Tioga, the Tiresias clone
If Tiresias Screenfont is supposed to solve all our problems for “subtitling” (really captioning for vision-impaired grannies), then how is it possible that Agfa Monotype could waltz in and clone it?
That’s exactly what happened with Tioga, a typeface that, like Arial with Helvetica, has the same widths and is intended as a low-rent substitute for the real thing. (Actually, Tioga is also allegedly “intended for use by people with low vision.”)
The very existence of Tioga destroys the imperative to use Tiresias. It undermines Tiresias’s reason for being. Hence, if you weren’t persuaded by our debunking of the Tiresias “research” or by our design critique, maybe you’ll be persuaded by the de facto usurpation of Tiresias in the marketplace.
Was Tioga tested with viewers?
No. Is a complete absence of research better than inept and equivocal research?
We are saddened to report that there isn’t very much to critique about Tioga. It’s an interchangeable late-20th-century sansserif reminiscent of FF Info Text, Kievit, or Profil. Of course that places Tioga in the running as viable temporary replacement for Arial while you’re waiting for us to get our act together and design a new set of fonts.
- 1 has a foot, l a tail. I is a vertical line, leading to the inevitable unpleasantness with accented forms Ï Î, particularly with adjoining letters.
- 5 is not realistically confusable with 6 7 8, but 6 and 9 are rotated versions of one another.
- J is less idiosyncratic than Tiresias’s but looks like a capital I with a cedilla.
- Tioga solves the f/t problem by slightly extending the curl of the t at baseline. f is narrow.
- a resembles any of several other fonts’ bicameral as, but the top half at least is wide enough not to look ridiculous with accents like dieresis and tilde.
- Euro € and yen ¥ have double horizontal bars that are almost surely unwise in a low-resolution medium like captioning or subtitling.
- f-ligatures aren’t ligatures at all but merely two characters typed next to each other in the same bounding box.
- Quotation marks are Tiresias-style slabs and have all the same problems.
And Tioga is better than Tiresias how?
We should probably mention that character widths aren’t the only thing Tioga clones from Tiresias. Tioga also doesn’t have an italic.
Is it any wonder we can’t find the name of the designer? Would you want your name associated with a half-arsed clone of an already lousy font?