A fascinating video The History of Fonts is on the Atlantic’s website this morning.
I suppose all authors have some level of interest in the design of the books that carry their content, but my high level of interest is probably an anomaly. It stems from my years as a software entrepreneur when Jim Coyer, Greg Lee, Ed Tiongson, and the ever-reliable Ken Herskind were all working on coding and operations, leaving me to manage legal & design (including that new-fangled thing call the World Wide Web). I purchased PageMaker and used it to design our first user manual, box, flyers, and even our print ads. I wonder if I even have any of those print ads in my files? Probably not. After a quick search, I found web archives of some images. Here’s the box for our English-to-Japanese product:
And the reverse (J to E):
What I loved about design – and why I think designers have the best job in the world – was playing with different fonts and layouts. Embracing white space for maximum impact was a big lesson. As for fonts, we quickly decided that our favorite for corporate design was Trebuchet, though that was not the font we used for box titles. Here is another product splash page we put together:
The formal font name we used for letters, flyers, and so forth is actually Trebuchet MS, designed in 1996 for Microsoft. As a font fan, I was particularly fond of the lowercase g treatment, which is always a good signal for a font’s overall style. Here are some of the distinct treatments, via Wikipedia:
These days, I find that the classic fonts more comfortable. When word processing, I almost always shift text over to Times New Roman. I have less patience for reading or writing in the sans serifs. Garamond is something I’ll use on rare occasion. And, odd as it may seem, but I like Courier, probably because of my nostalgia for the typewriter years of my teens. I’m actually a little surprised that there aren’t more monospaced fonts like it in WORD and other common software.
If anyone reading this shares my quirky interest in fonts, I’d love to hear a quick comment from you. What are your favorites? I wonder if Bryan Caplan or Garett Jones ever give this a moment’s thought?