Type Design Resources

Links to articles and videos about: How-To, Software, OpenType, Rendering, Education, Conferences & Workshops, Meet-ups, Famous in Type, Forums, Services

1: How-to

Guides & tutorials for designing type and creating digital fonts. Sometimes general, sometimes very specific.


Drawing Vectors for Type & Lettering

Detailed tutorial on just what it says: drawing vectors effectively and efficiently.


Fábio Duarte Martins Bézier Curves and Type Design: A Tutorial

Illustrated explanation of cubic vs. quadratic Bézier curves.


How to Create Your First Font from Scratch: A Step by Step Guide

Basics of creating a font, using Fontself and Adobe Illustrator


Alec Julien So You Want to Create a Font: Part 1

Guide to designing a digital typeface and to (then-current) font-editing software.


Getting Started on MyFonts

How to market and sell fonts through MyFont.com.


Are You Ready for MyFonts? (And is MyFonts Right For You?)

Guide to setting up or joining a digital font foundry.


Common Errors in Type Design

Just what it says: some common errors to avoid in creating fonts.


So You Want to Create a Font: Part 2

Various possible forms of Latin letters and their metrics.


ILT Investigates: Type Torture

Witty introduction to kerning.


Type Basics

Sketches of detailed aspects of Latin letter design and common problems.


Scott Biersack Hand Lettering: How to Vector Your Letterforms

More of a tutorial on how to turn lettering into vector shapes in Adobe Illustrator than a guide to designing type.


Erik van Blokland A Useful Guide to Bad Type

Also a guide to what makes good type.


Reiner Erich Scheichelbauer Drawing Good Paths

Guide to best practices in drawing digital fonts.


AGSC (Australian Graphic Supply Co.) So What’s the Big Deal with Horizontal & Vertical Bezier Handles Anyway?

Good practice in positioning Bézier handles while digitizing letters in Adobe Illustrator.


Gunnlaugur SE Briem Bumpy Curves

Getting smooth curves in digital fonts.


Making Geometric Type Work

Balance, spacing, and optical illusion in geometric sans serifs.


Tobias Frere-Jones Typeface Mechanics: 001

Expert advice, well illustrated, on optical effects in typeface design.


Tobias Frere-Jones Typeface Mechanics: 002

Further examination of the fine points of designing type well.


Gunnlaugur SE Briem Optical Illusions

Advice on optical compensation in type design.


Rainer Erich Scheuchelbauer Vertical Metrics

Tutorial on vertical space in digital fonts.


John Hudson Vertical Metrics How-To

Clear technical explanation of the mechanics of how vertical spacing works in digital fonts.


Spacing, Metrics, and Kerning

Explanation of spacing tools in FontForge.


Aleksandra Korolkova

English translation of article on details of designing Cyrillic typefaces, by an excellent Russian type designer. For those with some familiarity with Cyrillic letter forms.


Polish Diacritics: How To

Historical and practical discussion of the forms of diacritical marks that are particular to Polish.


Gunnlaugur SE Brieam Thorn and Eth: How to Get Them Right

Discussion of the two unique letters in the Icelandic alphabet.


Illustrated Guide to problems in the size, shape, and placement of diacritical marks in a variety of digital typefaces.


Ralf Herrmann Capital Sharp S designs. The good, the Bad and the Ugly

Article on the varying designs of the newly established capital Sharp S in German type design.


Ralf Herrmann How to Draw a Capital Sharp S

Historical background to the development of the German capital Sharp S.


Rainer Erich Scheuchelbauer Localize Your Font: German Capital Sharp S

Practical problems and solutions in adding this glyph to existing fonts.


Context of Diacritics

“An analysis of diacritics made to help type designers with refining the character sets of their fonts.”

Comprehensive survey of diacritical marks for languages that use the Latin alphabet.


David Březina On Diacritics

Detailed overview of diacritical marks in the Latin alphabet.


Filip Blažek Diacritics: All You Need to Design a Font With Correct Accents

Mark-by-mark discussion of the design of diacritical marks, including Greek and Sanscrit diacritics.


Gunnlaugur SE Briem Make a Bold

How to make a bolder weight of a typeface.


Jamie Clarke Font Design: 17 Top Tips to Create Your Own Typeface

Introduction to the process of designing a typeface.


Gerry Leonidas Designing Greek Typefaces

Guide to designing Greek typefaces, with deep historical background and detailed examination of how Greek type works.


2: Software

These are tools for creating digital fonts, and for checking them technically and fixing problems with them.


Fontself Maker

An Illustrator & Photoshop extension for turning lettering into OpenType fonts.


Glyphs

One of the most widely used commercial type-design & font-editing tools. Mac only.


FontLab

One of the most widely used commercial type-design & font-editing tools. Mac & Windows.


Robofont

Python-based tool for building fonts and extensions.


FontForge

Free, open-source tool for type design & font editing.


TypeTool

A very basic commercial type-design & font-editing tool. From FontLab.


FontCreator

Popular commercial type-design & font-editing tool.


Adhesion Text

A tool for generating dummy text in various languages and scripts.


Font Validator

A tool for validating fonts, i.e., checking them for technical compliance.


AlternativeTo

Links to alternative font validators and tools for working with digital fonts.


Microsoft Font Validator, on GitHub

A tool for validating fonts, i.e., checking them for technical compliance.


3: OpenType

These are resources for understanding OpenType layout features and incorporating them into OpenType fonts.


Tim Brown Caring About OpenType features

Explanations of OpenType features and practice in creating them, including code examples.


Laura Busche How to Design Beautiful Typography Fast with OpenType Features

Intro to OpenType and OpenType layout features.


Tal Leming The Unofficial OpenType Cookbook

A knowledgeable guide the logic and techniques of OpenType features. Very clear, but not a beginner’s guide: “This cookbook is written with the assumption that you have a basic working knowledge of the structure of a font.”


Martin Wenzel & Christoph Koeberlin An Introduction to OpenType Substitution Features

A detailed “behind the scenes” introduction to OpenType layout features.


4: Type Rendering

Background information on how fonts are rendered onscreen, and techniques for improving this.


Peter Bil’ak Font Hinting

Detailed explanation of hinting digital fonts, to control and improve how they render on the screen.


TrueType Hinting

Guide to hinting TrueType fonts.


Microsoft ClearType Overview

Introduction to Microsoft’s ClearType font-rendering technology for onscreen reading.


5: Type Education

A few of the many educational programs in type design, and some resources for type designers.


TypeMedia: MA in Type Design at the KABK

Royal Academy of Art, The Hague, Netherlands

One of the two most established academic programs for earning a Master’s degree in type design.


University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom

One of the two most established academic programs for earning a Master’s degree in type design.


International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers, and Teachers of Handwriting

An association, founded in 1949, “dedicated to practicing and preserving the beautiful arts of calligraphy, engrossing and fine penmanship.”


Gunnlaugur SE Briem

Glossary of type terms. Last updated August 2001.


ATypI Diversity Fund

Association Typographique Internationale

“An initiative to enable communities that are under-represented in our membership to engage with the Association. The main objective is to increase the diversity of the Association’s membership attending our conference, with a focus on regions or communities that have not had a presence in the Association before.”


Type@Cooper Extended Program

Certificate-granting academic program at Cooper Union in New York City, for history of letterforms and principles and techniques of designing digital typefaces.


6: Conferences & Workshops

Some of the many conferences around the world for type designers and typography.


International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers, and Teachers of Handwriting

Annual Conference of the association, “dedicated to practicing and preserving the beautiful arts of calligraphy, engrossing and fine penmanship.” A different city each year.


Typographics | New York City

“A design festival for people who use type.”


Association Typographique Internationale (ATypI)

Global forum and focal point for the type community and business. ATypI’s annual conference is in a different country each year. The 2019 conference will be in Tokyo.


Kerning | Faenza, Italy

“Kerning is the first international conference in Italy dedicated solely to typography and web typography.”


International Conference on Typography & Visual Communication

Tri-annual conference, held in Greece, focusing on “research, education, and practice in relation to typography and visual communication.”


Istanbul Type Conference

“The 6th ISType conference is taking place under the theme of axis.”


Adobe MAX

“The creativity conference.” General-interest conference on design.


How Design Live

“One of the largest annual gatherings of creative professionals in the world.”


TypeCon

Annual conference that moves around North America. The 2019 conference will be in Minneapolis.


Fontstand International Typography Conference | Porto, Portugal

International conference, now in its second year, for type designers and typographers. Sponsored & organized by Fontstand.


7: Meet-ups

These are local groups in various cities and countries that get together to talk about type and type design. Not an exhaustive list!


Type Brigade

Vancouver, British Columbia

“Vancouver’s type design and typography speaker series meetup.”


LetterPDX

Portland, Oregon

Monthly gathering to draw letters together. (Last meeting was in 2017.)


Los Angeles is Just My Type (LAIJMT)

Los Angeles, California

“LA’s premier type enthusiast group.” Now morphed into TypeThursday LA (see below).


The Devoted Type: Fonts, Lettering, and Calligraphy

Chicago, Illinois

Start-up group of enthusiasts about letters and type.


Taller de Caligrafía y Lettering

Madrid, Spain

Proposed meet-up (en español) for calligraphers and graphic designers.


TypeCrit Amsterdam

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Informal meet-ups of local and visiting type designers.


Marathons Typographiques Libres

Paris, France

Marathons of typographic co-creation organized (en français) by the Velvetyne type foundry.


Typoholics

Brooklyn, New York

Informal gathering for drinking and collaborating.


Rio de Janeiro Typography Meetup

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

“A community for those who love type design and want to discuss and learn a bit more of the subject to improve his or her practice.”


TypeThursday

New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, London, Barcelona, Florence, Bucharest (currently)

Monthly meet-ups in many cities for designers and enthusiasts of type and letters. Networking and open audience critiques of work-in-progress.


8: Famous in Type

Just a few of the very many well-known and notable people in the history of type design


Matthew Carter

“My life in typefaces” (TED talk, 2014)


Hermann Zapf

Page from the New York Type Directors Club on awarding the TDC Medal to Hermann Zapf, designer of Palatino and Optima, one of the most influential type designers of the 20th century.


Giambattista Bodoni

Brief outline of the life of Bodoni, one of the originators of the “modern” (as opposed to “old style”) style of type design.


W.A. Dwiggins

Brief outline of the life of William Addison Dwiggins, American typographer, graphic designer, and type designer.


W.A. Dwiggins

More extensive biographical note on Dwiggins, who coined the term “graphic designer” and designed some of the most widely used text types of the 20th century.


Anton Janson/Miklos Kis

History of the misidentification of a classic 17th-century roman typeface by the Hungarian punchcutter Miklos Kis, originally attributed to Anton Janson.


Adrian Frutiger

Interview (1999) with the designer of Univers, Frutiger, Avenir, Meridien, OCR-B, and many other typefaces, and the originator of the first complete system of typographic weights, widths, and styles across an entire type family.


Max Miedinger and Haas Type Foundry Manager Eduard Hoffmann

Biographical information on type designer Max Miedinger and Haas Type Foundry manager Eduard Hoffmann, who between them created the typeface Helvetica (originally Neue Haas Grotesk).


Carol Twombly

Short bio of one of the principal type designers of Adobe Originals.


Paul Renner

Biographical notes on the designer of the typeface Futura and his career in Germany.


Frederic W. Goudy

Brief outline of the life of Frederic Goudy, the most prolific American type designer.


Frederic W. Goudy

Somewhat more thorough overview of Goudy’s life and professional career.


Tobias Frere-Jones

Brief bio blurb about the renowned contemporary type designer.


Gerard Unger

Thoughtful, informative obituary of one of the most talented and wide-ranging type designers of the 20th-21st centuries. From the Guardian (2018).


Nadine Chahine

AIGA Design Journeys: video and interview with an articulate and accomplished modern Arabic type designer.


9: Type Design Forums

Where type designers talk about their profession


TypeDrawers

“A discussion forum for professionals and enthusiasts in the fields of typeface design, lettering, and typography.”


10: Services

Services that may be useful in the production of type


iKern

“Type metrics & engineering.”

A service for automating the task of spacing and kerning a digital font.