Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A thread I cannot resist quoting - it is from the Forum on www.chocolateandzucchini.com which is Clotilde Dusoulier's food blog. This discussion started in May 07 but I have only just found it - but it warms the heart of a publisher who spent a whole year at the London College of Printing (after my degree - it was a course you needed 3 'O' Levels to join - which betrays not only my age but my enthusiasm for learning about print and book production in detail) - and who was the main type designer for the English edition of Chocolate and Zucchini!


Could anyone tell me what font is used in the text of Chocolate and Zucchini? The book is beautifully designed, and the font is particularly interesting. I just can't seem to find it anywhere.

My boyfriend spent some time on the internet trying to figure it out, to no avail. Theories involve Scalla, Perpetua, or Joanna, but those don't seem quite right.

Thank you.


Birgit replied from Germany:

... as a typographer I can't resist to answer this question

In the GB edition it's Bembo, a good old classic book typeface, dating back to the middle of the 15th century; combined with Myriad, a humanist sans serif typeface, released in 1992.

... and this means that I've got my copy of the book just today, yay!!

In the GB edition there are several fonts. The French name of the dish is printed in "Bembo" (serif typeface, see link below), the English name in "Myriad" (sans serif typeface, see link below). The pages to introduce sections use a script font for the french name of a section (printed in "Scriptina", which is the font Clotilde uses for "Zucchini"), followed by "Myriad" (set in Caps for the english section title). The French recipe name is set in "Bembo italic" (see link below), followed by the English recipe name set in "Bembo".

*** a little excursion on typefaces and typography ***

It's all about small details, that's why it's a bit tricky to find out, but these details are fun

Liberally you can say that there are two main groups of typefaces. Those with and those without serifs. Serifs are the little "feet" at the end of a letter as in Bembo. Myriad is a sans serif typeface, i.e. there are no serifs attached. And nowadays there generally is an additional italic version also. Sometimes this is a "real" italic (i.e. with some letterforms different from the upright version), sometimes it is just a slanted and then optically adjusted version of the upright letters. Here you can see examples of Bembo italic and Myriad italic.

msue wrote:
Any ideas why it is so important?

Type contains and transports a great deal of our cultural heritage. "Bembo" is a good example for this because it's more than 600 years old and we still use these special and slightly quirky figures to set books with it which are a pleasure to read! There have been technical changes concerning the methods of setting type, but the forms of the letters and their appearance on paper are still largely the same.

Another reason why typefaces are that fascinating lies, in case they're well chosen, in the harmony of form and content. An adequately chosen typeface should visually translate and, at its best, indiscernibly enhance the content of a given text. Even if you can't exactly say why you can somehow "feel" if a typeface is appropriate to the content or not. Just imagine "Bembo" used on a street sign or, on the contrary, a novel set in the typeface you see on motorway signage. It will lead you, at first sight, unconsciously to a totally different option for the interpretation of the coming content.

There are interesting ornamental things you can do with single letters, like those presented by the above link to Scott Kim. And in case you want to take a closer look, there is a historical element as well. As soon as you start to study this subject a little closer, you'll see more and more differences, which might be tiny but more clearly recognizable as soon as you see several lines of text. And be cautious, some people say typography is a virus (although not a bad one ...)

Catheryn, and with thanks to Birgit!

No comments: