Italic or Oblique?

I'm very close to finish the ' italic' version of Geogrotesque, it took me about 3 months for correct optically the distortion of slanted and now I have serious doubts about the naming. Although it have changes in some glyphs (for example 'a' and 'f') is more an ' oblique' version than an italic.

What do you think about the naming?
Oblique have a 'negative' connotation in the customers?

In conclusion, I need your help:
Geogrotesque Italic or Geogrotesque Oblique?

Thank you, em.

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4 May 2009 — 11:56pm

I don't think you should call it oblique, because you've changed the form of the a.
Sure, it's only one letter, but it's one of the few that may change form from roman to italic.
Having said that, I will admit to Alphaville Oblique with a differently constructed "a" than the roman.
But I regret not naming it Italic--"Oblique" seems more pretentious than accurate.

Is "oblique" even used that much anymore? I understand the difference between the two terms, but it almost seems like "italic" has become the standard term, regardless of whether the forms are truly italic or not. This may or may not be right but oblique may be confusing to some. I would go with italic.

I thought that it would be dishonest if I called my obliques "italic", never occurred to me that it would be prententious. Calling them "oblique" was like calling wine "plonk". I still feel that constructing a true italic is beyond my ability :)

Call me pretentious, but I'd prefer "oblique" here. :-)

I would call it italic.

With a one-story g and a, I would call it an italic, even if they look that way in the upright.

So Avant Garde Gothic Oblique is actually an italic?

(There's a little more discussion of this at this old typophile thread.)

i rather go with "Oblique". Pretencious? i don't think so. Italic for me is an expression very clear of the type. more curvy, more human. i'm in doubt if grotesque fonts could be named italic, really.

i really love the work. so well designed, so simple. congrtatulations.

keep one thing in mind:

"nobody is right, we are all trying"

people in type often forget this...

Avant Garde Gothic Oblique is not even optical corrected in my eyes, just slanted, so yes – that is an oblique and it is also an old typeface. Oblique sound a little bit out of fashion in my opinion. Geogrotesque also looks more real italic I think.

Thank you for your answers!

I'm sure that Geogrotesque is 'basically' an Oblique, I don't have doubts about it.

The question is: Is good idea call it Oblique?
To me, the word Oblique remind me to old typefaces only slanted (without correction). Instead, 'Italic' in my opinion is more clear for all people (not only for typographers), but I wasn't completely sure... Now I'm a bit more sure.

Thank you!!!!

More opinions are welcome :)


So Avant Garde Gothic Oblique is actually an italic?


It depends on what exactly is your definition of an italic is. Ignoring the optical problem there, how would you make a more true italic for avant garde?

I wouldn't. :-)

I'd like to see a resurgence of the term "oblique," as we get further away from the bad old days of common uncorrected slants. Something substantial is lost to descriptive vocabulary if the term just gets folded into the "italic" category. I acknowledge, though, that until this redemption of the term is complete, being on the leading edge of this resurgence has its risk in the market.

I know that on Twitter I commented and said it should be oblique, but now I'm on the fence. Perhaps because it isn't truly oblique you should call it italic.

I just had a random thought. Do you style link your obliques as italics?

Well, the problem with "Oblique" is that in the styling group aka Windows family naming, you should only use terms "Regular", "Italic", "Bold", "Bold Italic". So in OpenType fonts, you won't get around the "Italic" term anyway. If it's called Italic in Word for Windows, I guess it is simpler if it would be also called on the other platforms. Similarly, I recommend not to defer from the other standard style names ("Regular", "Bold", "Bold Italic") for those styles, if possible. Of course for the more extensive families, other styles need to carry other names which then won't be compatible with the styling group names, but I think for the basic four fonts, it is best if the typographic names (i.e. OpenType family and style name) and the styling group names (i.e. Windows family and style name) are the same.


Thanks, Adam. Just the excuse I needed :•)

Creepy! So Windows can even control how one names their fonts?

And one is channelled into producing simple four-member families.

This is more of fitting the name to conventions of font naming than using the proper terminology. In most instances, this should be called an "Oblique" (I tend to think of "real" Italics as having more of a handwritten quality - hence the changes to 'a', 'g', etc. - not just the Roman type set at an angle).

However, if it's font compatibility with finicky operating systems you strive for, than just go with "Italic".

Also, and I mean this with all due respect, the shear angle of that typeface does not look very flattering in the raster sample you've provided. The vertical edges look a little lumpy and malformed. This might perchance lead to less of its use in bitmap computer graphics, which might mean you may not necessarily bound to using "Italic" for the style name.

Adam, it is a reason very convincing...

...The vertical edges look a little lumpy and malformed...
I don't know exactly what you mean but maybe is because this sample is not the final version and don't have hinting, anyway at the moment only I'm looking advice for the naming :)

Thanks to all, I'm going to use 'Italic', as sugest Chris 'italic' has become the standard term, and it's another reason very convincing!



in general, it is a question of how much we "educate" the users by adhering to traditional, typographic terminology (here, the term "oblique" _might_ be all-right, although your particular typeface is not obviously oblique, just as it is not obviously italic), vs. how much we make it easy for the users to just stick to what they commonly know. I guess for an average graphic designer, the difference between "oblique" and "italic" is not obvious, and in some languages it simply does not exist. For example in German or in Polish, the inclined counterpart to an upright typeface is simply called kursiv/kursywa, and most users have a 1:1 translation in mind (kursiv/kursywa = italic). "Oblique" may seem to them as an overcomplication.

In addition to that, the former argument I made about cross-application "compatibility" of menu names applies. This argument does not, however, mean, that we are bound to make 4-styles families. You can make larger typographic families, with appropriate naming that groups any number of styles under one family name, for Mac and OpenType-aware/Adobe applications, and on top of that, produce styling groups with up to 4 styles. An updated description of the process is available on the FontLab forum. But still, *within* those two naming systems, I think it is advantageous to use the same terms as much as possible, i.e. "Bold" should be "Bold" and "Italic" should be "Italic". In other words, I think it is best when the four "basic" styles of the large family have the same typographic and styling names (while for the other styles, the naming must differ, naturally).

But that's just my opinion. I think every designer or foundry needs to make that decision themselves.


In my mind there is a difference between the two terms;
oblique is slanted/tilted, and italic is cursive.

In Dutch we also mostly use cursive (cursief), but we have a translation for oblique (obliek), but that's hardly used.

I believe that for most font users, the English term "italic" just like the German term "kursiv" or Polish "kursywa" no longer describes a certain structural phenomenon, but rather a functional. I'd say that the most common definition given by an average user for "italic" would be that it's an inclined/slanted counterpart of the upright font in a font family. If you click on the "I" button in an application, it is labeled "Italic", no matter whether the actual font that it turns on is "italic" or "cursive" or "oblique". So Italic ends up being the most generic term.

I myself would prefer if "cursive" and "oblique" became additional qualifiers that are used _in conjuction_ with the term "Italic". So one could have an "oblique italic" and a "cursive italic". Functionally, both are italics, but structurally, one is oblique and the other cursive. In other words, "cursive" and "oblique" are two extrema on one axis that is called italicness. That's how I see it.


Italic and Oblique refer to different things. The former is structurally different than the upright, the latter is structurally identical with the upright but slanted (in which respect the type in question would rather qualify as Oblique than italic, regardless of the one-storey 'a'). Italic Oblique does not make sense because Oblique is not Italic nor a subset of it.

Technically, Italic is better 'supported' so it is the preferred choice. Yet WPF does distinguish both, and on the level of WWS-compatible names would allow a family to have both Italic and Oblique style. Which however gets one into an odd situation when it comes to the four-style 'styling group' level. Obliques would need to become a separate family ... So for practical reasons, stick to Italic.


> Italic and Oblique refer to different things. The former is structurally
> different than the upright, the latter is structurally identical with
> the upright but slanted

That's your definition, based on the structural/historical considerations. But many current users follow a simplified functional definition, which is that oblique does not exist and italic is the inclined companion to an upright typeface.

In fact, both are somewhat true. For example, Robert Slimbach's Poetica structurally is an italic but functionally it isn't. So by many users, it is treated as a "roman" face.


I am not inclined to follow jedermann when it comes to questions of terminology. Otherwise I recommend abbreviating the 'Elements' ca bit by following my mom's judgement who, when shown a sans and a serif, decides, "I don't see a difference."

As I indicated, it is two perspectives. I prefer the design perspective, you prefer the functional perspective. (What is this "that's your definition"? I speak for myself, you speak for mankind? Come on.)  ;-)

No no, I'm always in the minority position. I only speak for myself, and very often what I say is completely different from everybody else says. :)

So, is Poetica an italic typeface?


So, is Poetica an italic typeface?

Yes. But it's not an italic font. :)

>I myself would prefer if “cursive” and “oblique” became additional qualifiers that are used _in conjuction_ with the term “Italic”. So >one could have an “oblique italic” and a “cursive italic”. Functionally, both are italics, but structurally, one is oblique and the other >cursive. In other words, “cursive” and “oblique” are two extrema on one axis that is called italicness. That’s how I see it.

I'm all for simplification and I think this breaks it down well. Whether it's Oblique or Cursive, functionally it's the same effect your looking for in a non-upright version. Besides, everyone is familiar with 'Italic' and I think the confusion lies more so with the term 'Oblique', so between that and the platform issue I'd say Italic has a much stronger case (pun intended : P) to be used for naming non-upright versions… even if the type in question is truly an Oblique, or any of the shades of grey between that and a true Italic, right?


I tend to think that an oblique is a sloped Roman. A sloped Roman is always thought of as Roman letterform first, then a slanted variant second (I remember Stanley Morison writing something along this line?)

An italic, on the other hand, is Roman’s cursive complement. You may start from the roman as a model, but you don’t have to as long as the two blends well together.

If you change forms (double-storey ‘a’ to single-storey), thus hinting a more calligraphic approach, then calling it an italic would be more apt. If ‘f’ descends below the baseline (can you provide a sample of the letter), then that would befit the name italic, as well.

Italique is very clever!

Italique>>>> I love it!!!

While Italique would be a nice compromise, I rarely see oblique used, and when I do, it's usually for fonts bent towards the left (i.e., "left" or "inverted" obliques). I don't see why italic can't serve as a metonym for oblique in this day and age.

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