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Old 12-12-2006, 06:02 PM   #1
ktinkel
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Default Sloped romans vs true italics

A very nice discusson of the use of sloped romans rather than true italics is going on on Typophile right now. Some of it is mundane or old-hat, but David Berlow, as usual, casts a bright light on the topic. (His is the 7th comment in the thread.)

Much is made of Stanley Morison’s proposal in favor of sloped romans because he said they blend in better with roman text. A few type designers have attempted to do just that — Eric Gill with Perpetua; van Krimpen with Romulus; among others.

I must admit that I always dislike sloped romans. There is something almost unnatural and mechanical about roman letters that slant, for one thing. For another, I want italics to be distinguished from the roman text — they are meant for emphasis, after all.

Someone in that thread mentions the lovely Oldrich Hlavsa book A Book of Type and Design. Hlavsa refers to italics as “faces standing on the line dividing the roman face from script type. Italics are the products of a protracted conflict between two contrasting views in the course of the development of typefaces.”

Makes sense to me.

   
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Old 12-13-2006, 01:55 AM   #2
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I must admit that I always dislike sloped romans. There is something almost unnatural and mechanical about roman letters that slant, for one thing. For another, I want italics to be distinguished from the roman text — they are meant for emphasis, after all.
I'm sure Italics are meant for emphasis - but you could use sloped romans for a very different purpose: as a design element with the "slope" matching other diagonals in an overall design, and they could be combined with upright forms of the same font. Surely not for book pages or magazine body text, but it could well be used very effectively for posters or packaging.

   
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Old 12-13-2006, 06:49 AM   #3
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I'm sure Italics are meant for emphasis - but you could use sloped romans for a very different purpose: as a design element with the "slope" matching other diagonals in an overall design, and they could be combined with upright forms of the same font. Surely not for book pages or magazine body text, but it could well be used very effectively for posters or packaging.
I am talking about type design, not graphic effects. Graphic artists will do just about anything!

The discussion is about type families designed with sloped romans in lieu of designed italics.

   
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Old 12-13-2006, 05:47 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by ktinkel View Post
I must admit that I always dislike sloped romans. There is something almost unnatural and mechanical about roman letters that slant, for one thing. For another, I want italics to be distinguished from the roman text — they are meant for emphasis, after all.
But slanted is better than [shudder] underlining for emphasis.

Interestingly, at one time entire books were set in italics. Now that is not something I want to read.
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Old 12-13-2006, 07:59 AM   #5
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KT:

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I want italics to be distinguished from the roman text — they are meant for emphasis, after all
For 16 years I wrote texts that were set in Bauer Folio or Helvetica, and insisted on using 'italic' for those symbols requiring italic, which was difficult for me, because the compositors were all German and the older ones were used to either letter spacing (necessary for black letter, which has no other form) or worse, simply ignoring an authors intentions because the slug-setting machine could only take matrices with regular & semibold or regular & italic. But I had to admit that the difference between the roman and the italic was almost indistinguishable, especially where isolated letters were used.

The distinction between roman, italic, and bold-italic is vital in science & technology, because there are only twenty-six letters to indicate hundreds of symbols. Therefore choice of typeface is important, and sloped roman is not enough to distinguish between the roman and the 'italic'.

   
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Old 12-14-2006, 06:38 AM   #6
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> because the slug-setting machine could only take matrices with regular & semibold or regular & italic

That sounds like the old Linotype/Intertype machine. But if slanted was an option, then you must have been in the cold type generation, possibly with a early Compugraphic machine. Many of these had font wheels that could hold two fonts, and at one time this still meant one weight/style at one point size.

I am trying to remember the first CG machine that would slant type. Comp IV or the 7500? Anyone else remember?
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Old 12-14-2006, 08:29 AM   #7
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Don:

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That sounds like the old Linotype/Intertype machine. But if slanted was an option, then you must have been in the cold type generation
I was; but the 'slanted' was not because all our composing on slug machines but because the company's graphic designers had chosen Bauer Folio as its face for all its publications. They eventually opted for Helvetica, which by then everyone had, even in remoter parts of the world. Of course, plenty of other fonts had a true italic, but the same restriction would apply.

   
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