Creating professional fonts is about so much more than just hitting the “Generate” button in your font-editing software of choice. It requires technical expertise, an elaborate set of tools, and refined testing environments. This page offers an overview of the mastering and production workflow, explains the reasoning behind each step, and links to external resources for further information.
To make our collaboration with designers as seamless as possible, we work with all contemporary font-editing formats. That saves designers and foundries from having to make changes to their familiar workflow using Glyphs, a UFO environment, or Fontlab. Besides these source formats, it is also possible for us to start with OTFs or TTFs.
The first step of our font mastering process is checking the technical quality of the outlines. That doesn’t mean that Alphabet is going to completely rework all shapes, turning the project into something entirely different. We clean up common outline errors, fix path directions, correct overlaps, and add missing extreme points while interfering as little as possible with the appearance of the letters.
Another crucial step of the font mastering process is establishing the right vertical metrics values. This (a) helps to get the most homogenous appearance out of a font across applications, platforms, and formats and (b) makes sure the font looks great when geared for a very specific use.
Spacing and Kerning
When working on a tight schedule, it’s especially important to speed up certain parts of the process. Sometimes the focus falls more on the design of the letters than on the spaces between them; in those cases, we are more than happy to help optimize spacing and kerning.
Glyph Repertoire and Character Set
Checking a font’s character set consistency is essential. That makes it easy to check a font for all glyphs’ uppercase variants and the required code-page coverage. Analyzing which languages are supported is also indispensable. We help find the perfect default glyph repertoire for future projects using our database and information provided by different specifications and resources, such as the Unicode Consortium, the ISO, and companies like Adobe, Microsoft, and Apple.
The advent of the OpenType file format has made injecting a multitude of stylistic variants into a typeface almost trivial. The challenge is making such alternates easily accessible for type users. Simple substitutions can end up in stylistic sets or—with some programming chops put directly into the font—change contextually. In complex writing systems like Arabic and various Indic scripts, for example, OpenType features are mandatory.
Naming of Stylistic Sets
The representation of stylistic sets and variants in applications still needs improvement, but font makers can already do a lot to “future-proof” their typefaces. By giving stylistic sets descriptive names like “double-storey g” instead of “Stylistic Set 5,” they increase the usability of their fonts, paving the way for software developers to create better products.
Starting from the concept of interpolation in type design, developing comprehensive digital type families based on two or more font masters is fairly straightforward. We make these masters compatible and recommend the right values for instances in between.
Whether a font will be used in print or on screen, hinting is an integral part of the design. By consciously setting up alignment zones, stem values, and instructions, we make sure a typeface looks great in all environments.
Fonts are displayed appropriately in all menus following elaborate naming conventions. Giving fonts easily distinguishable names makes them intuitively accessible for users and helps to prevent unnecessary system conflicts caused by duplicates.
Performance is key, especially for typefaces destined for the web. Depending on which languages a font is used in, excess weight should be minimized by stripping away glyphs that won’t be used. For obfuscation purposes, it’s also possible to split a font into multiple parts for web use.
Once a font has gone through all the aforementioned stages—details are ironed out, errors are fixed, mysteries are solved—creating binary font files is the logical (almost) final step in the font-production process.
We offer a wide range of formats to provide every implementation with the most suitable fonts. Desktop fonts are delivered as print-focused OpenType files; fonts optimized for productivity software like Microsoft’s Office suite are supplied in TrueType format. For web use, we provide WOFF and WOFF2 fonts, but also generate legacy formats like EOT and SVG. Our font-delivery packages come with detailed technical documentation, which gives extensive insight into what an Alphabet font is capable of.