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Example test words for aesthetics - and umlauts too

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The type community has a variety of means for testing characters - pangrams, brute force testing, language based character frequency lists ( and words ), all of which are good, but I may have thought of another wrinkle. No doubt others have preceded me if it's a good idea (or perhaps it's a silly one), but in any event:

What do you think of making a shared Unicode text file that has words made to highlight a glyph in use? It's purpose could extend to kerning etc but the emphasis I want to give the list is aesthtic and and to a certain extent cultural and linguistic.

So for example for C, I think Cancer & CANCER are quite good. These two forms of the word seem like an elegant and concise way of examining if you like the way the C & c in your font looks. For Cap W I think WAVE, Wave, LAWYER, Lawyer would be good ones to use. The idea being that when a glyph has cases where it fits well and also where it sometimes fits poorly ideally they should both be presented. It would probably be good to have 3-5 words in each case to allow for a variety of aesthetic issues and combinational issues like double letters, round vs. flat neighbor glyphs and position in the word as well. So for C again maybe we would have cc: (the contaction), PINOCCHIO, Pinocchio, as well as a word with c At the end like ZINC, Zinc. And maybe one or two more.

The real reason I started thinking like this has nothing to do the glyphs used in English. Instead, I started thinking about this when I was looking at glyphs whose diacritics seemed especially aesthetically challenging because of their novelty. And what I wanted to see was a word that used them so I could start to build aesthetic context. Of course it would be good to have samples of the glyphs in use to look at too but what I want to have words which highlight the aesthetic concerns for glyphs like: ẗ, ť, ǻ Ǻ and ď etc. Ideally someone from or well versed in the cuture or cultures that use the glyph would give the examples.

Let me know if these last glyphs don't render for you. They were: latin small letter t with diaeresis, latin small letter t with caron, latin small letter a with ring above and acute, latin capital letter a with ring above and acute, and latin small letter d with caron.

Does something like this exist already?

Obviously there is


Which will continue to improve (and provide in-use examples) which is excellent!

But for the purposes of testing my fonts I would like to go further and have a text file like the one I have described as well!

What do you think?

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William Berkson

Tiffany Wardle mentioned that she tries setting her full name in the type as a test, not out of vanity, because it shows how the characters work.

Generalizing this, I find that a good aesthetic test is to set proper names in the type, perferably somebody you know and respect, either current or historical.

Somehow the emotional weight of a proper name, and thinking of it on a letter head or sign makes the success or failure of the glyphs more obvious.

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Miss Tiffany

Well it might be a little bit to do with vanity. :^/ But I always look for the double-f ligature as well as how the Ti and Wa have been kerned. If those three things are there it shows a certain level of attention to detail. IMHO

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Those are interesting points! I shall add Tiffany to my T and/or f lists!

Any more?

Bill, Tiff:

Does my distinction re: aesthetics vs kerning value work for you or not really? Maybe I should rephrase. I thought the word 'cancer' was an excellent test word not just because it has a 'c' at the beginning & in the middle but because it does a good job of showing the 'c-ness' of the c's used in it. Perhaps I am just being odd.

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Grot Esqué

Töötätä – to honk
Hämäläinen – a finnish last name or a person from a certain area in Finland
Tänään – today
Yö – night

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William Berkson

Well, I don't know. To me it's important to put a letter between both straight and round letters to see how it relates. You can use all kinds of words for the goal here, like 'rhythm' and 'color' and 'notan', but this is all about getting the letters to work together. To me there's an additional 'pizzaz' factor, which is that it doesn't only work, but brings some beauty or excitement or authority to the words.

I switch back and forth between faces, comparing the same name in the Preview Panel in my typeface and in other type faces I admire. This is a humbling experience! When mine starts to look better to me, in some respects anyway, I figure I'm getting somewhere.

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Wow! Thank you!

Can you tell me about these words?

Are there Words with ö as the 1st letter? The last? These would be Suomi( Finnish ) words. Correct?

BTW, Anybody can have a copy of this doc when I am done making it or take it to modify for their own use.

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Grot Esqué

Veistämö – carving workshop or something like that
Öylätti - I don’t know what this means but I’m pretty sure it’s a word… :^)
Äänestää - to vote

And yes, these are Finnish. So that was the learn a word of Finnish this week.

Edit: Yes, öylätti is a word. It means a host as in (from Wikipedia) A host is a thin, round wafer made from bread and used for Holy Communion in many Christian churches.

ilmiö - phenomenon
šakki - chess

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Awesome! Your the best Lari!

BTW - I Found a way to use Wikipedia to help me. Not as Good as having Lari's direct insight of course but...

For A breve I found : căciulă . I don't know what it means yet, but bit by bit. Now to find a Cap A breve word.

Lari, do you speak other languages too? Besides English obviously! ;-)

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Grot Esqué

… :^O

Åbo – the swedish name of Turku
Uleåborg – the swedish name of Oulu

Generally fonts don’t look as good when you set Finnish with them compared to English. Finnish sentences contain long words and the words contain lots of double consonants. Plus many finnish words are really boring, like koko (size/whole). Maybe they could be fixed with alternate glyphs that were almost identical but not quite.

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I see you got me already. I was just writing: 'I was wondering is you have aesthetic favorite words that use: double s/eszet. Or Aring /Å ... and so on.'

BTW - Would you have any use for this document I am making?

I am keen on making fonts that have nice diacritics and vary their glyphs in the way you describe.

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Grot Esqué

Schaiße, of course.
Also, Spaß, Straßenbahn, Schlafmütze.

Yes, I’d like to get your finished document. I love to have a need for it soon, that is get some of my duhsigns into Fontlab and polished.

It’s great that you’re interested in this. Some otherwise usable fonts have bad umlauts.

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Would you mind having a look at a monospace in PDF to comment on some umlauts? Oddly enough I was just working on them. Now it's the Macrons.

I will send it to you then. I have no idea how long it will take to do - maybe a year. But if you don't mind I'll send you beta versions for comment.

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There was I thread I started a year or 2 ago regarding very long German words and Czech words with few vowels. Several Typophilers including some of our Finn members contributed some wonderful vowel-rich long words. Lari and Mili were part of it. I have to think of some good search words to find it.

Eben, I think different language text really helps. Itallian is very rhythmic and even while the CE countries texts are much more likelyto be incluusive of typographic kerning issues. I use both in testing (among others).


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I will have to look for that thread. Thanks for your comments!

I will keep watching this thread for pointers from my fellows here and then begin making the document next week.

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The following is some silly text which I wrote in 2004 to test my first text face. I don't know that you would call it aesthetic but perhaps just silly. I was just trying to think of words with certain letter combinations and then just free associated stream of conciousness bable.



Rainy Days and Sundays always get Quaint affluent Taffy vendors officiating Quid pro quo an aggast angler drew his rod and rheeled in a big fish therefore no bread was had by anyone save for the birds of prey who were polluting where they may willy-nilly down the road of life from now until the hereafter fun fascia fell fondled from here to eternity many may mourn her passage though. “Lord Save us!” she said. Hath no women scorned been here to see the debackle? Rally Round the Flag Boys and quit calling me sweetheart before I plant you perminently in the Petunias Portnoy!

Red Roses Rested Religiously as Ghosts of Christmas Past Paddled Saucy Sail Boats. What Wretch is this when Giddy School Girls Blossom Eating Fowl from a farthing’s fling. God save King John

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Thank you & Thank you!

I like your free associations & pangramic style. If this I am making is good there is reason it should not be a bit poetic. Thanks for reminding me of that!

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William Berkson

>Some otherwise usable fonts have bad umlauts.

Since Finnish seems to give umlauts the biggest work-outs, I'd be interested in what you think makes for bad and good umlauts. Could you give some examples and say what you think is good and bad about them?

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Maybe helpful – some words in german with umlauts.

Täler. Töten. Tücher. | Tä; Tö; Tü
Während. Wörter. Wünsche. | Wä; Wö; Wü
Räkeln. Röhre. Rüssel. | Rä; Rö; Rü
Gänse. Gönner. Güter. | Gä; Gö; Gü
Sämig. Sören. Sümpfe. | Sä; Sö; Sü
Lächeln. Löschen. Lüstern. | Lä; Lö; Lü
Änderung, Österreich. Üppig. | Ä; Ö; Ü

> bad umlauts
I'm interested in your examples also

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It's not that the umlauts are good or bad - it's their form that is less or more ideal I suspect. Bad looking umlauts would be interesting. And good looking ones too.

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Grot Esqué

Note that these are just my personal opinions. This is no way the worst umlauts ever list, I just randomly browsed my library for examples. Also, I’m no font designer.

The lower case umlauts look too big, the letters cannot carry them so to speak. Compare to Helvetica:

I personally don’t like umlauts that are so close to the letter. (Upper case.) Though Meta’s umlauts are big, I think the letters can handle them quite nicely.

Almost perfect.

These are nice, too. I write umlauts like this myself, two vertical lines. Some people write one horizontal.

These should be moved just a bit to the right. This is something I notice relatively often.
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William Berkson

Thanks so much Lari! I haven't seen such a comparison and analysis anywhere else, so it's really helpful.

One more issue, which I raised in another thread, concerns the height of the single dot--over the i and j--compared to the umlaut. Do you see any fonts with higher i dots than umlauts, and that work? In the font I am working on, Caslon, it traditionally has rather high dots on the i and j. Currently I have the umlauts smaller and lower. Have you seen this work, or only with all the same height?

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William --

Whitman's dieresis is smaller and lower than the dot on the i. I don't think this is uncommon.

One of the first magazines to adopt Whitman as part of their type palette (alongside Relay) was the Finnish magazine Trendi. The art director told me in an e-mail "Whitman seems to tackle the strange Finnish language very well." So, I can only assume that the relation of the i-dot and the dieresis characters is acceptable.

-- Kent.

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