typography

Beyond a Fad, Typography is Mainstream

Jim ExtensisThose of us who work with publishing have long known the importance and typography in our work.

We’re savvy to the difference between PostScript from OpenType, how justified text flows in comparison to ragged text, and even perhaps why closed apertures can make a typeface less readable. 

From design to production, having the right fonts is critical to getting the results that we desire. But now our formerly secret world, and language of typography is opening up.

My 75-year-old father has been clipping articles from his local newspaper about the introduction of new typeface, logotypes and more for a while now. He does it partly that he knows that it relates to my job, but also because he is genuinely interested and wants to talk about it. Yes, the world has changed.

And it’s not just septuagenarians who are interested, the general populace has more access and visibility into the power typography through social media posts – Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook – that all rely upon the impact of the word.

All of this new interest is creating a wonderful renaissance for those who create and use typography. 

Paired with an expansion in the font creation tool market, it’s now easier than ever before to create fonts. There are tools for the casual user as well as professionals in the type industry. From powerhouse font editors from FontLab and Glyphs to various open source projects, the tools to create quality fonts are easier to use and faster than ever before.

Casual users with no font creation experience, or those who simply want quick font prototypes can even get into the font creation game with parametric font creation. Tool such as Prototypo and Metapolator allow the creation of a font through the movement of a few simple sliders, and give users interesting results right out of the gate.

So, what does that mean for publishers?   

First and foremost, it means more fonts. Designers love a wide selection to choose from, and whether you know it or not, they have likely already started acquiring more fonts for your collection. 

If you’ve been in business more than a few months, you’ve likely been building up quite a collection of fonts. Average solo design professionals have around 4,000 fonts in their collections, and the average business can easily have many multiples of that baseline number.

Keeping the same fonts in use during every part of the production process can be a challenge. Some choose to bake all of their fonts into PDFs for output, but others prefer the editing flexibility of native design documents – Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, QuarkXPress, etc.  

To ensure that all of those fonts are the same across all of your desktops, it’s wise to implement procedures to copy fonts to a centralised server where everyone can access the collection. This can be from a simple network folder where people drop the source files, all the way up to professional font servers like Universal Type Server.

Also, with production font files coming from a wider, more varied source, it’s wise to implement font quality checks into your workflow. This can include a wide variety of tasks. From a basic visual inspection to ensure that the typefaces selected for a job include the appropriate language support, to ensuring that there aren’t any creation issues that would cause the font to make your job output fail. Tools like FontDoctor can be used scan your entire collection for issues, as well as the features included in professional font managers.  

With additional influx of new typefaces into your collection, you will also want to institute a formal font purchase process. End User License Agreements (EULAs) are quite varied amongexisting type designers, and with more designers coming online every day, you can bet that we will only see more interesting variations in the years to come.

While there will be some challenges moving forward, I’m really excited by all of the new typeface designs that I’ve seen in the marketplace. While we used to see only a few rock star type designers (Matthew Carter, Mark Simonson, Tobias Frere-Jones, etc.), it’s a fair bet to say that we’ll see many more designers joining an already talented field. I can’t wait.  

Jim Kidwell, Product Marketing Manager for Font Solutions at Extensis

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