Y is for Young Baroque

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Young Baroque was designed in 1984 by influential and well-regarded graphic designer, typographer, teacher and author Doyald Young. Young held the honorary title of ‘Inaugural Master of the School’ at the Pasadena Art Center College of Design, where he taught lettering, logo design and typography until his death in 2011. In 2009 he was honoured with the prestigious AIGA Medal. His AIGA biography states that: ‘An education with Doyald Young would be to learn from one of the most precise hands and knowledgeable eyes of our time. His understanding of the form of the letter, the arc of the curve and the subtleties of logotypes, is unsurpassed in North America.’ In addition to the numerous logos and trademarks he designed, he also had a swag of entertainment credits—typography and design for Sinatra, Disney, Prince, Carnegie Hall, the Grammy and Golden Globe Awards are just a few. His self-published books include Logotypes & Letterforms, Fonts & Logos and Dangerous Curves: Mastering Logotype Design, and as well as Young Baroque, he designed the typefaces ITC Éclat, Home Run, and Young Gallant.

X is for Xylo

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How pleased I am that there is a legitimate typeface beginning with x, and that I don’t have to resort to using The X-Files Font or Xmas something or other for my alphabet letters, both of which seem like cheating. Real typeface it might be, but there’s not much information to be found, other than it was designed by the Benjamin Krebs type foundry in Frankfurt am Main in 1924, and is published by ITC and owned by Letraset. While it originated in Germany, it was unearthed in 1995 in a London printer’s reference book, and was subsequently digitised by Letraset. The chunky carved appearance of the typeface is reflected in its name—xylo being the Greek word for wood.

W is for Wiesbaden Swing

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Wiesbaden Swing, created by German designer and calligrapher Rosemarie Kloos-Rau and released by Linotype in 1992, is based on her own handwriting. Kloos-Rau says that her typeface is ‘my contemporary contribution to the field of calligraphy, a headline font which offers a fresh and unconventional approach to typography’. Wiesbaden Swing is ranked as one of the famous Linotype fonts from the last decade, and in 2010 the drawn prototype was added to the Berlin Calligraphy Collection. This collection, founded in 1999 by the Berlin Academy of Arts, contains sheets of calligraphy, prints, reproductions, typographical clean copies, posters and poster designs, book covers and artist books—a selection of works which encompass calligraphic styles ranging from the classical to more expressive forms.

V is for Verdana

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Verdana was designed by Matthew Carter for Microsoft in 1996 and has subsequently been distributed with both Windows and Mac operating systems. Verdana is the sans serif partner to serif Georgia—a pairing of typefaces suited to screen use. Verdana has a large x-height so lower case characters look bigger—but not so big that you can’t tell them apart from upper case characters—and it is generously spaced so it can be read at small sizes. The bold weight is thicker than many other bolds—also making it good for on-screen legibility. Verdana even made news when Ikea, in an attempt to unify its branding, ditched Futura as its printed catalogue typeface. The Verdanagate controversy caused outrage, the New York Times going so far as to say that it ‘is so offensive to many because it seems like a slap at the principles of design by a company that has been hailed for its adherence to them’. Hmm. I guess that’s a whole other debate.

U is for University Roman

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University Roman was designed in 1983 by Letraset Type Studio designers Mike Daines and Philip Kelly. Featuring narrow upper case letters with high crossbars, it is a decorative typeface based on Speedball hand lettering. Speedball refers to both the style of calligraphy and lettering and the pens, nibs and inks used in its execution, and the Speedball Textbook, originated by Ross F George in 1915, gives instructions for drawing various alphabet styles, as well as advice on selecting tools and materials.

T is for Trade Gothic

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Trade Gothic is a sans serif typeface designed by Jackson Burke. It was a work in progress from 1948 to 1960, by which time Burke had come up with fourteen style and weight combinations, including the very stylish Trade Gothic Extended. Trade Gothic has narrower letterforms than many other sans serif typefaces, allowing more text to be set across a measure, and while it is generally considered to lack unity as a family, it retains popularity because it works so well in combination with roman text fonts. One unusual feature is that, in some digital versions, the default bold weight is more condensed that the regular weight, which is opposite to normal.

S is for Shelley

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Shelley, designed by Matthew Carter in 1972, is named for George Shelley, the English writing master of the early eighteenth century. Shelley is a formal script typeface consisting of a single weight of lowercase letters and three variations of uppercase—Allegro, Andante and Volante. Its decorative curves and graceful flourishes make this typeface suitable for display and decoration rather than large amounts of text. George Shelley was the author and editor of The Penmans Magazine: Author of Natural Writing in all the Hands, with Variety of Ornament (1709) and Alphabets in All the Hands (1715)—titles almost as elaborate as his writing!

R is for Rotis

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Rotis was designed by German designer Otl Aicher in 1988. Rotis is a ‘superfamily’ of typefaces, whose four basic variants are Rotis Serif, Rotis Semi-serif, Rotis Semi-sans and Rotis Sans. Aicher was reputedly ‘frustrated with the conservative mentality of many typographers who were determined to draw a clearly defined line between serif and sans serif typefaces’, and as a result sought to create transitional elements within a super font family that would blend serif and sans serif designs. Hardly surprising, then, that Rotis, named for a hamlet in the town where Aicher lived, was originally named ‘rotis’, because he believed capital letters were a sign of hierarchy and oppression. Rotis has been criticised for being a typeface that, while it has some good letters, lacks cohesion, proving that theory alone does not make for great typography. Either way, and despite the fact that I haven’t used it for quite some time, I have a soft spot for Rotis because it was the type family of choice for the first books I designed at the first publishing house I worked in.

Q is for Quixley

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Quixley was designed by Vince Whitlock in 1991. There doesn’t appear to be much readily available information about either the designer or the typeface, but I found it interesting to read that Whitlock was inspired by an old Zoltan Nagy typeface, although which one in particular was not mentioned. Nagy, a Hungarian type designer, wrote ‘Techniques of Type Design’, produced engravings for postage stamps, and designed Antikva Margaret, his most notable typeface, which won a third place award at an ITC-sponsored competition in 1966. Whitlock had a hand in the design of several other typefaces, including Academy Engraved, Crillee, Lexikos and Equinox.

P is for Poetica

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Poetica was designed by Robert Slimbach in 1992. Slimbach, who joined Adobe in 1987 and is now director of their type design program, is a multi-award-winning type designer whose classically inspired digital typefaces include Adobe Garamond, Adobe Jenson, Minion and Utopia, to name just a few. Poetica was the first Adobe Originals script typeface, and was modelled on Italian Renaissance chancery handwriting scripts. It is notable for its huge array of swash characters, ligatures, ornaments and embellishments (although later designs by Slimbach often feature many more glyphs than the Poetica character sets—up to three thousand!).