Friday, November 13, 2009


Encyclopedia Britannica Online Reference Center defines font as "an assortment or set of type (alphanumeric characters used for printing), all of one coherent style." "What?" you may ask. Font is basically what you see everyday, all day , everywhere, in text format. You see it in books, newspapers, street signs, buildings, cars, airplanes, grocery stores, pharmacies, clothing, everywhere. Font is ubiquitous. It is simply the style of the way the text looks on the page, sign, whatever. There is bad font and there is good font. Good meaning that it is legible and easy on the eyes. Bad font is, yes, you guessed it, not easy to read. If you Google image "bad font" you'll see many examples of signs that do not display as the creator wanted, much to their dismay.

There are many font fans in the world, and there have been many articles and discussions on this very simple, yet historied, topic. As you can see in this recent NYT article, "Typography Fans Say Ikea Should Stick to Furniture," there are many people out there who have very strong feelings on font. Many of us, though, do not even notice the subtle differences. Those who do are hardcore fans, graphic designers, typographers and the like. Check out Typophile's blog and dive into that world of font and typography. Check out Typography, too. Mark Simonson's blog has a very interesting article and comparison of the fonts Helvetica and Arial. You'll never look at words the same way again.

You may also remember there was a film that came out a few years ago dedicated to the Swiss font Helvetica. You can read more about the film here, but basically it "looks at the proliferation of one typeface (which recently celebrated its 50th birthday in 2007) as part of a larger conversation about the way type affects our lives." If you can't get a hold of the movie, check out the book (not affiliated with the movie), which is labeled as an homage to the typeface Helvetica.

You can also check out some other books on the topic:
The Thames and Hudson Manual of Typography

Type: The Secret History of Letters by Simon Loxley

Typology Type Design from the Victorian Era to the Digital Age by Steven Heller

20th Century Type by Lewis Blackwell

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