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Georgia was designed by award-winning type designer Matthew Carter. Carter created Georgia as a screen typeface, and it is quite readable on screen with high x-heights and wider characters.  Georgia was designed to go with one of Carter’s earlier screen typeface, Verdana, a sans serif typeface.  Carter created Verdana and Georgia for Microsoft, and Georgia was released in 1996 and became part of the core fonts for the web collection[1]. Georgia was not directly named after the state; Sorry Georgians. The name Georgia came from a joke tabloid headline about alien heads found in Georgia, which was used to test the typeface[2]. According to the New York Times (in 2006) “Georgia is the most fashionable one [typeface] on the Internet.” Inspirationbit provides a great discussion of 32 websites that use Georgia, complete with screenshots.

Many typefaces we use are designed for print, not screen, and the two mediums have different needs for clarity, legibility, and readability. Since Georgia and Verdana are designed for the screen, they are more clear, readable, and legible on the screen than other typefaces that were designed for print, such as Arial and Times New Roman. On the other hand, Georgia and Verdana may not work as well in print. I recommend these typefaces for webpage designs, blogs, and other digital media. I often use Georgia in digital media where I want a screen readable serif typeface. Georgia and Verdana make a perfect contrast pair, as they were designed to be, for heading and body text.

Analysis:

Category of the typeface[3]: Transitional Serif.

Serifs: Wider and blunter than Time New Roman, because they are designed to be seen on screen, but still an Adnate style (serifs curve into the stem of the letter, instead of the squarer and more abrupt Abrupt serif).

X-heights[4]: High, especially for a serif typeface. High-ratio.

Width and weight[5]: A wider and heavier serif typeface.

Structure[6]: The letter stroke is heavier, for screen readability. It has moderate thick/thin transitions, vertical stress, flat arms and cross-strokes. The numbers are “old style”, which means some numbers, like 3 and 4, drop below the line and others, like 6 and 8, do not. This creates a more elegant and old-fashioned look, but also works very well on screen to make the number pop more.

Legibility and Readability[7]: Good for both in general. Excellent screen readability, good for print. Used frequently for the body typeface in websites. More readable than legible, as the thick/thin transitions can cause issues, especially at larger sizes.

Voice-over and ethos[8]: The serif styling maintains a traditional feel to the face, but the larger sixe x-heights, wider characters, and structure create a friendlier feel. The larger e-heights, especially in print, may look more childish. This may be the voice of a funky grandmother who gives out cookies or maybe a fun Kindergarten teacher who wear pearls and pantyhose and gives out cool animal stickers and hugs. Or maybe the the typeface of someone sipping their second mint julep of a wide white porch in the Georgian evening, fun with a touch of tradition. A professional, but not overall formal, ethos can come with web use, but the larger character size makes this look less professional in print.

Typefaces that contrast well with it[9]: Georgia was designed to contrast with Verdana, so the two make a perfect pair for web and digital media. As a serif typeface other contrasts include sans serif faces like Arial, Helvetica, Verdana, Tahoma, Century Gothic, Calibri, and Bell Gothic. Most script and decorative typefaces should also contrast (Scripts such as Blackadder ITC, Bradley Hand ITC, Brush Script MT, Freestyle Script, Rage Italic; Decoratives such as Burnstown Dam, Algerian, Hobo Std, Jokerman, Ravie, Snap ITC).

Typefaces that provide conflict[10]: Other transitional serif will conflict the most including Baskerville, Bell, Bookman, New York, Perpetua, and Georgia). Like the transitional typeface Times New Roman,  some Modern (Bodoni, Elephant, Bernard MT Condensed) and Old Style (Book Antiqua, Bookman, Garamond, and Palatino) may also conflict, so it is best to avoid typefaces from both categories.

Likely audiences and uses of the typeface: A major use of this typeface is online/digital texts, so a major audience is readers and users of online and digital texts. For print uses, older or young audiences (the elderly and young kids beginning to read), may enjoy the larger character sizes and find them easier to read. Generally this is not recommended for pure print texts (unless for the young or old), but it may make a good typeface for texts designed for print and web use, like a PDF posted online that can easily be printed. Since this is a serif typeface it carries a higher level of professionalism and more traditional feel, so this is good for professional and business websites and digital texts, although a technology-based business may prefer a sans serif face.  It is good for longer digital texts (like e-books and books posted online) due to the high readability, and any other text that is designed to be read and not just skimmed.

Sources:

“Georgia On My Mind.” Inspirationbit http://www.inspirationbit.com/georgia-on-my-mind/

Rawsthorn, Alice. “Quirky serifs aside, Georgia fonts win on Web – Style – International Herald Tribune.”New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/09/style/09iht-dlede10.2150992.html

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[1] All prior info widely available, see for example “Georgia” and Georgia & Verdana Typefaces designed for the screen (finally)

[2] Info widely available, see for example “Georgia” and Georgia & Verdana Typefaces designed for the screen (finally)

[3] See http://screenspace.org/typetable.html

[4] X-heights: the height of the lowercase x compared to the uppercase letters. The higher the height of the lowercase x, the more readable the typeface. Ideally shoot for more than 50% for print and higher for online readability.

[5] Width and weight: Widths is how wide the letters in the typeface are. Weight is how heavy the typeface appears on a page the thickness of the strokes of the letters. A heavy typeface will look black and make the overall page darker, a light typeface will look lighter and make the overall page a shade of gray.

[6] Structure: how the face is built including thick/thin transitions, types of strokes, and more. If you were building the typeface out of materials, what would you use? Pipes? Fences? Thread?

[7] Legibility: the ability to make out/recognize small amounts of text such as a word or letters. Readability: the ease of reading a long body of text, such as paragraphs

[8] Voice-over and ethos: Voice over is the voice of the typeface or the style of the typeface. What style does the typeface suggest. If the typeface could talk, what would it sound like? Is it loud? Sassy? Quite? Formal? Would it be a valley girl or a New Your City business woman? Ethos refers to the authority of the text. When would this typeface be appropriate?

[9] Contrast: For good design you want to use typefaces that contrast. Clearly distinct faces contrast and create a strong design. If the faces are similar neither will “pop” and the similarities may look like a mistake and not intentional. Good contrasts are serif typefaces and sans serif typefaces.

[10] Conflict: The opposite of contrast. Two typefaces (or other elements) that are so similar they are disturbing (they “conflict”) and not contrasting, thus creating a weak design. Example: Times New Roman & Garamond.


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One Response to “Typeface of the Week: Georgia on my mind… for web design”

[...] its younger sister typeface Georgia, Verdana was designed by award-winning type designer Matthew Carter. Carter created Verdana for [...]

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