Details can be important

Sabon Next
Top line: Sabon Next LT with alternate q and Sabon Next LT; Bottom line: Sabon Italic compared to Sabon Next LT Italic all kerned.

Paul Shaw very good article Flawed Typefaces speak about Sabon Next and say:

Sabon (Jan Tschichold, Stempel, Linotype and Monotype, 1967; based on the types of Claude Garamont) and Sabon Next (Jean François Porchez, Linotype Library, 2003)?Sabon, one of the most beloved typefaces of the 20th century, was originally designed for three technologies: foundry, Linotype and Monotype. When it was adapted to film and subesequently to digital it was the Linotype design that was carried forward. This meant that the italic was compromised since the linotype version was duplexed. Thus the italic is wider than normal. This dismays many people, but it might be acceptable if it were not for the nearly round o. The solution is to use Sabon Next Italic instead.

However, Sabon Next is not beloved by fans of Sabon. Not only did Porchez go back to the foundry version of Sabon, but he went beyond it to the typefaces of Garamond and Le Bé which Tschichold was using as models. And then he went even further and added alternate characters (some reprising those of the original Sabon, others more fanciful), swash characters and quaint ligatures. To many, the result is a typeface that seems more Adobe Garamond than Sabon. But, on its own terms Sabon Next is a fine face—except for the alternate q. This is a capital form (common in Renaissance calligraphy) that looks totally out of place, especially with its too short tail that looks shriveled up from embarrassment. But it’s an alternate character and can be easily ignored.

For some people, the finish of Sabon Next perhaps looks similar to Adobe Garamond, but if you set texts, the result is quite different, because the structure is not the same. Adobe Garamond looks to be wide and round when Sabon Next looks narrow and strict.

Two minor corrections can be interesting to add to Paul analyse:

Scan Sabon / Outlines Sabon Next
Left: Sabon “autotrace” in Fontographer (2001); Right: Sabon Next final outline (2002).

1. Despite its true that the Sabon Next pushed me to go more far than just the Sabon Stempel, Sabon Next Regular and Italic are strictly designed from Stempel versions, nothing else. Careful printing of the glyph set, careful scan of all letters, then careful outline design. Printed, Sabon Next Display versus Stempel version looks the (almost) same at 14 pt. See image above from old files recovered to visually demonstrate (a bit) my point.

2. Sabon Next alternate q doesn’t exist. You used instead the Q small caps in your example. (Short tail Q, like short f exist on original version exactly like that.)

Jean François Porchez, 12 May 2011

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