Tobias Frere-Jones on Typeface Mechanics

Type Mechanics

Celebrated type designer Tobias Frere-Jones is apparently offering a master course in the finer details of making typefaces viable over at his blog.

Our conscious minds want to draw one shape, but our eyes need to see another. Part of typeface design is managing this eternal friction between logic and optics. It’s always there, no matter the style.

This new series of posts will explore what I call ‘typeface mechanics,’ the behind-the-scenes work that makes typefaces visually functional. It is what placates the stubborn oddities of human perception, helps or hinders the user, and informs long-standing conventions of design.

The first lesson delves into optically normalizing the height of characters so that they appear at the same scale and it’s clear, straightforward and superb. There’s no indication of how often these will be published, but thankfully RSS was invented.

Read it in full at