Sunday, April 10, 2016

Sitka — the Font, Not the Spruce

I have recently changed my default ‘writing’ font from Palladio to the newish offering from Microsoft, Sitka. As I have said before, I liked typefaces from the Palatino family for getting down the drafts of my work (but not so much for publishing them). They are easy to read on the computer screen, easy on the eye, but there are a few little things that create problems. The chief of these is that it is difficult to distinguish open quotes from close quotes. This has led to too many typos I needed (and did not always manage) to fix later on.

Sitka is another font from Matthew Carter, the designer responsible for Tahoma, Georgia, Verdana and several others. As with these, it is designed for screen readability — but on today’s computers, with better graphic displays than just a few years ago. I find it very easy to work with. I never was quite able to warm to Georgia for writing, though it is a nice looking font and I use it at my website.

There is a noticeable resemblance between Sitka and one of Carter’s older typefaces, Charter, that he created for BitStream in the early days of computing. It has simplified forms for use with the low resolution printers of the Eighties, but is a nice looking font, none the less. Charis is an SIL development; both look good printed, sturdy and businesslike.

But Sitka is better on the screen. It’s not that other fonts are particularly hard to read, just that this one is a little better and anything that makes work easier is good. So until something better comes along, it has become my default.

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