in a well known swiss book about typography (Ralph Turtschi: Praktische Typographie) the use of small caps with sans serif typefaces is considered as bad practice. According to Turtschi, they look amateurish, without going into further detail.
I've never had any problems looking at small caps with sans serifs, maybe I'm wrong and this is really something I should avoid.
Small Caps for sans serifs good.
It's important to informed about typographic traditions but not at the point of being dogmatic.
Thanks for your comments. At least I am not the only one who thinks that SC can look nice with sans serif typefaces.
Tan, the statement from Turtschi is definitely not about faux SC, which is something I never considered doing anyway.
you're right, that is exactly the book I am talking about. I fully agree with your comments. It was just this statement that made me think about my use of typefaces.
If somebody has some spare time to look into this document:
Hope the link works (7 mb). It's a 200+ page reproduction of a classic book about carom billiards. I did this (and it was a lot of work) because it deserves IMO to be preserved in digital form and as an exercise for myself. The whole layout and the illustrations were recreated from scratch in InDesign and Illustrator, text by help of OCR from a german version.
Comments are welcome, I am by no means a professional designer, so I'm sure some of you find some things to improve.
Turtschi’s was the first typography book I read in 1994 and I learned a lot from it. Back then, it was the only contemporary one on the subject in German. It’s certainly a product of the ’90s, I would not recommend it today. I don’t remember nor ever followed this particular advice. (I also don’t remember the »Füsschen«, Nina, though this indeed sounds terrible). No one should read just one type book but many and then the weird or too-absolutist sounding statements are always nicely put into perspective.
I agree with this sample he gives here though: sans-serif small caps for headlines look strange, especially when you use fake ones. In the early ’90, almost no typeface offered true small caps, and especially not the sans-serifs.
Somehow I can’t open your link, Ludwig. Maybe just upload a small sample screenshot?
Consequently, small cap sans fonts were not often produced.
If a small cap setting was required, it was made by sizing normal caps appropriately.
In the mid-century modernist world, sans serif types such as Helvetica and Frutiger had oblique italics (not “true italics”), and no oldstyle figures or small caps, that just wasn’t done.
Ironically, it was the limited glyph complement of the first DTP fonts which made true small cap sans available—because there was some interest in alternate figure styles for humanist sans faces—such as Scala Sans—so an extra font was required, and the “SC + OSF” font was born, with the otherwise duplicate lower case letter slots being usefully filled up with true small caps.
strange my link did not work for you. Another try:
‘Small caps are not suitable for titles’ is a bit of a strange statement IMHO. The only reason that we call the smaller capitals ‘small caps’ in the headline above is because there are larger variants used in the lines. Otherwise there would be only capitals:
And then this undesirable result could also lead to the conclusion that capitals are not suitable for titles. Although the design of these capitals is somewhat awkward, with a little bit of work the patterning can be made more balanced:
So, the conclusion could for instance be that (small) capitals are only suitable for titles in the hands of skilled typographers. Or if the typographers are not skilled, only if there is appropriate spacing ‘intelligence’ in the font or in the page-layout software.
Another conclusion could be that a certain amount of alcohol affects the spacing ‘intelligence’ of skilled typographers.
Barnhard Bros. & Spindler catalog, circa 1893 (also, a bit of flair)