FKA Default Sans

Choosing what to call a typeface is tricky. I’ve never had to rename one of mine until now. Technically I don’t have to change it, but I’m happy to avoid confusion between what I made and what someone else made (and for a very similar typeface, at that).

I’m talking about Default Sans. I had done my usual research before settling on that name and found nothing conclusive to say it was already in use. I went beyond namecheck.fontdata.com, trust me. Which means I should have known it was too good to be true. Also, searching for “default sans” is difficult because that phrase will come up without referencing a specific typeface, but rather a default sans serif font results. The reason I named it that is the same reason why I wasn’t able to find an actual typeface called “Default Sans”, until now. The genericness of the name was intentional in fitting with the genericness of the design. But clearly someone else beat me to it. Great minds… or something.

Spiderman pointing at spiderman

And that’s fine. It took showing up on Fonts In Use for me to discover that a designer by the name of Scott Vander Zee released his Default Sans a few years before me. But to say “release” is tricky because the only evidence I have of that typeface is on Fonts In Use and his website, where Default Sans is accessible through email request only.

Other fun fact: I released my Default Sans in January of 2022. I checked fontsinuse.com (as I usually do) prior to committing to the name, but those posts featuring Scott’s work weren’t published until mid 2022. Oof.

Anyway, rather than throw away the name of my font completely and start from scratch, I’ve decided to truncate it. Shorter is better, anyway. It will show up in the font menu in a similar location. It is my most popular paid typeface. And with that, you’ve just read the origin story for… Def Sans, version 1.

But a name change is only half of the post here. This update also reflects a huge amount of progress that I’m rolling into the v1 release, most notably the addition of a variable font format (in ttf and woff2). Simply making Def Sans variable wasn’t tricky, but I introduced a new condensed width. That, paired with a variable slant axis, ended up taking a lot of time. Worth it, though.

the word "CONDENSED" in def sans
New name, new styles, new(ish) technology

The old Default Sans had one normal width (value: 100). That stays the same here with Def Sans, but I drew the condensed width (value: 75) to provide a noticeably narrower footprint, with the option for a lot of customization between the extremes.

I’m tempted to set up exports for a semi-condensed set of styles here (value: 88 would work) but that’s really where using the variable format comes in handy. It’s true, I don’t love setting type in applications with variable fonts. After Effects doesn’t support it (I have to use a plugin called VariFont). Blender doesn’t, either (I have to use a plugin called ST2). Google Docs doesn’t support it even with variable Google Fonts. InDesign support is wonky at best. Sigh.

But having the variable font convenience on the web, with only a single file, still feels like magic to me. That’s just, the only place I love using it. In a web browser.

I updated the type tester on the product page to include a full preview of what Def Sans can do. The variable version has a “VF” addition to the name, so you can install it in parallel with the static styles (convenient for print work).

And did I increase the price with the new release? Nope. Still $50, which feels like even more of a deal since the number of total styles just doubled. Even without the variable format, that’s a steal. That said, please don’t steal it.