kottke.org posts about fonts

A new golden age of typeApr 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 70Jan 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 "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 fontDec 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-MittelschriftNov 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 madeSep 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 theSep 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 BennertSep 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,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)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 forJun 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 fontsMay 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 particularMay 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 theApr 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 IApr 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 typeApr 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 inApr 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 winMar 16 2007

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

A list of stencil fonts.Feb 21 2007

A list of stencil fonts.

The top 100 fonts as determined by aJan 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, noOct 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'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.Sep 19 2006

Check out the really nice balls on these fonts.

Helvetica, The Movie! "The film is studdedAug 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 popularityJul 11 2006

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

Verlag is a new modernist typeface fromJun 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, aMay 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 familyMay 03 2006

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

Typographica identifies all the fonts in theApr 18 2006

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

A list of the best license-free qualityMar 12 2006

A list of the best license-free quality fonts. From a few months ago, but still useful.

Open source type designMar 09 2006

In Five Steps to Font Freedom, Adrian of Be A Design Group suggests some ways to improve typography on the web, noting that you don't need to own the fonts in books, movies, newspapers to view works in those media. The fifth suggestion is interesting, even outside of that particular goal:

5. Build Free Versions of the Classic Fonts
If we can't convince the font companies to set their versions of classic fonts free, we will recreate them ourselves. The great fonts are based on designs that are centuries old that can't possibly be protected by copyright law. Although it would be a major task, the collective power of the online community could create quality versions of classic fonts. Little by little, we can build an open source classic font library! Does anybody have a complete set of the original Garamond that I can borrow? Let's get started...

Applying the open source development process to make freely available and modifiable versions of classic fonts like Garamond, Caslon, Bodoni, Baskerville, etc. is a fantastic idea.

The typography of the logos of Web 2.0 companies. (via waxy)Mar 09 2006

The typography of the logos of Web 2.0 companies. (via waxy)

In Meet the Fockers, the sign onJan 31 2006

In Meet the Fockers, the sign on a terminal at the O'Hare airport is typeset in Chicago, an old Macintosh system font. Har har. (via mark)

The Folk Typography Pool contains photos ofJan 27 2006

The Folk Typography Pool contains photos of type made by people who are not designers, typographers, or calligraphers. (thx, paul)

The designer of Comic Sans on howJan 25 2006

The designer of Comic Sans on how that beloved font came to be. Photos of Comic Sans in the wild.

Erik Spiekermann explains how Nokia's corporate typefaceJan 10 2006

Erik Spiekermann explains how Nokia's corporate typeface came to be. Looks like it was based on one of Nokia's onscreen bitmap fonts. I've always wanted to create a "real" version of Silkscreen like that.

Typographica's favorite fonts of 2005, part 1. Arrival and Vista look nice.Jan 03 2006

Typographica's favorite fonts of 2005, part 1. Arrival and Vista look nice.

Watch the kids get into a goodDec 07 2005

Watch the kids get into a good old fashioned font fight in the comments about fake signs on the NYC subway. Don't miss your chance to read "it's Helvetica, bitches" in a context where it makes complete sense. (thx, j guns)

Fontographer, a once popular font editing program,Nov 30 2005

Fontographer, a once popular font editing program, has been updated for the first time since 1996. (via df)

Typographic dating game. Who will it beOct 13 2005

Typographic dating game. Who will it be for the evening...Futura, Garamond, Bodoni?

Mark Simonson gives Gangs of New York 3Oct 10 2005

Mark Simonson gives Gangs of New York 3 out of 5 stars for its use of typography. This is the latest in a series of posts about type in movies, starting with his original Typecasting article.

Helvetica vs. Arial. Two of the world'sSep 16 2005

Helvetica vs. Arial. Two of the world's most popular typefaces battle it out for supremacy.

Ellen Lupton is up on stage nowSep 16 2005

Ellen Lupton is up on stage now talking about dumb quotes, weird scaling, and pseudo italics.

FontHunt is a typographic scavenger hunt takingJul 18 2005

FontHunt is a typographic scavenger hunt taking place in NYC the week of July 21. Doesn't get much geekier (or cooler) than this, folks.

Typography of the Paris Metro, NYC Subway,Jul 13 2005

Typography of the Paris Metro, NYC Subway, and the London Underground.

Winners from the 2005 Type Directors Club competitionJul 11 2005

Winners from the 2005 Type Directors Club competition.

Quiz: Arial or Helvetica?Jul 08 2005

Quiz: Arial or Helvetica?.

Font made from timelapse images of car headlightsJul 01 2005

Font made from timelapse images of car headlights.

An incomplete listing of typefaces seen at Walt Disney WorldJun 08 2005

An incomplete listing of typefaces seen at Walt Disney World.

Daily Type is a great typography sketchbookMay 30 2005

Daily Type is a great typography sketchbook.

Mercury Text typeface comes in four differentMay 04 2005

Mercury Text typeface comes in four different grades so you can pick the right one for the medium you're publishing in. Hoefler and Frere-Jones are the best kind of crazy.

Microsoft recently licensed their core and webApr 20 2005

Microsoft recently licensed their core and web fonts (Verdana, Georgia, etc.) to Ascender. These fonts were formerly distributed free of charge on the web by Microsoft...now they only come free with MS products.

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