1952 marked the
500th anniversary of the birth of Leonardo da Vinci, painter of the
Mona Lisa. The lettering above is set in the SGaramond, which is
based on the typefaces of Claude Garamond from the 1540s.
Font categories contain similar fonts
The font categories listed below consist of fonts with similar
properties. This helps users choose fonts that are suitable for their
Fonts. Sans serif fonts
with little variation in stroke width, and
uppercase letters of nearly equal character widths. Also known as
have a neutral look.
Fonts. Sans serif fonts with contrasting stroke widths, and
letters of variable widths, based on the letters inscribed on Trajan's
Column. They have a calligraphic look.
Fonts. Sans serif fonts whose letters are based upon geometric
They have a modern look.
Fonts. Serif fonts
designed for printing books or long passages of
text on good quality paper. They
a low x-height and long ascenders and descenders. They are designed to
be printed at sizes of 9 to 12 points with normal line spacing. They have a classical look.
Fonts. Serif fonts designed for printing columns of text in
under poor print conditions. They
a tall x-height and short ascenders and descenders. They are designed
be printed at sizes of about 8.5 points, with tight line spacing. They have a common look.
Fonts. Variants of other fonts, with an increased x-height. Can be
serif or sans serif. Legible in smaller sizes, especially in product
They have a commercial look.
characters. The characters retain the same heights and stroke weights
regular width characters. Condensed type is used to fit more text into
a restricted area without losing legibility. The main application is
tabular composition including tables, forms, lists, and directories.
Electronic documents have strict font requirements
Electronic documents for on-screen viewing have stricter font
requirements than printed documents, because computer screens have
lower resolution than printers. Some fonts that print well display
poorly on-screen, especially in small sizes. The font properties and
values you should look for in choosing fonts for electronic documents
are as follows:
The best weight to use is Medium, and you should generally use Normal,
Medium, Demibold, or Bold. Fonts that are lighter than Normal tend to
fragment, and fonts that are heavier than Bold tend to have the loops
fill in. Light or Extrabold fonts can be effective, but use them
sparingly, and in slightly larger sizes. You must be very careful of
Light or Extrabold weights if your font is condensed.
Italic or Oblique fonts do not rasterize well on-screen. The problem is
that slanted lines look jagged and the weight tends to be thinner than
normal. However, Italics are good for emphasis, and many fonts have
beautiful Italics. Use Italics sparingly, and in slightly larger sizes.
Bold Italics are less problematic than normal Italics.
Choose fonts with relatively large x-heights. This includes Newspaper
and Packaging fonts. An increased x-height ensures the font is legible
in smaller sizes, especially 8, 8-1/2, or 9 points. However, fonts with
increased x-heights make the text feel crowded, so increase the spacing
between lines. If you have lots of vertical space on your pages, you
can use fonts with a normal x-height, such as Book fonts, but use them
in a larger size, in the 10 to 12 point range.
Loops. For small point sizes, say
less than 9 points, choose a font with relatively large loops, for
example a Newspaper font. Otherwise, the loops tend to fill in.
If you have the available space, use 12-point type and choose a font
with a normal x-height. However, this is rarely the case. Book fonts
should be used at 10 points or larger. Realist or Humanist fonts should
be used at 9 points or larger. Newspaper or Packaging fonts should be
used at 8 points or larger. Many fonts do not look good at very large
sizes. Consider a condensed or compressed font variant for large sizes.
The best width to use is Normal but you can sometimes use narrower
fonts, such as Condensed, to fit more text into a restricted area.
Here, weight comes into play also. Bold Condensed type is very useful
for fitting titles or headlines onto a single line. Normal Condensed
type should be reserved for individual words or phrases, as in a table.
Fonts have visual and technical properties as follows:
X-Height. Height of
the lowercase letter x, above the baseline.
Height of the lowercase ascenders, above the baseline.
of the capital letters, above the baseline.
Depth of the lowercase descenders, below the baseline.
Refers to the overall width of the alphabet. Font widths can be Normal,
Expanded, Narrow, Condensed, Compressed, etc.