Monday, April 11, 2016

Which font is the most widely used?

This query came via email

Which font is the most widely used?

In print medium prior to the WEB it was probably a serif font, back in the day a item called a newspaper was printed every day of the year and a font called Times was the common newspaper “workhorse” font. So their was a lot of Times font widely used, stacks of bundles of papers printed using Times font.
Image from linotype article, Type Gallery - Times,

Helvetica is a san serif font used very effectively by many graphic designers for half a century now. Helvetica was used for many way-finding systems and this is one way it became a well known type font. It was also one of the fonts provided early on as desktop computers came into use. It has been the basis of many recognizable logos, a part of many posters and publications too. The font Helvetica has come to have a wide and useful family of many weights, this makes it a very handy font to use and set type with and create many different looks. 
Starting in 1983 updated and reworked into Helvetica Neue and you saw it used as part of Apple macintosh computers and also in Apple iOS6 and iOS7.

In his answer to most widely used  Madhav Gopalan explained uses of Helvetica Neue, and listed some well know examples. One just can not deny Helvetica Neue is all over the web today too.

Another san serif font Arial is pretty common, it is often a default font in use on the web, and it is in the Windows, Mac and Linux OS. So it also is one of the top widely used fonts these days. Times New Roman also ranks as widely used by these qualifiers a web default and OS font. Yes it’s a modernized version of Times.

It would be difficult to tally most widely used, I would go with the trifecta, Arial, Times New Roman and Helvetica Neue.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Which fonts have a fixed width?

Example of a common fixed width font

Example of a common proportional font

A typewriter used a fixed typewriter pitch vs the modern fonts in todays typography. Each typewriter fixed pitch font requires the same amount of space – an “I”  takes up the same width as an “M” as an “O” as the “J”

Typesetting has progressed once a hand set, then a mechanical process and photo-mechanical into todays highly sophisticated computerized, electronic technology.

Many Metal, Photographic typesetting, and Digital typesetting Fonts are proportionally spaced — each letter is designed with as much space as needed for appearance and legibility.

The programs like InDesign or Quark use fonts to set type and allow expert control of the fonts and the copy being typeset. These program give real control over the Line Measure, Line spacing (Leading), Word spacing, Letterspacing, Tracking and Kerning. These six control items all contribute to how effectively the printed words communicate. The quality of typographic composition is the result of proper usage of the selected typeface, in turn this plays a part in the legibility and the readability of the typography. The reading process can be enhanced or inhibited by the legibility and the readability of the typography.

Word processing programs such as Word do not give you actual typesetting control of the font and the copy, although many that use Word think they do. The common perception in business communication is it is “good enough”. For letters, reports, some proposals this is fine application and use. For ads, brochures, invitations, annual reports, posters, flyers, logos in my opinion Word is not “good enough” a poor choice for the layout and design of these. It is a word processing program.

Not all fonts in todays typography are crafted with the same level of care and expertise. It is important when your purchase a font that the source is reputable, and understand what your font license need is.

Font such as Courier or Courier New are likely a fixed width or mono-spaced font. Fonts that appear to be “typewriter fonts” and are in some classification systems called slab serif fonts, many are also one of your computers system fonts (Courier New, Monaco, Lucdia, Andale Mono) are the fixed font flavor, but not always.
If the font has “Mono” as part of its name you can be confident it is a fixed width or Mono-spaced font. One other check is use a Type Weight Comparison, that has several typeface specimen set in same point size, set solid, that has same number of characters in each of three different sentence. If it is a mono-spaced font the sentences would take same space, if proportional they will obviously show different line lengths.

So you can see difference in top three and bottom three Type samples line lengths, you know the top three are some examples of mono-spaced or fixed width fonts. The two specimen American Typewriter and Chaparral Pro Bold, both slab serif, both look similar or appear as “typewriter fonts” but are proportional fonts.
Some fixed width or mono-space fonts starting with slab serif then serif then san serif not already mentioned are:
Tex Gyre Cursor
Luxi Mono
Klartext Mono
Fira Mono
Droid Sans Mono
Bitstream Vera Sans Mono
Oxygen Mono
These are just some, not endorsing or promoting, you just have to try them in your design, lot of other Fixed width font  exist today you can check and test out too.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Is it possible to download Helvetica fonts for free?

This query came via email

Is it possible to download Helvetica fonts for free? What is a link for it?

If you want to use the Helvetica font professionally then you need and ought to purchase the Helvetica font license to protect yourself and your client. You also need to read and understand the different font license available.

In the creative services profession the cost to purchase license for a font is part of the project cost that is involved in design of a visual communication piece. All the professionals do this, it is proper business conduct.

Yes it is possible to find some version of Helvetica. A great many fonts versions exist to download “FREE” 

If you obtain any font from a “FREE” site and you get a virus of some ilk, the time it takes to repair the damage, remove the virus is going to cost you more then buying the font would.

That “FREE” Helvetica font may not include the common 19 Helvetica styles, the full set of Helvetica glyphs, ligatures and the drawing hints, rendering tables and attention to each characters rendered detail that comes with a purchased licensed version of Helvetica.

The cost of “FREE”. If you were to create a visual communication piece for a good client and use a “FREE” font, then were caught doing this the harm to your professional standing in the clients eyes would be difficult to ever rebuild.

Today several basic fonts and license to use them come with your computer OS, with many graphic design applications that software license provide selected legal fonts license too. The font and font license provided need to be understood but generally they are quite broad use font license. 

In place today for your convenient use are services and technologies that exist to manage and to locate, test and purchase, license and use fonts correctly and legally. 

It is easier to do the right thing.

What are the best fonts for blogs?

This question came in my email the other day…
What are the best fonts for blogs?

It depends.

Blogs are often predominantly written text. So a web font that works as readable body copy is a good choice to start. The blog requirements document might have something to say about the factors of your web font rendering, who the reader is, what device they are reading blog with, what OS and so on… If the reader (audience) is only people at Microsoft using IE, then you might consider using an EOT font. For a wider support, a font from the OTF, TTF or WOFF formats will give you more font options to choose from. If your using a platform such as eblogger, they solve the issue for you and give you several reliable font choices and blog looks.

What fonts are in style today?

This question came across my email the other day:
What fonts are in style today?

You don’t choose a font because it is in style. 
A font is a tool and you want the right tool for the job.

All fonts already have a great deal of artistry built into them. Many fonts have been around for decades and because they were well designed, when these decades old fonts (Garamond, Caledonia, Bodoni, Helvetica, Stymie) are specified appropriately even today they can make for quality visual communication.

All fonts have different ways of saying the content. Their is the fact, the meaning of what your saying, the information, and then also the how your conveying the information, the font selection does this. Different fonts each have a unique visual inflection and meaning.

So much great type exists, used appropriately you can visually express virtually anything.


What are examples of great alternatives to Helvetica?

Gotta love the Swiss designers Max Miedinger and Eduard Hoffmann, and bow to Linotype and Stempel type companies. Helvetica was and is also a popular choice in many corporate design marketing communication print collateral needs. It has great legibility set at a range of sizes and line lengths, and works well using tight to loose letter-spacing. If a font were a knife Helvetica would be a swiss army knife.

Some alternatives to setting type with Helvetica, some older pioneers some more recent:
Akzidenz Grotesk 
Neue Haas Grotesk 
FF Bau
Suisse BP Int’l
ARS Maquette


Why would Arial be placed before Helvetica when using a font-family in CSS?

I think it is not a question of logic or a rule of web type design, as it is a design preference for the appearance of text on page, going from most desired or favored to I will live with it. In early HTML type choice was restricted. The best practice at one time was to specify Verdana, Arial, Times, Georgia. Seems weird today two san serifs then two serif fonts. But at the time Verdana was the typeface designed specifically for screen display, Verdana also being largely cross platform and common so it was called for first generally.
This practice was from a time when user had only a limited choice of fonts that came with their computer. So you designed for and used fonts that your user had installed.

It is a order of font contingency that was easy to adopt. Make it the way you want it.

Why is Helvetica considered to be the perfect font in some circles?

I have never sat in a circle with other graphic designers, held hands and burned sage while proclaiming Helvetica the perfect font. But I have worked with Helvetica as per my own graphic design projects. I have used Helvetica as per others brand guidelines too. 
Helvetica is one of many good tools at the graphic designers disposal. It is just a clean, clear neutral font that comes in many weights. No font is perfect. No font works for every mood and can convey all tones and voice that the designed visual communication may need.
Some see Helvetica everywhere and they begin to hate it, others see this situation and appreciate it for at the very least for its utility, if not as Julie B. comments “Because Helvetica is da bomb.”
Not that many san-serif fonts can function well both as a display size and text size font. It can be modified fairly quickly, drawing by hand or with computer and software tools.
It is one of the fonts that made an early transition from metal to photo, then digital typesetting and to the desktop computer, so many university trained designers were exposed to Helvetica for the last thirty-five years in course work, then used it in professional work. Helvetica is well used in visual media and educated graphic designers know it on site. Even many laymen today recognize and know font Helvetica.

Helvetica is a font that's legible, and a favorite of many graphic designers for decades. Use it when or where it's appropriate.

What font will be the next Helvetica?

What font will be the next Helvetica? I don't think Helvetica is going away.

What medium exists that a majority of human beings have access to today, and what font or fonts work well in this media on a phone, tablet, pc, a watch, and can also work across other media formats? Many popular recent fonts have already been mentioned in this thread that are now filling those demanding shoes.
What will be the next display technology and will it be like todays pixel based screens. Might see a new generation of font design that goes beyond postscript, vector graphics, or raster graphic limitations.

Better start working on those holographic laser font designs people.

What is so special about Helvetica?

It is a not all that special. Helvetica type is a tool used very effectively by many graphic designers for decades now. Helvetica was used for many way-finding systems and this is one way it became a well known type font. It was also one of the fonts provided early on as desktop computers came into use. It has been the basis of many recognizable logos, a part of many posters too. The font Helvetica has come to have a wide and useful family of many weights, this makes it a very handy font to use and set type with and create many different looks.

But do watch the documentary movie ‘Helvetica’

Are the PEG prices good? (Can I charge 10,000 for an illustration?)

PEG- The Graphic Artists Guild Handbook Pricing and Ethical Guidelines. 
Know as PEG is applicable to the design school graduate on through the experienced professional. It does require some graphic design, illustration and business savvy learning to be able to utilize, take and build upon this resource. In the creative services industry today the independent artist is pressed by the same exploitive forces of the past but in the guise of many new business models.

10k illustration, learn that it is your time and expertise to create art that a client pays you for and this is only one value in this business relationship. What benefit or value will your illustration provide to that client over it’s years of use and what and when do your collect on that value. And what value or compensation did you receive with the rights you granted client via license to use your illustration in a specified manor. 

Understanding, explanation of these rights and practices are portrayed  in the PEG.