Tags: typography



How the Web Became Unreadable

Kevin writes a plea on Ev’s blog for better contrast in web typography:

When you build a site and ignore what happens afterwards — when the values entered in code are translated into brightness and contrast depending on the settings of a physical screen — you’re avoiding the experience that you create. And when you design in perfect settings, with big, contrast-rich monitors, you blind yourself to users. To arbitrarily throw away contrast based on a fashion that “looks good on my perfect screen in my perfectly lit office” is abdicating designers’ responsibilities to the very people for whom they are designing.

The scorpion express | Butterick’s Practical Typography

This is easily the most wrong-headed piece of writing I’ve read in a long time.

“But cus­tomers ben­e­fit from smaller file sizes too, be­cause that makes web pages faster.” Cer­tainly, that was true in 1996. And some web de­vel­op­ers per­sist with po­lit­i­cal ob­jec­tions. But with to­day’s faster con­nec­tions—even on mo­bile—op­ti­miz­ing for file size is less use­ful than ever.

I’ll leave it to you to see the logical flaws in every one of the arguments presented here by Matthew Buterick. Meanwhile I’m going to get off his lawn.

The Typekit Blog | Variable fonts, a new kind of font for flexible design

This is what Nick Sherman has been banging on about for years, and now the time has come for variable fonts …as long as typographers, browser makers, and standards bodies get behind it.

More details on Ev’s blog.

Webfonts on the Prairie · An A List Apart Article

A good ol’ polemic in favour of using web fonts. It’s a good read although I strongly disagree with this line of reasoning:

The average internet speed in the United States today is three times as fast as it was in 2011.

But that americentric view is redeemed later on:

The World Wide Web may be a creation of the West, but now, at long last, it needs to get ready for the rest.

I may not agree with all the points in this article, but I think we can all agree that if we’re going to use web fonts, we must use them responsibly …otherwise users are going to treat them as damage and route around them.

`font-display` for the Masses | CSS-Tricks

The font-display property is landing in browsers, and this is a great introduction to using it:

If you don’t know which option to use, then go with swap. Not only does it provide an optimal balance between custom fonts and accessibility of content, it provides the same font loading behavior that we’ve relied on JavaScript for. If you have fonts on the page that you’d like to have load, but could ultimately do without, consider going with fallback or optional when using font-display.

Until it’s more widely supported, you can continue to use a JavaScript solution, but even then you can feature detect first:

if ("fontDisplay" in document.body.style === false) {
  /* JavaScript font loading logic goes here. */

FontShop | The Fonts of Star Trek

Yves Peters examines the typography of Star Trek. Unlike Typeset In The Future, which looks at on-screen typography, this article dives into titles and promotional posters.

A Comprehensive Guide to Font Loading Strategies—zachleat.com

A terrific rundown of all your options when it comes to web font loading.

Legibility App

A handy tool for testing the legibility of different typefaces under all sorts of conditions.

ET Book · Edward Tufte on GitHub

I’ve always loved the way that Edward Tufte consistently uses Bembo to typeset his books. Here’s a version made for screen and freely licensed.

Typography Handbook

You can think of this as a short book or a long article, but either way it’s a handy overview of typography on the web:

A concise, referential guide on best web typographic practices.

Mind you, I take issue with this assertion:

Establishing a vertical rhythm is simple.

Typography for User Interfaces | Viljami Salminen

The history and physiology of text on screen. You can also see the slides from the talk that prompted this article.

Blade Runner | Typeset In The Future

I’ve seen letterforms you people wouldn’t believe…

Miscellany № 74: zombies always make a hash of things – Shady Characters

A thoroughly lovely look at the octothorpe that skewers a myth or two along the way.

BBC Blogs - Internet Blog - BBC UX&D on creating a GEL foundation for everyone

Al runs through the process of updating GEL—the BBC’s Global Experience Language design system. I particularly like the thought that’s gone into naming type sizes.

Webfonts Last by Frederic Marx

Some smart thoughts on web fonts.

Aligning text smartly in CSS

Here’s a clever way to get text centred when it’s short, but left-aligned when it wraps.

№ ⸮ ‽ ℔ ⁊ ⸿  — or, a cavalcade of characters – Shady Characters

The numero sign, the reversed question mark, the interrobang, the l b bar symbol, the Tironian et, the capitulum, and the ironieteken.


I love good typography but I have to agree with the sentiment expressed here.

System fonts can be beautiful. Webfonts are not a requirement for great typography.

Use rems for global sizing, use ems for local sizing | Clagnut

In this extract from his forthcoming book, Richard looks at when to use ems, when to use rems …and when to use ch (no, me neither).

The New Web Typography › Robin Rendle

A wonderfully thoughtful piece on typography, Jan Tschichold and the web. This really resonated with me:

It’s only been over the past year or so in which I’ve recognised myself as a ‘Web designer’ with a capital W, as I now believe that something happens to information and technology, and even typography itself, when people pass through these interconnected networks and interact with hypertext.

It’s for these reasons that I don’t believe in “digital design” or “designing for screens” and it’s why I’m often attracted to one particular side of this spectrum.

Robin proposes three “principles, suggestions, outlines, or rather things-that-I-ought-to-be nervous-about when setting text on the web”:

  1. We must prioritise the text over the font, or semantics over style.
  2. We ought to use and/or make tools that reveal the consequences of typographic decisions.
  3. We should acknowledge that web typography is only as strong as its weakest point.

There’s an in-depth look at applying progressive enhancement to web type, and every single link in the resources section at the end is worth investigating.

Oh, and of course it’s beautifully typeset.