A closer look at Harrison Serif

A modern slab serif that ranges between capable and casual is the latest release of Jakob Runge and Lisa Fischbach.

Harrison Serif Pro is a sturdy yet contrasted slab serif that combines a rational and efficient approach with a warm voice. A typeface of nuances, the slightly carved and occasionally extended serifs evoke the friendly side of Harrison Serif and contrast with the straightforward nature of the typeface’s squarish curves, open counters and horizontal emphasis.

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The friendly appeal: Slightly caved bracketed serifs (n), smooth tails (a, u, d) plus really extended serifs in N and r to improve legibility and personality.

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The mechanical aspect: Emphasised horizontal serifs (n), open terminals (a, e) plus angular counter shapes (o).

Harrison Serif was drawn for long form reading on screens and user interfaces, but the typeface’s more refined details come alive in high-resolution media and print. The almost mechanical vertical terminals, open counters and modest capitals combine with Harrison’s generous x-height to ensure the typeface holds up on screen. With improved ClearType hinting and a sturdy physique, no medium is a worry for this serif typeface.

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Modern proportions and open terminals recommend themselves for screen application (like this ClearType rendered e in 16 px)

One unorthodox feature is how this otherwise slabby typeface plays with being a sans serif. Implemented to improve readability and smooth text colour, this adds extra distinction to Harrison Serif. This sometimes sans-ness is also visible in the figures and the currency symbols.

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For uses that require a more classic approach, the stylistic alternates can provide a serifed c and s.

Harrison Serif’s broad range of weights means that it’s more than a just a simple text face. From sheer Hairline to deep, dark Ultra, its weight spectrum is divided into nine distinct styles — leaving no need unfulfilled for editorial designers.

All of the weights are based on the concept of weight growth that Adrian Frutiger developed in his groundbreaking Univers ( shown in: Adrian Frutiger “Typefaces: The Complete Works” page 93 ) Consequently, the letters and shapes of the complete Harrison family expand and contract in a rational and systematic manner.

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Nine weights, from hairline to ultra black, define Harrison’s extensive design space.

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While gaining weight, the distance from inner counter to outer stem remains constant, keeping a harmony between the growth of width and weight.

Harrison explores nuance in its italics. Something between true italics and obliques, they range from the cursive to the playful, from the expressive to letters with the sobriety of unpretentious slanted obliques. Where most italics are shaped by their profusion of diagonals and their slant, in Harrison the horizontal is still the prevailing mood. Even playful characters, like the lowercase w, bring boxy and horizontal quality to the lively and handwritten form.

Thus the italics strike a balance between the business-like and the distinctive without losing focus on what’s important: differentiation from the roman within the same grey value. Alone or in combination with the Roman, Harrison’s italic adds character while keeping a low profile.

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Along with unpretentious slanted oblique characters (g, o, x), the italics include range from cursive shapes (a, k, n) and playful and expressive letters (w, y).

Of course Harrison provides all the OpenType features needed for ambitious typography: as well as a variety of figure styles, there small caps and the capitals-to-small caps feature. And you can have no doubt that it contains broad Latin language support and a set of helpful symbols.

Harrison is no flashy overachiever, but across multiple platforms it will prove itself a deft and useful tool — for whenever you want a modern serif that ranges between the capable and the casual.

Like all TypeMates fonts, Harrison Serif Pro is available for print+web, embedding and server licensing. Plus, it’s free to test all styles on your desktop:

Further reading