Thursday 22 April 2010

Anatomy of Utopia

Here is a figure that I have just knocked up to illustrate some aspects of typography for an article I'm writing. It uses the Utopia font that Robert Slimbach designed for Adobe and which found its way (via some controversy between 1992 and 2006) into a free software font that is packaged with LaTeX distributions.

Left panel;

Top - examples of the font including full alphabets of capitals, lowercase, and italics. The Utopia font as parcelled with LaTeX doesn't have a proper set of small caps or old style numerals (the full price version from Adobe does).

Bottom - An illustration of terminals, serifs aperture and axis. Utopia is a transitional font (transitional between old style and modern faces).

Right panel;

Top - the fi and fl ligatures that come as standard in the font.

Middle - In a proper typesetting software, such as LaTeX, the letter spacing should be modified so that certain pairs of letters are moved slightly closer together, this is called kerning. Each pair has a yellow box added to indicate the overlap.

Bottom - An example of LaTeX hyphenation and justification engine on a fragment of text from the Voyage of the Beagle by Charles Darwin. The algorithm not only very cleverly breaks the words in the most appropriate manner it also adjusts the right hand edge so that it is optically straight (even though as you can see if you look carefull it is not geometrically straight).