Monday, October 10, 2011


Anyone who knows me knows that I like things just so, from my co-workers who know what side of the reference desk I like to sit on to my ex-boyfriend-I'm not saying we broke up because he wouldn't do things the way I wanted him to, but close.  I have many enthusiasms-from British television to the art of Edward Gorey to Japanese street fashion-but none, perhaps, so pervasive & long-lasting as my font obsession.

I can date my interest in fonts back to high school-I remember I bought a book of fonts in 8th grade or so.  Not because I was going to hand-letter anything in the near future (although I did have a brief flirtation with calligraphy a couple of years before), but because I just liked how they looked.  I also remember that I had quite a penchant for reading Sweet Dreams teen romances in those days, but more than any particular story from those books I remember the fat, rounded font that those Bantam paperbacks were written in.

Currently, I make some of the signage at our branch, which has returned me to the world of fonts. A few years ago we remade our shelf signs to be more consistent. All the adult area signs are now in Britannic Bold; all the children's area signs are now in Maiandra GD. I try to use a lot of different fonts, although I find script fonts like Edwardian Script ITC  Gigi don't lend themselves to signs, more's the pity.  I have tried to rid my branch of any vestiges of Comic Sans MS, a font which I really dislike. As do many folks, apparently-there's a website called Ban Comic Sans

So, having read all this, you can se why Just My Type: A Book about Fonts has huge appeal for me.  But before you think it's just a book for crazy obsessive Comic Sans haters, it's not!  It's fun & informative & a very quick read, split as it is into short, easily digested chapters. I love books like this, that show you what's behind something you may have taken for granted. For those of you who are diehard Mac users (&, indeed, even owners early-model iPods), did you know that among his other credits, Steve Jobs created many of the first Mac fonts? Ever thought about the font Woody Allen uses for his credits (Windsor)?

Where do the terms upper case & lower case come from? Want to know a bit more background about Johannes Gutenberg & the world's first font? What is the difference between serif & sans serif fonts? How does a type designer work?  These questions & more are all addressed just in the first few chapters of the book. However, this is not a dense, scholarly read-it's informative without being difficult. Who knew that the Beach Boys' album Pet Sounds is one of the most famous uses of the font Cooper Black? I also learned that Trebuchet MS, one of my favorite fonts, is actually related to Comic Sans-they share a designer.

If you are really interested in font use,  consider checking out designer Mark Simonson's website.  Under "Typecasting", you can check out font errors he's found on TV & in movies-for instance, check out this discussion of fonts on the maps of the Indiana Jones films, where the typefaces used in this movie set in the 1930s were not actually invented until decades later.

Typography!  It's everywhere, but most of the time we don't consciously focus on it. This book will bring fonts & their use firmly front & center for you.  Don’t Panic-you'll enjoy the ride.

In closing, please enjoy the video made by this Baskerville fan who calls herself "Mrs. Eaves"-she might love fonts too much!

Full disclosure: this blog is written in Blogger's Default Font, purely for ease & continuity.

Also consider:

Cheese or Font? (an online game)

What type are you? (an online quiz)

No comments: