Phinney on Fonts About Thomas & the blog Phinney on Fonts main page

Picture of ThomasThomas “my other car is a sans serif” Phinney on fonts, typography & text. Geeky troubleshooting and info for font developers and users. Consulting & expert witness for fonts & typography.Read more...


« About

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This blog is about fonts, typography and text. It’s a mix of geeky troubleshooting, info for type designers and font makers, and thoughts for regular end users who happen to be curious about typography.

Thomas Phinney is a font and typography expert and consultant, who can be reached by email as tphinney at the cal.berkeley.edu domain (they do free email for alumni). He also does consulting and expert witness work, and is sometimes known as The Font Detective.

In his day job, Thomas is Vice President of FontLab, the font creation/​editing software company. He is also treasurer of ATypI, the international typographic association. From 1997-​​2008 he did type at Adobe, lastly as product manager for fonts and global typography. After that he spend five years as senior technical product manager (a.k.a. “guru”) of fonts and typography at Extensis, including managing the font library for the WebINK web font solution.  His typeface Hypatia Sans is an Adobe Original (with help from Robert Slimbach, Miguel Sousa and Paul Hunt). His latest typeface is the Kickstarter-​​funded Cristoforo.

Thomas has spoken at about a hundred conferences across North America, Europe and Asia, including ATypI, AIGA, TypeCon, WebVisions, the InDesign Conference, Adobe MAX, and many others. He has long been involved in the design, technical, forensic, business, standards and history of type.

More on consulting and expert witness work. Or, if you want just way too much detail about Thomas, you can read a much longer biography.

11 commentsto “About”

  • May 18, 2009
    Janet Burton wrote

    Is it true that Adobe Type 1 fonts are becoming obsolete?

    [I think that would depend on your definition of "obsolete." I wouldn't buy a new Type 1 font today, but they still work in pretty much all the places/​apps they ever have. There aren't a lot of WPF applications out there on Windows. - T]

    Currently we use Framemaker 8 to produce large training manuals using all Type 1 fonts, and whenever we try to substitute Open Type fonts, the Distiller pulls the Type 1 fonts anyway, even when they don’t seem to be installed on the system.

    [You'd need to be more specific about how you're substituting the OpenType fonts for me to comment. For Adobe's fonts, the OpenType versions all have different names from the Type 1 versions, so the situation you describe would not be possible. - T]

    Much of what we’ve read indicates that some of the newer applications won’t even recognize Type 1 fonts.

    [There hasn't been much change in this area in recent years. If major software vendors are making font-​​using apps that use Windows Presentation Foundation, that would be an issue. See http://blogs.adobe.com/typblography/2005/10/phasing_out_typ.html But otherwise, not so much. A few apps or features of apps don't work with Type 1 fonts, but that's nothing new. Notable offenders are Visio, AutoCAD, and the WordArt feature in MS Word. - T]

  • June 11, 2009
    JamesLucas wrote

    Thomas, a colleague of mine from Ireland, Sinéad, tells me that the accent on the ‘e’ in her name should be flatter than the standard acute accent, and indeed, when I visited Dublin, accents were typically much less steep. Are you aware of the existence of a diacritical mark distinct from the acute accent in this way? I’m pretty sure it’s not in Unicode, but might it exist in any font you know of?

    [This is a good example of something that's not a distinct character, but is a different glyph. That is, it's still an acute accent, just a different way of drawing it. In OpenType this could be handled by locale-​​specific alternate glyphs in the font. I'd suggest asking over on Typophile for some recommendations of fonts that have shallower acute accents. - T]

  • November 3, 2009
    JamesLucas wrote

    Haven’t seen this mentioned here yet…http://laikafont.ch/index_eng.html

  • August 17, 2010
    Meenu Anand wrote

    Need your help: I am looking for guidance on how to use Opentype fonts, Mangal and Shruti ( Gujarati ) with Indesign CS4. Any help that you can provide will be much appreciated. Thanks.

  • September 27, 2010
    Jim Wilson wrote

    If UniqueIDs and XUIDs are no longer necessary, is there a way to remove them from the mix?

    Can they be forced to a value of ‘0’ (to avoid caching) or is it possible to remove the reference entirely and still have the font render properly?

    [Not sure why this came in here, but they can just be omitted. The only risk to having a font render properly is by including a UniqueID or XUID. - T]

  • November 20, 2011
    Anna Conroy wrote

    This website may interest you. The featured article is about J.F. Cumming, so there’s has a bit about J.W. Phinney (more to come later):

    http://typeheritage.com

    –Anna

  • April 29, 2012
    Dennis Long wrote

    Mr. Phinney,

    I have read quite a bit on your website about fonts – it has been very interesting.

    Perhaps I have missed it, or more likely, I don’t know how to find out what the main body font you use for your website. It is beautiful.

    What font is it?

    Thank you for your assistance.

    Sincerely,
    Dennis Long

  • April 29, 2012
    Thomas Phinney wrote

    I’m glad you like it. It’s my own Hypatia Sans.

  • October 10, 2012
    Laurel Robertson wrote

    Dear Thomas Phinney,
    Our Press received Hypatia Pro in 2007 with copies of the Adobe Creative Suite. We come from a tradition of fine typography, and have used Hypatia with pleasure. Thank you!
    Over the years, somehow, the ascenders of the caps in Regular have been printing thicker. I have compared recent and older examples, and it is quite obvious. We use various printers. Do you have any ideas or suggestions? We’d definitely get a new set if that could change it (how?!) – we are just about to get our (very kindly thank you again) discounted italics!. . .
    If possible, I’d appreciate hearing from you, here or by email.
    Thanks again,
    Laurel Robertson

    [We had some back-​​and-​​forth in email after this. Seems that the problem was related to different printers rendering the fonts differently. Note that there is subtle flaring in the strokes of Hypatia Sans, which may make it easier to see more variation in the output from slightly different devices. — T]

  • October 31, 2012
    A. Hayes wrote

    Hi Thomas-​​
    I went to your workshop in NYC a few weeks ago. I thought you’d be interested in http://www.familiaplomez.com/ They teach typography and press-​​printing in Madrid, Spain. The recently had a crowd-​​source project and saved the fonts and equipment from an old printing press that had gone out of business…

    I really enjoyed the workshop!

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