TypoJournal 2 set in Malabar

Posted on 9 June 2010 in:

tj2 Text Column 04

As I mentioned in my post-TYPO article, a new issue of the German-language TypoJournal has just been published. TypoJournal is the magazine of the website/wiki/forum Typografie.info. For almost a decade, Ralf Herrmann has successful maintained Typografie.info’s position as one of Germany’s most important graphic design websites. A year ago, he extended the brand into a second medium, publishing the first TypoJournal in time for TYPO Berlin 2009.

Earlier this year, Ralf asked me to write a short piece on Malabar for a new TypoJournal. At TYPO Berlin 2010 last month, he gave me a fresh copy of the issue. When he handed it to me, I thumbed through it quickly to get to the end and see how my article looked. In my rush, he had to point out to me that the text throughout the entire issue was set in Malabar! Large headlines are set in the navigation typeface that was part of Ralf’s Diplomarbeit at the Bauhaus University in Weimar. His decision to use Malabar was quite a surprise, and honestly, one of the nicest surprises I have ever had as a designer. I cannot express my gratitude enough.

tj2 Regular and Italic Mix 01

Above: a note set in Malabar Regular and Italic. The arrow is from Ralf Herrmann’s Wayfinding Sans Pro. The “17” is set in Malabar’s tabular lining figures. Malabar does have other figure styles availavle as OT features; Malabar Regular includes tabular and proportional lining figures, tabular and proportional oldstyle figures, and proportional small cap figures. Malabar Italic has no small cap figures. Malabar Bold only includes lining figures, but with both tabular and proportional spacing. As Malabar is a Linotype typeface, the default figure style is tabular lining.

Here is the place for some more details

Franziska Jähnke and Ralf Herrmann designed the issue. TypoJournal 2 has 96 pages. Texts, including captions, are set justified. The magazine was printed offset at Laserline, Berlin. The issue’s theme is “wayfinding and legibility.” There are thirteen articles, by at least four authors. Credited contributor include Tim Ahrens, Erwin K. Bauer, and Helmut Ness. All text is in German.

tj2 Closest Close-Up

Despite Malabar’s critical acclaim, the typeface has been not a high seller since its release over a year ago. While Malabar is occasionally licensed, this issue of TypoJournal is the first time I have ever seen the typeface in use. Sure, an earlier version made its way into the MATD08 specimen booklet at Reading, and images of Malabar’s design may be found in the Typography 30 TDC annual, the EDAwards 2009 book, or the Design Award of the Federal Republic of Germany 2010 catalog and exhibition. But I was directly responsible for each of these instances.

tj2 ToC

Throughout the issue, Malabar Regular, Malabar Italic, and Malabar Bold are used. Author names at the start of articles are set in caps and small caps from the Regular weight. Otherwise, type is set in Ralf Herrmann’s Wayinding Sans Pro, particularly the magazine’s headlines and arrows. 

tj2 Paul Hunt

Above: This image is meta on so many levels; Paul Hunt and I often sat next to each other in the MA studio while we were at Reading’s typography department. He was designing Grandia, and I designed Martel (now Malabar). The quote from Paul about Johnston’s Underground type. Paul worked on P22 Underground Pro before he came to Reading. 

tj2 Tim Ahrens

Another thrill is seeing Tim Ahrens’s name set in Malabar Bold. Because of his recent work with web fonts, I am particularly enamored with Tim and his typefaces. In fact, I am considering changing TypeOff.’s fonts from their current system selections to Just Another Foundry’s Lapture. 

tj2 Text Column 01

I am quite satisfied with the way that Malabar Italic sits with the Regular.

More information about this issue may be found (in German) at typojournal.typografie.info. Here is my English translation of the issue’s official description:

Following the success of the first TypoJournal, it was clear that would could set the bar much higher for the second issue. The amount of content has almost doubled, and the list of authors who have written their articles exclusively for the TypoJournal, can be seen more than ever. The issue is dedicated to wayfinding and legibility. We begin by illuminating the mystery behind legibility: how do we read, actually? What roll do so-called word-images play? Are serif faces are actually easier to read than sans serifs? Why should optical versions be created for different sizes? We also investigate the legibility of navigation systems, and the tension between their functionality and aesthetics. How should letters for signage to be designed? How can visitors in exhibition halls—or entire cities—find their way? These, and many other exciting topics, await in the second TypoJournal. Enjoy the issue!

Order a copy of TypoJournal 2 for just €8.50 at the Fonts.info store!


In my initial post, I wrote that TypoJournal 2 was printed on a digital press. This was a misunderstanding on my part. The issue is offset printed. No wonder it looks so good!