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Design notes: Dover Text

Dover Text is the smaller companion to Dover Display. The larger Dover family is a visual research and re-imagining of the classic English typefaces, Caslon and Gill Sans. William Caslon and Eric Gill never met, but Dover is the product of the purely hypothetical: what if they had? Dover Text expands this project into typesettings for books, magazines and other long runs of text.

Dover Serif Text references Haas Caslon1 for its spacing and general proportions. It feels more appropriate for long runs of text, more restrained and less bouncy. Many of its quirks have been toned down, but largely it feels the same.

William Caslon the Elder (1962–1766)
Arthur Eric Rowton Gill (1882–1940)

Dover Sans Text is essentially a Gill Sans, drawn not to match Gill Sans but rather to be like Haas Caslon. This means that the sans is drawn to do the same things the serif can do: from proportions and letter skeletons, all the way up to general design features like small caps and language support. Dover Sans Text is a fully-capable text typesetting face.

Dover Text branched off from my earlier Dover project in 2013, and started appearing in print in 2015. These projects helped focus the family and gave me the confidence to keep working on it.


The Text family is optimised for printing sizes from 6 to 16 points, and on screen looks best starting at 12 pixels. When setting above 20 points or 16 pixels, gentle negative tracking values help to keep the text looking great.

A wild slant appears
letter-spacing: -.03em
Gentle slopes ahead
letter-spacing: -.025em

Dover Text is a relatively dark-setting typeface. The regular weights of typefaces have gotten lighter over the past century, and Dover Text is my modest proposal to bring back some of the good old textures. It also lets me make a nice heavy bold that provides plenty of contrast with the base weight.

Dover Text: finally, some tiny type.
Dover Text: finally, some tiny type.

Acknowledgements

Dover Text was made possible by generous support from Kai Bernau, Frode Helland and Wei Huang. I also need to thank my sister-in-law, who gifted me a wonderful specimen of Caslon Antiqua, and every person who has been beta-testing these fonts in the years leading up to completion.

☛ See, try and buy Dover Text, starting at €40 per style

  1. Sold as Caslon Antiqua (1940), through Berthold. As if it couldn’t get any more confusing.