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The Future of Typography - Dan Rhatigan - Adobe Type

The Future of Typography (KCDesignCore Recap)

In this blog post I won’t be sharing information on how to get customers to your store or how to increase your sales, but for those graphic designers out there, this may spark your interest.

I occasionally visit the monthly Adobe users group meetup here in Kansas City, called KCDesignCore. This month Dan Rhatigan, manager of Adobe’s in-house type foundry, presented some new cool stuff Adobe has been working on in typography.

Dan took us back in history to when type was set and printed on a page.

Certain fonts were considered “good typography” and were more legible than others when printed. But we don’t engage in text the way we used to. We now read on digital screens. We have adapted to moving objects and 3 dimensions.

Photo credit: Dan Rhatigan, Adobe

Even in the early days of web design, there were limitations on fonts. When I first started designing websites, we had only 5 or 6 fonts available for use. Verdana was suggested to be most legible on computer screens so we were pretty much locked into using Verdana for everything. Well, at least those of us coming from a print background got to break away from Helvetica and Arial for a while.

Digital fonts have come a long way since the beginning of computer use. Digital text is editable, scalable, selectable, accessible, searchable, translatable. A typical font is basically a small database. It holds individual character shapes and information about various font properties. Adobe’s question is, “What else can be held in the font file to make it more advanced?”


Variable Fonts
Variable fonts are like getting a whole family in a single font. These have actually been available in Photoshop and Illustrator for over a year now. We are able to select text in Photoshop and use sliders on the Properties tab to make incremental changes to the look of the text. This helps make it possible to adjust spacing and weight to be more legible on narrow screen sizes, such as cell phones.

Try it out. In Adobe Illustrator, when you have text selected, open the Properties panel and go down to Character. To the right of the drop-down field where you can set the font style is an icon that looks like 2 T’s and a slider bar. Click on that icon and slider bars pop up for weight, width and slant.

Photo credit: Dan Rhatigan, Adobe


Adobe listens to what its users want. These are some takeaways for what’s next.

We can’t select our own custom colors in variable fonts yet. We are limited to what palette the font designer has created. Adobe is working on that.

“The future of typography won’t look a certain way, but it ought to behave in a way that lets people explore it more effectively.”

InDesign has promised to have variable fonts in their next version, probably in the Fall of 2019.

Why do I work at AWG? I appreciate having the opportunity to use my creative and web development skills to assist our retailers in marketing their stores. AWG is a reputable company and the marketing department consists of a great team, working together in a fun environment. Plus I love to eat! I especially like trying new products.