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Quire Sans™

By Monotype

Jim Ford
Quire Sans: a universal, humanist sans serif from Jim Ford
Jim Ford has put all his experience as a font designer into the new humanist sans serif Quire Sans in order to create a perfect font. Easily legible letters with plenty of character and ten weights make this new font a true polymath.

Ford began designing Quire Sans with the intention to create nothing less than the "sans of all sans". After many years of research and experience in font design, as well as the design of countless customer fonts, Ford wanted Quire Sans to be the font he had always imagined, but never dared to start. With Quire Sans, he draws on various epochs of font design, blending Dutch, Italian, French, American and English influences with his personal style. The name itself goes far back in history: "quire" referred to a defined number of pages in medieval book production.

As a humanist sans serif, the shapes of Quire Sans are based on Renaissance Antiqua and demonstrate the typical letter forms and variations of this font genre. The "a" is open and the "g" is two story; the one-story version is included as an alternative character
Carefully, almost invisibly slanted terminals on the stems, legs that curve outwards slightly on the uppercase "M" and round dots take off some of the formal edge of Quire Sans and lend the font a loose, almost joyful character. Another detail supports this font personality: The diagonal arms - in "k", "A", "K" and "R", for example - are cut so as to be on a slight angle and only touch the ascender line with a point, appearing as if they were taking a step.

Ford is very careful not only with the design of the letters, but also with the selection of characters. Quire Sans has character sets with medieval and upper-case characters, aimed at table and proportional setting. Moreover, there are small caps, numerous f ligatures, an alternative &-character and the fleuron.

Each of the subtly graded weights of Quire Sans has true italic styles that draw on the Antiqua even more. Here, numerous letters have a light, curved, dynamic shape, like the "k", "v", "y" or "z", for example. The lower-case "a" changes to a closed shape, the "f" gets a descender and the "g" switches to the one-story variant - the two-story "g" is still available in the alternative characters, however.

Quire Sans lives up to its aspirations of being a good reading font (which the name itself implies). It is perfectly legible, even in the smaller sizes.

Quire Sans is more than a book font, however. With the extensive selection of weights, it is also a great font for headlines and printing jobs. Depending on the context and the weight, Quire Sans can appear subtle, robust or graceful. The font can also do well in the difficult contexts of guidance systems or newspapers. As a universal sans serif, Quire Sans is the ideal partner for large projects and corporate type.

Ford, for almost a decade before designing Quire Sans, had delved into the rich typographic details of historic book publishing typefaces. Several years ago, he undertook an experiment to create a sans serif that could encompass all periods of type history. “The experiment was a modular typeface,” says Ford. “It was a simple alphabet – really just a simple line ­– but with ‘historic’ alternate characters for the more distinctive letterforms like a, e, and g, to emulate the various type design genres. By switching in these characters, the whole look of the alphabet could be changed.” Ford used the most “universal” oldstyle forms from his experimental design as the foundation for the Quire Sans typeface.  

“Quire Sans,” says Ford, “is a reflection of my personal style, presented in the most minimal fashion.” His previous typeface designs range from traditional text faces to innovative display lettering, Ford has also drawn custom typefaces for enterprises ranging from design agencies and publishers to software manufacturers and game developers. He joined Monotype Studio as a typeface designer in 2013, following 10 years as a lettering artist and illustrator. Graduating from Columbia College in Chicago with a degree a graphic design, Ford has, in addition to his custom typefaces, a wealth of original commercial designs ranging from traditional text to innovative display faces to his credit.
Ford acknowledges that the “Dutch school” of design rubbed off on him early on, and that the Quire Sans design pays a subtle homage to modern Dutch typefaces. “The a is my favorite letter,” he admits, “and the a in Quire Sans clearly has a Dutch influence, as do the default oldstyle figures.” Normally, lining figures are the default, so Quire Sans is unusual in this regard. The e was another important letter requiring some special design attention. “The ‘eye,’ or counter, is quite small in most oldstyle designs,” says Ford. “I needed to make Quire’s bigger, but not lose the oldstyle quality, so I made the bottom part of the letter – the smile – a little bigger to make the counter appear smaller.” These key details ensure legibility even at very small sizes. The OpenType® Quire Sans fonts also benefit from a large suite of alternate characters, including small caps, ligatures, and, of course, the lining figures. But Ford did not stop there. He also drew an alternate ampersand and single-story g, in addition to paragraph symbols and fleurons for the various weights. Users of Quire Sans will benefit from its 10 design weights – each with a cursive italic counterpart. Weights range from a pencil-point thin to a burly, commanding fat.
Quire Sans translates exceptionally well from hardcopy environments to digital screens and user experience design. It retains its personality and legibility at both large and small sizes, and its extensive range of weights gives the family extraordinary versatility. The Quire Sans typeface family is available as a suite of OpenType Pro and Web fonts, allowing users to take advantage of OpenType’s capabilities, including automatic insertion of the full range of additional glyphs Ford has designed. The Quire Sans fonts also offers an extended character set supporting most Central European and many Eastern European languages.