Flying Font Friday 1

Helvetica airport signage

Also see my post Flying Font Friday 2, about typeforms found in butterfly wings.

Why the Same Three Typefaces Are Used In Almost Every Airport

From Gizmodo by Alissa Walker
Wayfinding signage is an invisible network draped upon our public places. And that network has to work especially hard in airports when we’re lost, hungry, and exhausted. Especially when helping us navigate in jetlagged states using strange languages, good wayfinding means sticking to clear, legible typefaces. So how do designers choose?”It’s like a spiderweb—you can’t touch one spot without making the whole web move,” says Jim Harding, who designed the wayfinding system for Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport, the busiest airport on the planet. In an interview adapted from David Zweig’s book Invisibles: The Power of Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion, Harding takes us through the design catacombs of the Atlanta airport (okay, the terminals) to show us how he developed an international graphic language to prevent passengers from getting lost. In addition to all sorts of fascinating details about the behavior of travelers, the story includes this fascinating nugget: Just three typefaces are used in the wayfinding signage for 75 percent of airports: Helvetica, Frutiger, and Clearview.

It makes perfect sense that airports would employ sans serif typefaces, which are easier to read at a distance (and bad for small, on-screen type). But there are also some pretty sweet little details found within these typefaces which make them winners for airport signage. Here are the three you’re most likely to find at an airport near you.

Continue reading “Flying Font Friday 1”

Federal Font Friday

Samples of Courier and New Times Roman

By Tom Vanderbilt from a February 2004 article on Slate.com:

Courier, Dispatched: How the Federal Government—more specifically, U.S. State Department—put the kibosh on the typewriter font.

In late January [2004], an announcement from the U.S. State Department generated certain chatter along the generally indiscernible diplomatic-typographic axis. This was the news that as of February 1, the department was ditching Courier New 12 as its official font-in-residence and taking up with Times New Roman 14. Courier 12 had been put to pasture after several decades of honorable service, like an aging, elegant diplomat whose crisp, cream-colored linen suit and genteel demeanor now seem winningly old-fashioned. Times New Roman 14, as the State Department put it, “takes up almost exactly the same area on the page as Courier New 12, while offering a crisper, cleaner, more modern look.”

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Facepalm Font Friday

ASCII facepalm image

Duke at Yahoo! Answers asked:

Who can type me a picture of a man doing a facepalm?

Veronique answered:

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Botanical Typography Made With Flowers Frozen In Ice

Letter "R" made out of ice

By Kelly Koo from DesignTaxi:

“You can create typography from anything,” says Petra Blahova, a graphic designer based in Kendal, UK.

Blahova’s beautiful typographical series, “My Garden”, was made by freezing colorful flowers and fruits in alphabetical ice cubes. Each bit of botany was carefully arranged according to the contours of the alphabets.

Continue reading “Botanical Typography Made With Flowers Frozen In Ice”

“Hanging by a serif” by John D. Berry

"Hanging By A Serif" book cover

A big shoutout to my friend John D. Berry, whose book Hanging by a serif has just been released. Click on the pages for a closer look.
John D. Berry - Hanging by a serif - front   John D. Berry - Hanging by a serif - card-15   John D. Berry - Hanging by a serif - spread

Hanging by a serif

A few words about designing with words

Text & design by John D. Berry

A small book of epigrams, insights on the nature and practice of typography and design, Hanging by a serif presents each statement on its own page, the text juxtaposed with a single graphic element: an enlarged detail of a serif, each one from a different typeface. The playful presentation belies the underlying seriousness and usefulness of the advice.

Hanging by a serif is available in two forms: as a booklet, where the epigrams are composed in double-page spreads; and as a set of cards, with each epigram on its own separate card. The booklets are saddle-stitched and printed on Cougar Opaque; the cards are printed on a heavy, textured card stock and bound together with a paper belly band (a “book obi”) that can be removed. Both are digitally printed, with a trim size of 4.75″×7″.

Hanging by a serif — Booklet

$12.00 + $2.50 shipping

Hanging by a serif — Set of cards

$25.00 + $2.50 shipping

Copyright © 2007–2013 by John D. Berry

Food Font Friday 1

Feast your eyes on this typographic map of American foods! From fab.com. (See also my blog post Food Font Friday 2: Typografische Schokolade (Typographic Chocolate) and Food Font Friday 3: typography of food and drink companies. )

Hungry for travel? From Cobb salad in California to pretzels in New York, the American Gastronomy Map celebrates regional specialties with beautifully detailed type. The saturated red and deliciously shaped words provide a rich visual feast.

USA food map

National Geographic’s Cartographic Typefaces

National Geographic map fonts

By Juan Valdes from nationalgeographic.com:

National Geographic map fonts

Our maps have long been known for their distinctive typefaces. But few outside the Society know little of the history that lies behind them.

Until the early 1930s, most of our maps were hand-lettered—a slow and tedious process requiring great patience and even greater skill. An alternate process—that of setting names in movable type, pulling an impression on gummed paper that was then pasted down on the map—often yielded less than durable or clearly readable type.

The Society’s first Chief Cartographer, Albert H. Bumstead, believed the answer lay in photographic type. Laboring long  hours in his home workshop, he discovered that existing typefaces did not lend themselves to Society standards: our map enlargement and reduction factors often caused small hairline letters to break up while larger block letters tended to fill up. To this end, he invented a machine for composing map type photographically that ultimately improved overall type legibility. Once this photolettering process was refined, it was applied to our United States map supplement in the May 1933 National Geographic.

Shortly thereafter, Society cartographer Charles E. Riddiford was tasked with designing typefaces with much improved photomechanical reproductive qualities. He devised a set so attractive and legible that these typefaces are still used (in a digital format) today. These patented fonts were designed with the purpose of reflecting, as well as accentuating designated map features. If you study our reference maps and atlases closely, it’s quite evident that every feature is associated with a specific typeface. Color and typographic weight (from light to bold) further adds to this distinction.

Juan José Valdés
The Geographer
Director of Editorial and Research
National Geographic Maps