Introducing Whitney Narrow

The Whitney typeface has always been an adroit multitasker. Having grown out of a commission from New York’s Whitney Museum, the typeface was designed to serve two masters: the museum’s publications department, which needed a design both compact and energetic, and the facility’s public signage, which above all required legibility and sturdiness. A later addition designed for headlines, the six-style Whitney Condensed family, made Whitney an even more valuable tool for both publishers and brands.

But one challenge that Whitney has never confronted is the narrow column. As editorial designers know, narrow columns are the bugbear of typography: they’re hostile to wide typefaces, perverting text with overzealous hyphenation, and often demanding that headlines be craftily written. Designers, developers, publishers, and brands now face the challenge of narrow columns every day in the form of the mobile phone: with the ascendancy of apps and the mobile web, fonts are routinely set on a two-inch measure. For these applications — as well as the narrow columns that permeate magazine sidebars and captions, paper packaging, data visualizations, and product literature — we’ve created the compact and economical Whitney Narrow.

Whitney Narrow was designed to thrive at sizes both large and small. At small sizes, it excels not only in text and informational typography such as charts and graphs, but for rendering the growing universe of fine print that’s often required but infrequently read: the ingredient lists, nutritional information, regulatory notices, disclaimers, and copyright legends that attract compact typefaces. In print, Whitney Narrow renders this fine print with clarity and warmth. For the screen, we’ve created the companion Whitney Narrow ScreenSmart family, a collection of twelve screen-optimized typefaces that’s designed and engineered to perform at sizes as small as nine pixels.

At headline sizes, Whitney Narrow makes a hale companion to the regular-width Whitney. It preserves Whitney’s angular motif (originally inspired by the iconic geometry of Marcel Breuer’s Madison Avenue museum), and features an option to disable these details when they’re not wanted. Above, Whitney Narrow Bold in two different moods: jaunty with its angled stroke endings, and sober without them. These gestures appear in 231 different characters, but can be quieted with a single setting in any application that supports OpenType Stylistic Sets, such as Adobe InDesign, and the Cloud.typography webfont dashboard.

Good Fonts, Bad Fonts, and the Presidency

Somehow we’ve let the election season come to a close without thanking both parties for making this an 100% H&Co election. Continuing the signature voice of its 2008 campaign, Obama for America kept Gotham as its typographic keystone, this year adding our Sentinel typeface as a companion slab serif. The GOP chose fonts from us as well, the Romney campaign settling on Mercury for its serif and Whitney for its sans.

We’d especially like to thank the teams at Obama for America and Blue State Digital for making us a part of their outstanding work on Barackobama.com. Eagle-eyed viewers may have noticed that webfonts from H&Co made their first appearance on that site earlier this year, an especially meaningful milestone for all of us. It’s not often that your first beta tester is the President of the United States.

If the coming days bring a bitter electoral challenge, or the next four years bring the nation continuing deadlock on Capitol Hill, Americans will know exactly who to blame: typeface designers. According to this study by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, bad typography may be useful in softening the stance of the politically extreme. The theory is that awkward or uncomfortable typography disrupts a reader’s “confirmation bias,” one’s tendency to only see things that are agreeable. What amateur typography might do for a candidate’s credibility is anyone’s guess, and whether the study’s choice of Times Bold really counts as an acceptable control for “good typography” remains an open question. But I look forward to the 2016 election, in which the honorable grunge candidate will face off against his esteemed colleague using Comic Sans. —JH

New from H&Co: Whitney Greek & Cyrillic

We’re pleased to introduce Whitney® Greek, Cyrillic, and Multiscript, a new internationalization of our Whitney family for our friends in Greece, Russia, Bulgaria, and the Commonwealth of Independent States.

We’ve taken the fonts that already serve more than 140 languages, and extended them into the Greek and Cyrillic alphabets to satisfy sixty more. Whitney Cyrillic features our new Cyrillic-X™ character set, designed to accommodate not only major Slavic languages such as Russian and Ukrainian, but other important populations less well served by digital typography, like the 65,000,000 people who speak Azeri, Kazakh and Uzbek. For designers whose projects have an international scope — including everyone who needs all three official scripts of the European Union (Latin, Greek, and Bulgarian Cyrillic) — the Whitney Multiscript package integrates these three alphabets into a single set of fonts, across Whitney’s complete range of styles.

High Scores for Service and Style

With the arrival of a new year comes a new Zagat Survey, and with this year’s edition comes a special typographic surprise: a complete redesign using our Whitney family. The indomitable Zagat team has given the fonts one of their most rigorous workouts ever, using Whitney’s many special features to excellent advantage — here’s some of what’s inside.

Pocket guides have an especially compelling need to keep page count low and legibility high, making Whitney’s compact forms a good match for the project. In its pro edition, Whitney contains a set of even-width tabular figures, which the Zagat team used for this very clear and sensible wine vintage chart, above.

Since guidebooks feature both maps and numbered lists, a set of numbered indices is often useful. Here, Zagat’s heavily-automated pagination system is able to call upon the pre-built Whitney Index font, rather than demanding the intervention of a designer for every single table. (If you’ve ever tried to make numbers in circles yourself, you know how treacherous they can be — especially when lists spill over into double digits!)

Newsprint is an appropriate choice for a pocket guide, since it helps reduce both weight and cost, but it’s an especially hostile environment for typography. To survive newsprint, letterforms need to have clear gestures and open apertures, to prevent their forms from clogging up at small sizes. And because type on newsprint can gain weight unpredictably, sans serifs with a broad range of weights are especially useful. Whitney has six weights, each of which makes an appearance somewhere in the 2008 guide. —JH

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