Lava was designed for magazine use, but far transcends its original application. It handles large quantities of text with ease; it is extremely legible and harmonious at small sizes, yet also sophisticated and elegant at large ones.
Lava was originally designed for comfortable long-form reading at 8 to 12 points, to bridge the digital and print editions of Works That Work magazine. The intention was to create a voice of a publication: confident enough not to need to show off, with the comfortable, relaxed manner of an engaged storyteller, ready to handle long stories, but also shine in larger titles. A single typeface for the entire publication. It’s extremely legible and harmonious at small sizes, sophisticated and elegant at large sizes.
Designed for optimal legibility
Although Lava is a strictly contemporary typeface designed for digital environments, which avoids historicising, it has learned its lessons from the past to increase legibility — large counters and apertures, unambiguous letter shapes, generous vertical proportions, consistent spacing and kerning, designed for screen first, and performing well even in low resolution. In print, Lava delivers something that default UI fonts usually lack: refined details, clarity, finely tuned proportions and meticulous spacing, which let the reader forget about the typeface and pay attention to the text.
A truly global font
Lava is part of Typotheque’s Global Font collection supporting hundreds of languages and various writing scripts. In the long term, Lava intends to support all living languages with a community of active speakers. Currently, Lava supports the following writing scripts: Arabic, Armenian, Bangla, Canadian Syllabic, Cyrillic, Devanagari, Georgian, Greek, Gujarati, Gurmukhi, Hebrew, IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet), Kannada, Korean, Latin, Malayalam, Odia, Ol Chiki, Tamil, Telugu, and Thai. We are working on extending the language to other writing scripts, including Chinese. This makes Lava an unprecedented design project.
Proportions and conventions
Dealing with various unrelated writing scripts, while aiming for cultural authenticity and maintaining the design principles of the typeface is extremely challenging. Each writing tradition requires a rethinking of the horizontal and vertical proportions of the typeface, and stroke weight distribution. Additionally, each writing script has a different text density, so the basic stroke weight needs to be modified in order to achieve a balanced overall text image. We need to research the cultural traditions and conventions, and influences of technology, to render diverse languages correctly, with respect, and at the highest aesthetic and technological levels.
Size-specific font spacing
Lava is also available in a variable font format with automatic size-specific tracking, where the shapes of letters do not change, but their spacing and kerning are size specific, triggered by the user’s size selection. Essentially, we spaced and kerned every font in the family three times, for a small size of about 6 points, a default size of 10 points, and a large size of 48 points, at the intended viewing distance of 40 cm. The increased horizontal spacing is beneficial for reading acuity and significantly improves reading performance. Read an essay about the background to the year-long research we carried out into optical spacing.
Each weight of Lava includes nine different kinds of numerals. Default numerals are proportional old-style (ranging) numerals, for use in running text. Lava also includes lining figures for use with capitals letters, because their proportions match the height of caps. Small caps figures for use in all small caps setting, tabular (both lining and old-style figures), superior and inferior figures, and finally circled and circled inverted figures. When you take a licence for this font, you can choose the default numeral variants inside the fonts.
Lava also supports the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet), featuring a comprehensive repertoire of glyphs for the transcription of linguistic data. The font also covers First Nations roman orthographies of Indigenous languages spoken in Canada (Wakashan, Algonquian, Salishan, Tsimshianic, Iroquoian and Eskaleut languages), and, additionally, it covers African Indigenous roman orthographies for languages such as Hausa, Ɗuwai, Igbo, Akan, Kabiye, Ewe, etc. The IPA support is embedded inside the Latin fonts and every other language version, so you don’t need to take a separate licence for it.
- DesignBahman Eslami (Arabic)Peter Biľak (Armenian, Greek, Latin)Sulekha Rajkumar (Bangla)Zheng Chuyang (Chinese, Japanese)Xue Tianmeng (Chinese, Japanese)Ilya Ruderman (Cyrillic)Parimal Parmar (Devanagari)Akaki Razmadze (Georgian)Shuchita Grover (Gurmukhi)Michal Sahar (Hebrew)Kazuhiro Yamada (Japanese)Ramakrishna Manda (Kannada, Telugu)Sovichet Tep (Khmer)Wujin Sim (Korean)Soohyun Park (Korean)Suppakit Chalermlarp (Lao)Kiya Balamchu (Ol Chiki)Kevin King (Syllabics)Aadarsh Rajan (Tamil)Sirin Gunkloy (Thai)
- ContributorsReza Ghaffari (Arabic)Gor Jihanian (Armenian)Khajag Apelian (Armenian)Igino Marini (Armenian, Cyrillic, Georgian, Greek, Latin)Elí Castellanos (Hebrew)Yelim Shin (Korean)Anuthin Wongsunkakon (Lao)Smich Smanloh (Lao)
- EngineeringLiang Hai (Bangla, Devanagari, Gurmukhi, Kannada, Latin, Syllabics, Tamil, Telugu, Thai)
- AwardsTDC Typographic Excellence 2021, Granshan 2021, Granshan 2019
- Tajik (Cyrillic)
- Mordvin (Moksha)
- Azeri (Cyrillic)
- Mordvin (Erzya)
- Kildin Sami
- Greek (modern)
- Greek (classical)
- Irish Gaelic
- Sámi (Northern)
- Sámi (Inari)
- Sámi (Lule)
- Sámi (Southern)
- Azeri (Latin)
- Sanskrit transliteration
- Tagalog (Filipino)
- Crimean Tatar
- Somali (Latin)
- Ndebele (Northern)
- Ndebele (Southern)
- Arabic transliteration
- Seychelles Creole
- Tok Pisin
- Scottish Gaelic
- Old Norse
- Eastern Inuktut
- Plains Cree
- Woods Cree
- Western Swampy Cree
- Eastern Swampy Cree
- Moose Cree
- Eastern James Bay Cree
- Northwestern Ojibwe
- Western Ojibwe
- Sayisi Dene
- North Slavey
- South Slavey
smcpMost Typotheque fonts implement the Small Caps feature. In Adobe applications you can replace lower case letters with small caps using the keyboard shortcut (⌘ + ⇧ + H), or the OpenType menu.
All Small Capitals
smcp, c2scThere are two methods of applying small capitals. The first one replaces only lower case letters with small caps. The second method, All Small Caps, also replaces capital letters with small caps. It also replaces regular quotation marks, exclamation points, question marks, slashes and usually also numerals with small caps variants.
Case Sensitive Forms
caseWhen the ‘change to caps’ function is applied from within an application (not when text is typed in caps) appropriate case-sensitive forms are automatically applied. Regular brackets, parenthesis, dashes and hyphens are replaced with their capital forms.
Circled numerals and arrows
dligThe discretionary ligature feature creates real arrows when you type the combination -> (right arrow), <- (left arrow), -^ (up arrow) or ^- (down arrow). It also creates enclosed numerals when you type numerals inside parenthesis, and inverse enclosed numerals when you type numerals inside brackets. Discretionary ligatures are off by default in Adobe applications.
Vertically centered colon
caltThis stylistic set centers the colon. Same behaviour can be triggered by the Contextual Alternative feature, which is automatically applied when colon is followed by a lining numeral or a capital letter.
ligaStandard ligatures are those which are designed to improve the readability of certain letter pairs. For example, when this feature is activated, typing ‘f’ and ‘i’ will automatically produce the ‘fi’ ligature. Using ligatures does not affect the spelling and hyphenation of your text in any way.
Proportional Lining Figures
lnum, pnumTypotheque fonts contain various styles of numerals within one font. Old-style Figures, also known as ranging figures, come standard in our text fonts. They are specifically designed to work well in running text, as they have the same proportions as lower case letters with their ascenders and descenders. The proportional Lining Figures feature changes standard figures to Lining figures which work better with all-capital text.
Tabular Lining Figures
lnum, tnumTabular figures are for use in tables where numerals need to be aligned vertically. Tabular figures are available as a OpenType feature and have a fixed width in all weights. Typotheque fonts include both Lining and Old-style Tabular figures.
Tabular Old-style Figures
onum, tnumTabular figures are for use in tables where numerals need to be aligned vertically. Tabular figures are available as a OpenType feature and have a fixed width in all weights. Typotheque fonts include both Lining and Old-style Tabular figures.
fracTypotheque OpenType fonts already include a number of pre-designed diagonal fractions. The fraction feature allows you to create other fractions quickly and easily.
supsReplaces all styles of figures (old style, tabular, lining) and letters with their superior alternates, which can be used for footnotes, formulas, etc. Superior characters are more legible than mathematically scaled characters, have a similar stroke weight, are spaced more generously, and better complement the rest of the text.
sinfReplaces all styles of figures (old style, tabular, lining) and letters with their inferior alternates, used primarily for mathematical or chemical notation. Inferior characters are more legible than mathematically scaled characters, have a similar stroke weight, are spaced more generously, and better complement the rest of the text
Indigenous American ogoneksIn Polish and Lithuanian the ogonek under the vowels ‘a’, ‘e’, ‘u’ is placed to the right of the letters, while indigenous languages such as Navajo prefer to center the ogonek.
Bulgarian CyrillicBulgarian readers prefer to set text in a variation of Cyrillic that differs from the standard Cyrillic by using shapes of letters based on cursive handwriting, where letters are easier to tell apart. Typotheque fonts use standard Cyrillic forms as default, and Bulgarian Cyrillic is applied when the text is tagged as Bulgarian. When the Localised forms feature is not available, you can also apply the same forms by using a Stylistic Set.
Serbian & Macedonian CyrillicSerbian and Macedonian Cyrillic has different preferred shapes for some italic letters, which differ from the standard Cyrillic. Typotheque fonts use standard Cyrillic forms as default, and Serbian Cyrillic italic is applied when the text is tagged as Serbian Or Macedonian. When the Localised forms feature is not available, you can also apply the same forms by using a Stylistic Set.
Georgian Capital Letters
caseGeorgian alphabet is unicameral, and to convert the lower case letters (Mkhedruli) the capital letters (Mtavruli), you can apply the Case feature.
- մե մէ մի մխ մկմե մէ մի մխ մկ
ligaArmenian letters often have assymetric protruding shapes that may cause spacing issues in text. Ligatures can be used to address the spacing of these letter combinations.
Extended Armenian strokes
caltFollowing traditional manuscript traditions, Lava includes various lenghts of the below horizontals, which are extended contextually according to the following letter.