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TYPE DESIGN · January 9, 2008

The Em

The em is an important and basic thing in typography, but its definition can be quite tricky. If you ask a type designer, a typographer, and a software engineer to define the em, you will probably get three different answers. The answers will not necessarily contradict each other; they are just from different points of view.

the typographer’s em

Let’s start with probably the most common usage of the term ‘em’, what I will call the typographer’s em. You probably encountered it early on in your typographic education.

The typographer’s em, a horizontal space, is equal ...

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TYPE DESIGN · September 8, 2007

cryptic regularity

“The bas-relief was a rough rectangle less than an inch thick and about five by six inches in area; obviously of modern origin. Its designs, however, were far from modern in atmosphere and suggestion; for although the vagaries of cubism and futurism are many and wild, they do not often reproduce that cryptic regularity which lurks in prehistoric writing. And writing of some kind the bulk of the designs seemed certainly to be; though my memory, despite much familiarity with the papers and collections of my uncle, failed in any way to identify this particular species, or even to hint ...

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TYPE DESIGN · July 30, 2007

A Typical Day at the Office

Creating typefaces isn’t as easy as you might think...

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TYPE DESIGN · May 2, 2007

Letters represent sounds

A drawing from a sketchbook, exploring the possibilities of the phonetic alphabet...

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TYPE DESIGN · April 2, 2007

No, There Are Not Enough Typefaces Already

One of the things I have struggled with as a type designer is explaining what I do for a living. This was especially true when I was starting out. I might be at a party with my girlfriend, now my wife, and we would be meeting some new people for the first time. At some point, one of these people would ask, “So Cyrus, what is your job?” I lived in particular fear of this question. I knew it would involve a lot of explanation about what a typeface is, how drawing them really is my job, and that it ...

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TYPE DESIGN, WEB FONTS · March 12, 2007

Screen Fonts: An Abbr. Hist.

The history of screen fonts is also the history of electronic authoring, design and publishing on computers. For over 30 years, from early electronic publishing, to the Internet of publishing today, screen fonts have proved of growing concern to users and publishers. What’s good? Or more appropriately: What are good options that should be available to users? Or to “Our” users?

Personal computers began with aliased screen fonts, otherwise known as black and white, or just plain bitmaps. In the mid-90’s Adobe introduced a version of Adobe Type Manager which produced anti-aliased type. Then in 1999, as Apple released its tenth operating system, anti-aliased type came to the Mac. Microsoft announced its own anti-aliased type rendering in 1999, then included various anti-aliasing options in Windows starting in 2002, and now, Microsoft’s most recent OS release contains anti-aliased type by default and a collection of fonts made especially for the purpose.

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