Trebuchet Nation

After working with Matthew Carter's Verdana my next task was to make another screen readable font. Using what I knew and learned from the Verdana project and some prototypes I made for a Television font project, I made Trebuchet.

In general I am of the belief that serif fonts on the screen impair readability since serifs become as thick as stems. Large x-heights and open rounded features are less harsh and friendlier. I wanted a modern open humanistic feel with glyph specific features. These are the same requirements that designs used in signage have. Johnston's London Underground, the US Highway signs, Erbar, Frutiger, Meta and Myriad all are useful for signs, forms and communication.

For both Verdana and Trebuchet we made bitmaps at the low screen sizes. Tweaked them so we knew what the exact screen small sizes looked like. Then when the outlines are made they have to be similar to the bitmaps and the hinting is easier since you know what the specific low sizes should look like. I was heavily involved in the early stages of Matthew's Verdana. I worked on making Matthew's original bitmaps into Windows bitmaps. I was also the bridge between MS Sans bitmaps and the Verdana metrics and technical Windows bitmap issues.

My main goal in Trebuchet was not to completely match either Verdana or MS Sans. The UC M, lc g and lc l designs are a result of not looking like Verdana. Also like Verdana glyphs should have specific features such as a serifed lowercase 'l' or serifed Uppercase 'I'. Verdana has a serifed UC I, Trebuchet has a lc l with an extension.

Trebuchet's name originated from a lunch conversation with someone from my type group. An engineer told a story about a question posted to an internal puzzle email list. The question was "can you make a Trebuchet that could launch a person from main campus to the new consumer campus about a mile away? Mathematically is it possible and how?" The word Trebuchet is defined as a medieval engine that launches missiles. I thought that would be a great name for a font that launches words across the Internet. I was almost finished with the family and really needed a name soon. This was perfect.

Vincent Connare

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this page last updated 24 April 1997
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