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Fonts designed for magazines?

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I'm interested in researching typefaces that have been designed specifically for magazines. I've started with Hoefler typefaces, but am not sure where to go next. Also, I'd like to learn more about what makes a good magazine font and specific issues that are taken into consideration when designing them.

Are there are recommended starting points or resources that may be of help?

Thank you kindly!

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> I've started with Hoefler typefaces, but am not
> sure where to go next.

IIRC, Carter designed the Newsweek typefaces (body and titles). Carter also designed a typeface for Wired ( Wiredbaum, based on Walbaum), but it isn't used anymore.
Sumner Stone designed Stone Print for Print magazine (they don't use it anymore, but it's still available from Stone's website).
Hubert Jocham created the display typefaces for Details magazine.

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Thanks for the plug Eduardo.

I've done a bunch more besides Vanity Fair, and in all those experiences it has ALWAYS been the art director of the magazine that had a very particular view of what the magazine should be typographically. I have not always agreed with their vision, but happily created whatever they asked me to create. So I think Stephanie should really look at the art directors and plot the various magazines they have worked on. I'll bet bullets to bagels that there is a consistent type selection going on throughout their careers. Whether or not it is good magazine typography is a matter of opinion.

On a related note, if you find a current issue of Glamour, there are a bunch of things in there that I've recently done, A high contrast Perpetua Display in 6 optical sizes (for those of you who fancy those things) and in particular a Roundhand script whose rights will revert back to me in 2005. I'm busy working up a bunch of alternate glyphs for the OpenType it will become. I would post a sample, but Glamour has the exclusive rights to it till May 2005.

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The Font Bureau have also designed a number of typefaces for various magazines. David Berlow has done several. Tobias Frere-Jones did quite a few while he was there, before he joined up with Hoefler. Cyrus Highsmith has worked on a bunch.

Magazines include Traveler, Worth, Premiere, Newsweek (I don't think Carter's Vincent was ever used for Newsweek's text; are they still using FB Scotch for body copy?), Esquire, Fast Company, Vibe, Martha Stewart Living. I'm sure there are others.

If you track Roger Black's magazine redesigns, you'll find a trail of FB custom-developed typefaces.

-- K.

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James is certainly the resident guru of magazine type design.
Hey, let's get him to write a book on it. :-)

> A high contrast Perpetua Display in 6 optical sizes

Good morning! Can we PLEASE see a sample? I don't think exclusivity would make it illegal or unethical for you to simply show a specimen. Could they really object to promotional samples on your website for example? BTW, did you have to get permission from Monotype to make the fonts?

Kent, Newsweek is indeed using a Carter face now: Fenway.
Two cuts, for text and display.


Stephanie, I would say that there are two factors that are specific to magazine faces:
1) Based on the typical point size used, they need to have an x-height that's somewhat large, but not ITC large. Like between news faces and book faces.
2) They tend to be more often sans than serif. Not sure why.


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I'm leaving on a short trip, so any samples will have to wait. Glamour is on the newsstand! As to permission from Monotype, I should have said Perpetua-like, since the fonts that Glamour were using originally were Bitstream versions of the design whose name I cannot remember...and since I started from scratch...used no one's data...and the fonts are named Glamour Serif...

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James, I checked out Glamour today. Typopgraphy-wise it looks busy, but they probably know what they're doing. As for the Perpetua, I think it's working great. Some questions:
1) Do you think they're actually going to the trouble of using the optical sizes properly? If you look at page 72 for example (the May issue), there's at least three sizes of the type, but they all seem to be the same master.
2) Did they ask for the optical sizes, or is that something you convinced them was a good idea?
3) How did they choose Perpetua in the first place - did they ever verbalize a reason to you? I actually think it's a good -and interesting- choice, I'm just wondering what their thought process was.
4) Are you sure Monotype doesn't mind? Sure, the data is from scratch, but stylistically it's totally Perpetua, no? On the other hand, the magazine owns a license to a version of the original, so...


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It is busy, but that has always been Glamour's style.

They were very specific about the Optical sizes they chose. I convinced them that it was possible to do, but it was something they wanted from the start, but were concerned about the cost. I presented them with a cascade of possibilities and they chose the various styles for the different sizes.

I looked at an issue today at the airport, and I couldn't figure out any rhyme or reason to their current selection.

They chose the Perpetua-like font all on their own. They did not explain their reasoning to me, nor did I ask for any. As I said in a previous post, ALL of this, in my experience is art director driven.

Glamour, like all Conde-Nast books are very fastidious about font licensing. They own the proper license for the fonts they use.

But I'm most proud of the roundhand script I designed for them, but it seems they use very little of it these days.


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Great information thus far. Thanks to everyone!

A few more questions:

On the subject of art directors, any good ones with noticable track records that I should check out to get a good idea of their influence on type design?

Why is a high x-height used? Does it involve readability?

For that matter, are we talking about display type or text type? I would assume that readability is not as much of an issue with display type than it is with text type. In the case of display type, are there any deciding factors formally, or is style the main issue?

As for text type - how does the design of magazine text type differ from book text type? Are there any technical issues with the printing process that might require a special design, or is the design focused more on formal issues?

"They tend to be more often sans than serif. Not sure why."

Hrant, is this in reference to text type? I seem to recall seeing mainly serif typefaces in most magazines (at least in large bodies of text). Or are you speaking of display typefaces or something used for titles, headings, etc.?

Thanks again for the insight. I am a novice when it comes to type but am eager to learn more!

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Stephanie, the issue of readability is extremely complex - to the point that it might not be understood within our lifetimes. But I think we can grasp parts of it, like the issue of vertical proportions (especially x-height). On the other hand, you'll never get everybody to agree on the details! In fact the following explanation isn't something "the establishment" endorses (but mostly because they simply haven't bothered to think about the issue enough - to take it seriously).

Just like there's a duality between display and text type, there's a duality between legibility and readability. The former relies on the clear decipherability of individual symbols. As you say, it's easy to ensure decent legibility*; you'd have to make the text very small, the lighting very poor, or the letterforms extremely strange to reduce legibility substantially. This makes it fall in the realm of display typography, because people have plenty of time to decipher and compile the letters. But the latter (readability) deals with reading at the limits of performance, like when you're deep into a fast-paced novel, or trying to finish an article before an important meeting. In this case, the brain is more in a hurry, so it uses more of the retina, and relies more on its powerful heuristics to partly guess what the words are (to speed things up)**. Part of the reason to rely on guesswork is that most of the surface of the retina has low resolution, so you can't even see the individual letters very well (unless you take the time to look at all of them directly, but that slows things down unacceptably - and the point is unnecessarily). But you can see the outlines of words much deeper into the retina, and because these outlines -when taken in the context of "expected" phrases and grammatical structures- are enough to nail down the actual word, it works out geat. This means that such "immersive" reading relies more on ascenders and descenders in proportion to the x-height compared to "deliberative" reading.

* Which is why most people think any old font is fine for any setting.

** This is why typos are missed more in high-speed reading.

So the optimal x-height for a given situation depends on the point it's at between pure legibility and pure readability. Take the case of a newspaper: because it's disposable, the paper is cheap, the point sizes are small; and then there's the fact that newspapers are often read while in motion, and in poor/variable lighting. All these things combine to make a good newspaper font to have a large x-height. But if you look at a book, it's read in much longer stints, in much more controlled environments, with less regard for economy; so a book face should have more generous extenders because more of such reading is done "immersively", so the outlines of words are more important than their "brute" size.


As for the greater usage of sans in magazines, I suspect it's a cultural thing, not something driven by functionality, because serif fonts are more readable (nominally) for any decent amount of text.


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>Kent, Newsweek is indeed using a Carter face now: Fenway.
Two cuts, for text and display.

Hrant, I didn't think this sounded right; but it wasn't until yesterday that I could get to a newsstand to confirm. You must be thinking of Business Week, which commissioned the display cut of Fenway for the redesign last fall. (Fenway, of course, was originally designed for Sports Illustrated.)

Newsweek is indeed using Vincent for text. Somehow, I had thought Carter only developed headline versions, but I was wrong. The heads these days, however, now look to be predominately Knockout.

>On the subject of art directors, any good ones with noticable track records that I should check out to get a good idea of their influence on type design?

Stephanie -- Again, be sure to check out the career of Roger Black. Fred Woodward, also.

-- K.

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Hello Sara,

Erik Spiekermann recently created a blog, in which he pontificates about things such as design philosophy and type design. I believe that there is some info there about his type faces (all of which must be available in true type format. Is that what you mean?).

Should you not find what you are looking for, you could try and contact him, I guess. An e-mail address is located somewhere on the site.


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