The most well-known visual culture is the Egyptian culture – all the letters were like paintings, some more abstract and others more figurative, that with time have been eliminated and reduced to abstract stains, whereas each stain poses a letter.
The Hebrew letters are eternally inferior compared to the foreign typography, as for too many years, the Jewish hand writings were holy and there was no demand for typography; since the Judaism had forbidden painting and sculpting, there were no illustrated/decorated books.
In Judaism, the minimalism and simplicity were part of the religion, as opposed to other religions that required decoration, which leaded to the evolving of the foreign typography. Israel was also new and undeveloped, and there was no demand for typography until the 20th century.
The fonts with the private names are named after their designers. Extending, condensing and italicizing letters enlarges the variety of Hebrew fonts a bit.
The Hebrew writing is made suitable to the latin writing with different measures.
When we design something in two languages, we aspire for visual resemblance between both languages.
In the Chinese typography, as well as in the Japanese and Indian typography, the letters are still treated as symbols, and ancient remains of figures can be seen.
The distance from the upper border of the letter to its lower border is called “the letter body”. The letter body does not include anything that goes out of the border.
When we refer to letter size, it means “letter body”.
The Letter Structure
There are serif letters and sans-srif letters. Serif is the little “decorated” end in the letter. There are different kinds of serifs. Letters which don’t contain serifs are called sans-serif letters.
Historically speaking, the holy letters have always been serif. Serifs, in general, is the Hebrew remains of what’s been left a lot in the Chinese letters and in decorations.
In serif letters, some letters go backwards in time, and others are more modern, but in general, it’s something that goes backwards in time, or more decorative.
Generally speaking, the sans-serif letters are modern, especially in Hebrew, and are mostly linked to headlines – these are especially large, less ornate, more modern letters. The sans-serif fonts are simpler and are read faster by the eye.
In flowing text, the font “Frank-Rehul” is mostly used in journalism.
The difference between flowing text and headlines is that optically speaking, when there are a lot of small letters – flowing text – it is easier for the eye to grasp the serifs, and that sans-serif letters are less pleasant and exhaust the eye with time.
In flowing text serif or rounded fonts are used, not fonts like “Haim”, for example. Sans-serif fonts may be used as long as they are more rounded and less stiff.
In Hebrew, the term “Light” refers to the weight of the letter. After that comes “Medium”, “Bold” and “Extra Bold”. The height of the letter body is the same, the only thing that changes is the balance between black and white.
The given area is identical in white, but the black grows in Bold letters. The bolder the font, the more visible it is.
Italic can be made left or right in percents. Italic letters have an element of movement, especially if they’re sans-serif. Letters may also be condensed or extended in percents. Brody is one of the most important foreign typographers. He invented the condensed letters.
Some people are naturally afraid of typography. The right approach to typography is to treat letters as separate stains, in an abstract way, to “ignore” the fact that they are letters and that something is written; to treat it abstractly, like a painting.
Hebrew font samples from the LETRASET catalog:
It is highly recommended not to use ready-made fonts automatically – do not use any font collection and do not take any language match in a font blindly (in bi-lingual fonts).
Some fonts are like others in spirit, but are less good. Some fonts are illustrative and are only suitable for headlines, or even just a logo, like the font “Ben-Yehuda”.
An extremely illustrative font is “Yahalom”; the letters are extremely ornate, unreadable and take over the whole show – one must be very careful when using it.
Both “Yahalom” and “Miriam” are elegent – very light and feminine letters, like in “Sapir” but in different illustrative levels. “Miriam” and “Sapir” are the better fonts to be used, they are feminine (perfume, cosmetics etc.) as well as elegant. “Yahalom is very vulgar and much too obvious, compared to the latter fonts.
“Homa” and “Haim”, for instance, are very suitable for demonstration/grieving advertisements – hard letters; “Homa” doesn’t go all the way and is more illustrative, and “Haim” is simple and goes all the way with the hardness.
In general, it is preferred to use fonts with different weights in flowing text as well as in subheading. Excellent fonts for holy matters – “Koren”, “Stam”, “Etz Atik”, “Shoken”, “Rashi”, “Frank-Rehul” (Journalism – flowing text).
Kerning (Spacing between Letters)
In typography, the optical considerations call the shots rather than the mathematical ones. You can measure the spacing of the letters with a ruler and it will appear to be identical, but it won’t look that way optically, as each letter has its own structure.
The considerations to be made in kerning are of flowing and anti-flowing.
The idea in typography is for the eye to flow with the text, optically speaking.
Every line of letters is like a single word. It is better to have more space than less space, one must consider the structure of the letter and adjust the spacing accordingly.
In flowing text, it is not necessary to examine every letter, but the kerning has to be checked in headlines and subheadings.