Newspaper typography has been getting a lot of love from type designers over the past few years. Whereas newsprint typefaces have been largely utilitarian for decades, even centuries, improvements in paper stock and printing allows for more refinement, while changing formats and increased competition demand more diversity. Most type designers, however, still largely stick to respectable and dignified type families. Fortunately Dino dos Santos is not one of them.
Originally designed for Chilean newspaper La Tercera in 2010, Acta is the serif part of an extensive type system for demanding and complex publication design. It consists of a text and a display version, an impressive collection of symbols for newspapers and magazines, and a heavy poster weight. The family – with its generous proportions and large x-height – achieves the perfect balance between down-to-earth reliability and sensual elegance. Acta Text looks as if Dino dissected Times, removed all the stuffiness, sprinkled it with some Cooper, and injected it with his characteristic Latin flair. The high-contrast Acta Display veers towards Didone territory, yet devoid of any rigidity. Both variants offer an impressive range from delicate Light to impact-full Black. Cherry on the cake is the breath-taking Acta Poster – a joyful yet controlled take on the fat faces of the ’70s, complete with flamboyant swashes, alternates, and an extended set of delightful, sometimes surprising ligatures. Many of these special features were designed by Pedro Leal, who also created Acta Symbols.
This year the sans serif counterpart Acto was released, completing the super family. Dino thawed out the American Gothic model and optimized its legibility by incorporating humanist influences. More than sharing just the basic character structure, Acto displays the serif variants’ openness and confidence. Its slightly more subdued personality increases its versatility. The number of weights is even more impressive – eleven, with matching italics, from Hairline to Ultra Black.
Dino dos Santos is bringing sexy back to newspaper type. Art directors take note.
Yves Peters is a graphic designer / rock drummer / father of three who tries to be critical about typography without coming across as a snob. Previously columnist for Typographer.org and editor-in-chief for The FontFeed, he has found a new home on Type Network. His ability to identify most typefaces on sight is utterly useless in daily life.