Elliot Jay Stocks — designer & musician

Google Fonts Knowledge Q1 content drop

When we launched Google Fonts Knowledge at the end of last year, I mentioned that it was “just the start of something much larger” and today, we’re making good on that promise: our first content drop of 2022 has gone live on the site. We’ve added 21 new glossary definitions, four new articles, one heavily updated definition, and numerous small tweaks throughout the existing content. Oh, and Google Fonts Knowledge is now open source thanks to a CC BY-SA 4.0 licence!

The illustration from the “A checklist for choosing type” article on Google Fonts Knowledge

One of the questions that comes up time and time again in my typography workshops and GFK’s user testing is: “how do I choose a typeface?” It’s a deceptively simple question, but every designer knows that it’s such a hard one to answer, so it seemed like the right time to attempt a checklist for choosing type that can be referred to any time we need to choose a typeface. There’s a checklist-only version up on GitHub, and the GFK article itself delves into each point in detail.

Similarly, we looked at common questions when creating “The foundations of web typography” — a new article covering the absolute basics of styling HTML-based text with CSS. It also has a simple guide to using the Google Fonts API, and — as with all of our content — a whole load of jumping-off points to learn more.

The illustration from the type anatomy article on Google Fonts Knowledge

In the interests of laying more fundamental groundwork — both for novice designers just starting out and also for more experienced typographers looking for a handy reference point — we now have an overview of Latin type anatomy, which has some illustrations that were especially fun to create. The Latin distinction is important here, since so many of the conventions we often talk about in typography are pretty biassed towards a western audience. Seriously, we’re so lucky. Don’t even get me started on shaping!

The final article in this Q1 content drop is a re-edit of one of Material Design’s guidelines on language support in fonts. This hopefully serves as a good primer for anyone thinking of combining multiple writing systems in their designs.

The illustration from the “grade axis” glossary entry on Google Fonts Knowledge

We’ve kept new articles to a minimum for our Q1 release because we decided to focus on filling out our glossary with more useful definitions, especially those related to variable fonts. Want to know about those sweet italic, optical size, slant, weight, and width axes? How about some custom ones — casual, cursive, grade, monospace, softness, wonky? Sorted. And beyond variable font axes, we’ve also now got definitions for grade (oh boy, grade is so overlooked! Go and try it out in Roboto Serif!), Greek script, hierarchy, homoglyph, masters, overshoot, placeholder text, script (writing system), and superscript and subscript. Also, a special shout-out to the improved entries for em and en, which we rewrote and re-illustrated after some very helpful feedback from legend DJR. If you have any feedback on any of our content, please do get in touch, because we’re always looking to improve and expand upon everything we put up on GFK.

The illustration from the updated “em” glossary entry on Google Fonts Knowledge

Once again, all of our new and revised content was reviewed by a panel of typographic experts. Thank you, Doug Wilson, Ellen Lupton, Frank Rausch, Gerry Leonidas, John Boardley, Laurence Penney, Micah Rich, Rich Rutter, Thomas Jockin, Thomas Phinney. Also, I received a load of advice from some very helpful folks while I was re-creating the Thai, Devanagari, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese specimens in the language support article. Thank you, Sasikarn Vongin, Ben Mitchell, Saki Asakawa, Jalpa Doshi, and Rebecca Hsiao!

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