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#58: The Writing Box ✍️

Type friends! These last couple of weeks, we've seen some very interesting things happening on the ty
Coffee Table Typography
#58: The Writing Box ✍️
By Coffee Table Typography • Issue #58 • View online
Type friends!
These last couple of weeks, we’ve seen some very interesting things happening on the typography world. The release of Times Newer Roman (you’ve read that right) is a fun one — an improved Times New Roman, with wider characters and spacing which make it a bit more readable (and useful for those school essays where length matters).
The 3rd part of the long-awaited Font Purchasing Habits Survey is also out, as usual, by the caring people at Monotype. This last exhaustive survey focuses on feelings and customer segments regarding type, and there are quite a few interesting finds there.
For example, when asked about feeling association, Adobe got a 37% attribution of the word “Monopoly”, compared to only 19% of Google Fonts, which I personally find striking. These stats are deeply fascinating and I encourage everyone in the design industry to grab a cup of coffee (maybe not an espresso, as this is lengthy) and go over it in its entirety.
Recently, I’ve been pretty fascinated by examples of Incunabula, which I can’t stop looking at and am making a collection of my own. What the heck is an Incunabula, you ask? These are typical early printed books, before the year 1501, and you’ll find them to be just stunning. Wikimedia Commons have plenty of examples for your own pleasure and delight; pay it a visit. Books about nature are typically wonderfully: just look at this page which is actually a woodcut about cardamom and chervil plants. Does it get more beautifully random than this?
Last but most definitely not least, Bethany Heck published yet another beautiful typeface review on Font Review Journal — this time, Champion Gothic. I wouldn’t even dare to try to summarise this review, so please do take the time to do so; always inspiring to see such an elegant reviewing craft.
Until next time, 🙏
—Ricardo

Shaped Text: An Aesthetic Whole
A Child of Books (2016) features fur from words...!
A Child of Books (2016) features fur from words...!
Space Yourself — A Primer On Spaces
by Marcin Wichary
by Marcin Wichary
“There’s more to spaces than the key you instinctively hit with one of your thumbs between words.”
This is an oldie, but a goodie. I keep coming back to this article as I believe most of us in the development and design world don’t pay spaces their much deserved attention. A space isn’t, in fact, just a space — and there’s no one else better than Marcin Wichary to provide us with a deep dive on the subject. I promise you it’s fascinating.
It’s useful to think back to the old typesetting days, where spacing was a conscious decision:
Whitespace was not the absence of atoms, it was just atoms… of a different kind. For your page composition to stay in place as it went through the press, you needed not just to put space blocks between sentences, but also pack the entire remaining area with blocks of lead or wood. What today you’d call letter spacing, line height, padding, margins… they were all physical.
In this world, running left-aligned (ragged) text required almost the same effort as full justification, since the spaces still needed to go somewhere. Every fraction of an inch had to be accounted for.
However, traces of the fascinating physical world of white space has been transferred, sort of, into the digital world, and boy, is there a lot to learn from it. It an also be genuinely useful, and we’ll see a few examples why. Here’s all the possibilities for your pleasure and delight:
But why should we use different spaces, rather than just hitting the spacebar every time? Marcin gives us an example directly taken from Medium:
Spaces of different sizes can be used to fine-tune how elements fit together. For example, Medium (where I work) uses hair spaces around em dashes so that those dashes don’t touch the letters in some gross way:
Em dashes surrounded by hair spaces
Em dashes surrounded by hair spaces
Different, thinner spaces, can also be used to create a better contrast between slashes/between words, for example, or even a date range. But you can learn more about these in Marcin’s article, in more detail. Further up, let’s now make a note that there are 3 “magical” spaces which have unique capabilities. They are:
All of these act as if glued to the characters around them. That means mostly one thing: they will keep things together if they need to wrap to a new line. This is useful if you want to prevent those solitary words or even characters that would look ridiculous if they just dropped to another line.
Then we have the ever so acclaimed zero width space. It’s essentially an invisible (to the eye) white space, which can be very good at making things look broken. It can prevent Twitter or Slack mentions from forming their links; or emojis from conjuring.
There is so much more to unpack on this article, I’d love for you to pay it a full read no matter what your discipline is. Marcin has a way of going into the nitty gritty details while leaving them fascinating.
Writers Have Always Loved Mobile Devices
Typeface Du Jour ✍️
GT Zirkon — Tobias Rechsteiner
GT Zirkon is… something else. Not only for its incredible specimen page (seriously, you just got to see it, it literally grows alive) but for its originality and unique design concept.
Created by Tobias Rechsteiner over a nine year period, for Grilli Type, it freely mixes historical and contemporary ideas in this new sans serif design. Unlike more modern sans serif designs, the light weights don’t aim for neutrality but instead embrace the stroke contrast from the heavier weight, leading to an elegant look. 
The two middle weights – Book and Regular – are both equally suited for body copy usage, with their design showing more restraint and a lower stroke contrast.
It unites aspects typically associated with typefaces optimized for body copy sizes with more exuberant details usually found in display type.
Have I mentioned its specimen website? Right, you just gotta see it. Grilli Type have done an incredible job with both typeface and website, it’s no wonder that 9 years in the making needed to pay off with something so great. You can trial the fonts, too, as well as other GT variants, before committing to buying it.
On the Coffee Scene ☕️
You Can Bathe In Coffee At This Japanese Spa
Did you enjoy this issue?
Coffee Table Typography

A love for words, letters, language—and coffee.
A digest of curated resources, articles and knowledge sharing about the beauty of typography; in design, on the web, or books.
You will read these over your morning cup of coffee, while the aromas of freshly ground beans are still in the air, quickly realising that words are beautiful and that you might need that second cup after all.

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With 💙 from Montreal, Canada