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Sumy Designs Blog

An brief introduction to variable fonts

variable font introduction

In September, I read news introducing variable fonts and I was excited about the potential they have in the web design world. Responsive design had mammoth impacts on web design and variable fonts will most likely have the same impact on typography. There is a great deal of work that went into the making of variable fonts, which is somewhat overwhelming, but here is a brief and simplified summary which might help our clients understand what variable fonts are and the impacts they will have in the near future.

What is a variable font?

Developed by Apple, Google, Microsoft and Adobe, a variable font is an individual font that performs like many by increasing the width of a font without increasing its file size seamlessly. Contributors have been collaborating for over a year to make improvements to the OpenType specifications to include this technology.

Why are variable fonts a big deal?

A variable font is a single binary with incredibly reduced file size and bandwidth. Variable fonts will allow designers to condense and increase the glyph thickness by just tiny amounts. These adjustments will furnish a variety of viewpoints so that headings can increase or decrease in width without the letters running into each other.

Can I have a variable font now?

Variable fonts are here, but there is still much to do and it is going to take time before the fonts are something designers can work with. The designers of type need to create and make variable fonts available, and designers need ways to define appropriate values for CSS.

Modern design is ever-changing and constantly amazing, and the announcement of variable fonts is the beginning of responsive typography. Keep your eyes open because you’ll be hearing more and more about variable fonts as they invade our designs in the very near future.

Susan Sullivan

Graphic Design. I live in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex area with my husband and children. I am an avid distance runner, environmentalist, part-time beekeeper, chicken farmer and amateur photographer.

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