Typeface design and distribution is in a state of rapid change. Last year we noted its diffusion around the globe, and that trend persists. The majority of font production is no longer concentrated in a few regional epicenters.
That goes for corporate epicenters as well. The independence of type designers themselves is increasingly evident. Small foundries have existed since the dawn of digital fonts, but now they are the norm. Only a handful of the selections in this year’s list were published by companies with more than ten employees. (We’ll have more detail about these changes in an upcoming report by Ruxandra Duru on the current state of independent type founding. Update: The report is published: Type Foundries Today.)
Meanwhile, while manufacturing splinters into myriad little studios, the tide of the major retail market is moving in the opposite direction. WebINK, a webfont service from Extensis, called it quits in June, with many of its foundries lifeboating to Typekit. A few weeks later, the small number of retailers (companies that sell fonts from multiple foundries) decreased by one when Monotype bought the last major reseller not in its portfolio: FontShop. Monotype now owns Fonts.com, MyFonts.com, Linotype.com, FontFont.com, and a newly launched FontShop.com. Given these sites’ very different identities, their consolidation is a fact lost on many consumers (as shown by the results of a type industry survey I ran last summer), but the FontShop sale sent ripples across the swelling multitude of type designers. Some foundries are still quite happy with their distribution arrangements and continue to see success, but others are seeking new ways to reach customers, including selling directly from their own websites. All this fragmentation makes it even more difficult for font buyers to wrap their heads around the sea of typeface options, which grows by the thousands every year.
Amid this shifting landscape I hope our list of favorite typefaces can serve as a guide. The writers are as diverse as their selections. They are font makers and users with a variety of perspectives, each picking a 2014 release (or two) that floated their boat. Their thoughts range from the personal (Ross on Woodkit, Dixon on Blenny) to the analytical (Stössinger on Dala Prisma, Reynolds on Lichtspiele), from the gut reaction (Bantjes on Maelstrom) to the research heavy (Grießhammer on Minotaur, Hardwig on Carabelle), from the cheeky (Mora on Proto Grotesk) to the heartfelt (Jacobs on Marigny, McLaughlin on Phoreus Cherokee).
All the selections are listed here on this page. There were 58 picks this year (the remaining stragglers will be published in the coming days), and many other notable releases that deserve a mention. Whatever winds blow in the industry at large, this collection proves that the craft is still at a high-water mark and rising.
— Stephen Coles, Editor
“Our Favorite Typefaces of 2014” was produced with generous assistance from my co-editor Caren Litherland, designer Chris Hamamoto, and emergency specimen creator Tânia Raposo. I am also very grateful to the contributing writers, many of whom put in far more effort than was asked, and to the type designers and foundries who provided samples and imagery. The “Type 2014” graphic features Workhorse on a bed of Fakt Slab Stencil.
I really wanted to read this article but the tight line spacing, tiny point size and pointy typeface not really suitable for screen, coupled with my hangover, made my eyes hurt and made for a bad online reading experience. :) Most online reading sites have a point size of at least 16px and line height of something like 23px, (see recent redesigns like NYT, Boston Globe, Guardian) and I would argue the better online reading experience of Medium at 22px point size, line height of 33px is the most user friendly.
Hi Joe. We will look into developing a Hangover Mode switch for you. In the meantime, the beauty of the web is that you can enlarge any text using your browser whenever you wish.
Hehe. Scaling a page up using the browser zoom is broken UX though. You can’t scale up the line-height either. For a site devoted to typography you’d think it would be a priority to give the best online typographic experience. The typesetting looks nice if it was printed, not beamed into your eyes. Anyway, sorry if it seems snarky at all just some feedback, my intention is not to be an ass. :)
I am especially pleased to see Cardea in the mix! Really wonderful selection overall with many of my favorites this year too.
No problem, my response was slightly assy. As type gets larger there is less need for looser linespacing (especially if the line-height is specified in ems) so hopefully bumping up the size does the job for your personal preferences. In my view a lot of current web design is overcompensating with unnecessarily loose linespacing.
The more pressing issue is that every visitor has a different reading experience and this is exacerbated by the multitude of devices with different screen sizes and densities. Typographica’s text looks great to me, but I understand it’s not everyone’s ideal and not everyone sees the same thing. Chris and I are well aware that the site is way overdue for a responsive redesign.
That’s an interesting point regarding loose linespacing. With a lot of the responsive redesigns hitting the web at the moment with pretty loose spacing I initially thought it was too loose too. Especially Medium, the design was fresh and well executed with great sense of space but felt oversized to me. But after spending some time absorbing articles on these sites I feel the reading is a smoother and quicker experience. When designing type for sites I often err on the side of too small, and bumping size and line spacing up feels intuitively wrong to my eye, but I feel it reads better.
Anyway, sorry to derail your article comments thread – nice list! Some great faces I hadn’t seen before.
This is my first visit to Typographica, and I really like your approach for reviewing typefaces, type books, and design. Your content is well-informed, interesting to read, and useful for people who have a personal and professional interest in finding and using elegant typefaces.
I must agree, however, with Mr. Garlick regarding Typographica’s tight line space and small point size. Although I think your site’s typeface is visually appealing, it really is too small to read on a computer. While I don’t suffer from a hangover, I do feel a headache approaching, and I need to grab some eye drops.
Nonetheless, Mr. Coles is absolutely correct about the fact that too many websites have jumped aboard the Medium yacht and gone overboard with the loose linespacing. Medium’s publisher (the wealthy and former CEO of Twitter, of course) has managed to turn the use of a few rather mundane typefaces into a cultural phenomenon. But, alas, the only thing that is more boring than Medium’s typography and design is the lame content that routinely appears on the site.
Finally, I came to Typographica via a favorable link from Daring Fireball, which is also a very informative website. When it comes to John Gruber’s choice of a typeface for his blog, however, the time has come for him to pay attention to the reviews on Typographica and select something other than the dreary Verdana at 11 points (or whatever that is) that he employs as the default.
Always such a pleasure to read your yearly picks and commentary, Mr Coles! I’m especially pleased to see the DIN-ish French typefaces with their whimsical structure. I may have a new obsession there.
Longtype’s site is particularly fun. My French is abysmal, so I have no right to poke fun, but it is amusing to see spellcheck fails like this:
“If the Test Font feels adapted to the the project, it is then simple for the user to purchase the font to a subscription rate which includes substential disocunts.”
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