Category Archives: Wedding Month

Wedding Typography: Working with Scripts

This is a basic overview of working with script faces. To the experienced typographer reading this, I may not cover anything you don’t already know. To the young designer or non-designer, listen up. This is for you.


Script faces, particularly the highly stylized engraving- and calligraphy-inspired faces common to wedding typography generally flow in a connected fashion. In order for each character to appropriately connect to its neighbor, script faces make use of a number of contrivances, often involving the use of ligatures (two or more characters combined) and alternate characters (the same character, drawn differently to fit different contexts). Below, the top line shows alternate characters for both f and o.


Above, the bottom line shows how fl fits together too tightly, but instead of solving the problem with alternate characters, a ligature is automatically put in place of the two letters.

Make it so contextual alternates and ligatures work by default

Screen Shot 2013-06-06 at 7.26.05 PM

In InDesign or Illustrator, which I’d say are the current top two design programs for doing professional typesetting, it’s pretty easy to turn these features on by default. Here’s how in InDesign: Open InDesign, without any documents open. From the top right corner menu of the Character panel, make sure there’s a check mark next to Ligatures, and also OpenType > Contextual Alternates, just like in the image above. These are now your defaults.

In Illustrator, follow a similar method except in the OpenType panel. If you can’t find the OpenType panel, select Window > Type > OpenType from the top menu. If contextual alternates and ligatures are checked, you’re all done. Otherwise, make sure some document is open, change the settings, and they should stick. The screenshot below shows Illustrator’s OpenType panel with the proper settings in place.

Screen Shot 2013-06-06 at 7.36.51 PM

Keep in mind that not all script typefaces have contextual alternates or ligatures, but just about all the good ones do. I keep a list of these kinds of scripts on hand to help designers find the ones they’re looking for. The one in the examples is Cyrus Highsmith’s Novia, a face designed originally for Martha Stewart.

In addition to contextual alternates and ligatures, a number of other OpenType options to try may exist in the font you’re using. Discretionary ligatures offer additional ways of connecting two or more characters into one. If the font contains many of these, sometimes their strokes collide and should therefore be used sparingly and with restraint. Stylistic alternates (in InDesign arranged into Stylistic Sets) and Swash alternates are designed to give more options controlling the look of certain characters, sometimes functional, sometimes more as a matter of taste. You’ll find these OpenType settings next to the ones just touched on above. By the way, if you’re wondering what OpenType is, it’s a set of features specific to certain kinds of fonts (OpenType fonts) that allow them to do the things described in this article, and others, such as include small caps, and multiple sets of figures (like oldstyle and superscript numerals) into a single font file.

Back to working with scripts now; just a few pointers.

Give the script adequate linespacing and margins.


Don’t be afraid of all the space. Embrace the spacial requirements of the script face you’re working in, and tailor your message to the medium. Linespacing or leading should be set loosely. Don’t hit return multiple times between lines. A single return and uniform linespacing will ensure a consistent vertical increment down the page.

Work in a single size


Make test prints with a range of sizes and pick the best one. Depending on the final method of printing, the type’s hairlines should be no finer than .25 pt or so for engraving, or .33 pt for offset lithography. For letterpress printing, depending on how carefully the plates are made, you’ll likely be fine anywhere inside that range. Put reference strokes on your test print, and use a monochromatic laser printer or something of similar quality for testing. If you’re printing the final pieces at home on an inkjet printer, make sure to run the tests on the same paper as the final piece, and let your eyes be the judge.


After finding the best size to use, just set everything in that size, unless the typeface comes with graded optical sizes with finer lines for larger settings, which for example Novia does. In that case, take the lighter of the two up in size until the weights of the hairlines more or less match.

Don’t adjust the tracking


Unless you’ve set the type on a curve or something, adjustments made to its tracking (or letterspacing) will break its connections or disrupt its rhythm. Just don’t do it. Depending on the face however, kerning (setting the space between a specific pair of letters) may be necessary.

Don’t set words or phrases in all caps


Spell out completely or use alternate abbreviations for states, other than their all-capital two-letter postal codes. Put periods in between and if necessary kern apart caps in acronyms, if not avoid them completely. Scripts are simply not flattering in all caps settings. I can think of one particularly good solution to this.

That’s it. Following these guidelines and trusting your eyes should help you make your announcements, invitations, dance cards, etc. function beautifully, using only lovely, understated typography. This article is part of a weekly series written by me, David Sudweeks, on using type. For June, all editions of Using Type will focus on wedding typography – some higher level concepts, but mostly practical hands-on advice around designing traditional and non-traditional invitations, working in design programs (and non-design programs), and getting the proper files to the printer. The series continues here Thursday.

OurType Wedding Month Promotion

OurType is running their own set of great pairs this month, with half-off promotional pricing for a different pair each week. This week, get Corbeau & Tiina at 50% off. As always with OurType fonts, each package comes with webfonts included.

promo_week1 corbeautiina

Corbeau & Tiina

promo_week2 parru parry_grotesque

Parry & Parry Grotesque

promo_week3edward fayon

Edward & Fayon

promo_week4 meret stan

Meret & Stan/Stan Plus

Medusa with Medusa Small Caps

Okay maybe it’s a bit of a stretch for the series, but to demonstrate the typographic possibilities of one of my favorite new faces (that also happens to fit perfectly with Wedding Month), today we pair Ramiro Espinoza’s calligraphy & engraving-inspired Medusa with itself—its own contrasting set of engraved Roman small caps. This is a rare mix of styles in a single font, but ultimately a very useful one as there’s never a question of what size to set the Roman in relation to the script. It’s designed to always be set at the same size.


Scripts legendarily take up space, both vertical and horizontal. When designing with Medusa, rather than push back at its demand for more space, I design with this requirement in mind, set the type at an appropriate scale to the medium, and give ample room by saying only what needs to be said.



The small caps mix in stylistically, but stand up with their own voice when occasion calls. The font also contains a set of decorative swashes and embellished swash caps.

Tip on using small caps

The above small caps are accessible via OpenType. To set Medusa in small caps, first, highlight the text. Then, from the top right corner of the Character panel in InDesign, choose OpenType > All Small Caps, or begin typing ‘small caps’ into Quick Apply and hit enter. If you’re in Photoshop or Illustrator, choose Small Caps from the same menu at the top right of the Character panel. In another upcoming piece in the Using Type series, I’ll discuss how to access these features in other non-professional programs.


In tomorrow’s Using Type I’ll go into more detail on using scripts specific to wedding typography. Until then, thanks for reading Great Pairs. Another great pair will be here Wednesday.

Enter for a Font Registry – Tell Us Why You’re a Great Pair

It’s wedding month at FontShop and love is in the air! We’re hosting not just one, but two contests this month as part of our June series.


Regular readers of the FontShop blog know that each Wednesday our type expert David Sudweeks highlights Great Pairs – typefaces that, while often dissimilar, complement each other to create something beautiful. In the spirit of that series, we want to hear from couples out there – what makes you a great pair? Do your angles fit well with her curves? Does your no-nonsense presence work perfectly with his playful demeanor? Do you stick together through thick and thin, bold and italic?

One lucky duo will win $100 credit at FontShop and David’s assistance, if desired, filling your “font registry.”

Leave your story in the comments section of this post by Sunday, June 16. We’ll pick our three favorites and open it up to voting on the blog the week of June 17.

Buyer’s Guide: Picking script fonts for design programs


Many of the script fonts available on FontShop have contextual alternates, stylistic alternates, or just beautiful swashes in general that would work well for wedding invitations. But how do you know which font to say “I do” to?

If you’re working in Adobe Creative Suite programs (such as InDesign, Illustrator, or Photoshop), you’re in luck. Fonts with lots of contextual and stylistic alternates work well in these programs. To get started, you can browse our Full-Featured Formal Scripts FontList. A typeface like SudtiposPoem Script Pro has many options to choose from. The uppercase “I” alone has six additional stylistic alternates — you can say “I do” in multiple ways!


Full-featured formal scripts are fun to work with, but only if you’re using them in design programs like Adobe Creative Suite. You can read more on how to access alternates in Photoshop or Illustrator in our Using Type: Contextual Alternates, Ligatures post. If you’re designing your wedding invitations or other materials in different programs like Microsoft Office or iWorks applications, you have to be a bit more choosy. Poem Script has a total of 1,675 glyphs in its character set — some programs just can’t access all of these alternates. Stay tuned for Part 2 of picking script fonts for use in other programs.

Send Us Your Typographic Wedding Designs and Win!

This month on the blog we’ll be highlighting some of our favorite wedding designs.  We also know our talented readers have certainly come up with some fabulous ones of their own. We’d love to inspire others with your creative collateral, so we’re announcing the first of our wedding month contests for designers.


Whether it’s invites, placecards, programs or something else skillfully using typography to highlight that special day, share examples* with us by emailing your submissions to by Sunday, June 16 (before 11:59 p.m. Pacific). Only three submissions per designer please (if you submit more than three, only the first three chronologically will be entered). We’ll then pin them to our Pinterest page and tally votes through the number of “likes” through June 30.

The winner will be announced on Monday, July 1 and will receive $100 credit on

Look forward to watching your designs walk down the aisle!

*Please note all submissions must be designed by the entrant. We reserve the right to disqualify submissions that do not meet this criteria.

Mark Your Calendar! June is Wedding Month at FontShop

weddingmonth-savethedate300You are cordially invited to celebrate Wedding Month at FontShop throughout June 2013.

We often get requests from brides, wedding planners, etc. for help picking out just the right typeface(s) to represent that special day. In response, we’ve decided to dedicate a month of our blog to addressing various aspects of wedding collateral design.

Whether it’s invites, placecards, and/or websites for a traditional or non-traditional celebration we’ve got you covered in our regular series. Tune in Mondays for nuptial-focused Buyer’s Guide, Wednesdays for Great Pairs, and Thursdays for Using Type. We’ll also of course be creating some lovely Pinterest boards and calling out any new fonts that would work well to showcase your everlasting love.

Additionally we’ll be hosting two contests for a chance for both designers and couples to build up their font registries. Stay tuned for details.

The fun starts Monday, June 3rd right here on the FontShop Blog. We can’t wait to celebrate our love of fonts with you!