My brother recently sent me a link to a webpage with free font downloads. This tickled my on-again off-again love affair with typography, and triggered me to post a quickie blog about the subject. The more intricate details of typography (kerning, leading, metrics and the like) seem as obscure as ever to the typical computer user these days. Most people — quite understandably — only know what MS Word requires them to know. Then there are people like me who know a bit about the subject but still get too lazy to follow all the etiquette, such as using em and en dashes appropriately (see the previous sentence for an example) or using ligatures in printed documents.
What’s the difference between a font and a typeface? No, they aren’t the same thing (at least they didn’t used to be). What about the difference between Times Roman and Times New Roman? And why is using Times Roman (either iteration) NOT a good idea for webpages and other on-screen purposes? (Short answer: it’s a serif font designed for newspapers — specifically the London Times in the mid-1800s — and therefore has a smaller x-height than fonts designed for on-screen use, such as Verdana.)
Anyway, being a geek about this sort of thing, I figured I’d present you with links to some typography sites I’ve been browsing recently. They contain excellent primers on typography, its uses and some typographical history. Enjoy!
Now if I could only remember how to do that pesky em dash…
- The Adobe Type Library’s “Type Topics”… probably THE best overview of typography I’ve read through the years. Short and sweet. Check the bottom of the page for the most useful links regarding technical issues.
- Adobe Type Classifications (sans-serif versus serif versus slab serif, etc.)
- Fonts designed specifically for on-screen reading (internet web pages and such)
- Chart: HTML Characters for Special Entities (A List Apart)
- When to use em dashes, en dashes and hyphens (short explanation)
- Did you know Garamond, Goudy, Baskerville, Caslon, Bodoni, Zapf, and other typefaces are named after their designers?