Typeface Design Brief Document

Hey everyone! I am working on a Typeface Design Brief Document (surprisingly I have not found anything like this) and would really like to have your input, feedback or suggestions. I am referencing a couple of articles by Thomas Phinney and Nadine Chahine and adding some Design Brief content from my experience. Can we built a decent template for everybody?

Looking for a Typeface Design Brief Document

First Draft

1. Who needs this typeface? And (more important) why? RP (Who is the client, or target customer? TP)

2. Tell me about the project. (Background and main need). RP

3. What is the intended function of the typeface? . NC

4. Who is going to be the main reader of this typeface? RP

5. Who is going to set text with this typeface? RP

6. What personality should it convey? NC

7. Is it replacing a current typeface? If so, what does the client like and dislike about the current typeface? What is motivating the change? TP

8. Mention 3 Like-to-look-like Typefaces for this project. RP

9. Mention 3 examples you consider Best Practices suitable for this project. RP

10. What is the typeface a vehicle for? What is to be communicated with it? In what way should it flavor the message? Is it intended for a particular project or product? TP

11. Is there a specific target usage, such as “advertising headlines” or “body text in all publications and online.” Even if not.... What sizes will it be used at? In what media? How will the type be reproduced (imaged, rasterized)? On screen? For web pages? In print? TP  (In what sort of media will it be used? NC)

12. How many styles (individual fonts) are desired? TP

13. What kind of language coverage is required? TP 3. What language does it speak? NC

What is the tone of voice intended for this typeface? RP

How should it sound? is it friendly? serious? casual?

14. What kind of typographic extras are required, or might be desirable? TP 

This connects with the main activity and language of the company or brand RP

15. Do you need exclusivity of the typeface or would you consider licensing it? For how long?


TP. Thomas Phinney: https://www.quora.com/What-does-a-typical-brief-for-a-new-typeface-look-like

NC. Nandine Chahine: https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2014/02/a-type-design-brief-arabic-typography-calligraphy/

RP. Rubén Pineda. (Myself)


  • Thomas Phinney
    Well, you already have my (virtual) input!  :tongue:
  • Chris Lozos
    Chris Lozos Posts: 1,458
    just add:
    What are the specific needs or preferences that your target audience might have that affect the type choice?
  • Ruben Pineda
    @Thomas Phinney Yes! And thank you of course.
  • RichardW
    RichardW Posts: 100
    Are these questions supposed to cover which renderers it has to cope with?  For example, simply for web pages, Chrome, Safari and IE11 can render the same text quite differently.
  • Ray Larabie
    Ray Larabie Posts: 1,385
    I think 10 contains questions that were already asked. After 13, you have a couple of repeated questions. I dont understand the question between 14 and 15. In question 15 I'd leave out "would you consider licensing it?". For me, the default is non-exclusive so I'd ask if they want exclusivity and why. And a separant question: if you chose exclusivity, for how long do you require it. Something like that.
  • JoyceKetterer
    JoyceKetterer Posts: 793
    edited January 2022
    To @Ray Larabie and @John Hudson's points, reading this, I was left wondering if this list is for retail fonts.  A lot of these are questions that you shouldn't or can't ask a client (either because it will get answers that lead you to infringe on other's ideas or because they wont know how to answer).  However, these are the questions my team asks itself when we are considering a new font.  We especially ask ourselves the questions you shouldn't ask a client, because our goal with a retail release is to add something new to whatever genre.  
  • Ray Larabie
    Ray Larabie Posts: 1,385
    @JoyceKetterer Ah yes, I see what you mean. I assumed it was for an internal development brief until I saw the part about exclusivity. You're right about the infringement...some clients can't help but pull on that thread.
  • Nicholas Garner
    Separate the visual design from the technical design!
    Document the technical design requirements, along with legal and contractual constraints but leave the visual design to free discussion, based on the circumstances of the project. In this way, the designer will be able to do his/her job more effectively.
    And don't forget to define the contract process – initial ideas, proof of concept, sign-off / payment stages etc.
    I feel that RP's draft brief pays unnecessary attention to the visual design while largely ignoring the technical design. In fact I don't think this kind of visual brief can usefully become standardised - I see a form that says Personality -> please select …
    On the other hand a technical design template might be useful.

  • Ruben Pineda
    Thank you all for your comments! First of all I have to say this is meant to be a Brief for a Custom Typeface (Not Retail) . I should have clarified that from the beginning. Sorry about that.

    @JoyceKetterer: Great point about infringing other's ideas. I'll consider that, but I disagree on asking many of this questions directly to the client. I would do so assuming there is someone in their team that knows about the project and the main need. If they don't know how to answer I would help them to discover the real need. 

    @John Hudson : I agree with you. However, what I try to get from [8] is a couple of examples of what the client hope to get in terms of design, look, feel or performance. Would you ask a different question? 

    @Ray Larabie: After [14] about typographic extras (Thomas Phinney refers to) I am pointing out the fact that every company or brand have their own lingo or type language and may need specific glyphs, figures, ligatures, variables, etc. Makes sense?

    @Nicholas Garner: This is so true! Honestly I am leaving the technical part aside. I have to consider that questions too (maybe in a separate Brief?).

    Sorry to reply to everyone at the same time but can't find a way to reply to each comment separately.

    I am working on the document considering every though.
  • Any updates on this?
  • Paul Hanslow
    Unsure know if this has been listed:
    Is there a desire to expand on the initial typeface's script coverage, and if so what scripts would be included? 

    This isn't an easy question to answer as typefaces may be expanded upon (script wise) if the initial typeface becomes popular in a multilingual country, or if it's being used by large corporations who require multiple languages for brochures etc. My reason suggesting this point is an Latin typeface could require design compromises to certain glyphs when designing a Cyrillic extension. Also, some scripts require considerably more ascender and descender room than Latin.