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Carter Sans™


Matthew Carter describes his Carter Sans™ typeface, as a “humanistic stressed sans.” The chiseled and sophisticated Carter Sans family adds yet another distinctive shade to the rich typographic palette of Carter’s work.

The Carter Sans design is a robust yet elegant family of type that melds distinction and clarity in perfect proportions. The greatest influence and driving force behind the design is, of course, Matthew Carter, whose name the typeface bears. Two other designers, however, also lent accomplished hands with the design: Dan Reynolds and Berthold Wolpe.

The story behind the design begins when Monotype wanted to add a distinctive new sans serif typeface for its ITC typeface library and approached Carter with a collaborative design proposal: Carter would create the foundation of the design and have complete oversight in the family’s development, and Reynolds, then a Monotype designer, would handle the lion’s share of the Pro character set design and font productization.

How did Wolpe, who had passed away in 1989, become part of the collaborative team? Carter knew Wolpe quite well, having collaborated with him on a design project at Linotype, and had long admired his work. Wolpe’s posthumous contribution is the subtle refrain from his Albertus™ typeface that Carter incorporated into his design.

Matthew Carter is one of the few type designers that have designed typefaces for fonts in metal, photo, and the digital medium. This is all the more remarkable when it is considered that his career began slightly by happenstance. In the brief time between secondary school and Oxford College, the then 19-year-old Carter trained at Enschedé type foundry in the Netherlands. This internship enabled him to learn punchcutting from P.H. Rädish, a master of the craft. Carter’s Enschedé experience sealed his fate. By the time he returned to London, his self-imposed “life sentence in type” had begun.

Carter’s elegant Cascade Script®, Shelley Script® and Snell Roundhand® typefaces to the modern classics of Olympian®, ITC Charter®, and ITC Galliard® designs, to the Tahoma® and Verdana®, Windows® system fonts, to the many custom designs he’s created for clients as diverse as Time Magazine, Apple Computer, Microsoft, and the Walker Art Institute in Minneapolis, are varied, distinctive, and remarkably versatile graphic communication tools.

Dan Reynolds is a Berlin-based type designer and educator. He studied graphic design and visual communication at the Rhode Island School of Design and the HfG Offenbach and type design at the University of Reading. While at Monotype, Reynolds developed custom typefaces for corporate clients and created commercial designs such as the Morris Sans® and Malabar® families.

When he is not drawing typefaces, Reynolds is sharing his typographic knowledge and skills as an educator and in many articles and presentations.

Humanistic overtones, hearty shapes and bold simplicity provide the foundation of the Carter Sans design. Refinements include stroke weights that flair slightly and counters that are a counterpoint to outside character shapes. This subtle weight variance in the strokes and solid baseline terminals give the design a powerful presence – even in its lightest weight. Carter describes the design as a “sanserif whose stroke-endings show the effect of the chisel more than the pen.” He was careful to maintain the incisive shapes and angularity of the letters as character weight increased from the regular, to the bold design. The Carter Sans Italic designs have also been kept lean and powerful — with just a hint of cursiveness in letters like the e and f.

The Carter Sans family is available as OpenType® Pro fonts allowing for the automatic insertion of ligatures and fractions. Pro fonts also include an extended character set supporting most Central European and many Eastern European languages. Thanks to its highly legible characters, full-bodied shapes and hardy design traits, the Carter Sans family will perform with grace and strength in a variety of environments. It communicates with vigor and clarity, whether at small sizes on screen or a meter tall on billboards.

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