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Optima is a humanist sans-serif typeface designed by Hermann Zapf between 1952-1955 for the D. Stempel AG foundry, Frankfurt, Germany.



Though classified as a sans-serif, Optima has a subtle swelling at the terminal producing a suggestion of a glyphic serif. Optima’s design follows humanist lines, but its italic variant is merely an oblique, essentially a sloped roman without characteristic italic letterforms such as a single storey a and rounded base of v and w. This is more typical of a realist sans-serif such as Helvetica or Univers. Also unconventional for the contemporary sans, Optima's capitals (like Palatino's) are directly derived from the classic Roman monumental capital model (one other well executed example is Meier's Syntax). It is clear from the reverence in Zapf's designs that he regards the Roman capitals as ideal forms, and his executions in type prove the thesis. Like Palatino, another Zapf design, Optima is both widely admired and much imitated. Optima and Palatino are trade marks of Linotype (a Monotype company).

In the Bitstream font collection, Zapf Humanist is provided as an Optima clone. Other Optima clones include Optane from the WSI Fonts collection, Opulent by Rubicon Computer Labs Inc., Ottawa from Corel, CG Omega and Eterna. Freely available implementations include MgOpen Cosmetica (Available with open source license) and URW Classico (available with URW Font package from Ghostscript).

Optima Greek (1973)

It is a Greek variant designed by Matthew Carter, based on sketches from Hermann Zapf.[1] Digital version has not been produced.

Optima Classified (1976)

It is a variant designed by Matthew Carter, based closely on Optima Medium. Digital version has not been produced.

Optima nova (2002)

Optima nova is a redesign of the original font family, designed by Hermann Zapf and Linotype GmbH type director Akira Kobayashi. The new family contains 7 font weights, which adds light, demi, heavy font weights, but removed extra black weight. Medium weight is readjusted to between medium and bold weights in the old family scale. Glyph sets are expanded to include Adobe CE and Latin Extended characters, with light to bold weight fonts supporting proportional lining figures, old style figures, small caps. Italic fonts include italic type features instead of just tilted romans. Even in roman fonts, letters such as Q, a, f are redesigned. The overall bounding boxes were widened in Optima nova.

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