Which way to slant the Hebrew

Canonical

on 10 September 2010

Here is a design conundrum: which way to lean the Hebrew Italic design. Logic, and probably common sense, would dictate that it should slant in the reading direction. However, I think we have to consider wider implications on this issue, and I would like to ask for the community’s opinion on this issue. Personally, I would design the Hebrew backward slanting, meaning in the same direction as the Latin.

Some years ago we designed a corporate font for which we faced exactly the same question. After much deliberating and consulting with a number of Hebrew users and typographers it was decided that it should be backwards. The decision was based on the fact that the Hebrew would often be shown in tandem with the Latin and that two have two differing Italic slants would create too much of a textural disturbance in a layout. Furthermore, if a Hebrew text is set, in Italic, and a Latin word needs to be introduced the opposing Italic angles would tend to create an awkward texture. This is particularly true where numbers are used since in modern Hebrew the Latin numeral system is used throughout. Of course a separate set of numerals can be designed and accessed via script specific OpenType feature but its correct use very much depends on the application recognising OT in the first place.

Bruno Maag

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