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Design tutor’s font makes it big on Google

15 November 2019

Carolina Short
Carolina Short, Senior Tutor at the University of Waikato, developed a typeface that’s seen huge success on Google Fonts.

A fun project created to engage her design students has led University of Waikato Tutor Carolina Short to the top of the Google Fonts rankings, with a font based on her own handwriting.

The Bachelor of Design Tutor developed her own font over the past year, releasing it on Google Fonts last month. The font, called Mansalva, has proved so popular it shot to number two in the Google Fonts rankings.

Since its release it has been used on 2,700 websites around the world and downloaded up to 1.8 million times.

“I’m always looking for ways to enhance my teaching. I believe you need to find ways of attracting students’ attention and engaging them. It started by writing little messages to enhance my students’ briefs and lectures and it developed from there,” Mrs Short said.

Mrs Short said she became more interested in how the messages looked and started refining the design, eventually developing an entire typeface, based on her own handwriting.

Originally from Buenos Aires, Mrs Short named the font Mansalva, after a Spanish expression used by Don Quixote meaning ‘simply, with your hand’.

She said the typeface is perfect for short messages people might want to convey within documents, or aspects they want to highlight within a work.

“For me I have always been interested in typography. It’s the key basis of design. Any design product involves typography whether you’re reading printed messages or using a digital interface.”

She has released her font under the Open Font License meaning people are free to use it, copy it, distribute and modify it.

“Google Fonts started in 2010 with the goal of making good typography accessible through the use of its applications (like Google Docs). In the beginning they had less than 100 fonts, and they started paying some designers for their fonts to improve the quality of the typefaces available. Now anyone can contribute with a font provided it meets the peer reviewed requirements.”

She said the ranking of number two in popularity and the number of downloads was nice validation for her.

“The number of rankings and downloads changes every day, but my students were surprised and delighted by the result. I think it’s a nice validation for them. It shows I’m not afraid to expose myself to real life design situations and what I teach is both relevant and valuable to them because it has been tested and accepted in the real design scene.”

The latest font version includes the macron letters for Māori language support. She is also working on different weight versions of the font. Latest versions of Mansalva can be downloaded from github.com/carolinashort/mansalva.

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