A font to avoid in body text: Weiss

Many years ago, I read and enjoyed Richard S. Grant’s 1987 novel Rumors of Spring. But it had one flaw that lessened my enjoyment: the typeface that it was printed in. (At least in the mass-market paperback edition; I don’t know about other editions.)

The letters of the typeface were fairly attractive. But the punctuation was tiny.

Especially anything involving a dot. The periods were nearly invisible, as were the colons. And the aspect that I noticed most was that I kept mistaking semicolons for commas.

I had always assumed that this was just one book, and that nobody else would publish text in that typeface. But recently, I started reading the 2004 trade paperback edition of Ursula K. Le Guin’s collection Searoad, and even though the book is mostly very attractive, I recognized the typeface almost immediately as being the one used in Rumors of Spring. Tiny punctuation! The printing in Searoad is darker, so it’s not as much of a problem, but even so, imo it’s just not a good choice of typeface for body text.

So I used Identifont to figure out what typeface it was. Turns out it’s some version of Weiss, designed by Emil Rudolf Weiß (1875–1942).

It’s an appealing typeface! I like the letterforms. But I can only guess that Weiß must have disliked punctuation and didn’t want anyone to see it.

Anyway, I recommend not using it for any text where the punctuation is important.

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