Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Font Pain and Poetry: So Much Depends on a Curve

Font wonks fight. They champion some typefaces and sneer at others. They go ballistic if a system of signage is altered, as when Ikea changed its designated corporate font from Futura to Verdana in 2009. And they show off tribal symbols. A T-shirt that is depicted in Simon Garfield’s “Just My Type: A Book About Fonts” is adorned with nothing but the ornate ampersand of the font Caslon. This graphic, Mr. Garfield remarks, is capable of “occasionally eliciting a nod from another aficionado, like smug fans of a cool pop band before it becomes famous.”

Sometimes (as with Ikea’s typeface treachery) a tipping point will rock the world of fonts. “Just My Type” should be one of them. This is a smart, funny, accessible book that does for typography what Lynne Truss’s best-selling “Eats, Shoots & Leaves” did for punctuation: made it noticeable for people who had no idea they were interested in such things. Your friends’ eyes may glaze over when you begin to regale them with the font-related trivia with which this book is packed. (What is the Woody Allen movie credits font? Windsor.) If that should happen, recommend that they read Mr. Garfield too.

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