the Custom Sample Tool Bar? To access the additional controls, click on the gear icon located on any page that shows renders.

Then read up on how to use OpenType Feature Controls here .

Pinterested: New boards this week

Our very own FontShopper, Theresa, recently came back from a trip to the UK — along the way, she snapped some typographic memories in London and Edinburgh. We have two new boards up this week — Type Travels: Hello, London! and Type Travels: Hello, Edinburgh! — that show some of the things she spotted during her trip.

Much like our own home here in San Francisco, seeing chalkboard lettering and handmade signage is not uncommon in both London and Edinburgh. Of her journey, Theresa notes:

“In London, I saw a lot of hand-painted signs and hand-lettering for shops, markets, and the Bloomsbury Festival. And I loved walking through Edinburgh’s Old Town which is filled with engravings that have lasted for hundreds of years. I really should have allotted more time for the British Library though — that place is a goldmine. I could have spent an entire day in there just looking at their stamp collection — too bad you can’t take photos, so you’ll just have to believe me and go yourself!”

If you’ve been thinking of traveling, maybe you should check out some of Theresa’s typographic pictures on Pinterest — that may sway you to fly overseas!

Type Trends: Taking from Uncommon Sources

In addition to graphic designers putting their typographic compositions through specialty processes, type designers are in growing numbers pulling from sources generally considered outside the norm of graphic design. Prior to digital design, engraving alphabets long existed in parallel to printing types, one occasionally borrowing from another but mostly each keeping to itself. Engraving is marked by its high contrast, solid fine lines, and often slightly raised surface. Below is an engraved flier for Nancy Sharon Collins’s The Complete Engraver, set in engraving-inspired faces by Terrance Weinzierl.

It was in designing his attorney’s letterhead that Mark van Bronkhorst noticed how few fonts existed that were based on engravers’ alphabets, the Sackers collection being one exception. What’s more, none had been developed into type families with an extensive range of weights. Sourcing original engraver masterplates, he did the work of adapting these styles to the constraints of digital type.

The Sweet Collection by Mark van Bronkhorst, is drawn from 20th Century engraving alphabets. Above: Sweet Gothic, Sweet Sans, Sweet Titling No. 22, Sweet Square.

Another rising trend comes from the range of routed letters used in signs and labels, like in the sign above I recently spotted outside the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos in Cordoba. Routed lettering is done with a fixed bit, often reducing letters to a single path with a monolinear stroke.

While some older examples of routed lettering translated to type exist, more or less as documentary types (I’m thinking of DIN 17 and Normalise DIN), some new examples of families that pull from this aesthetic include NeubauLaden’s NB Grotesk-R.

Ariel Di Lisio’s Uma, from Sudtipos

And one we don’t carry but love all the same, Jeremy Mickel’s Router.

That’s it for this post, but I’m curious; What new type from uncommon sources are you seeing?

Made for Each Other: Benton Sans and Benton Modern

There’s a theme in the requests for help we get here at the research desk, namely, “What headline face goes with the selection I’ve already made for text?” In answer, we put our heads together and came up with the idea of a Great Pairs series. Here we’ll show a good pairing in a number of settings, made to demonstrate the how and why of combining faces. Not an in-depth formal analysis of each face, but more of a quick, mostly practical bit of shop talk on function and usage.

This week we look at faces made for each other: Benton Modern and Benton Sans. Both of these Font Bureau families carry the Benton name, after Morris Fuller Benton and his father Lynn Boyd Benton, founder of American Type Founders. Benton Modern is a contemporary redrawing of the Century family of Scotch Romans / Scotch Moderns extensively developed by ATF.

Though you may not have heard of it before, Benton Sans should look familiar. It’s a mixture of mostly Morris Fuller Benton’s News Gothic, and all the others that carry a similar presence (Franklin/Alternate/Trade Gothic). The American Gothics, while charming, can come off as having a natural bent toward telling people what to do. Plainspoken, though not terribly softspoken by nature.

When working with faces that have a strong historical appeal, the use of period-specific conventions such as fully justified columns of text can be incorporated into one’s compositions to reinforce the historic aspect of the work. Or such conventions can be deliberately thrown out, resulting (if done successfully) in a fresh contrast.

Both these families are great because they offer a number of weights and widths, as well as the premium features you don’t get in old digital versions of Century or News Gothic, like small caps, text figures, etc., and yet they have a familiarity about them that, in the right hands, can be used to earn the trust of the reader.

That’s all. Catch another Great Pairs here next week.

Bettering the Bestsellers Page

On the heels of adding new language filters, we’ve continued to improve sections of FontShop to help you more easily find the fonts you need.

We made additional improvements to the bestselling fonts page design, making it much more intuitive and fun for you to use. If you’ve ever wondered what France’s favorite new display fonts are, you can filter that far!

We also rolled out changes to the site on category pages (e.g. Script). These new filters not only help narrow your search, they’re pretty addictive to play with. You can see other examples by going to the main Category page and choosing “View All” under any category name.

What else would you like to see on the site? What’s your favorite way to browse for fonts?

New Fonts This Week

Check it out! This week we have a nice variety of fresh new faces as well as some great deals we’d like to share with you.

For the month of November, NeubauLaden is offering 50% off on all packages. Over at Hamilton Wood Type, they’re currently offering 20% off all of their products until November 15th. And be sure to check out Hoftype’s Carat Light—it’s FREE! As always, subscribe to our newsletter and read this blog for the full stories. Now for all the latest from the following foundries:

New Foundry

Alan Meeks


Astoria Sans


Kestrel Script


New Foundry

James Todd Design

Garvis Pro




Rehn & Rehn Condensed





Buyer’s Guide: Character Set

Located on every product page, the Character Set tab will show you every glyph that is available within a specific font. Since an OpenType font can contain over 65,000+ characters, this feature will help you scan through a font quickly for particular features you need. We’ll use FF Tisa Sans Pro Regular as an example. A quick glance shows that there are 892 glyphs that make up the font.

Previewing each and every glyph can be tedious so we’ve listed all the OpenType features available within the font. Just click on a feature to filter a specific Character Set view. As you can see below, FF Tisa Sans Pro Regular has true Small Caps.

Try it today when you’re making your font selection. If you don’t see a feature you need, then feel free to contact FontShop for help.

Write-In Vote Today: Your Picks for the Best of 2012

Tomorrow the US heads to the polls and today at FontShop we open up our comments section for you to tell us your picks for the “Best of 2012.” We’re sifting through fonts and foundries our “Best of” lists before the holidays begin. While our staff holds many thoughts about what blew us aways this year, we’d like to hear yours as well. Let us know in the comments below by November 30!
To get you started, here’s five typefaces added to FontShop this year. Don’t forget, you can play with them all in our Adobe Creative Suite Plugin to see how they mesh with your work.

Trim by Letters From Sweden

Winco by ReType

Storefront by Sudtipos

JAF Bernini Sans by Just Another Foundry

FF Chartwell by FontFont

Need some inspiration? Take a look back at some of our previous years’ posts. Next, flip through our New Fonts lists to see what’s come out this year. Then leave your picks in the comment section below.

Pinterested: New boards this week

If you didn’t go out trick-or-treating on Halloween or you need a break from eating all the candy you did pick up, we have a sweet board up this week on Pinterest for you.

Our SweetShop pinboard will make you crave confectioneries with bright and sugary photos from fStop and fun fonts available on FontShop. From candy-coated letters like Candy Bits from Bitstream to Candy Script‘s mouth-watering swashes from Sudtipos, discover treats that won’t give you toothaches!

Type Trends: Specialty Processes

When appropriate to the piece or series, introducing specialty processes into a job is one way to differentiate one’s work, and remind the audience that they’re worth the trouble. When I say specialty processes I refer to lesser-used production methods in print, such as media that makes use of die cutting, foil stamping, thermography, engraving, specialized inks, stochastic rasterization, embossing, debossing, spot finishes, as well as the use of any number of uncommon substrates, such as hand-made paper, plastic, wood, foil, parchment, leather, etc. or superstrates, such as lenticular media. Below, Manchester-based Creative Lynx uses a few of these to create the identity for a local restaurant, Australasia.

The menu is heavily debossed with a generously letterspaced Bulmer and Monospace 821, or Helvetica Monospace. The texture is further enriched with adhesive labels reminiscent of a luggage tag (Update: It’s UNDA.) and custom hand stamps, the kind used to cancel postage, with type not unlike FF Confidential. Notice how the various colors of carton and craft paper are allowed to each contribute to the color palette, rather than specifying a single standard media.

Likewise, Underware’s promotional Read naked, promotes Sauna making use of heat-sensitive ink. One must participate in order to enjoy the only barely visible text above. Sample photo taken at roughly 23° C. More info is in Font Magazine 004. And that’s it. I see a rising trend toward more specialty processes as a means of creating a more inviting, personable experience for one’s audience. Enough from me. What have you seen like this? Would you agree that it’s a growing trend?