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Choosing and Using Web Fonts

Understanding Venetian fonts


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Choosing and Using Web Fonts

with Laura Franz

Video: Understanding Venetian fonts

When we categorize fonts for text, we usually start with old style fonts, but in order to understand old style fonts, we need to understand where they came from. We need to understand Venetian fonts, and in order to understand Venetian fonts, we need to step back a couple of years, and start with the first fonts in the first Western books printed by Johannes Gutenberg. In the 1430s, Johannes Gutenberg started experimenting with casting metal type. About ten years later, he built his first press, and in 1455, his 42-line Bible was in progress.
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  1. 4m 41s
    1. Welcome
      1m 2s
    2. What you should know before watching this course
      1m 52s
    3. Using the exercise files
      1m 47s
  2. 14m 55s
    1. Recognizing the anatomy of letters
      4m 17s
    2. Understanding font classification
      4m 38s
    3. Finding and testing web fonts
      3m 41s
    4. Identifying common problems in fonts
      2m 19s
  3. 43m 43s
    1. Understanding Venetian fonts
      4m 0s
    2. Identifying a Venetian font
      4m 46s
    3. Understanding handwritten letters
      3m 22s
    4. Choosing a Venetian font
      3m 47s
    5. Creating a Typekit account and building a kit
      3m 43s
    6. Adding a Venetian font (Calluna) to your kit
      2m 51s
    7. Applying Calluna to your web site
      5m 54s
    8. Troubleshooting Typekit fonts that don't load
      2m 2s
    9. Changing styling as necessary to improve the readability of the text
      4m 25s
    10. Working with more than four styles in Typekit
      5m 22s
    11. Looking at how using a Venetian font affects the look and feel of a web page
      3m 31s
  4. 32m 53s
    1. Identifying an Old Style font
      6m 26s
    2. Choosing an Old Style font
      4m 30s
    3. Applying Crimson Text to a web site using Google web fonts
      3m 8s
    4. Changing styling as necessary to improve the readability of the text
      9m 20s
    5. Making various weights and styles work correctly across different browsers
      5m 16s
    6. Looking at how using an Old Style font affects the look and feel of a web page
      4m 13s
  5. 21m 12s
    1. Identifying a Transitional font
      5m 10s
    2. Choosing a Transitional font
      6m 36s
    3. Applying PT Sans to a site via Typekit
      2m 57s
    4. Changing styling as necessary to improve the readability of the text
      2m 59s
    5. Looking at how using a Transitional font affects the look and feel of a web page
      3m 30s
  6. 16m 58s
    1. Identifying a Modern font
      7m 50s
    2. Choosing a Modern font
      4m 0s
    3. Using Typekit to find and test web fonts
      5m 8s
  7. 26m 52s
    1. Identifying a Slab Serif font
      4m 30s
    2. Choosing a Slab Serif font
      3m 58s
    3. Deleting a font from your Typekit
      3m 1s
    4. Exploring a font with multiple weights and styles
      9m 41s
    5. Looking at how using a Slab Serif font affects the look and feel of a web page
      5m 42s
  8. 26m 52s
    1. Identifying "Other" Serif fonts
      5m 28s
    2. Choosing "Other" Serif fonts
      10m 12s
    3. Using a font without an italic
      7m 6s
    4. Looking at how using an "Other" Serif font affects the look and feel of a web page
      4m 6s
  9. 20m 34s
    1. Identifying a Transitional Sans Serif font
      4m 29s
    2. Choosing a Transitional Sans Serif font
      5m 14s
    3. Changing styling to improve the readability of text
      6m 31s
    4. Looking at how using a Transitional Sans Serif font affects the look and feel of a web page
      4m 20s
  10. 31m 23s
    1. Identifying a Geometric Sans Serif font
      2m 51s
    2. Choosing a Geometric Sans Serif font
      4m 33s
    3. Downloading a free font licensed for use on the web
      3m 53s
    4. Using Font Squirrel to create an @font-face kit
      5m 12s
    5. Adding the @font-face syntax to the CSS
      2m 57s
    6. Implementing the font family in the CSS
      5m 29s
    7. Changing styling as necessary to improve the readability of the text
      3m 56s
    8. Looking at how using a Geometric Sans Serif font affects the look and feel of a web page
      2m 32s
  11. 21m 3s
    1. Identifying a Humanist Sans Serif font
      4m 18s
    2. Choosing a Humanist Sans Serif font
      7m 23s
    3. Changing styling as necessary to improve the readability of the text
      5m 32s
    4. Looking at how using a Humanist Sans Serif font affects the look and feel of a web page
      3m 50s
  12. 18m 28s
    1. Understanding handwritten fonts
      3m 4s
    2. Choosing a handwritten font
      8m 17s
    3. Looking at how using a handwritten font affects the look and feel of a web page
      7m 7s
  13. 33m 2s
    1. Understanding what to look for when pairing fonts
      6m 58s
    2. Using one font for headings and another for text
      6m 6s
    3. Using different fonts for different kinds of information on the page
      8m 38s
    4. Mixing and matching fonts within text
      3m 48s
    5. Looking at how using two fonts affects the look and feel of a web page
      7m 32s
  14. 23m 34s
    1. Understanding Script fonts
      2m 19s
    2. Choosing a Script font for display use
      8m 12s
    3. Changing styling as necessary to improve the form and placement of letters on the page
      3m 33s
    4. Choosing a second font to pair with the Script Display font
      3m 42s
    5. Incorporating a second font with the Script Display font
      2m 53s
    6. Setting fallback fonts
      2m 55s
  15. 26m 38s
    1. Understanding Wood Type fonts
      3m 25s
    2. Choosing a Wood Type font for display use
      8m 35s
    3. Changing styling as necessary to improve the form and placement of letters on the page
      4m 57s
    4. Choosing a second font to pair with the Wood Type font
      2m 28s
    5. Incorporating a second font with the Wood Type display font
      4m 42s
    6. Setting fallback fonts
      2m 31s
  16. 14m 58s
    1. Choosing an Art Deco font for display use
      2m 45s
    2. Changing styling as necessary to improve the form and placement of letters on the page
      3m 51s
    3. Choosing a second font to pair with the Art Deco font
      2m 37s
    4. Incorporating a second font with the Art Deco display font
      2m 57s
    5. Setting fallback fonts
      2m 48s
  17. 27m 38s
    1. Choosing a Futuristic font for display use
      5m 33s
    2. Applying the Futuristic font and changing the styling as necessary to improve the form and placement of letters on the page
      6m 40s
    3. Choosing a second font to pair with the Futuristic font
      2m 48s
    4. Incorporating a second font with the Futuristic display font
      4m 21s
    5. Setting fallback fonts
      2m 22s
    6. Looking at the set of four ads
      5m 54s
  18. 7m 29s
    1. Exploring resources and goodbye
      7m 29s

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Choosing and Using Web Fonts
6h 52m Appropriate for all Jun 27, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

This course focuses on the theories behind web fonts: what makes a good font, why different fonts look the way they do, and how fonts affect the look of a web page. Author Laura Franz covers common tasks, including downloading a font from an online source such as Typekit or Font Squirrel, implementing the font in HTML and CSS, and changing the size and line-height to improve the readability of text. The course also covers different periods of type design and explores the history behind handwritten fonts, text fonts (used for large amounts of text), and display fonts (used for headlines).

Topics include:
  • Explaining the history of text fonts, from Old Style, Transitional, and Modern to Slab Serif and Sans Serif
  • Understanding font classifications
  • Setting up a Typekit account
  • Choosing a quality font based on forms, spacing, and weights and styles
  • Accessing fonts from various sources
  • Implementing fonts with the @font-face syntax
  • Looking at how fonts affect the look and feel of a web page
  • Changing font styling to improve readability
  • Making various font weights and styles work correctly across multiple browsers
  • Pairing fonts (headline and text, two fonts in text, and so on)
  • Setting fallback fonts
Subjects:
Design Typography Web Web Design Web Fonts
Author:
Laura Franz

Understanding Venetian fonts

When we categorize fonts for text, we usually start with old style fonts, but in order to understand old style fonts, we need to understand where they came from. We need to understand Venetian fonts, and in order to understand Venetian fonts, we need to step back a couple of years, and start with the first fonts in the first Western books printed by Johannes Gutenberg. In the 1430s, Johannes Gutenberg started experimenting with casting metal type. About ten years later, he built his first press, and in 1455, his 42-line Bible was in progress.

Gutenberg's printed books looked a lot like handwritten manuscripts at that time. In fact, he thought people would be more accepting of his work if it looked like the handwritten materials they were used to, so he even cast different forms for some of the letters. Here the top A is slightly narrower, and has less detail on the bowl. By creating slight imperfections in some of the letters, the text looked more varied; more like it was done by a human hand. We often associate this kind of lettering, called Blackletter, with Germany.

Not surprisingly, Gutenberg was working in Mainz, Germany. His fonts were based on a writing style in Northern Europe. Now, Blackletter is no longer considered a standard, easy to read font. How did fonts go from Blackletter to Venetian, which is much closer to the kind of Roman text we're used to reading today, in less than 20 years? Well, printers came to Mainz from other parts of Europe to learn the new printing technology. After only a couple of years, Mainz was ransacked, and the printers fled for their safety and livelihood to other cities.

One such printer, Nicolas Jenson, came from France to Mainz, but when he left, he went to Venice. The manuscript handwriting in Venice was very different from the handwriting in the north. Other printers also fled to Italy. Most of them cast fonts that closely resembled the Venetian forms of manuscript handwriting. Jenson, however, was inspired by his materials. He saw the opportunity to move away from handwritten forms, and to standardize some of the shapes within in between letters.

Look at the lowercase a in the manuscript, which was written in 1460 in Venice. See how the bowl is bigger than the top stroke? I can imagine a person with a pen quickly writing that oval form. In the middle image, printed in Rome in 1472, the a retains much of the manuscript form. This printer based their fonts on manuscript lettering. Now, if we look at Jenson's, we can see the overall structure of the letter has changed.

This is true of most of the letters in his system. Look at the u in the manuscript. It feels inky, the head serifs are sort of blobby, and the width of the strokes change as the pen forms the letter. In the middle image, the u still feels inky. It doesn't have the same form as the manuscript u, but the way the strokes change width makes the letter feel like it was written with a pen. Jenson's U is refined. The serifs are crisp; the vertical strokes are straight and even. And it's not just about refining the letters.

Jenson also refined how the letters sat next to each other on the page. If we look carefully at the baseline in the middle image, we can see it's slightly uneven. Jenson's baseline is more aligned. We've been looking at a detail of a book printed by Nicolas Jenson in 1471, only nine years after Mainz was ransacked; only 16 years after Gutenberg printed his Bible. The leap in font design from one form to another is substantial. Jenson's fonts are what we'd call humanist or Venetian fonts.

There were other printers working at that time, but it's Jenson's fonts that pretty much set the stage for the serif fonts that follow for the next 450 years.

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