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OpenType is indisputably the font format of the present. It is cross-platform, and it is a free and open standard. It opened possibilities for smooth handling of advanced typography and better support for complex scripts.

But limitations remain. They may not be obvious if you only ever design or use Latin text faces. But when you think about what the best solutions are for complex scripts such as Arabic, you realize that there are fundamental strictures of OpenType that make things less efficient than they could be. For example, do we really have to design innumerable glyphs for ligatures, conjuncts, and contextual variants when these are all combinations of simple building blocks? Here is a previous thread on the subject:

Critiques of the OpenType format?

So for a while, I have been thinking about what could be improved in the future font format that will replace OpenType. I don't think it is too early to start brainstorming about just what we want to see. So here are some ideas I had about the future font format:

  1. Parametrizable outlines

The idea is that the points and handles of outlines could be defined as equations, not just absolute coordinates. This covers everything that can be handled with Multiple Master fonts, such as weight, optical size, x-height, etc. that apply globally to the entire font, but does not stop there. Serifs of the "v" could be pulled in according to context, and an "fi" ligature could be widened harmoniously in accordance with tracking. Something like the Arabic Tatweel, a horizontal line segment used to stretch characters in an Arabic text when setting metal type and carried to the digital age, will be rendered obsolete as we gain the power to stretch any part of any glyph by any amount we desire.

This is something that Metafont explored, but Metafont as a software never really caught on, because defining a font full of parameters simply wasn't worth the trouble for Latin type designers. Worse, Metafont uses pen strokes, which is a horrible idea if naively applied to type design. The usual filled-path approach is possible with Metafont, but I have a feeling many type designers were too turned off by the pen-stroke approach to give Metafont a chance, perhaps without realizing that you don't have to use it.

Once a single instance of a Multiple Master font has been generated, or once a Metafont has been converted to a usable font format, no further parametrization is possible. But the future font format will interact with the future text engine to make full use of its parametrizability.

  1. Take component handling to the next level

The current model of font handling does not stray far from the paradigm of the glyph, most often representing a single character, as the basic unit of a font. You can assemble a glyph from components, as is often done for adding accents, but this could be made more powerful.

Each Arabic character, for example, may be more efficiently viewed as being made of simple components arranged dynamically according to context. Different components may be selected according to where the character appears initially, medially, or finally; their dimensions and positions may also be adjusted according to context. As I understand it, Thomas Milo's groundbreaking work in Arabic typesetting with ACE and Tasmeem, which produces complex and natural designs with a simple architecture, is based on analyzing Arabic typography down to sub-character-level components—why not build such powerful component handling into the font format itself?

My main motivation, however, is in handling hangul, the Korean alphabet. Despite hangul being an alphabet made up of two dozen basic letters, a hangul font needs thousands of glyphs, one for each hangul syllable, because of the way the writing system is organized around syllabic blocks. If we include archaic or non-standard syllables, then the number of glyphs needed becomes untenable. The consonants and vowels that make up a hangul syllable can each have a number of shape variants, and need to be fine-tuned in size, shape, and position to fit together harmoniously. This is why I would like to see parametrizable outlines and more powerful component handling.

I have a (very) long-term personal project of designing hangul fonts using programming tools to apply the idea of automatic selecting the right shape variant, size, and position and to shape each syllable intelligently, but this is just a way of automating the design process. When I generate the font, it will still require thousands of glyphs, and it will still not support every conceivable syllable combination. A font format that can put together hangul syllables dynamically out of a small set of components will not only be much reduced in file size but also be unlimited in the syllables it can represent.

  1. Flexible spacing and positioning paradigm

I owe this idea to this previous thread.

The idea of each glyph occupying a fixed rectangle is a leftover from the days of type in physical metal. This inevitably introduces problematic combinations, which are currently tackled through kerning, which is just a digital analogue of physical kerning. Many people have thought that there must be a more efficient way to achieve good spacing than going through endless kerning pairs, and some ideas were offered in the thread. I haven't given this issue enough thought, but it's something to think about for the future font format.

* * *

You can probably see that supporting all these features requires a sophisticated text engine as well as a new font format, not to mention all the support needed from OS and application developers. Usable tools will have to be developed in order for people to be able to design fonts that support these features. I cannot imagine just how much work it will take to implement all this. Applications are still catching up on supporting OpenType, after all.

We would be entering whole new levels of complexity, perhaps just to introduce features that most casual designers of Latin typefaces will have little need for. I myself can't really justify something like implementing parametrizable outlines for anything other than hangul or possibly Chinese (it would be nice to have for Latin, but there really isn't much that can't be done with alternate glyphs). So realistically, I don't expect much enthusiasm for such an undertaking.

I really think however that something like this will be necessary and desirable at some point, when there is more demand for more natural text processing for complex scripts and more computing power is available for sophisticated text engines. This is not to say that OpenType will become obsolete; it should be perfectly possible to maintain backwards compatibility just like today's OpenType-savvy software supports previous formats like TrueType.

What are your thoughts about these ideas? What would you look for in the font format of the future?

I'm laying out a newletter/magazine, and the client recently asked to remove all hyphens from the text (which is left-justified).

My feeling is that hyphens improve legibility by leading the eye and allowing for a more even and less jumpy rag. I was thinking about my rationale today and realized I have no proof to back up the legibility angle. Was wondering if anyone knows of any studies that have been done on the topic or if there is any science (psuedo or otherwise) that I could use to defend my preference for hyphenating text. If I can make the case for improved legibility I think it will be easier persuade the client.

Thanks, eh!


I have a bizarre client who wants a new type family to use across all communications. She likes futura but doesn't want to use it, she wants something like futura. She's a strange lady.

Can anyone recommend a family with range of weights, all with italics and condensed & bold condensed for display? It's a big client so budget isn't a problem.

I like Super Grotesk but no italics unfortunately!

Love to hear some ideas.

I just went through a horrendous experience -- I was trying to make a pdf of one of the magazine pages -- and it kept bombing out QuarkXPress (yep the latest 7.3) two hours of hair pulling.

I finallly went into the ads on the page and found one that had used NuevaMM -- and there was the culprit.

So I figure I'd write to you and maybe save you some bald spots -- and let you know that -- it isn't nice to give a busy person an ad with an MM font in it... LOL

Happy to say, Photoshop has flattened the PDF - no one but you guys will know - and now I can get the work out to the printer. You think I'm a little late? My September/October issue - which should be in folks hands right now -- will be uploaded to the printer...

Whew and Good-night Grace.

Check out the Live Chameleon Ad - Watch it change color

Fairly dull question.. but why are most calculators right aligned?


Found here.

(edit) And this one is a business card of Jørgen Vig Knudstorps, their CEO.

I'm working on a manual using Neo Sans for the headers, call-outs etc... and need something to pair with it for body copy. I can't purchase any new faces so preferably I need something from the adobe library.

Currently I'm using serifa but I don't think it works with lots of copy.

The manual is for the healthcare industry and has an "elegant science" sort of feel. (think macro shots of viruses against black backgrounds)

Any help is appreciated, Thanks

Why do you treat the ď (d caron) differently than the ȟ (h caron)? OR the t caron from the h caron... etc.

Any suggestions of a font to use for a corporate sympathy card- something scripty maybe?

I have a somewhat random question for the Spanish-speakers out there. When referring to packaging, as in packaging (graphic) design, Spanish, is it just called "packaging"? Or is it more formal to say something like "embalaje"? I'm designing a bilingual portfolio. All the design blogs and articles that I've ever read in Spanish just say "packaging", but I'm wondering if that's the term I should use for the Spanish portion of the portfolio, too.



Anyone have a copy they want to swing?

Does anyone know where I could get the quitcherbychen-bold font?

What fonts would you consider if you were to design a graphic for the Republican Party?
I have to make a background display graphic for election night. What fonts do you think of when you think of the modern Republican Party? Serif? San Serif? Modern? Script?
Trajan? :)

Can someone help with this font ?

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Will be moving to Austin soon.

Curious if anyone knows of good places to look for entry-level design jobs there? Ad agencies, print shops, in-house...anything really!

Hello Everyone,
I have been a member of Typophile for a long time now and wanted to promoted my typographic artwork on this forum. Please let me know what you think of it and it's concept.

I design the visible relationship between typeface, landscape and culture (architecture, philosophy, art movements, politics).

Typography is to visual language as maps are to topography.

I am a pioneer in the land of topographic typography ( Check my work out ). I seek to shed light on typeface design, to generate insight, and to delight by setting my favorite cities in a face whose historical echoes and associations that harmonize with the forms they belong to. I paint by numbers, letter forms, and a palette of analphabetic symbols that have the same character, spirit and personality of each location.

Topography: originated in ancient Greece as the description of a place (topos, "place" and graphia,"writing"). This meaning is less common in America where it is synonymous with relief and elevation contour drawings. (Wikipedia)

Typography: also originated in Greece (typos, "form" and graphia, "writing").

Historical Interlude.

Typographic history mirrors topography such that it is the study of the relationships of human culture: politics, philosophy (structuralism, post-structuralism), architecture, and art movements (Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical, Romanticism, Realism, Geometric Modernism, Lyrical Modernism and Post Modernism).

I believe Typography is architecture on a page; typefaces are buildings, leading floors, columns walls, tracking rooms, kerning furniture, letter forms bricks and the grid mortar.

Wanted to see if anyone knows what two fonts are used on the Colorado license plate.

I'm pretty sure a good fit for the main license number is: LicensePlate.ttf @

What's your thoughts, especially with the word 'Colorado?'


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I am looking for any kind of information about equipment needed to set up a small team of art directors, authors and production designers to run a magazine. As silly/arogant/non-descriptive as it may sound, it is a question of resources I have to present to the investor, who is interested in starting a corporate publishing project. Should I ask it elsewhere, please let me know the resources (forums, articles, human contacts) where I could educate myself.

Big thanks in advance.

I realise this isn't an easy question and doesn't really have a correct answer as such but I am designing some pages for the following decades 2000, 90's, 80's, 70's, 60's and 50's and would like to use a typeface that is commonly associated with each decade.

A font/s that is recognised within advertising or design trends or some pointers as to what would work for each decade would be very much appreciated. As mentioned I realise that it is impossible to say this is the 50's but if a common theme exisits that would make that visual link for each that would be great.


The June issue of Galley online journal devoted to things letterpress has been published. The PDF can be downloaded from this site:

Hey guys,

So, somebody on Wikipedia has been fairly successfully propagating the label "virtual typefaces" for what I would call digital typefaces or digital fonts. That category has been getting applied to many typefaces, apparently the distinction being that they are *only* available in digital form, and were not phototype or metal typefaces.

So, two related questions:

1) I might argue that every typeface that is available in digital form should also get the same label (whatever that label is). Agree or disagree?

2) I think the label "virtual typeface" is silly. Nobody uses that term that I am aware of, except this one person. The actual link redirects to "computer font." Some possible labels:

  • Computer typeface
  • Digital typeface
  • Virtual typeface

For the category label, "font" does not work so well because we are indeed talking about "typefaces" (the entire family).

What do you prefer?

Personally, I prefer "digital" over "computer" because these fonts are used on many devices that are not thought of as computers, even if they do have computer chips inside them.


I want to do a real quickie user study for my thesis, and would like your help. All you have to do is look at the curves below and choose your favorite. Then, in the thread below, tell me which one it is. It would be best if you don't look at the responses first.

What are you looking for? Above all, smoothness (or "fairness" in the CAD lingo). Anything that looks like an unsmooth transition should be rejected. All these curves are fairly smooth, so you're just choosing the best. Another way to think about it is, if you put down points at the peaks and valleys and asked the computer to draw a smooth curve through them, which one would you prefer?

Later I plan to do this as a more controlled user study, with an interactive slider. But I want to get a rough idea of the range of curves that people find most attractive.

Thanks greatly!

Hi all, I hope you can help a student of mine. He is looking for a typeface reference which has, in his words, "a sense of humor, some sort of childish style and a little bit of comic taste; may be even like a carnival and Ottoman flavor, such as the curves of a tulip flower, a little bit of brush stroke weight and stress."
I attach the sample/example he gave to me (would be nice if you can ID this font as well).
Thanks very much.