Literata

Now in its third version, Literata is one of the most distinct free font families for digital books. Literata was originally created as the default font family for all Google Play Books, balancing a brandable look for Google with the strict needs of a comfortable reading experience on a wide range of devices with varying screen resolutions and rendering technologies — not an easy task.

TypeTogether solved these problems by designing a familiar roman style (varied texture, slanted stress, and less mechanic structure) paired with an uncommon upright italic that accounts for the inherent limitations of the square pixel grid. Get the entire type family for free!

“Not all those who wander are lost.”
– J.R.R. Tolkien

Click to Edit

“For what you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing.”
– C.S. Lewis

Click to Edit

In my twenties, I was a foreigner in London. Reading Lessing’s subtly brilliant short story “Out of the Fountain,” I had that Keatsian feeling of a new world coming into view. As I read my way into the books of this fellow exile, her range and depth emerged — from psychological portraits in granular detail, to vast explorations of cataclysm and survival. Class, sex, old age, childhood, the inner workings of politics, the wilder shores of the psyche — she embraced complexity and got under the skin of the human condition with piercing acuity. This was writing from the frontiers of experience and utterly mind-stretching.

Click to Edit

I would like to put in a word for Virginia Woolf, and especially for the under-appreciated Orlando, where the long-lived protagonist starts out as a young nobleman before becoming a wife and mother. The book runs from Elizabethan England to 1928 and says a lot about the position of women while being both clever and funny. Perhaps Woolf is a bit too ‘literary’ for some tastes, but Mrs Dalloway, “To the Lighthouse,” “The Waves,” and “A Room of One’s Own” must surely speak to many. I think (hope) she will come to be recognised as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century.

Click to Edit

The Backstory

Literata

A proven digital text serif with an arresting upright italic

In April 2014 the TypeTogether design team, led by Veronika Burian and José Scaglione, started to work on a new tailored font family for the Google Play Books application that had already begun a redesign. Google’s brief for the project presented the task in its full level of difficulty right from the beginning. A new digital book typeface was needed that would provide an outstanding reading experience on a whole range of devices and high resolution screens running different rendering technologies. Additionally, the new Play Books font family was meant to establish a recognisable visual identity for Google’s native Book App and stylistically distinguish itself from other eReader competitors.

The electronic or digital book represents one of the most important challenges designers and developers face today. The technical limitations of devices regarding rendering of type, together with their variety of physical sizes, are only two of the main obstacles eBooks have to tackle. These facts contribute to an unfair yet appropriate comparison with their analogue counterpart, where typography plays a leading role. The Play Books project offered an opportunity to approach some of these problems from a new perspective.

Type-founding and printing are as much interlinked as digital type and rasterization are. The limitations imposed on type rendering due to coarse grids of 
low-resolution screens have therefore affected the way lettershapes look. This became very clear when analysing the typefaces in use in the the market’s most common eBook readers. It came as no surprise that the existing typefaces had a very uniform and almost mechanical feel. This is excellent for rendering purposes, but it does not help with immersive and continuous reading. In other words, they were not fonts meant for book design.

TypeTogether’s counterpart team at Google, led by senior UX designer Addy Lee Beavers, agreed that the desired typeface should have a more interesting and varied texture than other fonts being used in eBooks or ones generally developed for on-screen use. This could be achieved by means of slanted stress, less mechanic letter structure, and varied horizontal proportions of characters. Based on these premises and on an intensive iteration process, TypeTogether arrived at a hybrid solution that took inspiration from both Scotch and oldstyle Roman types. The resulting letterforms create a pleasant organic texture that helps to deliver very good results for ease of reading and comfort.

The secondary style is an upright italic, meaning the lettershapes have an italicised construction and no slant to speak of. Albeit rather uncommon in screen fonts, this kind of genre addresses some of the inherent limitations of the square pixel grid. Moreover the resulting unusual italic adds high branding value to Literata, making it unique, recognisable, and easy 
to remember.

In 2016, a meeting between Dave Crossland, Omer Ziv, and José Scaglione in Google’s New York offices triggered an expansion of the original project. The new Literata font family now features eight weights and matching italics, adds small caps and over 650 new characters per font for greater language support, full Latin Extended (including Vietnamese), Polytonic Greek (designed by Irene Vlachou with external consulting by Gerry Leonidas), and Cyrillic (designed by Vera Evstafieva with external consulting by Kiril Zlatkov).

CREDITS
Lead design and concept
Veronika Burian (Latin)
José Scaglione (Latin)
Irene Vlachou (Greek)
Vera Evstafieva (Cyrillic)

Quality assurance
Azza Alamedinne

Graphic design
Elena Veguillas
Rabab Chafareddine

Copywriting
Joshua Farmer

Consultancy
Gerry Leonidas (Greek)
Kiril Zlatkov (Cyrillic)

About Us

TypeTogether is an indie type foundry committed to excellence in type design with a focus on editorial use. Additionally, TypeTogether creates custom type design for corporate use. We invite you to browse our library of retail fonts or contact us to discuss custom type design projects.