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Typofile Magazine

The best faces
for the Screen

It doesn't matter how many hours of video and megabytes of graphics can be stuffed onto a silver platter, typefaces still serve an essential function that can't be duplicated by other means--transmitting complex intellectual and emotional messages in a concise and precise way. But the limitations inherent to reading on-screen--especially the low-resolutions of monitors, mean that the digital designer has to be more careful about choosing typefaces that are easily readable on-screen. Here are some tips tips on finding the best typefaces for the screen.

Georgia & Verdana

In the past, every time a new typesetting or printing medium appeared, designers created typefaces to take advantage of it. But today, while more people than ever are designing more typefaces than ever, so few of them are designing type specifically for the screen that you can count them on one finger. Luckily Microsoft, yes, Microsoft hired type designer Matthew Carter to design two new typefaces, especially for on-screen reading. The results are triumph--and free.

is meant to be read

Times change. But the purpose of type doesn't. Gary Priester disparages the loss of real typesetters. If you weren't around to know what they did, or how they did it, Gary tells you what you missed.

Could Stravinsky have made fonts?

"Nowadays, even a four-year old can set perfectly kerned, 63-point Garamond Italic just by pressing a few keys on his computer, without the slightest inkling of the history of Garamond, Granjon, Caslon, metal type, phototype--or of how Garamond compares to any other typeface, or of even what the letters mean." says David Rakowski (otherwise known in the world of fonts simply as "Davy.") Is something being lost in the translation to a digital world?

A Bitmap a day...

keeps the eye doctor away. So says James Felici. "Oh, let me just blurt it out: I like bit-mapped screen fonts. In fact, I prefer old-fashioned bit-mapped screen fonts to anything that ATM, TrueType, or Speedo can throw up on the screen. If we're expected to read documents on screen, we need better type than they can offer."

Copyright 1996 Daniel Will-Harris, www.will-harris.com.

Each article in this magazine is 1995 in the name of the author. For permission to republish, please contact the individual author at the e-mail address listed at the end of each article.