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Type Specimen: A Dream for Type Fiends Comes True on iPad

With stellar UI design, “Type Specimen” lets you mix, match, and visually preview every font under the sun before buying.

It’s a problem that anyone who’s ever worked with fonts has faced, whether you’re throwing together a flyer for your kid’s bake sale or designing a glossy magazine spread: how do you know what typefaces will look good together, before going to all the work of putting them into your layout? Type specimens can help, but they’re often too static to be really useful. Suitcase Type Foundry comes to the rescue with its “Type Specimen” (natch) iPad app, which lets you mix, match, and preview whatever fonts you like with just a flick of a finger.

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Like any good typographic tool, Type Specimen has a gorgeous gallery of fonts to play with and browse. (It’s almost worth downloading just for the glyph-porn aspect.) But unlike paper (even many digital) specimens, the app offers a bevy of interactive functions. If you know exactly what you want (or think you want), the Search tool is pretty great — just call up your favorite sans serif with a few simple taps. If you’re a little less sure, Type Specimen also lets you Find By Category (e.g., size, weight, style, and other filters):

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Once you zero in on the font you want, Type Specimen displays its vital statistics (including geeky info like application compatibility and OpenType features) as well as a gorgeously zoomable sample of the letterforms in all their glory. But the killer feature is definitely the Combine function, which puts the fonts into a sample layout in different sizes and weights, and lets you swipe between different options to gauge their combined visual appeal. There’s even a “Shuffle” button to let serendipity take its course:

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The best part: you can do all of this “without having to install a single font into your computer,” says Suitcase’s site. That’s no joke: good fonts can be expensive, so Type Specimen seems like an indispensable tool for anyone who wants to try before they buy. Or just lose a couple hours geeking out with a bunch of gorgeous fonts you can’t afford…

[Read more at Suitcase Type Foundry]

About the author

John Pavlus is a writer and filmmaker focusing on science, tech, and design topics. His writing has appeared in Wired, New York, Scientific American, Technology Review, BBC Future, and other outlets.

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