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Briem’s notes on type design: Elbow grease

Let’s assume that you have digitized your design right down to the last glyph. You have spaced your letters. They no longer bump into each other. The odd gaps between them are gone. What comes next?

Now what?

You’ve got a rough cut. Getting lettershapes out of your head and into the computer is only the first step. There’s more to do.

Maybe you are one of the rare individuals who get things absolutely right the first time. Mozart did. Or your letters are actually meant to look awkward. Then you can skip this part. Otherwise, it’s time to apply elbow grease.

You need time to stare at your letters, looking for flaws. Try smaller size: Matthew Carter uses a reduction glass. (Mine has gathered dust for years.) Turn your printouts upside-down. Squint.


What should you look for? You probably recognize lumps and bumps when you see them. Knowing which questions to ask can help. I’ve got a little list.

Notes on type design. Copyright © 1998, 2001, 2022 Gunnlaugur SE Briem. All rights reserved. Republished with permission in 2022 by Fontlab Ltd.