Hypatia Sans Pro, my new typeface

Well, it’s finally here. Hypatia Sans Pro, the new typeface I’ve been working on since 2002, is now available (though not yet at retail). It’s a geometric sans serif with humanist tendencies, and capitals based on classical roman proportions. When you register Creative Suite 3 or any of the individual CS3 products, you can get a “registration incentive” at no extra cost, and Hypatia Sans is one of the options. I wrote up a bunch of info and made a lot of graphics for the main Hypatia Sans page, including linked high-res PDFs. Robert Slimbach was kind enough to put together a nice text samples PDF, which I got too late to put on the main Web page – so for now you can only get it here.

Do follow the links above for general info on the design – I’m not going to repeat it all here. But I will add some more background and details that might be of interest.

Mind you, “done” is a bit of a relative term in this case. You may notice the lack of italics in the registration incentive. The six upright weights of Hypatia Sans are shipping now, but it became apparent last fall that there was no way I could keep up some other critical duties and finish the italics in time to go with Creative Suite 3. So we trimmed back our original plans. The italics will still be added to the family some time later this year, at which point it will be made available as a regular retail typeface.

We wanted to simply give the italics out at no additional charge to everybody who has downloaded the upright weights as part of the registration incentive. However, it turns out that the SEC’s revenue recognition rules torpedoed that idea. Essentially, if we don’t give you all the bits in the same fiscal quarter you buy the software, we can’t book all the income from the Creative Suite 3 sales – we’d have to defer some appropriate portion until we delivered the Hypatia Sans italics! Almost makes you wish we weren’t a publicly traded company, so we wouldn’t be bound by such accounting strictures. Oh well.

I’m also pleased to be able to say that I think I have achieved my primary goal of making Hypatia Sans not suck. For a long time in the early stages of development, I couldn’t shake the sense that some part of it sucked. I could always find substantial things that were just not quite right. But things gradually got better, and I just kept on working on it. I’m grateful for Robert Slimbach‘s ongoing oversight and critiques, which went from monthly to weekly to daily as we progressed. Finally for the last four months or so I kept on feeling like it was basically there, and we were just doing tiny fine tuning. I could look at it fresh each day and think “hey, this doesn’t suck!”

So, a couple more comments on the design besides what is on the main web page… it’s named after Hypatia of Alexandria. I was looking for a classical mathematician/philosopher who was also into geometry. Also, the person needed to have a name that would be reasonably interesting, not too hard to spell, and be capable of being trademarked. That I came up with a woman to name it after was a bonus.

Before I went with “Hypatia” earlier working names were Geo and then Geode, which were rejected by our legal folks for trademark reasons. Robert had a working name for a typeface he was working on that I was very jealous of and wished I could use, because it seemed just so darned appropriate for a semi-geometric sans: “Sphere.” Unfortunately, that name got shot down for trademark reasons as well – the typeface was eventually named “Arno” after going through several other names with legal.

So, while I hope you agree that Hypatia Sans doesn’t suck, but your comments are welcome, regardless.

45 Responses

  1. Jon Hart says:

    Very nice. I particularly like the ligature between the f and l. Also the curve on the back side of the y lends a softness to the exit of a word.The extra light has great presence, and it just gets better as it boldens. [Curving the right side of the “y” like that was Robert Slimbach’s idea, and I agree that it works nicely and livens up the typeface. Mind you, there’s stil a straight-armed “y” in the set of geometric alternates, part of stylistic set #2 – T]

  2. This is strongly reminiscent for me of Albertus, a Berthold Wolpe face (Koch disciple), for all the right reasons. Albertus can’t really be set as a body face, and Hypatia looks like it can. The slight flaring at the ends of the strokes. (I created a rendition of Albertus in 1986 for my senior project in Art, partly at the suggestion of an old friend of Wolpe’s. So I’m intimately familiar with its lovely flair.)[Well, that’s funny. I’m actually a really big fan of Albertus, but I wasn’t at all thinking of Albertus when I was working on Hypatia Sans. Albertus has a much stronger “flavor” and much heavier flaring, which I think is particularly strong in the lowercase. I think I agree with your other conclusions, though. – T]Can you explain what you mean by “available” if it can’t be purchased? [Well, if you register Creative Suite 3 or any of the CS3 apps, you should get an email about registration incentives. Now, I just registered my installation today, and I got the email (though it got caught by my spam filter). – T]And you’re right about the SEC rule, sort of. You could sell the roman now and offer the italic for an upgrade fee, which is how Apple dealt with its 802.11n upgrade for existing computers. [Sure, I suggested doing something like that, such as having a separate package of just the italics available for a relatively low price. That’s still TBD right now. – T]

  3. Dan Reynolds says:

    Thomas, this is beautiful! I can see a relative vein that is shared in Albertus in the caps, but I think that part of this feeling just comes from the general Offenbach School feeling that blows in and out of this typeface, like the wind across the fields, or something romantic like that.I particularly enjoy the round bowl on the a, which ties the form so well into the 20s and 30s, and I am amazed by the myriad of stylistic alternates. Also nice to see that this is so much more like Kabel than Futura, which has seen enough reviving, perhaps. Good show! I hope that people use this, a lot. [The “a” started out with a much rounder bowl, even more like Kabel or Serif Gothic. Robert suggested a radical reshaping that made it much more functional but still keeps a “feeling” of roundness. I must confess to being a big fan of Kabel and not so much of Futura – though I will frely grant that Futura is a much more useful typeface, which leads to the flavor vs utility question I discussed on the main page. Cheers – T]

  4. Nigel Moore says:

    I agree that Hypatia Sans doesn’t suck. It’s actually very beautiful, so congratulations on work well done!

  5. I always thought the lowercase Albertus was particularly weak given the superb uppercase, and if I recall my research, Albertus was derived from copper engraving styles (versus stone methods or stone simulacra for some other faces, like Neuland). Because of that, as with merging column capitals and scribe lowercase, Albertus doesn’t have the full unity.Hypatia looks wonderful, I should add, which is why I wondered about how to buy it!

  6. Very nice 🙂 thanks for sharing.A small detail crossed my eye: why is unicase featured in a stylistic set when it has its own OpenType feature code?While I can understand the motivation behind it (software will support `ssty` but not `unic`), it is frustrating as a developer of an OpenType font interface (via XeTeX) to see such inconsistency. Is the `unic` feature alive and well in the font regardless?[It’s in the ‘unic’ feature as well, as ‘ss13’, yes. – T]This is a general question, not a complaint — I’m especially interested since other font vendors will follow Adobe of all people (using the same tools, even), and it’s never easy to choose which trade-offs to make when the font standard says one thing but the supporting apps say another.[I don’t see a conflict here. One thing we take a pretty strong stance on is hijacking a feature for something inappropriate to that feature definition, while ignoring the feature that should legitimately be used for that effect. Hypatia Sans commits neither of those mortal sins, merely the venial sins of doing the same thing with two different features, and duplicating in a stylistic set something that reasonably can be handled elsewhere. Still, it was a subject of some debate internally, because it does seem like a first step down a “slippery slope.” – T]Cheers,Will

  7. That’s cool, Thomas, I agree with you. As long as the unic feature is used as well, I don’t have a problem with duplicating the feature in ss13 if that will make it easier for some other programs to access that feature.I am glad to hear that you’re very strict on not subverting the original feature meanings. Now as long as no-one else does either :)[I suspect it’s too late for that, but we can continue to make the arguments as to why it’s a bad idea. – T]

  8. Matthew Treder says:

    I just got off the phone with a very nice Adobe support person. Seems that if you purchased the Adobe CS3 product online as a download (as I did), you’re out of luck.She said Adobe doesn’t offer registration incentives—excuse me, “complimentary benefits”—to people who download the product rather than pick up the retail box.A sad day for me, I confess. I really liked the samples of your typeface. It seems fresh and alive.[Oh, that’s really a shame. I’m sorry to hear that. I will put in my vote to change this for the future. – T]

  9. John Nolan says:

    Hmm, Matthew, that’s odd:I downloaded my CS3 products, no box, and I was offered registration incentives for InD_CS3 and for CS3 Web Deluxe.[Hmmm. I wonder if this also varies by language version or something? There are some configurations of the suite or point products that don’t get the reg incentive, such as the Chinese versions. – T]

  10. Matthew Treder says:

    Thank you, Thomas.John, I thought I was being offered a benefit for registering because it said I would receive one when I clicked Help > Registration… from ID CS3:”Enjoy access to exclusive benefits such as newsletters, publications, and invitations to Adobe events and seminars. You’ll also receive a complimentary benefit such as fonts and training discounts.”That sure makes it sound like the registration incentive is real.Did you actually receive yours? I waited a couple weeks for the promised instructions before contacting Adobe via online chat. They couldn’t answer the question and referred me to telephone support. That’s when I got the bad news.[Not that I mean to in any way impugn the omniscience of our telephone support folks, but did you also check your spam filter, just to be sure it wasn’t caught there? Just in case…. – T]

  11. Matthew Treder says:

    Yes, I regularly monitor the bulk box. I’ll ping back if anything new develops. Sorry to get so far off topic in this space.

  12. John Nolan says:

    Yes, Matthew, I did get my very own Hypatia Sans Pro!

  13. Pam Bishop says:

    I’m very happy to have your Hypatia. It reminds me just a bit of Hans Meier. It has something of the the posture and generosity of his letter forms. Also, it’s great to have an alternative extra-light weight in a sans that isn’t super stylized. A very nice douceur from you and Adobe.I liked Robert Slimbach’s Arno, too, on sight, before learning he was the typographer. It has artistic authority.(Unburdening of an Opinion: The thing about many of Adobe’s house fonts, though, including Mr. Slimbach’s and some of Carol Twombly’s masterworks, is what I take as as an excessive concern with conserving space.To my eye these fonts look a bit mean-spirited, most noticeably in the word separation: it throws the rhythm off in the font as a working whole. Compare them to past classics, which in the end are nearly as economical, for instance Times New Roman.)

  14. Pam Bishop says:

    Want to clarify that my ‘mean-spirited’ characterization applied to the fonts, meaning cramped, not of course to the typographers.[Right, I correctly parsed that, but I’m glad for the clarification nonetheless. – T]

  15. Jim Prior says:

    Simple, clean and professional.My favourites are: lower case k, g and y in Bold, and the lovely raised round top and squished bottom of the g in Light.And in caps, the width of the H and the crossover of the W, in comparison to the slender swooping of the J, and firm stance of M.Why on earth doesn’t Adobe’s registration incentive page dedicated to this font, provide a preview of the whole font for us to decide whether we wish to select this particular incentive? Or even a simple link to this page?[A link to the main Hypatia Sans page was at one point planned, but got dropped because it was seen as cluttering the page, and they weren’t doing such links for the other options. It may yet come back. – T]It only shows two characters (ab) in a graphic, and no further information at all! How silly.I had to Google your delightful font instead. You will be pleased to know I chose Hypatia as my incentive.Revenue recognition rules? Puh!Pity about the Italics, especially considering Adobe charge us double the price for products here in the UK.Hypatia – long may she reign!

  16. Lito Tejada-Flores says:

    Hello ThomasThanks so much for Hypatia, a terrific typeface, or should I say font—one never knows these days. I just designed a large format photo book using Hypatia Extra Light and Light. I was aiming for an overall light/dark effect simialr to that produced by Avant Garde Extra light but a bit more robust… Well, it looks great. But I have a few words in Italic, and while we wait for you to create a companion italic, can I please ask you what sans serif italic you woudl recommend to go with Hypatia light. And yes, Hypatia definitely does NOT suck.Thanks, Lito[Glad you like it. I’m afraid I don’t have any great thoughts about a good companion italic from among existing typefaces, though. Sorry! Perhaps some other reader will have an idea. Or you could post your question in the “design” forum on Typophile, or the “Typography” forum on the Adobe User-to-User forums. – T]

  17. Buko says:

    In the InDesign Forum you made the comment”After I get the italics done, we’ll make it a regular retail product. For now, only the upright fonts are available,”Does that mean those of us who got the font with registration will need to buy the font to get the Italics or will we have a free upgrade?[I don’t think we can deliver the italics for free, due to SEC revenue recognition rules. We’re discussing what we can do – perhaps an inexpensive package of just the italics? We’ll see. – T]

  18. Paul Taylor says:

    Very clean font – some elegant touches – ‘a’ is quite unique and body copy is easy on the eye.Lovely!….But…..big disappointed with no italics!That is feels like padding to the incentive offer rather than a usable typeface.How many brochures can you set without italics?. Imagine saying sorry client – the type face I chose doesnt have italics!? That just doesn’t hack it professionally.[Sorry about that. I am working on the italics right now. But there was no way that I could have had them ready in time for the CS3 ship, given other things I’m working on that we (both me and higher management) deemed more important. I was sad about this myself. As I’ve written elsewhere, we’ll see what we can do to make the italics available to folks who already have the upright faces. – T]

  19. Paul Taylor says:

    Appreciate what you are saying. It would complete the offer nicely if the italics were available free to CS3 users – hope that’s how it pans out.[Unfortunately, thanks to Adobe being a publicly held company, and the SEC’s revenue recognition rules, I don’t think that’s possible. Basically, we’d have to retroactively restate CS3 income to reflect the fact that we didn’t deliver the “entire product.” But I am hopeful that we can provide an inexpensive upgrade or something along that line. – T]

  20. John Tranter says:

    Hypatia is a very interesting font: thanks for inventing it.As an aside, may I plead for the resurrection of Barbou?…(Fournier types 178 and 185)This page:http://johntranter.com/00/fournier.html… offers images of pages 79 and 80 of the book «A Tally of Types», by Stanley Morison (Boston: David R.Godine, 1999) showing two version of the Fournier typeface drawn under Morison’s direction for the Monotype Corporation in Britain in 1924.For various reasons the “wrong” specimen was chosen for development as “Fournier”, and the better font was eventually cut in only one size, named “Barbou”, and used by Cambridge University Press for one book and the magazine «The Fleuron».It is surely time to rescue this distinguished font and to dress it in the full glory of OpenType with a full set of characters.Best,—————————John Tranter[Well, I’ll pass your suggestion on to the good folks at Monotype, who would be the logical choices to revive their revival. Failing that, perhaps one of the other readers of this blog will embrace your suggestion. – T]

  21. John Nolan says:

    It’s not a Barbou clone, but John might be interested in Joshua Darden’s Corundum:http://www.joshuadarden.com/shop/corundumtext.php

  22. John Tranter says:

    Corundum is certainly interesting… it avoids the sometimes spidery nature of pure Fournier. And of course it has bold, thought type purists would blanch at the thought. Thanks for pointing me to it, John. But no OpenType version?

  23. John Nolan says:

    “But no OpenType version?”Yes, that’s disappointing, especially given the large character set.Last year I asked Joshua about an OpenType version of Freight and he said he intended to do one, but I guess he’s been busy.It’s too bad his EULA doesn’t allow a roll your own OpenType conversion.

  24. Michael says:

    I see reference to the stylistic sets available in Hypatia but how do you access them.When I select Hypatia, in the character window only the weight options are displayed…I mut be missing something?[If you’re using InDesign CS2 or later, you can access the stylistic sets by means of the flyout described and shown on p. 9 of the latest OpenType User Guide. – T]

  25. Kathryn Marsailes says:

    It is beautiful, but I cannot access the stylistic sets and did go to the OpenType User Guide with no success. The stylistic alternates button doesn’t do anything. I am probably missing something too. Don’t worry about the italics not being free.[Stylistic Alternates (the button in Illustrator) are not the same as Stylistic Sets. Of Adobe applications, only InDesign supports Stylistic Sets today. Sorry! – T]

  26. Michael says:

    I love the look of Hypatia and have been eagerly waiting to get my hands on it. Unfortunately I am told that as a corporation on a license agreement we are not eligible to get the font! And as far as I can tell I can not buy it anywhere. They told us to buy Font Folio 11 if we want it!Thanks Adobe.Does anyone know if there a way to buy it elsewhere?[Actually, you were misinformed – it’s not on Font Folio 11, nor available separately retail, until I finish the italics. Unfortunately, I’ve been tied up with some other work, so it could easily be next summer before the italics are done and it’s available as a separate package. Until then, you can only get the upright fonts and only as a registration incentive for the various CS3 applications/suites. Sorry about that. – T]

  27. James Lucas Hepokoski says:

    I’ve taken a great liking to Hypatia, and I’ve been applying it to my masters of architecture thesis work. That I’m willing to work around the lack of italics really says something about the appeal of the font.I finally dove into [Stylistic] Set 13 this evening, and I was somewhat dismayed by the default kerning of ‘ou’.[Stylistic Set 13 is the unicase small cap alternates. There’s definitely a bug in the kerning of the unicase “u” such that it is too loose. If we assume it should be kerned the same on that side as the small cap “u” (which seems likely), it’s off by amounts raning from 10 units in the extra light weight to 32 units in the black weight. – T]InDesign’s optical kerning closed up the gap for me, but I was surprised by what seems like a small flaw in an otherwise masterly work.[So far, we know of about a dozen bugs in Hypatia Sans. This and a couple of others were reported by users, and the rest I found while working on the italics. We try to make our fonts with as close to zero bugs as possible. But as our fonts become ever larger and more complex, eliminating all bugs prior to ship becomes nigh impossible. That’s just reality when making typefaces with >3000 glyphs per font and tons of OpenType layout features. – T]This leads me to my question: is there still an opportunity for tweaking? Will adjustments continue until the italics are released?[Yes, we will be fixing bugs in the upright fonts and releasing updated versions which will ship at the same time as the italics. Many bugs we will fix without much concern, but anything that seems like it might cause widespread reflow will make us think twice. – T]Either way, congratulations on an excellent piece of work.[Thanks for the kind words. Sorry about the bug. – T]

  28. jholbo says:

    Hi, any update on when the italics will be available? It’s beautiful as it stands, no question, but I wouldn’t mind seeing it lean just a little.

  29. Bryan says:

    Hi Thomas,Do you have any updates on the progress of the italic glyphs? I’d really like to use Hypatia in a few projects, but I simply *have* to have italics in order to do so.I appreciate the great work![This has been a common question the last couple of weeks, for some reason. Short answer: I made quite a lot of progress on the italics, but I am temporarily stalled due to other higher-priority activities, and as a result I can’t say when they’ll be finished and released. Believe me, I want to get them done! – T]

  30. Randall says:

    Thomas, I love your new font . . . I am just registering my vote for the italics to be released soon. I am using this font in a new brochure and the account exec wants to see some of the copy in italics. Looking forward to the update.-R

  31. Brian says:

    I just purchased Photoshop CS3 and downloaded Hypatia, and I can see it doesn’t include italics and from the July 8th post, they aren’t done yet. What is the chance they’ll be done before the whole “revenue is booked” quarter/year ends?Can they be released as-is with a free upgrade later to improve them?[Nope, that revenue thing is on a quarterly basis. So there’s no way for us to offer a free add-on for existing users, if it’s no longer in the same quarter we first shipped CS3. We’re a long time past that now. – T]Or better yet, as a free sampler of the entire set, to be available to everyone and possibly lure some people into buying the whole set, and completing the set for those who got the download?Yes, this means I like it![I certainly appreciate your enthusiasm, and we are considering a number of possibilities for how to make the italics available most effectively. – T]

  32. James Hannum says:

    The new font looks great! I am already using it on a project, and I, too, am looking forward to the italics.I wanted to pass on that the kerning between the hyphen and numbers looks inconsistent to me. I am putting together a roster, with addresses (zip codes) and phone numbers, and I have found several hyphen-number and number-hyphen combinations that are either too tight or too loose.Thank you for all of your work on this font.[Thanks for the feedback. We’ll have to look at that and jusge whether it is too big a compatibility hit to fix that in the version that gets released with the italics. That is, if there is a newer version with “fixed” kerning it could cause reflow of existing documents. I’d like to fix it, but reflow is Bad. – T]

  33. Cyndi Reese says:

    I’ve been using Hypatia ever since CS3 came out. I love this font! Now that CS4 is shipping with the registration bonus of Sanvito, is there still any hope of getting Hypatia italic?Still a fan of this great font![All I can say is that it will be some time in 2009, and not in the first couple of months of the year. – T]

  34. Trip Spectre says:

    I got hypatia with registration of CS3, I love it. I use it for everything.ThanksTrip

  35. Richard Vervoorn says:

    It is now 2009 and still Hypatia Sans Pro lacks italics. I’m waiting for it almost one and a haff year. Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?[Yes. Thomas was very nearly done with the Italics. His departure has forced us to have someone else work on the final bits, and it’s moving along well. We expect to release the family for normal retail licensing later this year. – David L]

  36. Elliott says:

    Do you have any recommendations for which italic font I should substitute while waiting for the italic version to be released?[Hypatia Sans is a pretty idiosyncratic design, so there’s no great match with any other Italics. That’s why we haven’t released the family for regular licensing yet. But work on the Italics is going well, and we should have the full family available in a few months. -David L]

  37. jon peddie says:

    Is the new font only usable in CS3? Said another way, can I use it in Word? [Yes, you can use the font in Word, but Word won’t allow you to access the font’s OpenType features (e.g. Ligatures, Small Caps, Stylistic Sets, etc.) -MS]

  38. Bob Johnson says:

    Just a reminder that a bunch of us are still very interested in the italic version of Hypatia Sans Pro!fingers crossed…

  39. Robert Sokol says:

    I’m designing something for a client and they really like Hypatia Sans Pro and want to use it as thae base font for their logo. They also want to license a copy for ongoing use in their print collaterals and web site graphics. I have spent a couple of hours trying to find purchase information and have come up empty. Can someone help?[Unfortunately, the Hypatia Sans Pro family is not available for licensing yet. We expect it to become available during the first quarter of next year – MS]

  40. vernmeister says:

    I’m a fan of Hypatia too, although the missing italics suck. I’ve circumvented this by using the upright case and “bent” it 15°. Nobody noticed it so far (I am typesetting a scientific journal for the third year with Hypatia). Not a professional solution, but it lets me use Hypatia for my purposes.[Sorry for the long delay, but the fonts are now available for purchase including italics. — PDH]

  41. Arpan says:

    I can across this after searching for it again.

    It would have been nice if those of us who received the Hypatia Sans pack with CS3 registration, were informed when the italics version was released.

    I’m purchasing it now. Thanks for making the italics pack available for a low price.

  42. Chuck Mayzak says:

    Need to know the Adobe policy reguarding Hypatia San Pro font. We want to make City business cards with the font and the retail printer co. is requesting a copy of the font to print the cards.

    1. Christopher Slye says:

      The Adobe font license agreement requires that a printer have its own copy of any Adobe fonts you are providing for a print job. In other words, you can furnish a copy of the fonts to ensure that your job is printed accurately, but the printer must have its own font license. (This would be true for Hypatia Sans Pro; you should always consult your actual font End User License Agreement for fonts from Adobe or any other foundry to be sure what’s allowed.)

      An alternative, of course, is to provide the artwork in a PDF with the fonts embedded.

  43. Wilvic Santos says:


    I would like to know how to use Hypatia Sans font on websites? Do I need a license to use it?

    Thank you,

    1. The best way to use Hypatia Sans on websites is by using Web Fonts. Hypatia Sans Pro is among the Web Fonts that we offer through Typekit and WebINK. Also, be sure to go through our Web Font Licensing FAQ.

Comments are closed.

Thomas Phinney

Adobe type alumnus (1997–2008), now VP at FontLab, also helped create WebINK at Extensis. Lives in Portland (OR), enjoys board games, movies, and loves spicy food.

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