There is of course a chapter on Comic Sans.

Just My Type: A Book About FontsJust My Type: A Book About Fonts by Simon Garfield

The most I can say about fonts is that I can recognize Courier New 12, and now I know why: Because it was the standard font for the IBM Selectric ball, the Selectric being the typewriter I learned on in high school. (Mrs. Brown. Boy was she tough. You typed fast, fine, but you’d better have typed accurately, too, or she’d dress you down right there in class.).

Simon Garfield, on the other hand, is in love with typefaces, and here presents a comprehensive and believe it or not pretty amusing history of same. Some of his descriptions are lyrical

Doves type is most easily recognized by its ample space between letters, a y that descends without a curl, a ligature connecting c and t, and the bottom bowl of its g set at an angle, giving it a sense of motion, like a helicopter tilting at take-off.

There is of course a chapter on Comic Sans, although I have to stay that after reading it I still don’t understand the Univers[al] loathing for it. There is a marvelous chapter on the ampersand

Even in its more basic modern form, the ampersand is far more than abbreviation; its creativity provides a heartening reminder of the continuing impact of the quill in type design, and it signifies more than just a link. It also signifies permanence, not least to a professional partnership; Dean & Deluca are clearly in it for the long haul, as are Ben & Jerry’s, Marks & Spencer and the magazines House & Garden and Town & Country. But Simon and Garfunkel? No wonder they kept splitting up. Tom and Jerry? Of course they hate each other.

and there is continuing commentary on Helvetica, including an hilarious story about a guy who tried to live a day without it

His troubles began as soon as he climbed out of bed. Most of his clothes had washing instructions in Helvetica, and he struggled to find something that didn’t; he settled eventually, on an old T-shirt and army fatigues. For breakfast he had Japanese tea and some fruit, foregoing his usual yogurt (Helvetica label).

and an equally hilarious chapter on the worst fonts in the world

#8 Ecofont
The software takes Arial, Verdana, Times New Roman and prints them as if they had been attacked by moths.

and Garfield really, really hated the 2012 Olympic font

…maybe it’s an attempt to appear hip and down with the kids–it looks a little like the sort of tagging one might see in 1980s graffiti.

A wonderfully produced book with many fun illustrations, hundreds of typefaces incorporated within the text, and one of the world’s greatest prefatory essays. Oh, and love the endpapers, A Periodic Table of Typefaces.

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1 Comment Leave a comment

  1. I like Comic Sans. It has a “real” lower-case “a”. Look at that thing. Does it look real? No! Beginning readers need a real one. They do not learn to write that thing. They learn to write the real one. Piffle. This is a book I need to find. Thank you.

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