A Handful of Fascinating Typography Tidbits
Today, I present to you a small handful of informational tidbits which will act as glimpses into the world of a typography enthusiast.
You may not currently think about the impact of a period, types of fonts, or understand why people grumble about Comic Sans, but hopefully after this article, you might.
1. New York Times Nameplate – The Impact of a Period
The period in the New York Times nameplate died on February 21, 1967. Around the time of the removal, they put out a news release claiming that removing the period from the nameplate would save tons of ink every year.
Although the alleged ink savings were beneficial, they were not the original reason for the redesign, the Times was looking to update it’s appearance and hired Ed Benguiat to make a number of typographical alterations. According to his Wikipedia page, Benguiat has designed over 600 typefaces, including Playboy, Sports Illustrated, and, the original Planet of the Apes film.
2. The Origin of Serif and Sans-Serif
Although the exact origin of serif is still debated, most theories seem to point back to the days of stone carvings. One of the more popular theories (Father Edward Catich, The Origin of Serif 1968) suggests the serifs are a result of carvers chiseling over painted outline of letters on stone, where the brush strokes would create the flares at the edges of letters. Serif fonts are helpful in body paragraph text, as the individual serifs serve to guide the eye across each character.
Sans-serif is just the opposite, based on the French word sans, which means without.
3. Trajan – The Movie Poster Font
If you’re looking to create a movie poster, hold on, apparently there is only one font that matters – Trajan. This video does a superb job of pointing out exactly how much of a standard it has become:
Another fun fact – Trajan is the official font of Columbia University.
4. Helvetica or Arial?
If you know anything about fonts, you’re probably familiar with these two sans-serif kingpins, but why are they so gosh darn similar? Furthermore, how do you tell them apart? I love Typography has an excellent breakdown of the history of the two fonts:
Designed in 1957 by Max Miedinger, Helvetica’s design is based on that of Akzidenz Grotesk (1896), and classified as a Grotesque or Transitional san serif face. Originally it was called Neue Haas Grotesque; in 1960 it was revised and renamed Helvetica (Latin for Switzerland “Swiss”).
Designed in 1982 by Robin Nicholas and Patricia Saunders for Monotype (not Microsoft), it’s classified as Neo Grotesque, was originally called Sonoran San Serif, and was designed for IBM’s bitmap font laser printers. It was first supplied with Windows 3.1 (1992) and was one of the core fonts in all subsequent versions of Windows until Vista, when to all intents and purposes, it was replaced with Calibri.
- How to Spot Arial
- Arial versus Helvetica on I Love Typography
- Know your Arial/Helvetica? This quiz will test your knowledge.
5. Comic Sans – The Ugly History
Comic Sans was never intended to be used as an actual typeface. Vincent Connare created Comic Sans in 1994 for Microsoft Bob, a children’s computer game released in March 1995. Connare thought that Times New Roman was not appropriate for the speech bubbles and went about creating the typeface we know today, inspired by comic style lettering.
Since that time, more and more people have been using/misusing this typeface in non-comic speech bubble situations, which has lead to Ban Comic Sans initiatives.