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Author Archives: Laura Franz
I told myself I’d only review text fonts, but every once in a while I come across a lovely display font that sings cross browser… and I’ve decided if I’m going to take the time to test and approve, I might as well share.
I recently tested and used Rochester for a client. She’s an independent children’s illustrator who’s been in the business for decades. Due to her illustration style, I needed a font that referenced handwriting, showed a slightly quirky side, and didn’t feel too elegant or messy. It also needed to work with all of the letters in her name, and the connections needed to… well… connect properly.
Rochester has a vertical stress and significant contrast between thick and thin strokes. The strong vertical strokes and the round bowl give the font a slightly “bubbly,” slightly digital feeling — not overly elegant. I have to admit, I don’t care for Rochester’s lowercase z or f, but luckily my client’s site uses neither in the heading. When I tested it cross browser, the spacing, connections, strokes, and curves all remained lovely.
Rochester comes in 1 style (as all great handwriting fonts do). It is available via Google Web Fonts.
A font that almost made it. A serif font designed by Jean François Porchez of Porchez Typofonderie, Le Monde Courrier attempts to “re-establish a style halfway between writing and printing.”
First, let me say, I love this font! The overall structure and system (when viewed on Safari, Chrome, Opera or Firefox from my mac) is gorgeous. I want to use it. But I can’t (at least not for extended text).
Unfortunately, Le Monde Courrier has slightly uneven spacing at text sizes. For example, look at the word reading (first word, fifth line down) in the top example at left. The space between the e and a is too loose compared to the re and di in the same word. This problem occurs multiple times in text, between a variety of letter pairs.
And, unfortunately, the problem gets worse on Windows platforms (see the lower example at left, a screenshot from Safari on Windows 7). Letters get narrower, blockier, and more loosely spaced. Letterspacing between ed, er, ea, en, and al all get too loose. Granted, the font remains legible, but it loses some of its readability and grace.
I categorize Le Monde Courrier as an “Other Serif” font, because it does not fall neatly into any of the general historic categories commonly used to describe serif type.
Le Monde Courrier gracefully mixes-and-matches approaches to font design. The e, i, and l have italic influence, while most other letters are Roman. It has a large x-height, a single decker g, and an almost monoline stroke — all of which make the font feel more structured. But it also has generous apertures, pen-formed serifs, and an implied stress on the bowls — all which help it feel more humanist.
Le Monde Courrier is an absolutely lovely font originally designed for print. It has a couple of spacing and hinting issues to work out so it can continue to be absolutely lovely on screen. It’s worth keeping an eye on. If we’re lucky, future versions of the font will have better spacing. The web version of Le Monde Courrier has 6 weights and styles and is available from Typekit.
A transitional font by Robert Slimbach, Utopia was originally designed for print. It is part of the Adobe Originals series.
Utopia has a vertical stress and significant contrast between thick and thin strokes. The strong vertical strokes and the slightly square bowl give the font a “square” feeling when used for text. It has a similar x-height and apertures to Georgia. Utopia’s letterspacing is slightly tighter, so I personally find it easier to read at larger sizes.
Utopia comes in 6 styles. Even though it was originally designed for print, Utopia is well hinted and tests well across browsers. The family is available on Typekit.
A humanist sans serif font designed by Steve Matteson.
Open Sans was designed with an upright stress, but still feels humanist due to its open apertures, double-decker g, and humanist italic. It has a similar x-height to Verdana, but has a lighter stroke weight, and even more clarity (legibility) at smaller sizes. The bold feels a bit heavy, but retains legibility. There is also a semi-bold for use when the bold is too heavy.
Ubuntu has some quirky elements, such as the corners created where shoulders meet stems on the letters a, r, n, m, h, p, q, and u. The quirks don’t undermine the overall texture, rhythm, or readability of the font, but it does give text a slightly “futuristic” feel which may or may not be appropriate for a project.
Even with the “futuristic” feeling, I categorize Ubuntu as a humanist sans because it has generous apertures, bowls with implied stress (on the b, d, q, p), a curved foot on the lowercase l, and a relatively humanist italic.
Ubuntu’s x-height is slightly smaller than Verdana, yet holds up very nicely at smaller sizes due to generous apertures and bowls. The bold weight is a bit heavy for my taste, though it is still legible on screen. While a semi-bold is available, it is not heavy enough to create a good contrast to the regular weight.