TYPE DESIGN INFORMATION PAGE last updated on Wed Jan 23 22:44:00 EST 2019






Font quality

Apostrophe's reply to a poster on alt.binaries.fonts, on August 7, 2002, regarding "you get what you pay for": "I don't know about that. That all depends on the foundries that are reputable in one's little black book, I suppose. Adobe, probably the most "reputable" foundry by virtue of the fact that they invented postscript and consequently type 1 fonts, don't kern their accented characters. A lot of my custom font work comes from companies that do multi-lingual work but the retail fonts they buy don't accommodate that sort of thing. Who else is "reputable"? Emigre? They don't know how to space their fonts properly. Same goes for Hoefler and P22 and about 90% of the folks who sell their stuff on myfonts.com. Comicraft? You'd be lucky to get proper punctuation and encoding, let alone good spacing and/or kerning and full character sets. T-26? Don't get me started on them. Fontshop? Have you seen their latest 3 releases? I was starting to think that all the freeware and shareware designers who had just vanished from the scene were actually taking up new names and publishing their old rehashed junk with Fontshop. This just goes to show that "quality" is a multi-holed sink that can suck you in if you stare at it too long. When Bitstream were doing knockoff fonts, they were producing VERY high quality stuff, but nobody gave a damn about that because everyone was either buying the stuff like bread, or complaining about meanie Bitstream turning every known alphabet out there into obscurely named/numbered fonts. If you want to speak of really high quality that can fit just about anywhere these days, only a few names come to mind right off the bat... Berlow, Quay, deGroot (but even he makes some naive mistakes sometimes) and about 5 or 6 type technologists who avoid the spotlight like the plague. Even the Dutch compulsives, Enschedé, DTL and Letterror, just aren't what they used to be anymore. In short, if a type house doesn't have a quality control department, you can count on a lot of junk being on their retail list. And I do mean quality control department, where 3 or 4 people push the envelope on every font every which way but loose before it's packaged for retail, not just one guy getting paid $10 an hour to be a "font engineer," and certainly not the owner of the outfit applying his/her design and technology prejudices to the work of every one of their designers. Adobe had a QC department way back when, but it was always slippery with all the red tape about what was good testing practice and what wasn't. Now, QC dept no more. Just Slimbach and his three shadows. Bitstream had a great QC center. Those guys are now some of the best font technicians out there. Too bad they all had to leave and the department now is just a caffeine-strung room of web programmers. When Berthold were in Germany, they had a pretty good QC department. Now that they're operating out of a Chicago house full of legal code books, there's just Harvey Hunt and nobody else, with complete trust vested in the designers' sense of technology as well as design... and on and on. URW's QC department is one of the best out there, but over the past few years they've been more occupied with OEM work rather than retail packages. Berlow still has some of the strongest technicians in his QC department, and nobody can really say anything bad about Font Bureau fonts. Foundry Studio has some veteran folks on board there. They know what they're doing probably more than every other font house in England. Believe it or not, there are a few type houses all over the world that do not deal at all in retail, and make most of their living by offering technological services to foundries, designers, and people who buy fonts and are not satisfied with them (of which there are many). So, no, you don't get what you pay for. In most font buying scenarios, you get a hell of a lot less than what you pay for. This is kind of funny in conjunction with people who like to argue that fonts are software "programs". If the software industry had 100,000 buggy programs circling around, investors would have long given up on technology altogether. Enough, enough... Shane Stevens, here I come. '"

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David and Goliath ⦿

Luc Devroye ⦿ School of Computer Science ⦿ McGill University Montreal, Canada H3A 2K6 ⦿ lucdevroye@gmail.com ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org/fonts.html