Round vs. Rounded vs. Soft naming

Adam LaddAdam Ladd Posts: 250
edited August 2018 in Technique and Theory
Curious your opinion: I feel I've seen the above mentioned naming conventions for typefaces (speaking about sans serifs) that have a standard, sharp corner version but also have a version with rounded corners (e.g. Fontname and Fontname Rounded). I wonder if they might each communicate something slightly different to a buying audience...

I think of Round as the stem endings/terminals being a full half-circle (no corners); while Rounded and Soft, to me, can be interchanged and represent having the corners rounded to some degree but still maintaining a straight edge.

But at the same time, Round could also be interchanged with the latter two and indicate the same thing.

What's your take? Do they distinctly signal different styles to you or are they basically one in the same and it's a matter of preference (personally, I like the conciseness of using Soft, but Rounded may be clearer)?


  • Cory MaylettCory Maylett Posts: 245
    edited August 2018
    I'm not sure I see much more in those names than them being whatever struck the fancy of the person naming them — that combined with an attempt at being somewhat descriptive.
    Soft, to me, seems to imply rounded corners, while round might suggest a roundish, plumpish typeface. Rounded, well, I don't know — round, half-circle terminals, I guess, or, maybe, something a little more oblate. However, that's just me. I'm not aware of any real conventions that have emerged for how rounded the corners need to be before this or that name applies. 
  • For FF DIN Round, Albert-Jan Pool explicitly chose “Round” over “Rounded” in order to emphasize that it is a distinct style, with a tool-based history on it own (see DIN 16 and 17), and not just a modification made to FF DIN.
  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,654
    edited September 2018
    I may have been [one of] the first to use "Soft" when I released Proxima Nova Soft in 2010 early 2011. I wasn't aware of any previous use, anyway. (Edit: I just found a couple earlier ones, but nothing you or I have ever heard of.)

    I chose it because it was shorter than "Rounded", which was an issue with appending it to the existing Proxima Nova style names (Regular, Medium, Semibold, and Bold), which I wanted to preserve without exceeding name table limits.

    (When I expanded the range to match all the styles of Proxima Nova, I had to shorten it further still to "Proxima Soft".)
  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 1,398

    To me,
    "round" means the left example
    "rounded" could be left, center, or right, but I picture center first
    "soft" could be center or right, but I picture right first
  • Ben BlomBen Blom Posts: 250
    edited August 2018
    My naming conventions for rounded fonts, are discussed in this attached PDF quote from my Flexo Soft specimen manual:
  • Adam LaddAdam Ladd Posts: 250
    "soft" could be center or right, but I picture right first
    I didn't really consider the style on the right. Thanks for adding a visual.
  • Adam LaddAdam Ladd Posts: 250
    edited August 2018
    That's an interesting bit of recent history, Mark. And good, practical examples of why. Thanks. (Edits noted.)
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