Read between the leading

I always write this introductory paragraph last. As I’ve been working on this post all day, my eyes are now burning, and I’m flagging; so, let’s just get started. Loosen your belts — this is a big one.

I’ll start with a beautiful photograph of a beautiful thing:

sealed by andy clymer

There’s not much that’s more inspiring than to see young people (I’m not that old) talking about design and type. Aaron Heth and Matt McInerney recently launched a great new podcast, Read Between the Leading. Intelligent and enthusiastic discussion; and, I think, if they keep at it, then this show will be big.


So whether you’re a student, or an old-timer like me, then subscribe to Read Between the Leading. They’re very open to suggestions, so leave them comments, or tweet @rbtlshow. The most recent podcast features an interview with Antonio Carusone (aisleone & the grid system), and they even have a prize for the best call-in. And, you can even subscribe via iTunes.

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TDC2 2009 results

It’s that time of year again. The Type Directors club (TDC) has just announced its 2009 typeface awards, with the winners being awarded the Certificate of Typographic Excellence in Type Design. Here are a several of my favourites:

Malabar from Dan Reynolds:

malabar by dan reynolds

The Malabar family will be available for purchase pretty soon. Initially available in Regular, Bold, and Heavy; each with their respective Italics. Devanagari support to come later. Dan is also the author of the type blog typeoff. And this article’s masthead is set in Malabar Heavy Italic. [twitter]

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iFont, iPhone

It has been predicted that Apple will have sold 45 million iPhones by the end of 2009. And that’s before it hits China. There aren’t hundreds of type-related apps for the iPhone, but here are few; and a few type-related tips too. (Helvetica Moleskine give-away details at the end).

iPhone apps

Recently released, MyFonts’ What The Font for iPhone is a terrific little app. The biggest barrier is not MyFonts’ image recognition technology (which has proven itself online), but the dreadfully inadequate iPhone camera. However, despite that it does a pretty good job. Just ensure that the lighting is good.


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Chelsea, darling

The move to my new host, Fused Network, went very smoothly. As iLT has been expanding pretty rapidly, a server with a little more oomph was required. If you’re looking for great hosting and fantastic support, then try Fused. David, the main man at Fused is something of a server superstar.

Chelsea Darling was the winner of my first twitter-type prize. Chelsea won a copy of Simon Loxley’s The Secret History of Letters. I’ve decided to do this every week. So, from now on, I’ll pick a random follower and send you some type-related goodies. And, no, Chelsea Darling is not a character from AbFab — it’s her real name.

OK, let’s kick off this week’s the week in type with something I really want need. The Helvetica Moleskine:

moleskine helvetica

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Projected type

Welcome to this week’s the week in type. Thanks to all those who commented on David’s great On diacritics article. Upon seeing Greg Meadows’ photos from the boneyard in last week’s the week in type, Matthew sent me some of his own:

boneyard lettering

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On diacritics

The globalisation of the type market and rising interest in multi-lingual typeface design is a source of great optimism among many typographers. Yet despite the proliferation of these beautiful new typefaces, many still do not support some European languages, let alone cater for African and Asian languages. In fact, contrary to the claims of advertisements, the offering is, in respect to language support, quite limited.

The aim of this article is to explain the fundamentals behind the use and design of Latin diacritical marks (accents) and help typographers make informed choices regarding their use. Design considerations are illustrated mostly with Central-European diacritics for the following reasons: a) they are generally less familiar to Western typographers. To quote Czech type designer Tomáš Brousil: “For Western typographers our accents are as strange as, for example, the Arabic script.” That they are seen as merely an add-on to the familiar Latin alphabet often leads to severely underestimating their importance; b) they are fairly familiar to the author; c) Central European, and the Czech language in particular, made one of the earliest uses of diacritics with Latin script (the substitution of diacritics for the use of digraphs was proposed by Jan Hus in his De Ortographia Bohemica in 1412).

arabic vocalization

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Greener type

Notice anything different? iLT has gone green. In addition I have a new masthead. For more than a year, one of my all-time favourite typefaces has graced the head of these pages; but it’s time for a change. I had given some thought to a complete redesign, but then I asked myself, why? So, I’ve chosen not to redesign just for the sake of it. Instead, I’ve made some relatively minor changes, including the menu at the very top, tweaks to the sidebar, and swapping out the red for a little green. Now who can name the typeface?

OK, on with the show. Let’s start out with some more green. This lovely poster from ColorCubic:

quid est veritas by colorcubic

And this even more impressive piece:

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Inconspicuous vertical metrics


There are generally taken to be five vertical measures of note in type design (from bottom to top): descender, baseline, midline*, caps-height, and ascender.

Vertical Measures in Minion

But if you delve into the minutiae of font design, you soon discover that there are a slew of important vertical metrics that aren’t much talked about. In this article, I will take a look at several of these metrics, and how they are used in font design.

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