Register, Trademark and Copyright Symbols
by Ilene Strizver
Register, trademark and copyright symbols are important communicators. They help establish brand identities and protect creative work from theft or plagiarism. Despite their legal and symbolic power, these symbols need to speak softly, typographically speaking. Their tasteful and appropriate use is a small but significant part of good typography.
The design and size of register, trademark and copyright symbols vary widely from font to font (see figure 1). This gives you a lot of choices, and the good news is these symbols mix-and-match well with other fonts. Although many people prefer to use serif symbols with serif fonts and sans with sans, it is perfectly acceptable (and sometimes preferable) to substitute a clean sans symbol for text usage (such as those from Arial or ITC Franklin Gothic), as they tend to be more readable and print cleanly at small sizes.
How big is too big?
Now let’s talk about size, especially since these symbols vary so much from font to font. When using a ® or a ™ after a word, adjust the point size so the symbol looks clean and legible yet unobtrusive. Here are some general guidelines:
- At text sizes, set these symbols a little smaller than half the x-height of your text.
- As your text gets larger, the symbols should become proportionately smaller, especially in headlines (see figure 2).
The copyright symbol is treated differently. When it appears before text (such as a company name), the size of the symbol should be somewhere between the x-height and cap height of the text.
When it appears before a year (as in ©1998), match the symbol size to the size of the first numeral. When using old style figures, match the size of the one, rather than the other, taller numerals (see figure 3).
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- Editor’s Note: Ilene Strizver, founder of The Type Studio, is a typographic consultant, designer and writer specializing in all aspects of typographic communication. She conducts Gourmet Typography workshops internationally. Read more about typography in her latest literary effort, Type Rules! The designer's guide to professional typography, 3rd edition, published by Wiley & Sons, Inc. This article was commissioned and approved by Monotype Imaging Inc.