Square-ish Sans Serif

dmolanphydmolanphy Posts: 3
edited August 2012 in Type Design Critiques
Hello all,

Have been hard at work trying to learn the art of type design and I'm wondering if I could ask for some feedback on my first typeface. The intent is to design a simple (but complete) sans serif with just a hint of personality. I have been staring at this thing for almost six months and have asked for some feedback from the folks at Typophile, but was hoping for more.

Your thoughts, insight and input are much appreciated.



  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,911
    The big problem here is conceptual inconsistency. While many characters do have the squared super elliptical style, there are plenty of others that look like they came from some other typeface. a, e, r, S, s, 2, 3, 6, 8, 9 all look like they were pulled from old sans fonts by Tobias Frere-Jones.

    Your widths are also unresolved; many letters have the wide geometric proportion of Gotham and do not fit in the grotesque proportions established by H and O. I think you need to spend more time looking at how the proportions of grotesque and square sans faces work and then devise a working system of widths for your design.
  • The sample on the third page is Myriad, not your font. :-/
  • @James Thank you much for your insights. I did study many other fonts (including several by HFJ) so I'm not surprised that a lot of their influence is showing. Your comment on widths was by far the most insightful though (I did mention I'm a newb right?) I'll definitely go back and rework those.

    @Mekkablue Well that's embarrassing. :/ Oops.
  • Made some tweaks to make the characters mentioned (a, e, r, S, s) more squared. Haven't touched the numbers yet as I want to make sure the basic shapes are in place first.

    Also reviewed character widths throughout and made some small adjustments to the a, c, e, h, n, s and u.

    Better? Worse? Same?

  • Ray LarabieRay Larabie Posts: 1,280
    edited September 2012
    Don't overdo it with the width balancing. Do whatever feels right or it'll end up generic. But make sure you make those decisions while testing in words, not by looking at each glyph.

    The bowl of the Thorn should look more like the P. Macron feels low. Lowercase i and j dots don't align.

    The ogonek doesn't seem to relate to other letters. Compare with c.


    Cap aligned brackets sometimes work but just make sure they look good (in) (lowercase) (especially) (in) (words) (which) (start) (with) (j) (and) (end) (with) (f) (.)

    Never superscript (C) and (R). Copyright messages are often tiny already which would make your symbols microscopic. TM is too tiny too.

  • Kent LewKent Lew Posts: 905
    edited September 2012

    Ray, I disagree. I believe the ® should be superscripted. It indicates registered trademark, not copyright, and so is equivalent to ™.

    The © is generally used in-line as part of a copyright statement and is not superscripted. The ™ and ® are generally applied as adjunct marks at the end of a word or phrase to indicate that the preceding is a trademark or registered trademark and are generally set superscripted.

    There are differing opinions and standards, as seen in the range of treatments in professional fonts. (Lucida Grande, here, for instance, if that’s what you’re reading this in. ;-)

    ℗ (uni2117), on the other hand, is an analog for ©, used for a performance copyright, and should also be set on the baseline, figure-height generally.

  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 0
    edited September 2012
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  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,980
    Super scripting the Registered and Copyright marks makes them too small in footnotes.
    It's a better idea to put a superscripted glyph in the superscript feature.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,980
    edited September 2012
    This is more of a styling exercise than a type design, and as such is too sophisticated for a first attempt. I recommend starting with a design problem which requires the resolution of two ideas involving fundamental, font wide themes.
  • Wow - fantastic feedback. Thank you!

    @typodermic - those links on drawing the thorn, eth, and ogonek are so informative. As I am unfamiliar with those diacritics, I was trying to emulate based on what I saw on various materials I found online. It's so much better to understand what they are and how they're supposed to be drawn. Thank you for the lessons.

    @kent @james and @nickster great info on ®, ©, and ™. I'm more inclined to superscript the ® and have a full height alternative. For me, it has always been rather annoying to have to 'manually' superscript a ®.

    @nickster I never thought of it that way, but as soon as you said it, I can totally see what you mean. I feel like I went from 0mph to 100mph very quickly with this first attempt and I'm still trying to understand how to drive! Great advice - thank you.
  • Kent LewKent Lew Posts: 905
    edited September 2012
    Super scripting the Registered and Copyright marks makes them too small in footnotes.

    I don’t know why folks insist on lumping these two together. As I tried to explain, although they look similar, they have distinctly different uses that occur in different typographic circumstances.

    Yes, © and ℗ = full-height (generally figure height), on the baseline. But ® and ™ are typically superscripted.

    If you mean footnotes in books, Nick, most editorial style guides that I’m familiar with actually eschew the use of either mark — ® or ™ — in texts since there is no legal requirement and they just add clutter.

    If you mean the fine print in advertising and such, then yes, I suppose if you’re designing an all-purpose sans serif that you intend to be used for such legal disclaimers, then you should design the ® and ™ larger. As James pointed out, they’re often made too small. (But I would still make them nominally superscripted).

    But that’s just me.

  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,980
    Yes Kent, it was my experience in designing corporate communications that both a free-standing logo or trademarked name in body text would require the Registered mark to be attached, and that there would be mice-type at the bottom/end of the document where “® Registered trademark of XYZ Corporation Inc.” would be required, often with “© Copyright 2012 XYZ Corporation Inc.” as well. So it makes sense to have both these symbols cap height as default.

    Don’t get me started on ordinals—I am thinking of putting full sized characters in the Ordinal feature to counteract Word’s twee 17th century affectation of superscripting “th”, “rd” and “st”.
  • Matthew ButterickMatthew Butterick Posts: 143
    edited September 2012
    I share Kent's view that ® and ™ should be drawn superscripted, and for the same semantic rationale.

    Still, a quick scan through the professional fonts installed on my machine show that while ™ is always superscripted, ® is evenly divided between superscripted and not. So I'm prepared to concede that reasonable type designers can differ on this point.

    I also wonder whether it has something to do with different practices in different countries. They are, after all, legal marks, so the usual practice in the US may be different from Canada, or the UK, etc.

    AFAIK, the scale of these symbols is more a matter of tradition and habit than strict statutory mandate. For instance, under US law, the © symbol is one of several options in a copyright notice.
  • Nick, thanks for the additional perspective. Matthew probably has it right, that practices differ worldwide.

    Some recent FB fonts have included registered.alt — informally known as “Big ®” — to provide the user the option. (Come to think of it, that might be just Cyrus.)
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