Wednesday, March 21, 2012

New Typefaces for Windows 8

I have been fiddling with the Microsoft Windows 8 Consumer Preview, looking at the new fonts. Bear in mind it is only a preview, so there could be more on the way, but probably not.
The biggest surprise is that the infamous Comic Sans finally gets a legitimate italic and bold italic, instead of having to rely on slanted letters for an oblique version. In the book "Just My Type" there is this joke:
Comic Sans goes into a bar, and the barman says: "We don't serve your type".

Above is the new Windows 8 version. Note the "b" and "t" in the italic. Below is how XP, Vista and Windows 7 treat the same font family:

Given all the hoopla about the new "Metro" interface I was expecting a new Metro font. It's called Segoe UI Semilight, and it joins the rest of the Segoe UI family, which first appeared in Office 2007 and Windows Vista. Segoe UI now has the 4 standard variations, plus Light, Semilight and Semibold. Gadugi (Regular, Bold); Myanmar Text; and Nirmala UI (Regular, Bold) appear to be new variations of Segoe UI for other languages, probably Cherokee, Burmese, and various Indian and regional Asian languages. Aldhabi has arabic characters and some interesting swirls, as well as Latin characters. It looks like a small letter version of Times New Roman or Calisto MT.
I have also been having fun with Typograf, a wonderful font utility and font manager. I plan to buy it at the end of the month.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Fresh Look at Fonts

Most of the time we don't notice fonts, and that's the way it should be. Good layout is invisible, by design. Good layout is supposed to draw you into a page, not distract you. By contrast, bad layout is instantly noticeable, even if you aren't entirely sure why. It just looks "wrong".
There is a lot of incredible technology in making fonts look good on screen, and print well on paper. Most of it is subtle and deliberately unobtrusive. Yet have a look at text that has been scanned as a graphic, and it's easy to see when those techniques are missing. The text looks horrible and grainy.
Last month my wife gave me this marvellous book: "Just My Type" by Simon Garfield. It is well written, informative and fascinating. If you're a typeface junkie like me you'll enjoy every chapter. Even if you're not, you'll find out a lot about the wonderful world of typefaces, legibility, and even some stuff about road signs, airports and train stations.
In the last few weeks I have really begun to notice the fonts around me, something I haven't done in years. It's great to be "back".