Albertina was a typeface ahead of its time. It was in the early 1960s when designer Chris Brand, an accomplished calligrapher, aspired to draw a typeface based on the principles of calligraphy. Unfortunately, typesetting machines of that era put many restrictions on designers. Characters had to be drawn within a very coarse grid, which also defined their spacing.
The process of designing Albertina took a very long time. In fact, when it was finally completed, it was, technologically, behind the times. Instead of being released as metal type for the Monotype composing machines it had been tailored for, Albertina debuted as phototype fonts for the Monophoto typesetter.
With the advent of digital type technology, Albertina’s story took a far happier turn. Frank E. Blokland, of the Dutch Type Library, used Brand’s original, uncompromised drawings as the foundation of the current digital revival.
Since their beginnings, sans serif typefaces have been typographic underdogs – and are still criticized by many experts. The criticisms fall into two general areas. First, and most obvious, sans serif typestyles have no serifs. It’s generally believed that these horizontal appendages help to guide the reader’s eye across the page. Second, typographic experts generally agree that the apparent monotone weight in many sans serif typefaces tends to tire the eye in lengthy text composition.
Despite these criticisms, sans serif types are still good communicators. The reason is clarity of form. Sans serif typefaces tend to have simpler and more recognizable letter-shapes than their serifed brethren. A typeface like News Gothic can, therefore, be an ideal choice for copy that must be legible under adverse conditions, where space is at a premium, or at very small sizes. Also, because the figures in sans serif typefaces are usually very legible, serifless designs are often the best choices for typography that is number-intensive. In addition, News Gothic has a distinctive character shapes and an angular quality that allow it to wear better than most.
- Allan Haley is Director of Words & Letters at Monotype Imaging. Here he is responsible for strategic planning and creative implementation of just about everything related to typeface designs. He is also responsible for editorial content for the company’s type libraries and Web sites.
- Prior to working for Monotype, Mr. Haley was Principal of Resolution, a consulting firm with expertise in fonts, font technology, type and typographic communication. He was also executive vice president of International Typeface Corporation.
- Mr. Haley is ex officio Chairman of the Board of the Society of Typographic Aficionados, and past President of the New York Type Directors Club. He is highly regarded as an educator and is a frequently requested speaker at national computer and design conferences.
- Mr. Haley is also a prolific writer, with five books on type and graphic communication and hundreds of articles for graphic design publications to his credit.