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Re: Tasty Tarzana


"Hrant H. Papazian" <[log in to unmask]>


TYPO-L Discussion of Type and Typographic Design <[log in to unmask]>


Wed, 12 Aug 1998 10:14:48 -0700





text/plain (46 lines)

Jill Bell wrote:
> why does only the lowercase d in the regular, vertical versions
> have that little tail that she has used as the primary device
> (besides slant) to identify the italic? I think it should have
> been left off the non-italic d.

Considering that she's a functionalist and that Tarzana is
intended to be a text font, I think there's more to the tail
than meets the eye, so to speak.

Here's the way I see it:

In the italic, the slant is enough to distinguish it from the
upright (roman), so I think the tail doesn't serve that purpose.

But it does serve two others:
1. It makes the font conform more to the reader's expectations
   of an italic in running text. That's what gives this sans
   some humanist overtones. (Look at the "g".)
2. It serves to balance the letterspacing, filling in some
   of the white gaps.

In the upright, indiscriminate use of tails would make the font
too quirky. But why a tail on the "d"? First, notice that the "d"
is one of only two letters that has a full stem on the right.
So, the tail serves to fill the large whitespace that would have
to be given to the right side of the "d". Also, it makes the "d"
conform more to expectations.

Two questions arise:
1. Why doesn't the "l" (lc "el") -the other full right stem
   letter- not have a tail like the "d", especially considering
   that the italic does? It could be because -like Gary- she just
   hates that type of "l"! Or maybe she thought it would make
   it too quirky, whereas the "d" does have a tail (serif) in
   traditional serif type.
2. If "humanism" was a factor, why isn't the "a" bicameral?
   Her working drawings show such a variant, but maybe she
   thought it was just plain ugly. I would have used it
   anyway, though.

All this comes down text vs. display: what might at first seem
to be a design flaw might in fact be an well-contemplated feature
that promotes readability.

hrant h papazian

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