I have been printing several texts using Plantin for some months. All of them have been copied from the Internet (they are mostly articles on topics than I enjoy taken from the digital edition of a newspaper) and then printed on DIN A4 paper of medium quality. I first chose Plantin because I felt there was something reassuring about its design - regular Plantin is satisfyingly heavy and I found its shapes to be agreeable to my eye.
Over time, I have realized there is a weird gap between classic typefaces and modern ones. I find most classics (Garamond, Caslon...) to be exceptionally beautiful when rendered at a large size. I don't mean these letters should be used in posters or any other graphic job at very large sizes. I mean that their character/nature and their shapes just look beautiful when enlarged on a computer screen. Alas, I've already had the awful experience of having to print text using a Caslon variant or a Garamond and setting the text at 11 points. When seeing the result, I feel that the outcome is just not visually pleasing... and not very legible, either. Could it be related to the fact that I'm printing on a DIN A4 format and perhaps creating a line lenght that is at odds with the proper usage of a Garamond/Caslon?
After I revised several of those printed documents earlier this week, I realized that Plantin is most definitely the typeface I don't want to use to print those texts. If pressed to say what I'm exactly looking for, I would say "friendly and highly legible, without being overly cute". I tried to print some texts with the light version of Eames from House industries but I found it too spindly. The regular version of it, as lovely as it looks on their website, just doesn't do it for me when I print it at 11 points.
Could someone please offer some orientation on the typeface I should use?
Thanks for your help and advice.
You may also take an interest in Klim’s Tiempos Text if Plantin previously interested you.
If you are interested in Caslons—Commercial’s more recent Frame may be of interest or Tiny Type’s Dover Text.
Fiz, you might do well to look for fonts with size-specific iterations. You’ll find an excellent rendering of Caslon’s types, in both text and small text versions, in Bill Berkson’s Williams Caslon, available through Typenetwork. The small text is used in The New Yorker magazine (Caslon has been its text type since the first issue, in 1925). Also available from Typenetwork is Mark van Bronkhorst’s rendering of ATF Garamond, which is available in subhead, text, and micro text versions.
The reason you are having this issue is something well known. The way in which certain classic typefaces differ from more recent ones is in their x-height.
Perhaps Castoro (which has the added value of bring free, and also comes with a set of tirling capitals)?
Inkjet printers very rarely have any RIP at all. They generally don’t have significant memory and rely on host-based processing. Which means they get OS rendering, which for PostScript Type 1 and OpenType CFF in macOS and Windows is… Adobe’s own rasterizer. And of course they have native original rasterizers for TrueType. So, inkjets not being PostScript printers has zero negative impact on the rendering of fonts.
For laser printers that have PS clone RIPs, and are being driven using that RIP and not PCL, some of those RIPs have occasional bugs that can affects fonts and/or graphics. IIRC, HP had a bug with overshoot suppression (blue zones), where they did not kick in at the small sizes, as they should have. But even given some particular bugs, I think “text will always look mediocre” is a major overstatement.
Indeed, that was an over-generalization. A better question would be to ask what benchmarks are you using to judge the performance of type in the medium of its intended use. The variables in inkjet printers are many—ink formulations, dryers, and, especially, reactivity with various paper coatings. They are, therefore, unreliable for judging type in text sizes (the smaller the type, the more unreliable the rendering).
My own perspective is that of someone who makes printed books that use a variety of paper surfaces printed on conventional offset, H-UV presses, and sometimes digital presses. To test fonts, I use only a PostScript Level 3 laser printer that I know from experience will produce a reasonably good match (in black) to the result I will see in the final printed product.
But why restrict oneself to a single typeface? Why not use printing our swiped texts as an opportunity to experiment with layout, typeface and typography, matching form to content?
Thomas, I think your argument is unproductive and unhelpful. Fiz’s question showed taste and discernment. As it is likely that his taste had been formed by his examination of printed books, my response regarding desktop printing methods analogous to offset lithography was an attempt to guide him to a line of inquiry that would likely—perhaps even more likely—address the problem he identified. Switching fonts alone might not yield the result he seeks.
To put it another way: maybe Inkscape’s stupid print bug could accidentally solve your problem.
Thank you. I am just trying to find a typeface that is able to convey a very specific tone. Even if almost everything I print is intended for personal use, I want it to have a quality that is, hopefully, both warm, friendly and rigorous and elegant at the same time. Using a Bodoni or Didot would be a wrong choice, as these documents are meant to be read and held in one's hands instead of being appreciated from a purely aesthetic point of view. They are not particularly fancy wedding invitations or a fashion magazine (although I do love both categories!).
Again, thanks for your help and advice.