Re: The glyph of the CAPITAL SHARP S

From: Asmus Freytag (
Date: Thu May 10 2007 - 11:44:49 CDT

  • Next message: Asmus Freytag: "Re: The glyph of the CAPITAL SHARP S"

    On 5/9/2007 10:08 PM, John Hudson wrote:
    > Philippe Verdy wrote:
    >> Latin letters have a feature not to forget: letters should remain
    >> readable
    >> and immediately recognizable from their distinctive top half...
    > Why? Is there evidence that we read the top halves of letters rather
    > than the whole letters? Do people frequently encounter text in which
    > the bottom half of letters is obscured?
    > An observable characteristic is not necessarily a functional requirement.
    I recall reading that experienced readers recognize word shapes, which
    is why lowercase words with their distinctive outliers (ascenders and
    descenders) are easier to read. Because of the baseline, I would not be
    surprised to find indeed the upper part of the envelope, particularly
    for capitals, contributes more distinctive features.

    A glyph that, while not disrupting even type color and rhythm, adds some
    distinctiveness to the upper envelope may contribute to readability.

    Ultimately, one needs to put different designs to the test, as I doubt
    that readability of individual features can be predicted.
    Non-typographers, but native readers, would make good test subjects for
    readability, while the typographers would have an advantage in proposing
    designs and getting the other details right.

    The shape that should go into the Standard, should be the one that is
    most appropriate for a Times-like style. The decision of what that is,
    does not rest with any one individual (as someone here claimed), but
    should represent a consensus of the community. In reaching this
    consensus, readability should be one concern, which will feed back into
    some of the design's features (but probably not all).

    This does not mean that the glyph is then 'standardized' and frozen, but
    the expectation would be that typographers designing closely related
    typestyles would create designs for the glyph that would be a continuum
    around the representative glyph, rather than isolating it by
    collectively all designing their type on a different concept.


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