Welcome to Typophile
Please Sign in.

How often do you? Adventures in everyday identification.

Primary tabs

2 posts / 0 new
Last post
Holly D.'s picture
Joined: 6 Jan 2010 - 10:54am
How often do you? Adventures in everyday identification.

How often do you? Adventures in everyday identification.

Please answer any portion of the questions below if you are so inclined.

What ratio of good type usage vs. poor type usage do you encounter on a daily basis (outside of work)?

Of the typefaces that you see and read everyday (outside of work), what percentage can you identify in a few seconds? For how long have you worked in your field?

What were the first few typefaces you could identify instantly?

Do you have any typography specific pet peeves?

If you are a type designer, what do you think, how do you feel, when you see your work out in the world?

If you could redesign traits of a specific character from a specific typeface which would it be?

How often do you find yourself identifying the typefaces that you see used in everyday life situations.


Television ads
Movie titles
Government Forms
Annual reports
Pharmaceutical Packaging
Toy Packaging
Food Packaging

Joshua Langman's picture
Joined: 14 Nov 2010 - 12:22am

I can identify maybe 70% of serif faces I encounter day to day and maybe 30% of sans. I encounter rare examples of excellent typography and rare examples of terrible typography, and a whole lot of typography that has nothing wrong with it, per se, but isn't brilliant.

Among the first faces I could identify, as a budding typophile in eighth grade: Palatino, Minion, Optima. And much younger, I thought Comic Sans was awesome, though I don't think I knew what it was called. Oh, and Times, but that doesn't count. Actually, I think my learning to recognize faces was more about learning to discern between similar designs than anything else. All similar faces look alike until you learn their names. (I also do lighting for theatre and have had a similar experience there: all blues look alike until you can name them by number; e.g., R385 is my favorite.) Of course, once you know faces' names, you can't imagine not being able to see their uniqueness.

Loads of typographic pet peeves. Number one: fake small caps, which ruin otherwise beautiful books. Also, dingbats and ornaments that I can identify (e.g., "That's a glyph from Adobe Wood Type!"). Also, handwriting fonts in situations where it would have been just as easy and much nicer to scan real handwriting.

I am not a type designer, but I have often wondered what it must be like to see your creations out in the wild.

If I could change a specific character, I would make the horizontal stroke of the swash L in all of Slimbach's faces descend below the baseline, instead of annoyingly taking up space on the baseline and causing wide gaps. My plans to use Arno, Brioso, Minion, etc. in Swash form have frequently been foiled by this trait.

"Identifying" a face is no more a controllable reflex than reading a piece of text I happen to be looking at. Try looking at a word without reading it. You can't. Same thing with identifying faces. If I know it, I will recognize it when I see it. I think this is really about the tendency of a designer to "look at" a text as well as "read" it, whereas the average person skips the first step (or it happens subconsciously) and simply reads it.