All Aboard for Elegance: Modern Font Raleway Is Now Boarding

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Sleek as a Bullet train, Raleway (free) is an intriguing sans-serif typeface from American designer Matt McInerney, the man behind the massive styling of Orbitron. Raleway's appearance is sharp and functional, but that won't stop font lovers from calling it Grotesque.

Raleway displays beautifully, but pay attention to legibility as size drops and color changes.
In typography-speak, Grotesque is a style of sans serif originating in the 19th century. There are Grotesques galore on today's PCs. Check your font folder for Helvetica and its Microsoft mate Arial, styles that occupy--along with Raleway--a sub-category called Neo-grotesque, where lines are relatively straight with little line width variation.

Sound boring? Look closer. Raleway has plenty of attitude hidden within its minimalist sensibilities. For instance, the lowercase e has an overbite, the uppercase U doesn't need a tail to remain upright, the lowercase l is not simply a stick, and the numerals bounce above and below the baseline without losing their dignity. A blog entry by McInerney hints that the designer chose the name to highlight the most "unique and characteristic letters" in the set. Good thing he didn't ask me, or the font would have been christened Qualwack.

This is a typeface made to teach Wordpress themes a thing or two about contemporary style even as the size scales down to 18 points for Header duty on posts. The download offers both OpenType and TrueType formats. Raleway also includes an Embedded OpenType File Format (.eot). EOT is a format developed by Microsoft to enable TrueType and OpenType fonts to be linked to Web pages for download, insuring that the page displays with the font the author desired.

The Raleway character set includes standard and discretionary ligatures, the all-important @ sign and a fairly complete set of diacritics. The license permits commercial use, as long the font itself isn't packaged for sale.

What's not to like? Raleway loads in light Roman only. This font's versatility for text emphasis is limited. Tempted to apply a false bold or italic using the buttons that come on many applications? Instead, use Raleway for primary display and choose another Neo-grotesque like Arial or Helvetica to fill in for text work. In addition, beware choosing pale colors for this model-thin typeface--and watch for characters that waste away when they drop below 12 points.

Even without a bold attitude, Raleway plays well with others in its class and has the style to carry projects fashionably forward. Looking for a refresh? Download Raleway for your collection and let the future begin.

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