homeabout kottke.orgarchives + tags

kottke.org posts about fonts

Kern Your Enthusiasm

posted by Tim Carmody   Aug 01, 2014

For August, the writers at HiLobrow will have a month of appreciations of fonts and typefaces, lovingly titled “Kern Your Enthusiasm.” Matthew Battles kicks things off with the legendary Aldine Italic developed for Venetian publisher Aldus Manutius, a new set of metal letters that helped jumpstart a little thing we call the Renaissance.

When Aldus put the first version of a typeface we call italic to use in 1501, the printing press had been proliferating in Europe for half a century. In other words, it was about as old as the computer is now. It was a time of immense invention and swiftly spun variety in the printed book, and a time of new mobility and independence of thought and activity among certain classes of people as well — and the combination of new ways and new tools meant new kinds of books. Crucially, the book was getting smaller, small enough to act not only as a desktop, but as a mobile device.

Previous HiLobrow series include “Kirb Your Enthusiasm” (on Jack Kirby), “Kirk Your Enthusiasm” (on Star Trek’s Captain Kirk) and “Herc Your Enthusiasm” (on old school hip-hop, where I contributed a short thing on Afrika Bambaataa.)

We Work Remotely

A new golden age of type

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 23, 2009

After a thorough review, Typographica has chosen their favorite typefaces of 2008.

Sensationalism aside, it’s significant that the ever-increasing quality in type design these days — dubbed by some as the new “golden age” of type — has caused this year’s list to supersede previous lists in many ways.

Check out these “flair” typefaces from the 70

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 31, 2008

Check out these “flair” typefaces from the 70s.

They were very big around 1970 or so. Bookman set the example, even though it’s from much earlier. By the mid-seventies, they were adding Bookman-style swashes to everything. They were usually called Whateverthefontwascalled Flair.

Scroll down the page for samples of Univers Flair, Franklin Gothic Flair, etc.

The goal of Oded Ezer’s Typosperma Project “

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 07, 2008

The goal of Oded Ezer’s Typosperma Project “was to create some sort of new transgenic creatures, half (human) sperm, half letter”. (via buzzfeed)

Trajan is the movie font

posted by Adam Lisagor   Dec 13, 2007

The Goodie Bag podcast has an entertaining little video on Trajan, the font used ubiquitously in movie credits and posters:

Like indoor plumbing and toga parties, Trajan hails from Rome. Matter of fact, you can find almost 2,000-year-old inscriptions on Trajan’s column, where they have totally off-the-leash keggers on Saturdays… Russell Crowe has co-starred with Trajan three times now.

This reminds me of Red is Not Funny, J. Tyler Helms’ illustration of the wide use of bold red letters in distinctly unfunny comedies. (via cameron hunt)

FE-Mittelschrift

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 16, 2007

Erik Spiekermann on FE-Mittelschrift, the typeface used for German license plates.

The official typeface for our license plates is now called FE-Mittelschrift, with FE meaning it is Fälschungs-Erschwert, i.e. difficult to forge. Apparently car thieves, terrorists and notorious law-breakers had been exploiting DIN’s geometric construction principle and turning E into F or 3 into 8 etc by simply using a bit of black tape or white paint.

Here are all the alphanumeric characters:

FE-Mittelschrift

Note the tamper-resistant differences between the 6 (no notch) and 9 (notched), the E & F, the I & 1, the O & zero, the P & R, and so on.

Long piece about the changes being made

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 25, 2007

Long piece about the changes being made to the typography of the US highway signs, switching from Highway Gothic (on which Interstate is based) to Clearview.

Tickets for Helvetica’s multi-week run at the

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 11, 2007

Tickets for Helvetica’s multi-week run at the IFC Center in NYC are on sale now.

Subtil, a display typeface by Hanno Bennert

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 10, 2007

Subtil, a display typeface by Hanno Bennert and Alexander Gialouris that was a winning entry in the Type Directors Club 2007 competition. Love those subtly rounded ends.

New web site for Hoefler & Frere-Jones,

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 06, 2007

New web site for Hoefler & Frere-Jones, the noted and celebrated typeface designers, including a weblog. Subscribed. Oh, and the browser fonts of choice for the meticulous duo? “Lucida Grande, Lucida Sans, Verdana, Georgia, Helvetica, Arial” (thx, jonathan)

NYC font fans rejoice…Helvetica (the movie)

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 22, 2007

NYC font fans rejoice…Helvetica (the movie) will be starting a run at the IFC Center on September 12. My short review of the film is here.

These are not the fonts you are looking for

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 21, 2007

Peter Saville, the British designer closely associated with Factory Records, is offering free downloads of some of the fonts he used in designing record sleeves and other work for New Order, Joy Division, and other Factory Records artists (see update below).

Saville Fonts

(thx, mark)

Update: Several Peter Saville fans from around the world have written in to say that the above site is not Peter Saville’s official site (this is). It’s also unclear whether those fonts were indeed made by Saville (probably not) or ever offered for download free of charge (probably definitely not). But they’re still neat fonts, so download at your own risk.

Update: Kai has identified some of the fonts offered as shoddy versions of the following:

Joy Division Closer - Trajan (Adobe)
Blue Monday - Engravers Gothic (Bitstream)
New Order 1981 - Futura (Bauer)
New Order 1993 - Handel Gothic (Linotype)
New Order Ceremony - Albertus (Mecanorma)
New Order 316 - BT Incised 901 (Bitstream) = Antique Olive (Linotype)
New Order Regret - Rotis Serif (Agfa)

In this case, you get what you pay for, I guess.

A list of companies and the fonts

posted by Jason Kottke   May 31, 2007

A list of companies and the fonts they use for their logos and corporate identities.

Michael Bierut’s 13 reasons to choose a particular

posted by Jason Kottke   May 14, 2007

Michael Bierut’s 13 reasons to choose a particular typeface for a project. “Once I saw a project in a student portfolio that undertook the dubious challenge of redesigning the Tiffany’s identity. I particularly disliked the font that was used, and I politely asked what it was. ‘Oh,’ came the enthusiastic response, ‘that’s the best part! It’s called Tiffany!’”

Exhibit on Helvetica (the font, not the

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 05, 2007

Exhibit on Helvetica (the font, not the film) opens tomorow at the MoMA and will be available for a good long time (until March 31, 2008). “Widely considered the official typeface of the twentieth century, Helvetica communicates with simple, well-proportioned letterforms that convey an aesthetic clarity that is at once universal, neutral, and undeniably modern.”

Winners of the Helvetica haiku contest I

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 03, 2007

Winners of the Helvetica haiku contest I pointed to a couple of weeks ago. My favorite of all the ones listed: “i shot the serif / left him there full of leading / yearning for kerning”. Close second: “She misunderstood / When I said she was ‘Grotesque’ / Akzidenz happen”. I am a sucker for puns.

Results of the Type Directors Club type

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 03, 2007

Results of the Type Directors Club type design competition for 2007. I really like Subtil. (via quipsologies)

Quick quiz: Is this text set in

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 02, 2007

Quick quiz: Is this text set in Arial or Helvetica? If you’re struggling with that, check out How to Spot Arial. (thx, hubs)

Enter this font haiku contest to win

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 16, 2007

Enter this font haiku contest to win a limited-edition poster from the Helvetica documentary.

A list of stencil fonts.

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 21, 2007

A list of stencil fonts.

The top 100 fonts as determined by a

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 24, 2007

The top 100 fonts as determined by a panel of designers and type experts. Top 10: Helvetica, Garamond, Frutiger, Bodoni, Futura, Times, Akzidenz Grotesk, Officina, Gill Sans, and Univers. A PDF of the results (with photos, in German) is also available. (via type for you)

List of the 7 worst fonts. What, no

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 13, 2006

List of the 7 worst fonts. What, no Hobo or Brush Script? Comic Sans is, of course, #1 with a bullet. (via wider angle)

Typography language pedantry: font vs. typeface. “‘Fonts’

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 28, 2006

Typography language pedantry: font vs. typeface. “‘Fonts’ and ‘typefaces’ are different things. Graphic designers choose typefaces for their projects but use fonts to create the finished art.”

Check out the really nice balls on these fonts.

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 19, 2006

Check out the really nice balls on these fonts.

Helvetica, The Movie! “The film is studded

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 08, 2006

Helvetica, The Movie! “The film is studded with the stars of typography: Erik Spiekermann, Matthew Carter, Massimo Vignelli, Michael Bierut, Wim Crouwel, Hermann Zapf, Stefan Sagmeister, Jonathan Hoefler, Tobias Frere-Jones, Experimental Jetset.”

The IHT on a resurgence in popularity

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 11, 2006

The IHT on a resurgence in popularity of the Georgia typeface online. (thx, newley)

Verlag is a new modernist typeface from

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 15, 2006

Verlag is a new modernist typeface from Hoefler & Frere-Jones designed for the Guggenheim Museum. More on Verlag from Typographica.

In the beta version of Office 2007, a

posted by Jason Kottke   May 31, 2006

In the beta version of Office 2007, a font called Calibri is the default font instead of Times New Roman. The end of a typographic era.

Currently coveting: the Galaxie Polaris type family

posted by Jason Kottke   May 03, 2006

Currently coveting: the Galaxie Polaris type family from Village type foundry. Beautiful.

Typographica identifies all the fonts in the

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 18, 2006

Typographica identifies all the fonts in the font-o-riffic opening titles for Thank You for Smoking.