Retina 2016: a radical and practical typography

Tobias Frere-Jones is one of the typographical heroes of our time for his enormous contribution to the discipline. During his extensive career he has designed and supervised more than seven hundred typographies. In 1999 he designed Retina for the pages of the Wall Street Journal, with the aim of presenting a clear voice in any medium. For this, it analyzes more than 120 newspapers and gathers almost 4,000 examples. As a typeface intended to be used in very small sizes (from seven points down) on newsprint – usually of poor quality and high porosity – Retina incorporates special details to maximize and ensure legibility: exaggerated traps Of ink that prevent fillings where the strokes join, large counterforms to provide more internal white to the glyph and the construction disambiguation to avoid confusion in, for example, the letter ‘B’ and the number ‘8’. It has such a high result that in 2011 goes directly to MoMA as part of the collection of 23 fonts there exposed.

Retina is a typography designed for small bodies

Retina 2016

The second release is a Retina review for both print and screen, after more than a decade of testing and experimenting with the original product. Retina 2016 now has a Standard version and another MicroPlus (concept patented by itself). In the Standard version (42 styles) we present Retina with proportions and more conventional details for use in headlines and large sizes. It is worth to admire the deconstruction exercise of the original design of 1999. Instead, the version MicroPlus (30 styles) – more similar to the original Retina – is reserved for small bodies with an assured performance in both the best of roles and in The lowest resolution screens, using exaggerated proportions and details to preserve the identity of each letter and word. The deep indentations absorb the ink in the print and further reinforce the gesture of each shape, both on the screens and on paper. In addition, MicroPlus weights are “duplex”, with each letter occupying a constant space from Extra Light to Bold. This unusual feature allows designers to vary font weight without changing line lengths.

The experience with the first Retina for printing and with Verdana for screen – collaborated with Matthew Carter in its design – have made that Frere-Jones conquer with both its new worlds, and it has done carrying to the limit the purest form of the letters , Illuminating a product of enormous practical interest. As he himself once said: “Technology, culture, excitement and the market come together on my desk.”