Slate typeface used in BlackBerry 10 has Nova Scotian roots

Slate typeface used in BlackBerry 10 has Nova Scotian roots
By Bla1ze on 3 Mar 2013 01:51 pm EST

When you're building an operating system there are a great amount of things you must consider, but high on that list are the typefaces you want to offer. For BlackBerry 10, BlackBerry sought out something new. Something easily readable. Something that could be extended across many areas and most importantly, looked visually great. For that, they turned to Monotype Imaging and worked with them to use a font we all now know as Slate.

Slate however; wasn't created specifically for BlackBerry. It was originally released in 2008 by Rod McDonald, a typeface designer who lives in Lake Echo, Nova Scotia. The design happened after Rod worked on a legibility study with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind with goal being to create a typeface that looked great both on screen as well as in print and eventually, it was licensed to Monotype Imaging.

"I wasn't sure if that was feasible. Screens were pretty crude back then. Until you see it on a device like this, you really don't know if you've got it right or not. Seeing what BlackBerry has done, I'm going, 'omigod!' It's much better onscreen than I thought it would be."

In the end, BlackBerry had narrowed it down to two options and they ultimately decided to go with Slate. Now many new variations have been added and Slate comes in a total of six weights including regular, light and italic and has seen many translations. In total, upwards of 9,000 characters make up Slate and Rod has been inspired to continue creating typefaces and exploring new ideas for many years to come.

Being born and raised in Halifax myself, this is pretty awesome to me and to be perfectly honest, I had hoped to be able to interview Rod after having learned the story of Slate on a recent trip to Waterloo. Since there is now plenty of coverage surrounding the font, its story, and Rod, I would just like to say to Rod, should you come across the write-up and should you ever want to grab a coffee sometime, I would love to hear more and I will certainly bring you a BlackBerry Z10 of your own should you not have one already. It looks beautiful on the device and many thanks for creating such a beautful typeface.

Learn more and purchase Slate

via: Chronicle Herald, Design Edge Canada

Reader comments

Slate typeface used in BlackBerry 10 has Nova Scotian roots


As another Haligonian BlackBerry Power User, Street Fighter, ( by my definition anyway ) I am totally proud of this Rod, your font looks smashing on my Z10, I would definitely love to buy you a coffee sometime as well. Rock On The Real East Coast

Thanks for sharing. For those of you who have never been here in NS i highly recommend you visit some summer. Great place to live and vacation.

Interesting story. Who said the ancient art of script creation was dead? Slate creates a really easy to read experience. Thanks for the story and I hope you hook up with him one day.

On screen, keyboard.. in ads. Just about anything related to BlackBerry 10 that requires a font.

You can tell it is good because it is the only thing no one has complained about on BB10. :)

Oh just had an idea is CrackBerry able to use a similar font for the site? That would be cool.

A Canadian innovation incorporated along with many others into this amazing product. Great story! Support technological development in this country so our best and brightest can stay here and develop and contribute back here, so they don't HAVE to go work for an American tech giant to persue their craft and make those companies even richer and more dominant. This is just one example of how building a tech ecosystem in a country depends on having the big guys and the smaller guys working in a symbiotic way. Go buy a Z10 for this reason, but even moreso because it totally rocks, and it will just keep on getting better! I'm loving mine. Sorry if this comes off as lame but every once in a while I just have to let that flag waving rabid Canadian patriot out. :)

I was wondering about why the BB was so easy to read. I was thinking that it was the new screen with the super pixel density. But, this explains alot.

I'm so glad that even with the new management, so to speak, BBRY is still taking pride in its roots and working with Canadians to bring out their new devices/services. That's one thing that Mike & Jim did without reservation, and I'm glad the company is still continuing with that tradition.

Slate is awesome.
Toronto subway font is just as great too. :D
PS. If anyone wants the off-topic font, PM or mention me on twitter at @rootbrian_ or with my crackberry username/forum handle.


Interesting to learn about the font-its clear and concise. I love the fact that BB is using/sourcing Canadian companies to build their product (unlike here in the US and the I Toy crowd using China companies etc.....) It's good to see Canadian patriotism-your country is gorgeous, super friendly and BlackBerry is a world class, sophisticated and cosmopolitan product worthy of hardcore love and support. My playbook has replaced my laptop, my BB Bold 9930 never leaves my side, and I'm patiently waiting for a ZED 10 in "stormtrooper" colors. Come on Verizon!
As a patriotic American I proudly support my Canadian friends!

I am BlackBerry by choice-and my company is BlackBerry because I said so. :)