Though classified as a sans-serif, Optima has a subtle swelling at the terminals suggesting a glyphic serif. Optima’s design follows humanist lines; its capitals (like those of Palatino, Hans Eduard Meier’s Syntax and Carol Twombly's Trajan) are directly derived from the classic Roman monumental capital model, reflecting a reverence for Roman capitals as an ideal form.
In his book About Alphabets, Zapf commented that his key aim, inspired by Roman alphabets, was the desire to avoid the monotony of all capital letters being roughly square.
Optima Greek (1973)
Optima Classified (1976)
It is a variant designed by Matthew Carter, based closely on Optima Medium. Digital version has not been produced.
Optima nova (2002)
Optima nova is a redesign of the original font family, designed by Hermann Zapf and Linotype GmbH type director Akira Kobayashi. The new family contains 7 font weights, which adds light, demi, heavy font weights, but removed extra black weight. Medium weight is readjusted to between medium and bold weights in the old family scale. Glyph sets are expanded to include Adobe CE and Latin Extended characters, with light to bold weight fonts supporting proportional lining figures, old style figures, small caps.
The initial and most common release of Optima, like many sans-serif fonts, has an oblique style instead of an italic: the shapes are merely tilted to the right. In Optima nova, this is replaced by a true italic. (In interviews, Zapf has said that this was his original goal from the beginning, but the need to release Optima quickly forced him to settle for an oblique.)
Even in roman fonts, letters such as Q, a, f are redesigned. The overall bounding boxes were widened in Optima nova.
Optima nova Condensed
It is a condensed variant is which consist of light to bold weights, but no italic fonts. Glyph set does not support proportional lining figures, old style figures, small caps.
Optima nova Titling
It is a titling capitals variant, which contains only capital letters, with restyled letterform. Glyph set is same as Optima nova Condensed, except it also includes extra ligatures.
In the tradition of hand lettering and lapidary inscription, the titling face shares similarities with the work of Zapf's friend Herb Lubalin especially the exuberant ligatures (for which Lubalin's ITC Lubalin Graph and ITC Avant Garde are notable). Further influence of A.M. Cassandre and Rudolf Koch, whose work greatly inspired the young Zapf, can also be seen in Optima.
Optima Pro Cyrillic (2010)
In April 2010, Linotype announced the release of Cyrillic version of the original Optima family, in OpenType Pro font formats. Released fonts include Optima Pro Cyrillic Roman, Oblique, Bold, Bold Oblique.
The typeface Optima is used for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and was used by the 2008 John McCain presidential campaign. Optima is also used as the official branding typeface for Estée Lauder Companies, the University of Calgary, by Aston Martin. It is also used in the logo for banking company Desjardins. Optima is used iconically for Traveller, and Diaspora used it to pay homage to Traveller.
Optima was used in the official logo and most publications associated with Expo 67 in Montreal.
Optima was used 1986–1996 for the logo of HFT Heribert's Fishing Tours (Germany and Canada).
Optima was used in the Taipei Metro.
Optima was used as the original fonts used on The Smiths original 7-inch single covers and their debut album.
Optima was used for the logo of Trans TV from December 2001 until December 2013.
Marks and Spencer used the font for its corporate logo and as the default on all internal correspondence from 2000 but since 2007 it is gradually being phased out on all signage and packaging as part of another re-branding exercise.
Optima was chosen as the font to be used for the names of those who lost their lives in the September 11 attacks, carved into bronze parapets, at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, which is named "Reflecting Absence".
The Optima font is used in the logo of the Indian Premier League.
Optima is used in the LDS Church conferences.
Optima is used on the labels of wines from Ridge Vineyards.
As with many popular fonts, knockoff designs and rereleases under different names are common, some created by Zapf himself. These all tend to copy the original release, rather than the Optima nova design which represents Zapf's final thoughts on his design. In the Bitstream font collection, Zapf Humanist 601 is provided as an Optima clone. Other Optima clones include Optane from the WSI Fonts collection, Opulent by Rubicon Computer Labs Inc., Ottawa from Corel, CG Omega and Eterna. Freely available implementations include URW Classico (available with URW Font package from Ghostscript). Linux Biolinum is a libre font inspired by it.
In a memoir written for Linotype, Zapf commented "The name "Optima" was not my idea at all. It is for me too presumptious and was the invention of the sales people at Stempel."
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