A Garamond By Any Other Name
If it's called Garamond, then it's Garamond - true? If there were only one version of Garamond, perhaps. But in fact, there is more than one Garamond, just as there are multiple versions of many other designs.
That's why careful designers must beware: a Garamond by another other name may not smell as sweet as you would hope! At the very least, it might look different than you expect, or have different spacing and proportions than you planned on. Head off potential "mistaken identity" problems by learning how and why fonts can differ so greatly from foundry to foundry.
Similar name, Different design
Multiple versions most often occur in revivals of historical typeface designs, such as Garamond, Bodoni, or Caslon That's because the original designs have been revived by many different type designers and foundries over the years. Each revival offers its own interpretation of the original, which makes them, ultimately, different designs.
A major cause for confusion is that all these different designs may have very similar names. Often, the designer or foundry creating the revival will merely add a prefix or suffix to the name of the original design to distinguish it from its competitors (and remember, two fonts with exactly the same name installed on your system will cause font conflicts). Some of the currently available Bodoni versions are ITC Bodoni, Poster Bodoni, E+F Bauer Bodoni, URW Bodoni Antiqua, Monotype Bodoni, Berthold Bodoni Antiqua, and WTC Our Bodoni. These are just a few of the Bodonis now on the market, and they're all different from one another!
Same design, Different metrics
A less frequent occurrence (but one with a more complicated explanation!) is when two fonts have exactly the same name but space differently, or have slightly different proportions.
Here's why: years ago, finished typeface designs were created in analog format - that is, black images on white paper. When the faces were licensed to other foundries, the artwork was provided as photographic prints.
Armed with these prints, each foundry then "productized" the design for its own equipment. The result could be different spacing, proportions, and even varying designs for the same character. Depending on which foundry produced it, the font might run copy shorter, longer, tighter, more open or with a varying height for the same point size than another licensed version of the same design.
For the reasons above, you should always note the complete name and manufacturer when purchasing or specifying a typeface. Paying attention to the true identity of your fonts will help keep you in control of your type.
- 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.