17 September 2009

[type] Georgia And Arial Are Finally Getting That Print Polish

2210.Verdana and Georgia are two fonts everyone has seen. They're all over the web, literally; MSFT dubbed them part of the set of core fonts for the web, and every computer with a commercially-produced OS likely haz them. They tend to occasionally – well, more than occasionally – find their way into print.

Most notably (and somewhat hilariously), the chain IKEA caused a stir – mostly amongst us typeophiles and graphic designers – when they decided to ditch their long-time variant on Futura, sometimes called IKEA Sans, for Verdana. To most designers, this is like showing up for an important client meeting in one of those suits that come in a wrapper. Declasse? You bet. Might as well just use Comic Sans up in there (which, maybe not coincidentally, is also a core font for the web).

The primary objection to using Georgia and Verdana for anything other than Web design is just that – they were intended for the web. Designing something to be visible on-screen, by its very term, means that you're disregarding any consideration that would make it appropriate for print:

To make the fonts look good at small screen sizes, they were designed with large x-heights, open counters, high bold contrast, extra spacing, and exaggerated features to help distinguish commonly confused letterforms (like the number 1, the lowercase L and the uppercase I)—which is why the text starts to feel awkward at large sizes.

This is apparently in the act of being rectified now:

The Ascender, Carter & Cone and Font Bureau project intends to optimize the Verdana and Georgia fonts for many new applications, including extended text formatting on websites and in print. The Georgia/Verdana project will provide a variety of enhancements to these fonts including:
  • New weights and widths beyond the original four fonts in each family
  • Extensions to the character sets
  • Extensions to the kerning
  • OpenType typographic features for enhanced typography
“Verdana and Georgia were commissioned by Microsoft to provide the basic necessities of type on screen: sanserif and serif, in regular and bold weights with italics, designed for maximum legibility.” said Matthew Carter of Carter & Cone Type Inc. “The new additions to the font families are a natural and timely progression; they offer a wider range of typographic versatility, both on screen and in print, while remaining consistent with the originals.”

The Core Fonts for the Web initiative is actually a thing of the past now; Verdana and Georgia are very widely distributed however, and if people are going to use them for print as well as Web, we may as well have good clean versions of them for that.

I'll still choose Myriad over Verdana, though. Nothing personal, Verdana.

(via idsgn)

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