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I'm in the process of creating a small bitmap (pixel) font and want to name it in a way so as to differentiate it from further variants I will create later.

Naively, I would have appended the word "clean" to my font name, associating with that word properties such as no ornaments or decorations, very regular appearance, very minimal geometry, no special features that attract attention.

But when I have font sites list fonts with the tag "clean", not all of those fonts match my notion of "clean". That's why I suspect that they refer to other properties and features.

How do font artists define "clean"? Which exact characteristics does it refer to?

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    I think sometimes in attempts to get more viewers, some vendors tag their fonts with very dubious, unfitting tags – johnp Oct 17 '16 at 23:25
  • @johnp so actually my notion of "clean" might not be that far off the mark? – blubberdiblub Oct 18 '16 at 5:25
  • I don't think I would call any pixel font "clean". – Cai Oct 18 '16 at 20:38
  • @Cai why not exactly? If you can give a definition of "clean" as it relates to fonts, you could make it into an answer. Or maybe you just think of pixel font as what can recently be seen popping up left and right - outline fonts with a geometry that resemble bitmap fonts with staircases. That's not what I'm making. I'm creating a small bitmap font without artificial staircases. – blubberdiblub Oct 18 '16 at 21:09
  • If you're creating a bitmap font, you don't need artificial staircases, you have the real thing :) But I don't really have a solid definition, I would answer if I did. – Cai Oct 18 '16 at 21:55
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It might be best to begin with a definition of clean as it pertains to visual design and, by extenison, a typeface:

clean

• free from irregularities; having a smooth edge or surface

• having a simple, well-defined, and pleasing shape

A clean typeface, at the very least, is going to have a look that follows the criterion outlined in the very definition of the word. Simplicity, even line weight, and balance are some key factors to to keep in mind while legibility and readability is first and foremost the main concern here. Additionally, and equally important, the intended application of the font needs to be considered when labeling your own font as clean. A designer searching for a clean typeface, is most likely looking for a simplified, minimalist (typically sans-serif) font that can be integrated seamlessly into a streamlined modern design creating almost a subconscious visual experience.

To answer the question posed regarding your own self-described pixel font, I'd have to agree with some of the comments above that it may not fit the clean mold. However, I'd have to see a sample in and out of context to be certain. Hope this helps!

Here are some addtional resources:

Modern Typography - Wikipedia

Minimalist Design: 25 Beautiful Examples and Practical Tips

Minimalism - Wikipedia

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I don't disagree with the previous answer as one interpretation of the word clean, but in my 20+ years in the field, I've almost exclusively heard the word "clean" in typographic contexts to mean any style of typography that isn't distressed, distorted, grungy, or dirty.

Less common (but no less accurate) is the use of "clean" to denote typefaces which are highly legible and easily readable. Some are minimal or modern, yes, but there are countless clean serifed faces too.

I suppose its up for interpretation as the word "clean" isn't (to my knowledge) an official typographic genre in the same way as "grunge type".

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