Introducing Operator

A monospace typeface, a monospace-inspired typeface, and a short film about type design.

About two years ago, H&Co Senior Designer Andy Clymer proposed that we design a monospace typeface. Monospace (or “fixed-width”) typefaces have a unique place in the culture: their most famous ancestor is the typewriter, and they remain the style that designers reach for when they want to remind readers about the author behind the words. Typewriter faces have become part of the aesthetic of journalism, fundraising, law, academia, and politics; a dressier alternative to handwriting, but still less formal than something set in type, they’re an invaluable tool for designers.

I acutely felt the need for such a typeface, and immediately thought of places I’d want to use it on Discover.typography. And while I liked the idea of creating a new typeface that would have this kind of voice — minus the nostalgic clackety-clack look of an actual typewriter face — I wondered if we could achieve these results without the many compromises required of a fixed-width design. Fixed-width faces force every character into a box of the same size, creating charmingly long serifs on the capital I, but tragic, procrustean disfigurements of wider letters like M and W. So I suggested that we relax the system, to create a font that feels monospaced, but behaves more professionally.

Andy made an equally compelling counterproposal, reminding me that the command-line editor — these days, home to so many people who design things — could really be improved by a fully fixed-width typeface. What if, in addition to shedding the unwanted baggage of the typewriter, we also looked to the programming environment as a place where type could make a difference? Like many screen fonts before it, Operator could pay extra attention to the brackets and braces and punctuation marks more critical in code than in text. But if Operator took the unusual step of looking not only to serifs and sans serifs, but to script typefaces for inspiration, it could do a lot more. It could render the easily-confused I, l, and 1 far less ambiguous. It could help “color” syntax in a way that transcends the actual use of color, ensuring that different parts of a program are easier to identify. Andy hoped this might be useful when a technical pdf found its way to a black-and-white laser printer. It was an especially meaningful gesture to me, as someone who, like three hundred million others, is red-green colorblind.

So with designers, developers, and most of all readers in mind, we decided to design it both ways. Operator Mono is our new family of fixed-width typefaces, with a broader range of weights than a typical typewriter face, and an italic that positively shines in code. Its more editorial companion is the natural-width Operator family, which offers the voice of typewriting but none of the compromises. Operator extends to nine weights, from Thin to Ultra, and includes both roman and italic small caps throughout. Both families are supported by companion ScreenSmart fonts, specially designed and engineered for use in the browser at text sizes.

In developing Operator, we found ourselves talking about JavaScript and css, looking for vinyl label embossers on eBay, renting a cantankerous old machine from perhaps the last typewriter repair shop in New York, and unearthing a flea market find that amazingly dates to 1893. Above is the four-minute film I made, to record a little of what went into Operator, and introduce the team at H&Co behind it. —JH

Introducing App.typography

Now you can use the H&Co fonts you love to publish apps, digital publications, eBooks, and more. Meet App.typography, the simple font licensing solution for digital publishers.

App developers lavish such care creating thoughtful, lovely experiences, places where users can return again and again, and always feel at home. For all the time we spend browsing the web, we’re spending more and more time using our devices’ native apps, a trend that’s poised to continue with the arrival of mobile-minded projects like Facebook Instant Articles and Apple News. The one thing that all mobile experiences have in common is type, making it more important than ever to get the type right — to use the right fonts to create the sophisticated, expressive environments that users deserve.

We’ve long worked with our clients to bring typography into the mobile space. For some, it means developing cross-channel typography that aligns their print, web, and mobile products; for others it means choosing fonts that solve problems, and help shape the user experience from the outset. We’ve found that the needs of designers, developers, publishers, news organizations, institutions and brands are all a little different, but what everyone wants is for type to be functional, and for licensing to be painless. We want these same things, and more: we want to furnish app developers with the same high-quality tools available to print and web designers. We want developers to have access to everything that a font family has to offer, to be free to match the font to the medium and the experience, and to be relieved of having to count styles, platforms, or downloads. In short, we want to do everything for app developers that Cloud.typography did for web developers, allowing people to use their existing H&Co libraries in a whole new way.

Meet App.typography.

App.typography is a service that enables you to publish apps, digital publications, or eBooks that incorporate any of the H&Co fonts you’ve bought for your computer. It’s a new model for licensing fonts, one that’s based not on the number of font styles that you choose to embed, but the number of titles that you publish.

For developers, App.typography means the freedom to choose from whichever fonts you’ve bought, including as many styles as necessary to create the perfect experience. We’ve defined “an app” in the broadest possible way, so that the product you create for iOS, Android, and Apple TV — even if the versions for the Apple Watch and the Samsung Galaxy Tab don’t share a single line of code — is covered by a single App.typography subscription.

For publishers, App.typography offers the ability to port your existing typography to digital publications and eBooks, to distribute these in a vast array of different formats, and to cover all of the books that you publish under a single imprint. Use as many fonts as you’ve purchased, to publish as many books as you like, and see them downloaded as many times as possible, all with a single App.typography subscription.

The Fonts

An App.typography subscription covers all the fonts you’ve purchased for your computer, and all the fonts that you buy in the future. This extends to the entire H&Co library of more than 1,100 styles, including our sixteen families of ScreenSmart fonts that are specially designed for the screen. You’ll find countless solutions for app design in the H&Co library: fonts with tabular figures for game scores and activity timers, compact fonts for narrow columns, and high-performance text faces for extended reading. Spend some time at Discover.typography if you’re looking for inspiration, or get started with App.typography today.

Use Fonts in Email

Now you can use Cloud.typography to style email campaigns with your favorite H&Co fonts.

Designers who love type want to use it everywhere. And that’s an obsession that perfectly aligns with what clients need: why not brand all of a company’s communications consistently? Subscribers to our Cloud.typography service, who use H&Co fonts for their web and mobile communications, have recently begun asking about extending their typography to email as well. So we’re delighted to announce that starting today, all Cloud.typography subscriptions now include the ability to use fonts in email campaigns. We’re pleased to offer yet another way to use the power of typography to extend a brand’s voice.

A distinctive, high-quality typeface helps email stand out.

For many companies, email is the most direct way to communicate with their customers. It’s a critical part of any marketing strategy, but still a tough puzzle to crack: while people check their email constantly, and one-third of marketers say their subscribers read most of their email on mobile devices, nearly two-thirds of companies are looking for new ways to improve email personalization. It’s harder than ever to make email stand out — which is where the right typeface, chosen with care, can help. Now, your email campaigns can take part in everything that makes your brand unique, including its typography.

With Cloud.typography, readers of email can experience the same high-quality screen typography that they’ve come to expect from H&Co fonts on the web. Because email uses type at text sizes — and often, features so much text — email campaigns are the perfect place to use H&Co’s ScreenSmart fonts that are optimized for reading at small sizes. Take a look at our growing collection of ScreenSmart fonts specially tuned for text sizes, and then log in with your Cloud.typography subscription, where you’ll find an option for “email campaigns” included in all of your webfont projects.

Now, your email campaigns can share the same branding as all of your other communications.

Email is still a new frontier for typography. On the reader’s side, support for fonts is limited, but growing: many desktop and mobile apps like Apple Mail and Microsoft Outlook support webfonts, but most browser-based clients like Gmail don’t. In other words, a branded email sent to a gmail.com address will render with webfonts if it’s being read in an application like Mail or Outlook, or on the mail app on the owner’s iPhone, but it won’t show the branded fonts if it’s being read inside a web browser. But as always, Cloud.typography won’t interfere with your message getting through: when someone reads a branded email in an application that doesn’t support webfonts, they’ll simply see it appear using the same system fonts that you’re using today.

Cloud.typography uses your available pageviews to satisfy email opens, with each open counting as a single pageview. You’ll find more information in our email FAQ, and some best practices for using fonts in email in the Cloud.typography user guide. If you’re using H&Co fonts in your other communications but aren’t yet a Cloud.typography subscriber, join today and you’ll have instant access to all the H&Co fonts you’ve ever purchased in the past, without the need to buy them again. Subscriptions start at $99/year.

We’re excited to offer designers a new tool to both elevate their typography and expand their reach. Fonts are the foundations of so many memorable experiences, and we’re glad to see H&Co fonts playing yet another role in the ways that successful and timeless brands communicate. —H&Co.

The New Archer Heavyweights

We’ve seen designers choose Archer for everything from wedding invitations to movie titles. Archer has a natural affinity for book jackets and product packaging, and developers have made great use of Archer ScreenSmart on the web. And some of Archer’s most unexpected performances have been among its best, delivering brand identities for news outlets, department stores, and multinational banks. The more designers have done with Archer, the more they’ve wanted to do with it, and the more we’ve wondered what else might be possible. So eighteen months ago, we returned to the drawing board.

New Voices

Archer was designed to be charming, a delicate book face that never raises its voice. Increasingly, we’ve seen designers coaxing new moods out of Archer, tightly letterspacing its boldest weights to achieve a more boisterous tone. Seeing the potential for a more graphic Archer, we explored how heavy the fonts might go; the answer is a lot heavier. So today we’re introducing Archer Black, Extra Black, and Ultra, each in roman, italic, and small caps, pushing the Archer family to a total of eleven weights. These new styles offer a wealth of new voices: now the ever-polite Archer can be exuberant, adamant, jolly, rustic, solemn, sporty, and vibrant.

New Textures for Text

Archer has always performed in both text and display sizes, a tradition we’ve continued with today’s new styles. The new Archers are vivid at large sizes, and clear in text — and they’re outfitted with all the trimmings needed to articulate content. The new Archer 3 Pro contains small caps, tabular figures, fractions, and even numerical indices. And if you’ve been using Archer’s heavier weights for text, now you use these heaviest weights for emphasis: just as you’ve paired Archer Book and Bold, you can now pair Archer Bold and Ultra.

Discover.typography: an Innovation by Design

It’s lovely to see Discover.typography recognized by the Innovation by Design Awards. While the story of H&Co is usually the story of our fonts, less visible is the project of working with the fonts, and creating the kinds of experiences in which we can share what we find so exciting about type in the first place.

Thank you to Fast Company for highlighting an innovative piece of technology that’s been one of our most satisfying creative outlets. And thank you to the development team at H&Co, the eleven designers, developers, engineers, and project managers who work so hard to ensure that Discover.typography continues to fully capture, and fully express, everything that we love about type on the web. —JH

Pull Quotes

It’s surprising how much writing that isn’t about design turns out to be about design. For years, I’ve been squirreling away sentiments that resonate with me, scribbling them into sketchbooks or thumbing them into many generations of smartphone. Their sources vary: a hard-boiled mystery that I read on vacation, an in-flight magazine interview with a restaurateur, a book about viniculture, Twitter. One is attributable to a cartoon character. CEO Marissa Mayer adroitly captured what connects geeks and designers, and Jay-Z perfectly articulated something I’ve always felt about typeface design. Taken together, they’re ultimately about the same things: the role of design, the creative process, entrepreneurship, and the significance of tradition and style. These are all things central to life at H&Co, both to us and our clients, and to lovers of typography everywhere. I thought you might enjoy them. —JH

Choosing Fonts for Tight Tracking

Lately, we’ve been developing a taste for tight letterspacing. Our clients have been doing the same: designers know that tight tracking is an effective way to make any message seem more immediate and energetic. But not every typeface is designed for close quarters, and the wrong font can ruin the effect. Here are a few things to consider when setting type tightly.

We often reach for a condensed sans when looking for a typeface that can be mortared into a solid wall, but the right serif typeface can be just as successful — and sometimes a lot more lively. Serifs introduce a level of variation that helps relieve typographic monotony, and they can fill awkward spaces around curved letters. A typeface with unusually short serifs, such as Quarto Black, can be tracked especially tightly before its characters begin to touch. But don’t eliminate overlaps, since they contribute to giving typography an even rhythm: track your type so that lowercase Ns and Os nestle comfortably together, and let the others fall where they may.

Many typefaces make use of the superellipse, a shape based on the ellipse but with fuller curves. Gotham Condensed Ultra, shown here, is one such design: notice the way its upper- and lowercase O are drawn, with squarer “shoulders” than a regular ellipse, shown here as a dotted line. The extra weight in the corners helps letters take up as much space as possible, and further squares them against other letters’ vertical strokes. In the headline above, I’ve also added Gotham’s alternate lowercase A, which huddles more tightly against its neighboring letters. (This character is available as a stylistic set, both on the desktop and on the web.) Keep an eye out for typefaces that use superelliptical curves: you’ll find them at work in many of our boldest fonts.

Because flat and unbracketed serifs intersect more predictably on a line, slab serifs are some of the best choices for tight tracking. Pay attention to the tops of the lowercase F and R, and the concluding strokes of the lowercase A and T, which in most typefaces will feature rounded terminals and curved tails that add to a font’s variety. For even greater visual consistency, choose a slab serif like Vitesse Black, which streamlines these details into horizontal strokes. Vitesse’s boxy serifs lock neatly together, long before the letters themselves collide, helping preserve the legibility of the type.

While typefaces with flat sides seem like obvious choices for tight tracking, take care: these can be among the most perilous fonts to use. Serifs can help a letter keep its neighbors at arm’s length, and letters with plump curves can be legible even when partially obscured. But flat-sided letters, when set too tightly, meld into a single, indistinguishable mass. When using a flat-sided sans, look for one that’s specifically fitted for display sizes, such as Tungsten Bold. And if you’re considering a typeface with rounded corners, look for one that automatically resolves awkward collisions, such as Tungsten Rounded.

Our taste in type is always evolving. Keep an eye on discover.typography to see what we’re thinking about, or join our mailing list to keep up with what we’re working on. — JH

Typography on Instagram

Over instant messaging at our office, the typographic obsessions of our typeface designers, graphic designers, web developers and businesspeople have lately coalesced into a game of photographic oneupsmanship. We thought it time to share with the rest of the world, so pop over to Instagram and you’ll find the goods. Included are some typographic artifacts that have escaped scholarship, a few excerpts from our studio library, and some typographic moments that we’ve encountered in our travels from Havana to The Hague. Later this week we’ll be posting a peculiar bit of Americana that I’ve been holding on to for years, just in time for Independence Day. —JH

Nicely Done: Epicurious

A welcome bit of seasonal fare is the redesigned Epicurious, a hub for recipes, how-to articles, and inspiration for all things gastronomic. Building on the site’s massive recipe database, the Epicurious team took on the challenge of improving accessibility and adding new ways to discover content, two goals in which webfonts play a central part. The new Epicurious offers a fluid experience for visitors, with a more prominent and functional search mechanism, and new editorial features to accompany all the site’s content. We’re especially pleased to see our narrowest ScreenSmart font, Gotham Condensed ScreenSmart, play such a prominent role: it’s a smart choice to convey an authoritative editorial voice, without competing with the site’s hunger-pang-inducing photography. —NW

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