Readying for Reading: Blogs/Typotheque

While I wait for the books I have ordered, I thought it would be a good time to systematically go through the list of online blogs. Even though I regularly follow the content on most of these websites, I wasn’t sure if I had been completely thorough in the past. I’ve begun with the Typotheque archives. While I was sifting for articles that felt relevant and eventually reading them, I felt the need to document which articles I am reading and their web addresses so I can go back to them in the future. I often email myself about things like this, but the blog seemed like a better place this time around. In case of some apocalyptic situation where I lose my computer and hard drives, as well as forget all my passwords, I hope I can still access the blog. Who knows, the list could prove to be useful for someone else too.

Articles tagged ‘type systems’ [Link to tag]

Font Embedding [Link to Article]
In this 1996 article, Erik van Blokland talks about the problems of font-embedding. I’m drawn to the way in which he describes “smarter” fonts —

… developing a smarter format. Not just another data structure with points in it, but a real application. Such a font can interact with users, perform typographic tricks that were previously unthinkable. The font would also be able to protect itself and report to the owner. When it is tampered with it dies, when it is copied it will make its new owner register first.

Microtypography, Designing the new Collins dictionaries [Link to Article]
This article in the Typotheque archives was particularly useful for me because I am considering an attempt to design a bilingual (Latin+Devanagari) typeface especially for dictionaries for the practical part of the course at Reading. Besides a short history of the design of Collins dictionaries over the years and a description of the modifications made to Fedra to become suitable for this purpose, the author outlines the requirements for a (Latin) typeface for dictionaries —

It has to be exceptionally clear at small sizes with minimal leading. It must be efficient in terms of characters per line without sacrificing word distinction or appearing too condensed. There must be enough distinction between weights to bring headwords clear of their entries. The colour should not be too black because of show-through. The letterforms must survive web printing on very light paper. The type family must have many members to support various levels of information.

… the family would ideally have Cyrillic and Greek variants and a full set of accented characters. There should be sans and serif variants on the same skeleton. There must be full sets of small capitals, and tabular and non-lining figures in all weights. The italic must be complementary to the roman, but distinct and readable in continuous text. A related version that is comfortable for reading in longer passages of text, such as intros and supplements, would be good. An OpenType version will be needed very soon. And on an aesthetic level I was looking for a type that has a sense of openness and clarity, while using familiar letterforms and word images.

Conceptual Type? [Link to Article]
When I met Satya last month, he had said that no matter what we do, Kalapi and I must take our typefaces to fruition and release them. I’m reminded of that conversation and the fate of many typefaces designed in academic environments by this passage from the text —

… it becomes quite obvious that the type designer has no actual say in how the typeface is actually used. While the concept of the typeface might be very clever and original, what happens when the typeface is never used the way it was intended? Does it make the typeface less inventive? How about a font which never gets to be used? Can it still be called a font, or is usage at the core of the definition of a font?

Experimental Typography. Whatever that means. [Link to Article]
I found the discussion on the work of French designer Pierre di Sciullo very interesting in this article. His font, Quantange, which has been designed specifically for the French language is—

… basically a phonetic alphabet which visually suggests the pronunciation, rhythm and pace of reading. Every letter in Quantange has as many different shapes as there are ways of pronouncing it: the letter c for example has two forms because it can be pronounced as s or k.

Typeface as Programme [Link to Article]

New Faces: type design in the first decade of device-independent digital typesetting (1987-1997) [Link to abstract]

Fred Smeijers’s Arnhem typefaces [Link to Article] †

In search of a comprehensive type design theory [Link to Article]

A View of Latin Typography in Relationship to the World [Link to Article]

Methods of Distribution: Digital Fonts and the Global Market [Link to Article]

The Science of Typography [Link to Article]

Font Hinting [Link to Article]

Interviews, with Martin Majoor, Peter Bi’lak, Letterror (Just van Rossum and Erik van Blokland), Rudy Vanderlans and Tobias Frere-Jones

History of a new font (notes on designing Fedra Serif) [Link to Article]

Notes on the development of Charlie typeface family [Link to Article]

Eric Gill got it wrong; a re-evaluation of Gill Sans [Link to Article]

Arabic Calligraphy and Type Design [Link to Article] †

E-A-T, a selection of contemporary Czech and Slovak type design [Link to Article], and Czechoslovak Typography Connections [Link to Article] †

10 Issues of Fuse [Link to Article]

Some articles in the list are marked with a dagger sign (†). These are articles I have skimmed through pretty quickly and would return to if I was looking into that specific subject or in the case of Fred Smeijers’s Arnhem typefaces, I’ll revisit it once I have read his book Counterpunch.

Have I missed anything @_rafaelsaraiva — what have you been reading on Typotheque?

[Update] Rafael just e-mailed me and pointed out a couple of articles that I missed reading (and some I read but forgot to add to the list, silly me). Here, they are—

Thirty-six Point Gorilla [Link to Article]

Typographica Mea Culpa, Unethical Downloading [Link to Article]

We don’t need new fonts… [Link to Article]

In the Name Of the Father (or the troubles with L-caron) [Link to Article]


Comments 6

  1. rafael saraiva August 23, 2011

    Wow, you’re good! You’ve read a lot! Actually I was meaning the Gerry’s list also and not specifically on Typotheque archives. Anyway, I’ve read only 3 of these Typotheque texts so far and I believe you’ve covered them all — the Collins dictionary case (excellent one, I agree), ‘People as pixels’ and ‘My Type Design Philosophy’ by M. Majoor. As you can see, basically I was following your steps on twitter 🙂 My reading in english is quite slow and I’ll need some days to give you a consistent reply with what I find interesting there. I am planning to do so, because I’ve “finished” the MATD main books (not all, since 2 of them are sold out at amazon and it is almost impossible to find this kind of titles here in Brazil). I’ll leave to read these last 2 (Counterpunch and Letters of Credit) in Reading. Now I am planning to focus on the online content and the practical exercises, which is a good way to find some balance, since I did too much reading last month! Thank you for sharing, Pooja. Certainly your list will be very useful! I’ll get in touch soon.

    • Pooja August 23, 2011

      I will be making one huge list as well. As you can see, I am a compulsive list-maker 🙂 Good job with the reading list; I’ve read only two of the main books, and the third is on its way. It has been very hard to find them here in India, as well.

      I’ve always been quite bad at keeping track of what I’m reading online (as opposed to books), so I thought this list will help stay on top of things.

      How is the practical work coming along for you?

    • Sandra September 1, 2011

      Hey Pooja!
      I just read Rafaels comment and I can only agree… your blog is a great help for me as well although I am still going through all the books… I really liked Counterpunch, its very fluently written and therefore easy to understand (for me). At the moment I am fighting with “modern typography” where I turned out to be more than just a slow reader 🙂
      See you soon in Reading and good luck with all the coming work!

      • Pooja September 7, 2011

        Hi Sandra! Thank you for the comment, and I’m really happy that these lists are proving to be of some use to you guys. When you get to the online reading, you must tell me if there is something I’ve missed out 🙂 I’m reading Modern Typography now as well, and it has slowed me down considerably too. Good luck to you as well, and I cannot wait to see you guys in Reading!

  2. Peter Bilak August 23, 2011


    We should hire to do extra proofreading, and tagging of the content 😉
    Some of the texts you’ve highlighted are very old, when our publishing mechanism wasn’t as rigorous as it is now.

    • Pooja August 23, 2011

      Thanks Peter! Even though it was time consuming, going through the entire archives on Typotheque has been super-fun!
      And since you mention it, I think content-tagger should be on my list of dream jobs 🙂

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