Zapfino is a linotype typeface that Hermann Zapf designed. The design concept for the calligraphic font was based on an elegant alphabet design that Zapf penned in 1944 in a sketchbook. The font is well known for its wide array of ligatures and character variations. Variations in the font provided an added handwritten appearance and depth to anything written using the style. The first release of Zapfino was in 1998 as a postscript font (Type 1).
The Apple Mac OSX machines are coupled with advanced typography and include a version of Zapfino that exemplifies this feature of the system. Including the font also showed the scalable computer fonts’ power in the OpenType format. This version of Zapfino included more than 1400 individual glyphs with a wide variety of ligatures, character variations, digraphs, and several decorative symbols. The advanced technology would render written text in a way that allowed a diverse range of glyphs to be used in the same text.
Image: Examples of the Zapfino Font
Each character is designed to have at a minimum, 4 alternative glyphs to allow a more natural flow. Automatic substitutions are made for glyphs based on the words written. The substitution is randomized in a way that results in a lower chance of having the same glyphs inserted within the same sentence, for example.
Several ornaments are included that can be manually inserted into text as well. Ornaments within the font can be decorative or illustrative. A large number of animal, object, and other glyphs can be accessed with a few modifications.
A wide variety of Zapfino fonts can be found and purchased from Abstract Fonts. The fonts that are available from this source may not necessarily be official Zapfino variants.
Official Zapfino fonts can be located through the LinoType website. These are professional quality fonts that are designed to be used on both Apple Mac and Microsoft Windows machines.
The most up to date version of the Zapfino font, “Zapfino Extra STD,” is a family of 11 fonts that work together to create an almost realistic calligraphic rendition of what is written in the font. This variation collection supports 21 language sets.
There are also extensions of the font known as “Zapfino Extra Pro,” which has a regular and forte font style. It supports at least 33 language sets for a greater diversity of glyphs.
Another option that is more universal is the “Zapfino Extra W1G,” which caters to the needs of Paneuropean glyphs such as basic Latin, Greek, Cyrillic, fractions, ligatures, discretionary ligatures, localized forms, ordinals, scientific inferiors, superscripts, subscripts, and all alternatives within the font. This option supports 89 different language sets, which substantially broadens the font’s usability.