Typeface Review


Reviewed by Mark Jamra on October 18, 2018

Akiem Helmling, Bas Jacobs and Sami Kortemäki of Underware have made a really nice contribution to the genre of sans serif types and to web typography with the introduction of Zeitung. Consisting of eight weights in roman and italics, the family has forms and proportions designed for reading at conventional text sizes. And most importantly, its solid readability is firmly rooted in the character spacing.

Most designers of sans serif types still follow the too-tight spacing model established and proliferated in the 20th century, which looks okay at 24pt or larger, but is tiring to read after a few paragraphs of extensive text. Despite plenty of evidence on what facilitates readability in body copy, readers have been punished for decades by dozens of books and magazines set in Helvetica et al. Fortunately, the guys at Underware have gone another route and provided users with a type that can go the distance.

Slowly but surely, the number of sans-serif types capable of properly serving a reader in lengthy texts is growing and Zeitung is a handsome addition. No one’s surprised that Helmling, Jacobs and Kortemäki know what’s needed in a text typeface, and Zeitung gets the job done with a combination of restrained energy and Underware’s distinct personality. As if that weren’t enough, Zeitung’s handling of extensive texts is further augmented by the inclusion of optical size variants specifically designed for small text on screens and diverse printing processes. Now that’s service!

Mark Jamra is a type designer and recently retired professor of graphic design at Maine College of Art in Portland, Maine. He has designed and produced typefaces for over 35 years, and runs TypeCulture, a digital type foundry and educational resource. He is also a partner of JamraPatel, a type design studio specializing in typefaces for the writing systems of under-supported language communities in the US and abroad.

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