Awards & Engraving

April '18

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26 • A&E APRIL 2018 view that phrase in all or any of the fonts you have available, and it's not always easy to find that right font. That's why there are thousands to choose from. However, they all do not need to be installed on your computer. On the one hand, doing so is convenient, but on the other, it can lead to the problems previously discussed. Whether text or display, it is impor- tant to keep in mind how difficult it is to create a font. Not only are there 26 uppercase and 26 lowercase letters to render, but there are also numbers, punctuation, and all the oddball charac- ters such as accented letters from foreign languages to render. And all of that needs to be repeated if you throw in italics and various weights such as light, regular bold, etc. The unique characteristics that make a font stand apart on its own, then, have to be applied consistently to every one of the above-mentioned. Since recognition is paramount, let- terforms are precisely rendered with clear outlines. Any deviation in those outlines from letter to letter stands out like a sore thumb. It is difficult to achieve the kind of consistency necessary in creating a font, since any inconsistency calls atten- tion to itself and distracts the reader from absorbing the message. I am in awe of those brave few who continue to supply us with new fonts, and of course all those who have delivered such a rich heritage to us. Since fonts come free with our computers and software, they are often under-appreciated and taken for granted. Still, you might be thinking, what's the big deal — a bunch of images of letters. Our computers ought to be able to handle that! It's true. Each letterform is one simple or compound vector drawing. However, there are two complications: the keyboard and the spacing. What makes these draw- ings a font is the mechanism by which the vector outlines are tied to the keyboard. I don't want to imagine what that entails, but it comes down to code for a lot of little drawings. And then there are the font metrics. One of the most difficult aspects of our western alphabet is letter spacing. The reason for this is the fact that the alphabet as we know it went through a long stage of evolution from images to the symbols we use today. The process was somewhat random, so the characters we have to work Broad Pen Quill Chisel Pencil Hand rendered type from metal type era. fig 3 fig 4

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