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Family planning, or how type families work

    By Peter Bil'ak

The size and complexity of recently-developed type families has reached unprecedented levels. Look, for instance, at United, a recent release (2007) from House Industries. The family includes 105 fonts composed of three styles (sans, serif and italic), available in seven weights and five widths. It takes a couple of minutes just to scroll through all the variants listed in the font menu. For a further example of this trend, Hoefler & Frere-Jones have just released their Chronicle type family (2002-2007), the range of which extends through widths (from regular to compressed), weights (from extra light to black), and optical size (from text to headline). In terms of sheer size, Chronicle comprises 106 fonts and beats the rival United by a single stylistic variant.

United typeface designed by Tal Leming
United, type family of 105 fonts designed by Tal Leming, published by House Industries in 2007.

Of course these ‘superfamilies’ benefit from the inventions of the past centuries; an ongoing series of typographic innovations that broke new ground for generations of designers to come.

Read full article here: Family planning, or how type families work