• Comparative Considerations

  • Analyse the similarities and differences in two type families, comparing their places in historical context all the way down to minute details in letter-forms.

Suggested Approach

Start with the broadest view, then work towards the specifics. What’s below is minimum suggested content. Depending on your two families, there may be more elements to compare.

You will not compare all the instances in the families. Choose the regular weight in each family to compare. You can also compare how they italicize.

Broadest View

  • Where do the two families situate themselves in typographic history?
  • When were they released?
  • Who are the designers?
  • Did they have a specific purpose when they were designed?
  • Show each of the families in paragraph form.

Family Comparison

  • How many instances are there in each family?
  • Compare the two families‘ glyph complements.
  • Do the families include ornaments?
  • Are there multiple writing systems? Cyrillic, Greek, etc…

You can include a type waterfall if it’s appropriate to your presentation. In the case of very large families, like Acumin displayed below, it can really showcase the enormous size of the family.

Type Waterfall

General Glyph Comparison

These items are a minimum suggested elements to compare. Your families may have other elements to compare depending on their designs. These characters inform the proportions for the whole family.

Proportion

  • x-height
  • cap height
  • stroke contrast
  • serifs or terminals
  • ascenders and descenders
  • more…

Note that the size of the ascenders and descenders is usually fixed across the family. It’s what’s inside this space that varies. The cap height, the x-height and the distance from the descender to the baseline all vary.

The lower case o establishes overshoot. The cap H and O establish the width and the height for caps. The n and the H provide patterns for serif structure across the family—full serifs, half serifs and wedge serifs.

Serifs

Some Specifics to Compare

General Shape

Is the face round, open? Is the speed of the curve fast or slow?

General Shape

X-Height

This is a key measurement that conveys the appearance of size for the family. This has an important effect at small and large sizes. What impact does this have on a block of text set at the same type size for the two families?

x-height

Serifs and/or Terminals

How do the terminals compare? Are they bracketed serifs? Angled sans-serif terminals? Describe their general shape. How do they change with italics?

Terminals

Stroke Contrast

How does the thinnest part of a glyph compare to the thickest? How quickly does the thick-thin transition happen?

Stroke contrast

Counters

Compare the open counters of either the h m n u. The closed counters of either of the b d p q and of the o.

Counters

You can also compare the relationship between open counters and angles, if they are of note.

Counters

Is your typeface geometric? If so, how far is it from being perfectly round? They never really are. If it’s not geometric, compare slant and stroke weight contrast.

Geometric, or not?

Compare the o glyph across families

Other Standout Features

Do your type families have any particular features that stand out? Below, we see a very geometric glyph on the left. The one on the right is curved and features a trapezoidal tittle.

Curved Strokes

Your Text

Please do not copy-paste text from the Web, or any other source into your presentation. Compile all the information about your typefaces in a text editor. Organize and consolidate the content. Read everything to internalize the knowledge. In your presentation, write what you know in your words. Doing otherwise will be considered plagiarism.

Please see this page as a refresher on the anatomy of type so you use the correct terminology in your presentation.

Fonts in Use

It’s a good idea to include graphics of your two type families in use. They can be famous logos, advertisements, web pages, etc… Are there famous applications of either of your typefaces?

Individual Glyphs

You can choose among these individual glyphs to highlight difference and similarities between the two families.

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The entire shape of the ampersand should be compared, as well as numbers, punctuation marks and diacritics (accents).