Extended Monotype Font Families

ITC Officina Pro and Dante Pro

The Linotype webshop includes several extended OpenType families ready to set volumes of texts. Many of them were created by Monotype Design Studio. This month, we are proud to feature two favorites, a type system from the late 1980s, and a text face from the 1950s: ITC Officina® Pro and Dante® Pro. Both have been recently updated and expanded to take advantage of the latest digital technology.

ITC Officina Pro

Practicality and style –no, it’s not the perfect shoe, it’s ITC Officina. This large and incredibly versatile typeface family offers industrial-strength functionality without sacrificing charm. And it’s now available in OpenType format, too.

Erik Spiekermann once opined that, much as people look like their dogs, type designers look like their typefaces. “Adrian Frutiger is Swiss, religious, precise; Gerard Unger is thin, tall and economical,” he explained. His theory may be valid. Erik Spiekermann is an iconoclast, multi-talented, a great communicator, and almost always has a mischievous twinkle in his eye. One of his first type systems, ITC Officina, has all these traits – right down to the mischievous twinkle.
All kinds of versatility
When Erik Spiekermann first conceived of Officina during the early 1980s, his goal was to create a family of type that was ideally suited for office correspondence and business documentation. Midway through the design process, however, Officina revealed capabilities far beyond its original intention. Early tests showed that Officina could stand on its own as a highly legible, remarkably functional type style. Spiekermann“s ambitions for the design now extended beyond the office environment; he sought to develop a family of type suitable for a wide range of typographic applications.
Industrial strength, and style
ITC Officina is a big family. Both the Serif and Sans Serif versions are available in five weights, each with corresponding italics. These twenty styles make for an exceptionally versatile communication tool. Proportionally, the design is slightly condensed to make it economical in its use of space. Spiekermann also kept the counters full and serifs strong enough to withstand the rigors of small sizes, low resolution output devices, and lesser grades of paper stock.
The italics in the ITC Officina family are not merely obliques of the roman design. Instead, cursive overtones were incorporated, which provide both distinction and character legibility.
Other traits that give ITC Officina its “attitude” are the squared quality to normally curved strokes in characters like the “b,” “d,” and “g,” and the hint of a curve in what would typically be straight strokes in the lowercase “f” and “g.” ITC Officina“s immense practicality is delivered with style.
Now in OpenType format
ITC Officina Pro has been approved by Erik Spiekermann as a faithful extension of his work. The new fonts feature many OpenType capabilities, including the automatic insertion of old style figures, ligatures and small caps.
In addition to English, French, German, and other Western European languages, the OpenType fonts’ extended character set supports most Central and Eastern European languages.

Dante Pro

From the original hand-set fonts created by the great Giovanni Mardersteig, through hot metal, phototypesetting, and digital technologies, Dante has proven itself an enduringly beautiful and sought-after design. Now it’s available in OpenType format.
The first Dante fonts were the product of a collaboration between two exceptional artists: Giovanni Mardersteig, a printer, book and typeface designer of remarkable skill and taste, and Charles Malin, one of the great punch-cutters of the twentieth century.
Mardersteig was born in 1892. While still a young man he developed a keen interest in the typefaces and printing of Giambattista Bodoni. The punches and matrices for Bodoni’s original types had been preserved, and Mardersteig obtained permission to use them. Charles Malin cut replacements for some of these original punches; later he cut punches for nearly all the new typefaces Mardersteig designed.
Dante was Mardersteig’s last and most successful design. By this time he had gained a deep knowledge of what makes a typeface design lively, legible and handsome. Years of collaboration with Malin had also taught him the nuances of letter construction, and the two worked closely to develop a design that was easy to read. Special care was taken in the design of the serifs and top curves of the lowercase to create a subtle horizontal stress, which helps the eye move smoothly across the page.
In 1955, after six years of work, the fonts were used to publish Boccaccio’s Trattatello in Laude di Dante. The design took its name from this project.
The Machine Age
With Mardersteig’s approval, Monotype developed machine-set versions of Dante. Using the original punches as a model, Monotype’s design office was able to produce an exceptionally accurate interpretation of the typeface. This is even more remarkable considering that the original was created without any of the character width and spacing restrictions imposed by machine-set technology.
Monotype also wanted to enlarge the family from just the roman and italic of the original, but this proved a more difficult sell to the design’s creator. Mardersteig had no use for the additional weights at his press, nor did he have any interest in drawing the additional weights Monotype wanted. Mardersteig was not easily swayed, but Monotype’s gentle persistence and the help of then twenty-year-old Matthew Carter eventually changed his mind.
New Technologies
Dante was an immediate success, and when Monotype began making phototypesetting equipment the family was quickly released for these machines. Since that time, digital fonts have freed type design from virtually all the restrictions imposed by hot metal and phototype technologies. In the early 1990s, Monotype had the Dante designs reworked to more closely represent Mardersteig’s originals.

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