Wednesday, April 22, 2009

[转]小姜杂谈:浅论英文字体

瘾科技上看到这篇文章,虽然寥寥几句,但是把字体的基本结构讲得非常清楚,因此特地摘录下来。另外由于原文可能是港台繁体中文的,用词和大陆简体中文不太一样,因此做了一些转换。

英文字体?反正就是在 Arial 和 Times New Roman 之间选一个嘛,偶尔想俏皮一点的话,就拿 Comic Sans MS 出来就好了,哪有什么值得写一篇文章的?小姜完全不是这方面的专家,但收集各种字体也算是小姜一个小小的爱好,所以多年来也学到了不少东西。虽然大家用到英文的机会不大,但其实英文字体里好玩的东西还不少呢!让小姜带大家一起来看看吧……每个字体都有五条线……

字体的五条线 / Fine lines of a font

这五条线,决定个一个字体的性格。Mean line 和 Base line 之间的距离叫做“x-height”,这个高度是一个字体中的英文字母 x 的高度,也是没有向上、向下伸展的部份的小写字的主体高度。Base line 向下有一条 Decender line,是 g, j 之类有向下伸展的笔画的字母延伸的极限。反之,向上延伸的部份,包括 f, b 的字母向上延伸的笔画和 i, j 的点的极限,则称为 Ascender line。最后还有一条 Cap line 是大写字母向上延伸的极限,在许多字体中(像上面的 Times New Roman 就是)Cap line 的高度会略低于 ascender line,但也有一样高的。Mean line 和 Ascender line 之间的距离叫“Ascender”,Base line 和 Decender line 之间的距离叫“Decender”,Base line 和 Cap line 之间的距离叫“Cap height”,而 Ascender line 和 Decender line 之间的距离则叫做这个字体的“Point size”,也就是我们在选字号的时候说的几 pt。

为什么说这五条线决定字体的性格呢?通常 x-height 占 point size 比例愈高的字体,放在内文里的时候看得比较清楚,但放在标题就很难看。反之,x-height 占 point size 比例小的字,就比较适合当标题。以下面这个例子,小姜找了两种类似的字体,但左边是设计来当标题用的(Garamond),而右边则是做内文用的(Times New Roman)。注意到 x-height 的分别了吗?

Garamond V.S. Times New Roman

应用在真实世界,会变成这样:

Garamond V.S. Times New Roman

有注意到下面的一组字看起来比较大吗?实际上小姜是用一样的 pt 数下去设的(大字是 96pt,小字是 12pt),为什么会这种差别?因为先前说过了,pt 数管的是字体从 Ascender line 到 Decender line 之间的距离,所以当 x-height 比较短(即 ascender 和 descender 比较长)的时候,通常字体设计师会减少每个字母的宽度,以避免字母变形。直接的结果就是虽然 pt 数一样,但 x-height 短的字会看起来比较小。下面是个比较极端的例子:

Park Avenue V.S. Tahoma

左边的字体是 Park Avenue,右边则是常见的 Tahoma。在设定上两者的 pt 数是一样的,但右边的 Engadget 看起来显然大多了!

其实字体和排版当中能讲的题材还有不少,如果有机会的话,再来和大家分享啰!

另外,在文章后面的评论中,有网友推荐了一个用中文写的关于字体排版印刷的 Blog:Type is Beautiful / 字体排印,内容专业、丰富而又深入浅出,不管是编辑、平面设计师等专业人士用来参考或者非专业人士用来拓宽知识面,都非常值得推荐。

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