The typeface is named after legibility researcher Richard Lionel Pyke, the author of ‘Report on the Legibility of Print’, published by the British Medical Research Council in 1926.
The typeface PykeDisplay is inspired by Giambattista Bodoni’s later work of high stroke contrast and vertical emphasis. PykeDisplay is a headline typeface for printed matter. Compared to the two text versions of Pyke, the display version has a smaller x-height, larger contrast and narrower letters.
Since headlines and titles often appear in large sizes at a close reading distance, readability may in these situations be less significant than in versions for running text. Furthermore, headings rarely consist of longer paragraphs, and are often perceived in few fixations. A horizontal emphasis is consequently not as vital, and so the Didone style tradition, such as: narrow letters ‘j’, ‘f’ and ‘t’, the heavy teardrops, and the high stroke contrast, can be applied.
By emphasising these somewhat legibility troubling Didone features in the larger sizes alone, the typeface PykeDisplay will in combination with PykeText and PykeMicro, add an element of elegance and sophistication to the layout without causing the reader strain.
PykeText and Micro are both inspired by Giambattista Bodoni’s earlier work having elements of the Transitional typeface tradition.
PykeText is developed for running text at regular text sizes of 9-14 points. To improve readability and minimize the vertical feeling, the ascending lowercase stems of PykeText and Micro are bent slightly forward, the Didone style high contrast and radical transition between horizontal and vertical counters have been toned down, and the lowercase letters ‘e’ and ‘c’ have a diagonal axis. Historical traditions dictate the Didone style narrow characters to be extra narrow. Nonetheless, to enhance the horizontal flow this tradition was disregarded in the text versions of Pyke; instead, emphasis was given to the forward movement by broadening and opening the loops in both characters ‘j’ and ‘f’.
Another disregarded Didone style feature in PykeText and Micro is the heavy teardrops on the letters ‘f’, ‘j’, ‘a’, ‘c’ and ‘r’, which seem to enhance the vertical movement in the letters.
PykeMicro is developed for small point sizes of 8 or less. Compared to PykeDisplay and PykeText, this version has a larger x-height, smaller contrast and broader letters.
The study has been published in:
Beier, Sofie & Larson, Kevin (2010) ‘Design Improvements for Frequently Misrecognized Letters’, Information Design Journal, 18(2), 118-137.