When designing non-fiction books, I have repeatedly had to deal with authors or clients who suggested using Comic Sans as a text face for sections that needed a human touch.
Clearly, the average humanist sans (or serif, for that matter) was not seen to meet their needs. And although I think educating the client is part of the job, I can’t help thinking they had a point. Where we (specialists) tend to see striking differences between typefaces, normal users tend to see, well, nothing special. So in order for the text face to convey that subliminal message of friendliness we are sometimes looking for, we may need typefaces that are a little more different than others.
In the sans serif realm, spelling out “human” and “warm”, while avoiding to become childish or silly, isn’t as easy as some type designers assume. Morten Olsen’s Dancer is one of those new, and newly conceived, text faces that seem to do the job. It strikes a balance between typographic quality and charisma, between conventional wisdom about legibility, and expressiveness. Also, it has an equally eloquent serifed companion.
I would immediately suggest using Dancer to any client wanting more “humanity” in a piece of text. Typographers will appreciate the way in which striking features (squarish counters, rounded terminals, ink traps) are used to enhance the typeface’s personality without making it a novelty font. The “normal” reader — and the client — will hopefully notice that this typeface is different, in a likable way.
Jan Middendorp is a Dutch type writer and page maker working in Berlin. He wrote the acclaimed Dutch type and co-edited Made with FontFont. He is a contributor to Eye and was one of the 10 curators of Area2 (Phaidon). He works as consultant and editor for companies such as Linotype, MyFonts and LucasFonts.