A short list on shortlists

Where can you reduce decisions in your foundry, from thirty down to six?

Some to consider internally, and from an end typographer’s perspective:

  • Foundry catalogues Foundries with small, selective catalogues can provide this effect for their biggest fans. Instead of choosing between typefaces, a designer who has come to wholeheartedly trust you might be include to choose from the shortlist that is your catalogue, instead of comparing typefaces in the same genre.
  • Superfamily structure This is relevant in how families are structured too. Within a large design space, say from very wide to narrow and light to bold, the number of named styles still changes the use, marketing, and distribution of a typeface. Should there be five widths, or is three sufficient, for example?
  • Character coverage Is the character coverage in a new project something you determine as part of that project, or does the nature of your retail or service offerings mean you have something determined at the foundry level in advance?
  • Scripting languages Maybe one programming language or scripting tool is “better” than another for a given purpose. When the focus is the outcome, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to say: we prefer to use what we’re already familiar with on our team.
  • Modular scales Modular scales, typographic scales in general, are a way to move from a theoretically infinite number of possible values, to a useful shortlist.

There is value in narrowing down many options to a few, whether it’s for the people that you help, or for yourself in the future. As options continue to outpace clarity, this is only getting more valuable.

Until next time,