Design Frustration

I’m working on the the final draft of my Ekklesia Project presentation, which I had been composing in typeface that Trevor and I had bought for the Disseminary, Scala by FontFont. It’s a handsome typeface, sturdy at small sizes, distinctive without being idiosyncratic. I have only one complaint: the foundry produces the various members of the family as entirely distinct typefaces, so that one can’t invoke the italic style simply by a keyboard command, or from the style menu of the application. It’s a small nuisance, but a real nuisance, and will be an even bigger nuisance if I were to decide to set the presentation in some other typeface.

Why does a leading type foundry deliberately distribute its products in a less-usable format?

1 thought on “Design Frustration

  1. Now, there’s a story.

    Scala is an old font now (I think dating from the early 90s) and the DTP apps back then weren’t always good with style-linking, which is how you get four fonts (normal, italic, bold, bold italic) to pretend to be one font that responds to apple-B and apple-I. So, the best way to ensure that everyone had access to all the weights they’d bought was to name them separately. (I think TrueType fonts were better than PostScript Type 1 fonts at this.)

    When you’ve got multiple weights in a family then the ease of style-linked other weights and variants starts to become a liability: there’s no telling whether the bold you’ll get from apple-B in the new typeface you want to use will be the one you actually want. Scala has two weights of normal characters, plus two weights of small-caps, plus italics for all, and then Scala Sans has four weights, and don’t forget the condensed weights!

    And, of course, there’s Univers with its 59 varieties… (A digression too far.)

    Then there’s the specter of electronically-generated bolds which you get when the font you’re using doesn’t have a style-linked bold. Quark never issued a warning, so you could get nasty and embarassing results from the printer unless you spotted the problem on the screen (unlikely in the days before ATM 4 or Mac OS X) or on paper.

    It’s for this reason that most typesetters and typographers just use stylesheets and don’t ever invoke bold or italic directly anyway. With stylesheets, if you switch typeface then all you have to do is change your style definition and, hey presto, everything changes for you.

    Style linking is still tricky, even with OpenType. Things like variants (italics, small caps, lining or non-lining numerals) are handled much better now, but if you’ve got eight weights then you’ve got eight weights and apple-B won’t help you much.

    So, that’s a kind-of explanation of why a major type foundry doesn’t distribute an old PostScript typeface with style-linking. Stylesheets are your friend, and even Word’s support for them (dunno about Pages, must confess I haven’t looked) is very good.

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