Typefaces

Default fonts that could have been

I learned about serif and sans serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.

From Steve Jobs in Stanford Graduation Address, explaining how he fell in love with typography during his time at Reed College. He studied calligraphy like a monk, but….

» about 600 words

Helvetica vs. Univers

Univers was intrinsically superior to Helvetica. It had a much larger family at the outset, with 21 members compared to four in 1960. More importantly, its family was logically designed with consistent weights and widths, something that Helvetica never achieved until its redesign as Neue Helvetica in 1982. Univers’ characters, stripped of “unnecessary” elements such as the beard on ‘G’ or the curve on the tail of ‘y,’ were also more rationally designed.

From Paul Shaw in Print, explaining how Helvetica and Univers competed in the 1950s and 1960s. Despite its many flaws, Helvetica eventually became one of the most ubiquitous typefaces in the world. Paul claims:

Helvetica’s current ubiquity is not due to its widespread adoption by Modernist-inclined graphic designers in the 1970s but rather by its availability as a free font on personal computers.

Free Fonts

Zone Erogene has ten fonts available for free download, including Migraine Serif and the faux-cyrillic Perestroika.

Tip for Mac OS X users: rename the font to remove the “.txt” extension that will get added to the filename, then double-click it.