Calluna Sans as an alternative to Scala Sans, but...

Designing a book based on the layout used in one of Taschen's architectural series which featured Scala Sans for body text. Recreated the layout initially using Scala Sans which I'm enamored here - it seems to be the perfect "voice" for the author and subject matter. Of course Taschen's designers created a perfectly proportioned look amongst all the elements, worthy of study and emulation, but what I have is obviously too derivative, and I've begun customizing, starting with a similar font. 

Calluna Sans seemed to fit the bill, after experiments with Martin Majoor's (designer of Scala) and others' designs (Questa Sans, Proxima Nova, Nexus). Calluna is a good approximation of Scala yet with enough distinctive traits to set it apart. However, it's regular weight is a bit heavier on the page and the one light version goes too far. I suppose taking the Calluna 10 pt size I'm using down to 9.8 and slightly decreasing leading is not an option, as it alters the perfectly balanced look between page size and column width that I find the Scala Sans in 10 pt with 14.2 leading here has. Is it not advisable for any reason to use odd point sizes like 9.85 - does it complicate things in any other way? 

Thanks in advance for any feedback.


  • Marc OxborrowMarc Oxborrow Posts: 174
    I've designed lots of publications using fractional point sizes for type and/or leading and never run into any issues, other than complicating the math slightly when determining "space above/below" values that tally up to a multiple of the leading.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,681
    edited April 25
    I find the most important quality to look for when deciding on point size and leading is how much one’s eye is tempted to travel up and down, rather than across. Several things in a layout affect this, for instance line length, and whether the paragraph style is ragged or justified. The most egregious problems are “rivers” (vertical paths of white space) and “islands” (vertical paths suggested by the proximity of ascenders and descenders). So it’s unlikely that a small fraction of a point size will make much difference in this regard.

    As you are concerned with the overall weight, you might also consider experimenting with adjusting the tracking plus and minus, or even the width of the space. Not to mention nano-stroking the text, i.e. “grading”. It’s all grist for the mill.
  • Joshua LangmanJoshua Langman Posts: 42
    edited April 26
    This may or may not help you, but for whatever it's worth, when I redesigned the database School Shooters .info about eight years ago, I decided to pair Scala for text with Calluna Sans, rather than Scala Sans, as a companion sans serif. You can see the two faces working together in this PDF document, particularly in the charts and graphs. (The graph artwork was generated in Excel, but all of the type in the graphs was set in InDesign.) Here is another document where Scala and Calluna Sans are working closely together.

    I chose Calluna Sans rather than Scala Sans because it had a bit more typographic "presence," just a tad more personality. They are both humanist sans, but Calluna felt a little bit "more" humanist, if that makes sense. I did have to adjust the size of the Calluna to match the Scala, which is especially important in some documents where they appear together on the same line.

    The web interface for the database also uses Calluna Sans, but the primary text face is Skolar, not Scala. If I were to do the whole thing again, I would likely use the same serifed face for the website and the PDFs, but there were other considerations eight years ago, including screen resolution and what was available on Typekit (which we no longer use).

    To actually answer your question above, there is nothing wrong with fractional point sizes — points are an arbitrary unit of measurement — and I frequently go to two decimal places with type sizes. That said, I have found that when a layout feels a little wishy-washy or unsure of itself, returning to traditional typographic units and sticking to them, especially in the arrangement of empty space, can sometimes give it more solidity and conviction.
  • Joshua LangmanJoshua Langman Posts: 42
    edited April 26
    [duplicated comment]
  • Joshua LangmanJoshua Langman Posts: 42
    edited April 26
    One more thing about Calluna Sans is that it has gorgeous, distinctive numerals, both OS and lining. The numbers have these wonderful open counters, and the industrial serifs on the 1 sort of balance out the humanism of the other numbers.

    Here is an example of a magic sheet, which is a schematic representation of all the stage lights in a theatre, used by theatrical lighting designers. I have been using Calluna Sans for my magic sheets for years, partly because the individual numbers are so distinctive and easy to read in the dark. (I wanted to attach a PDF, but it won't let me.)

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