Project. Typeface Analysis
Purpose. To gain a deeper
understanding of the nature of letterforms by closely scrutinizing
their design structure.
project is given to a class in advanced typography and involves
the design analysis of typefaces. The project can be
purely typographic or may include images, photographs, diagrams,
etc. Any of the following approaches may be taken:
1. A structural
analysis of a serif or sanserif typeface.
analytical comparison between a serif and sans serif type face
of the same family, e.g., Stone, Lucida, Scala, or Legacy.
The structural difference between two weights of a given
typeface, e.g., Univers.
4. An analytical comparison between
two typefaces which might appear to the layman as being
identical in style, e.g., Helvetica
Univers, Akzidenz Grotesk or Arial; Adobe Garamond and Sabon;
Aldus. It would not be helpful to try to compare typefaces
which are stylistically quite different from one another.
A structural comparison between certain typefaces by one
designer. For example, certain typefaces of Adrian Frutiger,
or Eric Gill have some interesting family resemblances.
and comparative considerations:
The shape of the serifs and other terminals: What is their essential
structure and are they perfectly symmetrical or absolutely identical
between similar instances. Are they bracketed slightly or not at
Comparisons between letters—or figures—having similar
forms: h m n u; b d p q; A V Y v y W w; C O Q; E F L B P; 3 8 5.
The relationship between the h m n u counters to those of the b d
p q and o; the counter of the m is almost always a bit smaller than
those of the h m n u, and those of the b d p q wider.
The proportional relationship between thick and thin strokes and
between the thickness of the cap strokes and those of the lower case
The relationship between the counters and angles of v y w and V W
Comparison between the D O, C O and G O; between B P R and between
the O o and zero
Comparison of the O o to a perfect circle, to demonstrate asymmetry
or deviance from a perfect circle, if the O o in the particular typeface
appears close to being circular.
Compare the overall widths of the H N U O, and the E to F.
Compare the top and bottom counters of letters like E B S H or 8.
The top stroke of the E is almost always shorter than that on the
bottom, and the center stroke shorter than the one on top.
Illustrate how the curved parts of many characters go below baselines,
x-heights or cap heights.
What is the relationship between between the typeface cap height,
x-height, ascender and descender? Are the figures the same height
as the caps or slightly smaller? In Helvetica, for example the figures
are about 90% the height of the caps.
Numbers are usually monospaced, meaning they are designed so that
their overall widths are identical, allowing for tabular setting.
Demonstrate these relationships.
Are the strokes of characters perfectly straight or are they subtly
curved, as in Optima or Eras?
Show to what degree the diagonal strokes of characters, particularly
in bold sans serif, are tapered in order to make them optically of
Format. Optional. Eight page booklet, a foldout,
a series of double page spreads, or a large poster in any size.
Time. Three weeks.