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Author Archives: Laura Franz
A humanist sans serif font by psType.
Ratio has some quirky elements, such as the relationship between the dots and the strokes on the letters i and j. But the quirks don’t undermine the overall texture, rhythm, or readability of the font. This makes it stand out from others that try and fail to incorporate unique elements into a text font.
PsType says that Ratio shows “the best of both humanist and geometric sans serifs.” I categorize it as a humanist sans because it has generous apertures, a double-decker g, bowls with implied stress (on the b, d, q, p), and a lovely, humanist italic.
Ratio’s x-height is smaller than Verdana, and needs to be set a bit larger to retain readability. At the same time, the bowl is almost circular, making the font feel wider. Thus, I wouldn’t recommend Ratio for use in a narrow column. The bold weight is a bit heavy for my taste (the closed counterforms on the a and e start to “fill in” at text sizes). But the semi-bold is heavy enough to create a good contrast to the regular weight. I’ve used regular and semi-bold in the specimen sheet.
Ratio comes in 12 styles. I’ve tested the usual 4 plus the semi-bold, and they hold up beautifully cross browser. The whole family is available on Typekit.
A serif font by Eben Sorkin. I categorize Merriweather as an “Other Serif” font, because it does not fall neatly into any of the general historic categories commonly used to describe serif type.
Merriweather gracefully mixes-and-matches various historic approaches to font design. Head serifs and some terminals feel pen-formed, while foot serifs are reminiscent of delicate slab serifs. It has a large x-height, and generous apertures. It is extremely readable at smaller sizes, and the bolder weights are well balanced and don’t get too heavy on screen. I’ve spent some time using this font this summer, and it is one of my favorite fonts for web text.
Merriweather currently has 4 weights available via google webfonts. There is not an italic yet, but Sorkin’s blog promises one is in the works. As well as a sans serif version! Keep an eye on this font as it develops! It’s readable, beautiful, and holds up well cross browser.
Enter the WhatFont tool created by Chengyin Liu. It’s a quick and easy way to find out what web font is in use. Roll over the type, and the font-family name pops up. Click on the type, and you’ll even get typesetting information (font-size, line-height, and color). This is particularly helpful when you find a site where the text is both beautiful and easy to read. Good web type isn’t just about using a good web font.
The bookmarklet claims to have full support on Firefox 3.6+, Chrome 9+, Safari 4+, Internet Explorer 9; and limited support on Internet Explorer 8.
An old style font by Robert Slimbach, Minion Pro was originally designed for print. It is part of the Adobe Originals series.
Minion Pro feels “old” and pen-formed. It has a smaller x-height than Georgia, small closed counters on the letters a and e, and relatively small apertures. Thus it needs to be set larger to retain readability. Minion Pro is my favorite print font, and I didn’t expect it to work so well on screen (I usually prefer web fonts with a larger x-height and aperture). I was pleasantly surprised.
Minion Pro comes in 8 styles, including a beautiful semi-bold, which creates hierarchy without getting too heavy on screen. Even though it was originally designed for print, Minion Pro is well hinted and tests well across browsers. It gets a little light on Firefox, Chrome, and Opera on Windows XP, but is still legible if set at a generous size. The whole family is available on Typekit.
A sans serif font trademarked by Bitstream, Inc.
Vera Sans has a large x-height and generous apertures, and should retain readability at smaller sizes. But I find the bold lowercase a tends to “fill in” and become difficult to read at 14px and smaller on Windows browsers (Safari, IE, Chrome, and Firefox) when tested on crossbrowsertesting.com. Thus, while text is comfortable to read at 14px, I recommend using Vera Sans bold at 15px and larger.