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Typography & fonts
Dictionaries and thesauri
Language Portal of Canada includes, among other things
- George Orwell’s essay on
‘Politics and the English Language’,
a plea for clear writing, appears in many places
on the Web:
this version is uglier than
and cites no source,
but avoids at least one error (‘difference opinion’
instead of ‘difference of opinion’).
Purdue Online Writing Lab
Editing and Proofreading (from UNC-Chapel Hill)
- Some trouble spots [under construction]
- ‘the’, ‘a’ and ‘an’
- ‘both’ vs. ‘the two’
- ‘note that’, ‘it is interesting’
- ‘comparable’ vs. ‘similar’
- ‘compared with’ vs. ‘compared to’
- ‘but’ vs. ‘however’
- ‘allow’ usually requires
an object: ‘allows us to measure’,
‘allows the measurement of’, but not
‘allows to measure’
- ‘have been’ vs. ‘were’
- ‘affect’ vs. ‘effect’
- ‘minimal’, ‘optimal’ etc.
- ‘electric’ vs. ‘electrical’; similarly for ‘acoustical’
but not for ‘mechanical’ or ‘chemical’
- Make sure the document language is set correctly
(e.g., Canadian English) and that the appropriate
spell-check dictionary is installed
- Use real minus sign (‘−’),
en dash (‘–’) or
em dash (‘—’)
rather than hyphen (‘-’)
(and know how to insert special characters in general).
- Use curly quotation marks and apostrophes
(and know how to set up autocorrect in general)
- Single (‘ ’) or double (“ ”)
quotation marks? Be consistent. Alternate when nesting.
- Don't use superscripts for 1st, 2nd, etc.
- Line breaks: use non-breaking space characters to prevent line breaks
between quantities and units, between sequence numbers and list items,
between people's initials and family names, etc.
Use non-breaking hyphens when necessary (e.g., in ‘3-D’).
- matching of commas (sometimes virtual) except in lists
- Be careful with logical connectors
such as ‘furthermore’.
- Generally use the same word for the same thing;
don't change just to make it sound nice, because the reader may
think the meaning has changed.
- ‘in the rat’ vs. ‘in rat’
- Positioning of ‘only’. Example:
- Only we [and no others] were able to obtain meaurements in [exactly?] three cases. (ambiguous)
- We only were able to obtain meaurements in three cases. (ambiguous)
- We were only able to obtain meaurements [and not do anything else] in three cases.
- We were able only to obtain meaurements in three cases. (ambiguous)
- We were able to only obtain meaurements in three cases. (incorrect wording)
- We were able to obtain only meaurements [and nothing else] in three cases.
- We were able to obtain meaurements only in three cases. (ambiguous)
- We were able to obtain meaurements in only three cases [not more].
- We were able to obtain meaurements in three only cases. (incorrect wording)
- We were able to obtain meaurements in three cases only [not more]. (less common wording)
- significant digits
- Define acronyms the first time they’re used
(e.g., “the tympanic membranes (TM’s)”)
and then use them consistently.
Some people use apostrophes for pluralized acronyms
and some don’t
(e.g., “TM’s” vs. “TMs”); be consistent.
Don’t use an acronym unless the term is really frequently used
in your text.
Consider including a list of acronyms and abbreviations.
(I’m actually misusing the word ‘acronym’.)
- Only cite things that you have read yourself.
- Distinguish between
primary, secondary and tertiary sources;
Generally prefer primary sources, sometimes use secondary ones, seldom tertiary.
Attempt to evaluate whether your source is authoritative.
Lean toward either the earliest relevant source or a recent one.
Use ‘e.g.’ if selecting from among several possible
sources (e.g., author1, 1900; author2, 1950).
- Figures and figure captions should use the word processor's
caption facility (e.g., right-click on newly inserted image
and select ).
Software for computer-aided translation
- OmegaT - free (GPL)
translation-memory tool (written in Java)
Shown for each service is its translation of
‘this is the middle ear’ into French.
I think that the one marked * is the best.
- Google language tools
(to/from 81 languages as of 2014 Jun 12)
(c'est l'oreille moyenne with other options offered)
- SDL FreeTranslation
(to/from 43 languages as of 2014 Jun 12)
(Il s'agit de l'oreille moyenne)
(to/from 13 languages as of 2014 Jun 12)
(Ceci est l'oreille moyenne*)
(to/from 14 languages as of 2014 Jun 12)
(Il s'agit de l'oreille moyenne)
GTS Free Online Translation Tool
(to/from 37 languages as of 2014 Jun 12)
(c'est l'oreille moyenne)
Dictionaries, grammars, language courses and general information
- Robert Bringhurst’s The elements of typographic style,
2nd edition, 1996, 350 pp., Hartley & Marks, Vancouver
(an excellent book)
- Richard Rutter’s
The Elements of Typographic Style Applied to the Web,
based on Bringhurst's book
(original version 2005; now open-source, latest modification
2015 Sep 14 as of 2016 May 8)
- Typography on the web
by Matt McDonagh
(2011, so some of the technology discussed is out of date).
As of 2016 May, the author says (personal communication) that
he would now recommend
Aleo (serif) and
rather than Alegreya (serif) and Ubuntu Sans
(cf. ‘@Font-face embedding on this site’ at
@Font-face : Type embedding).
Butterick’s Practical Typography
by Matthew Butterick (2010–2016 as of 2016)
Font Licensing and Protection
- Bowfin Printworks
- Collections of zero-cost or open-source fonts:
- dafont.com presents a large
variety of public-domain, free, freeware, shareware and demo-version
fonts; easy to search and browse. Includes most of the designers
and fonts mentioned below.
- Font Squirrel:
‘We know how hard it is to find quality freeware
that is licensed for commercial work. We’ve done the hard work,
hand-selecting these typefaces …’.
‘Over 50,000 free fonts’.
Had a font that neither dafont.com nor Font Squirrel had;
I don’t know if that’s because it’s not
The League of Moveable Type: catalogue includes 15
fonts as of 2012 Apr 6, of which 5
(by Barry Schwartz)
are serif text faces.
- Pablo Impallari
currently (2012 Apr 16) offers several 'serious',
script and 'playful' font families under the SIL Open Font License.
- Open Font Library
currently (2015 Nov 22) offers 767 font families
in 5745 font files
- Ray Larabie:
hundreds of fancy fonts by Ray Larabie, a mixture of zero-cost
and paid fonts. Effloresce and Goodfish are two
that could possibly be used for serious text.
TypOasis: a large collection of apparently free fonts,
by a number of designers; no longer active, difficult to browse;
designers who have some relatively
straightforward fonts include
Nick Curtis (Kelmscott Roman),
Manfred Klein (Optimus Princeps, Parma Petit,
Roman Serif, Timeless, etc.),
Paul Lloyd (Bertham, Bolton, …),
Dieter Steffmann (Caslon Antique, Cavalier,
… Packard Antique …).
- iKern: a paid service for
computing the spacing and kerning of fonts, by Igino Marini
- FAQ about fonts
by Norman Walsh (1996)
- STIX Fonts and my variant, Mastic
(free and open-source)
TeX Gyre fonts: ‘an extensive remake and extension of
the freely available 35 base PostScript fonts
distributed with Ghostscript’.
These 35 fonts are found in 105 files
.pfm for each font,
with 8-character file names)
|Filename ||Family ||Font ||Comment
| a||0||10||0||13,15,33,35||l|| URW Gothic L || Book, Demi, Book Oblique, Demi Oblique ||'a' for Avant Garde Gothic
| b||0||18||0||12,15,32,35||l|| URW Bookman L || Light, Demi Bold, Light Italic, Demi Bold Italic ||
| c||0||59||0||13,16,33,36||l|| Century Schoolbook L || Roman, Bold, Italic, Bold Italic ||
| d||0||50||0||00||l|| Dingbats || ||
| n||0||19||0||03,04,23,24||l|| Nimbus Sans L || Regular, Bold, Regular Italic, Bold Italic ||based on Helvetica
| n||0||19||0||43,44,63,64||l|| Nimbus Sans L || Regular Condensed, Bold Condensed, Regular Condensed Italic, Bold Condensed Italic ||
| n||0||21||0||03,04,23,24||l|| Nimbus Roman No9 L || Regular, Medium, Regular Italic, Medium Italic ||similar to Times
| n||0||22||0||03,04,23,24||l|| Nimbus Mono L || Regular, Bold, Regular Oblique, Bold Oblique ||similar to Courier
| p||0||52||0||03,04,23,24||l|| URW Palladio L || Roman, Bold, Italic, Bold Italic ||based on Palatino
| s||0||50||0||00||l|| Standard Symbols L ||
| z||0||03||0||34||l|| URW Chancery L || Medium Italic ||'z' for Zapf Chancery
TeX Gyre equivalents (‘can be used as a replacement for’):
- Adventor :: ITC Avant Garde Gothic
- Bonum :: ITC Bookman
- Chorus :: ITC Zapf Chancery
- Cursor :: Courier
- Heros :: Helvetica
- Pagella :: Palatino
- Schola :: Century Schoolbook
- Termes :: Times (New) Roman
- Linux Libertine fonts
(free and open-source); Graphite fonts work with
Typography toolbar LibreOffice extension
related to the
- The Brill typeface
(no cost for non-commercial purposes)
- Noto from Google:
‘Noto’s design goal is to achieve visual harmonization
(e.g., compatible heights and stroke thicknesses) across languages.
Noto fonts are under Apache License 2.0. Our current plan is to
support all living scripts in Unicode by the end of 2014.’
- Small caps: see Alec Julien's
small caps for a discussion of real and fake small caps. In
thread some fonts are listed that have real small caps: mathpazo
(‘Palatino-type font’), TeX Gyre project, Latin Modern
(lmodern, based on Computer Modern), Computer Modern, KP fonts
(kpfonts), mathptmx (‘Times New Roman font’), heros
(‘ugly’ small caps).
I have added algorithmically defined small caps to
Mastic, my variant of
the STIX fonts.
Times (New) Roman, a brief discussion of the history of,
and differences between,
Times Roman (Linotype/Adobe/Apple) and
Times New Roman (Monotype/Microsoft),
by Charles Bigelow.
Ilene Strizver's post (2009 Oct 14) for an illustration
of some of the differences.
Bringhurst (1996, p. 97) referred to Times (New) Roman
as ‘an historical pastiche’ with ‘a humanist axis
but Mannerist proportions, Baroque weight, and a sharp,
The Times used its new type,
set using both Linotype and Monotype systems,
for the first time on 1932 Oct 3, with an announcement
(‘“The Times” in new type’)
on p. 14.
(Images are from THE TIMES Digital Archive 1785-2009).
On the Web
Evolution of lower-case ‘g’
The modern forms of ‘g’ with either one or two closed loops
are the result of a long evolutionary path with multiple branches.
Analysis of the Letter-forms of the
Vindolanda writing tablets,
Fig. 11 no. 14, in the first century AD
the cursive letter ‘g’ was written with
two or three strokes, with the stroke for the top written last and sometimes
connected to the following letter. This is apparently the origin of the
small ear at the top right of the modern two-level ‘g’.
Steffens (1910), in his discussion of Merovingian letter forms, said:
La tête du g est souvent composée
d’un trait ondulé, mais souvent ce trait forme en avant
une boucle tantôt fermé et tantôt demi-ouverte;
cette boucle est faite de bien des façons; en souvenir de
l’ancienne forme, le g porte en haut, à
droite, un petit trait par où il est possible de le relier aux
lettres suivantes; ainsi s’explique le petit appendice
qu’aujourd’hui encore on donne au g dans
les imprimés d’écriture latine. La queue du
g est d’ordinaire ouverte.
Hanzi and kanji
‘Hanzi’ refers to Chinese characters.
They are also used in Japanese, where they are called ‘kanji’.
Jeffrey's Kanji Lookup provides a very flexible method of
looking up kanji.
Wikipedia displays kanji using
<span lang="ja" xml:lang="ja">…</span>
with the actual characters represented by their Unicode values.
I don't know what the
attributes actually accomplish.
Kanji can also be included in a Web page just using
&#xnnnn; to represent the hexadecimal Unicode values;
This word-processing document
demonstrates the above three kanji in a number of fonts.
The image on the right shows the same three kanji as generated by
my Far font-creation software.
The glyphs are defined in plain-text
.arc files, which can then be compiled into Fortran
farrd, or interpreted directly by
fin programme provides (crudely)
for interactive display and design of Far fonts. The software development
was started in the days of the Runoff text-formatting software
and dot-matrix printers
before there were word processors and inkjet or laser printers,
as a way of getting math symbols into my manuscripts.
It is still of some interest (to me) because the glyphs are defined
in terms of strokes rather than bitmaps or outlines.
The strokes are made up of straight lines, circular and elliptical arcs,
and Bezier splines; they can have different pen shapes, and they
can be tapered. Complex glyphs can be made up by combining
multiple simpler glyphs, recursively. All of this is particularly
appropriate for Chinese characters, where the direction and sequence
of the strokes is well established and is useful in looking up
characters in dictionaries, and where most characters are actually
combinations of simpler characters. Even for Latin and similar alphabets,
stroke direction and sequence are relevant
for understanding the derivation of handwritten
cursive characters from printed characters.
Last modified: 2018-12-08 14:34:21