AW Blog Chain: Guilty as Charged

General Geekiness

Claire Crossdale and Fresh Hell are tough acts to follow, with delightfully diverse guilty pleasure (I’m guilty of a few of theirs as well). After much contemplation (and many “guilty” pleasures later) I determined the one that, while I’m not particularly embarrassed to enjoy, this is suitably ridiculous:

I love typeface.  It isn’t a simple “oh, that font is pretty.” It borders on obsession (much like footnotes).

My love of typeface isn’t one like an adoration of a band, author or actor. I’m terrible at remember what specific typefaces look like (even the all obvious Helvetica. Put that next to a similar sans serif and I won’t be able to tell which is which). But there’s a certain beauty to typeface. Words sometimes just look right in High Tower Text (my current header’s font) or the ever-present Helvetica.

Typeface, of course, adds to the flavor of the book, whether we recognize it or not. Patrick O’Brian books are printed with a close set, old-timey serif. It feels right, meshes with our understanding of the subject matter so perfectly that it becomes second nature. The reader expects that typeface, they know the feel of the words and almost what to expect because of it. Again, the story just wouldn’t have the same flow if printed in a sleek font like Helvetica.

Harry Potter is set in Adobe Garamond, which the little blurb at the back of the books informs us is “a typeface based on the sixteenth century type designs of Claude Garamond, redrawn by Robert Slimbach in 1989.” The font has a whimsical but stately quality to it, one that fits with the feel of the book.

And then, we have the book I’m currently reading, With Wings Like Eagles. It’s an engaging, well-written book, but the typeface is just so darned interesting that I get distracted. Even while reading about how pilots managed to escape from burning cockpits, I find I need to reread the paragraphs because I get hung up on the letter “A” (both upper and lower cases) when I catch a glimpse of it out of the corner of my eye. There are two main problems: a) I actually really enjoy reading this book and b) the publisher wasn’t as nice as Scholastic and didn’t include any information about the typeface.

Up next:
Fokker Aeroplanbau
capes and corsets

18 thoughts on “AW Blog Chain: Guilty as Charged

  1. Interesting, I can see this “guilty pleasure” being something you would notice just about everywhere too. It certainly does have an effect on the way I perceive text but I never thought to look up the origination of different fonts in books. Great post.


  2. What a fascinating -and distracting- guilty secret. I liked the Old English script you got with Windows 95 and rarely see now.

    Mine to date, is that by the time my rutn comes around you’ll have everything covered!!
    I enjoyed reading abour your guilty secrets, thanks for sharing


  3. I love it when I read a book that has a blurb about the unique or rare typeface used. Me, I like to experiment with them and wished I knew more about the topic. I see them in my WordPress themes but haven’t yet cracked the code on what all I can and can’t do. Great post!


    1. I’m a graphic design minor. For my GD1 class (primarily a typography class), we used the book Thinking With Type by Ellen Lupton. It’s very interesting, well written book (with lots of pictures). ๐Ÿ˜€


  4. Ok, that is too funny. ๐Ÿ™‚ While I admit I love fonts, I tend to use squirly, wirly ones all the time and skip the general ones. I don’t think I could ever distinguish between nor have I even noticed the differences in books. ๐Ÿ™‚ Look what I’ve missed! ๐Ÿ™‚


  5. Huh. You really consider “fonts” a guilty pleasure? To me that simply seems specialized, at most a tad eccentric (and even that is a stretch).

    I personally love Garamond.


  6. I love fancy fonts like Zapf Chan, Matura, and Old English Text. I have been known to sit scrolling through fonts for ages trying to find the right one for a poem I want to print. ๐Ÿ™‚


  7. On the laptop I am using now, there are 237 fonts loaded in, though the old VAIO has almost eight thousand. The rig (my pieced-together “main” computer) has over twenty thousand, so I know how addictive fonts can be. Oh, and as for dingbats… Yeah, there are too many of them on my computers as well. I don’t think of them as a “guilty pleasure” though, especially when most of them get put to some use. Plus I have downloaded all of the various language packs, so I can read any language – even though I can’t actually read every language, it is nice to be able to see how foreign characters are meant to appear.


    1. I would love to have a font library of 20,000! I’ve spent hours looking for the right font, only to find ones that are close, but have some minor defect (I might not like the way ‘a’ and ‘m’ interact together).
      I guess that’s why I think of typeface as a guilty pleasure–it’s not just the way the letters look individually, but the way everything works together that keeps me endlessly entertained. Pub and tavern signs always have the best typefaces.


  8. Start at and work your way up to the paid font sites. It also helps if you play a lot of computer games, because some have the fonts in .ttf (Farscape: The Game being one that comes to mind), though they need heavy modification if they are to be used for anything useful.

    If you find a font you like, but don’t know what it is, then WhatTheFont is useful. Don’t expect it to get the right answer every time though, especially if a generic font is used. It has a surprisingly good hit and miss ratio when Arial-esque ones are submitted, much to my surprise.


  9. I really like to choose my fonts and I can spend quite some time searching for the right one but never distracting me from plot. Also I never rememeber the names. So, I’m not a junkie.


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