by Christopher Slye
If you had to pick twenty or thirty fonts to take with you to a desert island, what would they be? Does that sound like a lot? You probably want a few different typefaces, and various weights and widths. You’ll need some italics to go with them, and you might already be accustomed to having at least a couple optical sizes to choose from. Still think it’s easy? Consider this: The complete family of Kepler Std fonts in the Adobe Type Library contains 192 different fonts.
When we selected the first sixteen families for the debut release of Adobe Web Fonts, we used our own judgement and some internal data to choose an assortment of fonts (121 altogether) that we thought would offer excellent typographic options for our customers and satisfy a few well-known user requests (e.g. Myriad). With that first release behind us, we can now consider our next web font release — but preparing those fonts for the web takes time and resources, so there’s only so much we can tackle this time. This is our current challenge: to make a relatively small selection of fonts that will be satisfying and useful for our customers.
We have our own ideas, but we want to hear from you. We’ve already had a number of requests, but just about everyone has an opinion when it comes to type. Maybe you do too.
Before I go any further, I have to explain something that not everyone realizes: Not all of the fonts in the Adobe Type Library are owned by Adobe. Many are licensed from other foundries, and Adobe cannot offer these fonts for use on the web. (See below for a list of the typeface families that are Adobe-owned or otherwise eligible as web fonts.) As you consider the possibilities, keep that in mind.
So, how should you approach this question? First, consider the two ends of your spectrum of choices — one family with lots of fonts, or several families with just a few fonts each. Of course it can be anything in between, but that’s the nature of the dilemma. Probably the most basic selection for web use is a regular, italic, and bold font. That will provide all the standard functionality you need to apply emphasis and other standard HTML text styling. We wonder if this is enough for some people. Would you rather see more font families with just this basic set?
The trouble is, once one looks through these typefaces and their weights, widths and styles, one begins to realize how handy the extra options are. A good condensed face is nice for a large headline. A medium or semibold weight can help with text reversed out of a dark color. Caption fonts hold up well for small text on low resolution screens, but display fonts give you more typographic personality when they’re large enough.
Of course, someday we would like to have all our fonts available for web use, so part of our thought process is considering how to incrementally release some of these large families. Some families can naturally be divided up among widths or optical sizes, so it is tempting to release them in those sub-groups. Perhaps, though, users would prefer to have more stylistic choices in an initial release, which would entail, for example, releasing a few carefully selected condensed fonts along with the regular width fonts, or perhaps some display fonts along with another optical size.
You get the idea. If you have a favorite Adobe typeface that you want to use on the web, tell us what it is. Do you need it in a lot of weights and widths, or is a basic set of styles enough? Consider what selection will be most useful to a wide variety of people and tasks. Remember, the more fonts per family, the fewer families there will be. The challenge is to limit yourself to a couple dozen fonts or so. Lastly, explain you choices. Understanding the reasons for your preferences gives us more insight into our customers’ needs and helps us make better decisions later.
We’re looking forward to hearing your suggestions.
[This is the third installment of "Web Font Wednesdays," our continuing series of posts regarding fonts on the web.]
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The following families are eligible for Adobe Web Fonts. (*) Denotes font families already available as web fonts, in full or in part. To see the individual fonts for each family, visit the Adobe Fonts showroom. To browse our currently-available Adobe Web Fonts, visit the Adobe foundry pages on Typekit.
Bell Centennial Std
Bickham Script Pro*
Brush Script Std
Caflisch Script Pro*
Adobe Caslon Pro
Century Old Style Std
Cooper Black Std*
Adobe Garamond Pro*
Hypatia Sans Pro*
Immi Five O Five Std
Adobe Jenson Pro
Letter Gothic Std
News Gothic Std*
OCR A Std
OCR B Std
Prestige Elite Std
Shuriken Boy Std
Adobe Text Pro*
Voluta Script Pro*
Wood Type Ornaments Std