TYPO Labs were held in Berlin in April 2016 for the first time. The type technology conference featured talks by leading engineers, practitioners and academics connected to the font industry. One of the talks was held by Julia Sysmäläinen. Its topic: “Don’t fall into the Cyrillic pit – How to avoid typical Western mistakes when designing Cyrillic character sets”.
Julia gave an overview of the countries where Cyrillic alphabets are actually in use. This is not only in Slavic countries like Belarus, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia, Ukraine and Russia but also in Central Asian countries like Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan where turk languages are spoken. Besides an identical basic character set there are specific additional characters with unique forms in the alphabets of all of these languages.
While a number of characters in Cyrillic are identical with their Latin counterparts others are slightly different and a third group is distinctly different. It is the second group where Westerners tend to make most mistakes – since the slight but important differences are not easily recognized. Only an understanding of basic Cyrillic design principles lets you avoid these mistakes.
Check the blog post by Verena Gerlach.