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Introducing Sentinel Pro


Introducing Sentinel Pro

I’m delighted to introduce today’s expansion of our Sentinel family. Everything from ‘Fonts by Hoefler&Co’ to the headline above is set in Sentinel, making it one of the typefaces on which I depend the most — a distinction I share with the thousands of designers who’ve made Sentinel a part of their work. Today’s new Sentinel Pro includes a number of new features, including one that’s occasioned by our recent working-from-home, and another that’s been on the drawing board for nearly thirty years, a new personal record for the slow simmer.

What’s New

The new Sentinel Pro adds small caps, tabular figures, fractions, numerics, and more. We’ve updated the fonts with the newest members of the character set — the rupee and ruble symbols, the capital and small cap eszett, the numero — and designed two sets of printers’ fists (or ‘manicules’) that Netflix viewers will know I can’t resist. All of these additions have been created in both the multipurpose Sentinel Pro and the web-optimized Sentinel ScreenSmart Pro, an adaptation of the family that’s specially engineered for text sizes in the browser; you can see Sentinel ScreenSmart at work in the font’s Design Notes section.

Only in 2020…

This season, while everyone at H&Co has been working from home, we’ve all been spending a little extra time with domestic projects. The hours we’ve logged with cookbooks, online recipes, woodworking plans, and patterns for sewing facemasks has reminded us just how many fractions there are in the world — and just how inconvenient they are to typeset. We’ve all seen instructions that backslide into the occasional ‘1/2’ where ‘½’ was intended, as well as countless improvisations for connecting whole numbers to their fractional parts. (The manuscript that reads ‘8-1/2’ often produces ‘8-½’ instead of the desired ‘8½,’ a slippery typo that’s hard to detect, and harder still to fix using a wholesale find-and-change.) In speaking with cookbook designers, we’ve come up with a new approach for typesetting fractions that we think might make them easier to wrangle, and we’ve baked this new mechanism directly into the new Sentinel Pro fonts. You’ll find more about how this works in the ‘Smart Fractions’ section of Sentinel’s How to Use page, along with a few more automated features to help make fine typography that much more attainable in a production workflow.



Sentinel Ornaments

In the early nineties, I fell in love with a set of nineteenth century decorative printers’ dashes that were reproduced in a journal article. I went about faithfully digitizing them, as an exercise in understanding what made them tick, but quickly discovered just how unforgiving digital outlines can be when it comes to capturing the charming idiosyncrasies of metal type. Reducing some shapes to their underlying geometries made them sterile, but recording their every inconsistency made them awkward. Some shapes were so disfigured by the effects of printing that it was difficult to guess what the original typefounder had even intended. These ornaments have been my rainy day project for the better part of thirty years, and their solution only recently came into focus. I took the opportunity to prune the original set, and come up with nearly two hundred additional shapes in a sympathetic style. Their new form shares many of Sentinel’s motifs, so I’ve welcomed them into the family: these new fonts, Sentinel Ornaments Bright and Dark, are available as a package, and also included in Sentinel Pro. They’re exactly what I’d hoped for: not merely a means to reproduce some handsome historical artifact, but a robust and well-appointed toolkit for creating new and more relevant kinds of typographic decoration.

My thanks to the team at H&Co who contributed to this project, especially Colin Ford who took on the challenge of constructing and painstakingly testing Sentinel’s new fraction feature, and Sara Soskolne who joined me on my mad odyssey into ornaments and manicules. Whether you’re a designer who relies on Sentinel already, or are taking an interest in the fonts for the first time, I hope the new Sentinel Pro will find a welcome home in your own font library. —JH

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