Monthly Archives: September 2013

Buyer’s Guide: New Search

FontShop recently launched a new feature that changes the way search works on the site. We wanted to make it easier for you to scan the results and quickly narrow down your search visually.

Let’s go over the changes so that you can optimize your search results. For this example, we will be searching for the font Blender by Gestaltensearch-for-blenderWhen you search for a font you will bring up a page that shows the family or families that a particular font belongs to. For clarification, a family is a collection of related typefaces which share common design traits, common name, and are from the same foundry.

Blender is associated with only one family, which is made of up 100 items and that includes webfont options. To view all the items available for Blender you can click on See Family.

family-pagesAt the top of the family page there are multiple sort options, including product and format to help narrow down the results even more. This is especially helpful on large families. For instance, if you know that you are looking for an OpenType format, filter the family results with the OpenType format button.

If you need to search for a single font then I recommend filtering the products by singles, font format, and sorting by weight and width. We’ll go over searching for singles in depth in the next guide.

We hope you like the new search and if you have additional questions you can always email FontShop’s Support Team for help.

Pinterested: Mugshot


Today is Fight Procrastination Day (we’re not making this up!), so grab a cup of coffee and do this: check out our Mugshot pinboard. Don’t think of it as procrastinating; you’ll be looking at type, which is definitely important!

Basic Kerning

When type designers draw type, the amount of space each character (or glyph) takes up is carefully set. This includes not only how wide the character is inside its box, but how wide the box is, or how much space is required on either side of the character. Done well, a typeface’s spacing maintains a consistent rhythm between positive and negative forms and along with the letterforms themselves gives the face its texture and distinct color. Its spacing values are intended to work under general conditions, like with like, (meaning lowercase with lowercase, figures with figures, etc.) and within a given size range. Of course, general conditions often don’t apply.


So what’s kerning?

A kern is a spacing exception. Kerning is determining which specific pairs of letters (or glyphs) need adjustment to their spacing, and either tightening or loosening the spacing by adding a negative or positive spacing value, respectively. Generally speaking, all professional fonts have kerning built in. Some designs rely very heavily on kerning, such as script faces or tightly spaced display faces. Some, such as monospaced faces, require no kerning. Most text faces, I’d say, employ kerning only to fix the major problems, such as the large gaps in To, Ta, Vo, Va, etc., and to cause punctuation characters such as dashes and commas to land in the correct spot. See below that when the cursor is placed between the T and o in Valentin Brustaux’s Tiina that the kern value is -64 units. The value is in parentheses because it’s supplied by the font’s Metrics, which should be your default in this field. I mention all this just to reiterate that in most cases, the kerning has been done for you. From there, whether it’s suited to your taste or up to the task you give it is largely a matter of your, the typographer’s, discretion.

Screen Shot 2013-09-05 at 5.55.24 PM

When do graphic designers kern?

Kerning is commonly required when a typeface is being used at a size or scale outside the range for which it was designed and tested. It’s also advisable to check and perform kerning when the tracking or letterspacing of the type you’re working with has been adjusted. Lastly, when you’re stuck with it, you’ll need to kern stuff that wasn’t done properly or at all.

Wait, what’s tracking?

Tracking, or letterspacing is the uniform addition or subtraction of space between all characters in question. In the Character dialog above, it’s the zero value just to the right of the (-64) kerning value. Track type open by highlighting it and using the key command Alt + Right Arrow.

Is it time to kern something yet?

Yes. We’re taking this word ‘WOULD’ set in Mark van Bronkhorst’s Sweet Gothic and kerning it so that it works better large. Note that at the small size it works great, but in the large size immediately following, it begins to fall apart.


To remedy this I track it tighter (shown in the second large sample above) but there’s still something wrong with it. See if you come to the same conclusions by first observing with your own eyes and then highlighting to reveal mine in the hidden paragraph below.

Making it tighter created some new problems. The space between W and O needs to tighten up some. Also the LD combination now feels kind of tight, and needs a little extra space.


There. The top part of the above image remains the same for reference, but the bottom portion is now kerned consistently with my findings above. The word is still somewhat loosely spaced, but unified throughout.

How did we get from there to here?

There are differing techniques, but the main idea is to look at the composition the word or line creates as a whole. If that’s too much to focus on at once, try looking at three characters at a time. When you find a pair that needs adjusting, just put your cursor between the two characters, and Alt + Left Arrow to kern tighter, Alt + Right Arrow to kern looser. Remember to refresh your eyes occasionally by printing out your work or changing the distance between you and your screen. Sometimes it helps to focus on just the form by decoupling form from its meaning with a shift in orientation. Look at it upside down or backwards for a second opinion. You can, by the way, overdo it. The 1970s were marked by a generation of overwrought ad comps. Not to suggest that that particular approach was wrong, only that it’s now tied to a specific period, and, in retrospect it seems to have sacrificed purpose for style. I’m of the more pragmatic school of thought that function should take precedence, and that kerning, when done right, should remain invisible.

What else do I need to kern?

If you’re using multiple fonts on the same line, chances are good you’ll eventually run into a combination that needs kerning. That goes even for a Roman and italic of the same typeface; there’s still no way to kern between fonts. (Though there are some crazy ways to put multiple typefaces into a single font and kern all those with each other.)

Okay, that’s it. Please add your questions. I’m also taking requests. Using Type continues here Thursday.

Tanger Serif and Relay

Today’s great pair is Jarno Lukkarila’s Tanger Serif and Cyrus Highsmith’s Relay.

Tanger-Serif-and-Relay-1 Tanger-Serif-and-Relay-2

Up close, Tanger Serif’s playful handwork is undeniable, but at size it softens nicely into a vigorous overall texture. With Relay, its texture is enhanced with size. The nearer you get, the clearer the liberties taken with the strokes of its geometric construction. Together, the two create a nice tension between social fluency and awkwardness. And this might be a first: Our extensively developed secondary face, Relay—no slouch mind you—even with five weights across three widths is outnumbered by the styles available in the primary body text face Tanger Serif, with 48 styles spread across three widths in eight weights.

Tanger Serif sets economically, but comes in an even narrower width should you need it. For the samples, I play it down the middle.

Great Pairs flow in each Wednesday.

New Fonts This Week

Equip by Hoftype
Solitaire by MVB Fonts

Continuing Promotions

Zulia Pro by Sudtipos30% off until 7 September

Analfabeto, Designal, Frankie Dos, and Peter Sellers by Type–Ø–Tones20% off until 30 September

Buyer’s Guide: TypeTogether EULA

TTGVeronika Burian and José Scaglione started TypeTogether in 2006 after meeting at the University of Reading in the UK. The foundry focuses on creating innovative and stylish solutions to old problems for the professional market of text typefaces with a focus on editorial use. With a diverse collection of fonts, like Bree and Maiola, the foundry has become a household name among editorial designers. Here are a few highlights from TypeTogether’s EULA.

Basic EULA Rights

  • Desktop use supports up to 5 users in 1 geographic location.
  • You can take a temporary copy of the font to a commercial printer or service bureau for printing or viewing your document.
  • You can use the font to create a logo.


  • You cannot share the font with users that do not have a license for the same font.
  • You cannot embed the font into a Website or Application.
  • You cannot create alphabet or letterform-related products for resale using the font.

See TypeTogether EULA

If you have additional questions you can always email FontShop’s Support Team for help.

EULA highlights will be posted every other Monday. Next up is LucasFonts.