Confessions of a Typographic Newbie

My latest obsession is typography – the visual aspect of text, comprising font, line length, line spacing, character spacing, and alignment, among other elements.

My wife says I’m crazy: as a general diagnosis, but also about this specifically. For her (and doubtless others) nothing could be more boring that the rigorous analysis of when to use one font, or type size, versus another.

But something about it fascinates me.

Part of the joy is just how into it people get. Apparently, Ikea recently changed its font from Futura to Verdana, and the outrage was so intense it was dubbed Verdanagate. (Dubbed by whom, would be harder to say.) Typographical nuts react to Papyrus or Comic Sans the way Richard Stallman would react to seeing Bill Gates’s face on the hundred-dollar bill (i.e. poorly). I’ve seen arguments over the merits of Helvetica escalate to a level of rhetoric normally reserved for holy war.

Part of it is just the old-fashioned fun I find in any work that’s deep, detailed, and technical – especially where it concerns the written word. I can really appreciate the beauty of a good font. I look at Garamond, and it just feels nice on the eyes.

But I have a confession.

I like Papyrus.

I understand that it’s overused, cliché, and I understand cliches are to be avoided. I’m not advocating for it. But strictly as an aesthetic proposition, I have to say, it’s slick. I like the way it looks.

Yeah, that’s right. I said it. Come at me, bro.

This whole typography thing is part of a larger interest in graphic design which has been growing in me recently. But more on that later. Maybe.

Do you have any preferences when it comes to font?

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6 responses to “Confessions of a Typographic Newbie

  1. As pure art, I like most typefaces; certainly any that are famous enough to have a discussion of their worth.

    For writing/reading, I like Times New Roman because I prefer a serif even on a screen and TNR was the serif font most of the people I encountered used when I started word-processing, so it looks right to me.

    For covers/titles, I try to avoid the perfect face as this year’s ideal genre face is often next year’s amateur bandwagon face. so they can make a project look dated/cheap. However, this is often harder than I wish, because choosing a standard font risks looking too corporate.

  2. I didn’t realize how important typography was until my sister became a graphic designer. Now, my favorite is futura because it is sleek, cool, and used on the moon.

  3. I got a bit nerdy about fonts in a recent entry. Big shout-out to all my Futura homies!

  4. I will admit that I also like Papyrus and Comic Sans too….

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