Wednesday, 22 December 2010

When is a Font the Wrong Font

You know how it is. You talk about something once, and then it is all you hear about for weeks after. Well, during the course of the week, on a day when I made my escape from snow central, I found myself talking about none less that correct uses of fonts. As you do. 

No sooner has the breath dissipated upon which the word was carried did the subject arise again and again.

Now, I have so far led you down the proverbial garden path, leaving you to wonder what church masonary choices are available to me these days. But I tell you this: no. Not them fonts, these fonts - what like these words are writ in. 

I was working through a pack that prospective Headteachers would recieve when applying for the job (if you are a primary head and about the best in the world, you may apply) - and it struck me that over-use of Times New Roman seemed heavy-handed. It is not only the default for most wordprocessing packages (except Word 2007 when it is the rather crisp Calibri) and therefore a marker of lack of imagination, but becuase of that fact, grossly overused. It has caused me to ponder the use of fonts - as even the choice of font I use here is deliberate. I use Georgia from the limited stock that Blogger offers. Others include Arial (boring), Courier (Sinclair ZX Spectrum), Helvetica (let me nag you in words), Times (see above), Trebuchet (for shopping lists) and Verdana (church literature ad nausiam - but great for lysdexics).

A much-loved colleague of mine has a default setting, and it means that all his documents are set to Comic Sans, a font I personally loathe. Then a wonderful thing happened, I discovered a website that articulates my view perfectly: press here for the link.  You just know that it speaks the truth. 

The choice and use of fonts is, as the site itself will attest, important. The message and the font must be in accord or it will lose its way in its presentation. In other aspects of my life, I type sermons and essays in Palatino Linotype (delusions of grandeur) having moved away from Papyrus (cool until everyone else started using it). They are deliberate choices, but I wonder if I am alone. 

Do you use specific fonts, and if so, why? I'd be interested to hear [read].


  1. Whilst I ponder how one of the labels for this post is 'Jesus Christ Son of God' (did I read it all too quickly) I am moved to reply.

    GUILTY! I have a website set out in Comic but if told you whee it is I'd have to kill you.

    However, I do like Calibri, Book Antiqua, and Georgia although I am getting bored with that as my blog font. If I need to fit a lot onto a spreadsheet I'll toy with Bell MT and Gill Sans. Does this mean I have catholic tastes in fonts?

  2. Thanks for this - they are nice fonts too, and very very Carflick

    As for the labels ... an experiment to see if they bring readers in. Will report back in a while but thanks for noticing!

    I always love Garamond and we use Gill Sans as default on hymn sheets etc - again, helpful for lysdexics!

  3. Helvetica Regular 12 - that should alert you to the fact that I am a mac user, and a relatively new one at that. Sometimes, if I remember I might change to Times New Roman for old times sake, but usually I am happy with the status quo. BTW you had me going for a while with the font pic.

  4. I refuse to use comic sans. Generally for orders of service I'll use Gill Sans MT to make it look a bit CW-ish.

    Now though, I might start using Cosmic Spam MS from the above site, especially for correspondence with Fr. David...

  5. Fread - thanks! I a lot more like this in the real than you might imagine, but try hard to be kind with it. For the moment it seems to work.

    Stuey - good to hear from you, fella. Didn't know you kept a bloggette, but now I do :) Hmmm, methinks you think I post too often :D. Love to you all!!!

  6. Ha! A subject close to my heart. For websites: whatever the client wants. For hardcopy, usually Palatino these days, although my PhD thesis was in Concret with the maths font being Euler.

    It's also something of a sore subject this week because it looks like my 11-year-old daughter was marked down on an ICT project for not using a "large enough text size" and for failing to make the titles bold enough. I wonder whether she was supposed to have used Comic Sans ...

  7. For service sheets for a largely child audience I use Comic, for anything sort of display/memorial I use Monotype Corsiva (a bit twee), otherwise I'm happy with TNR but I am increasingly pushed to use Garamond. I don't know why, but there it is.

    When I had a proper job with access to research on what font for what job, I understood that fonts with serifs were easier to read, so don't understand your various comments about sans fonts being good for lysdexics.

    I hate Arial!

  8. Doorkeeper, apparently the Verdanas of this world are easier.

    It is interesting though how many of us have made a conscious choice. I partly thought it was just me.

    Fractal - I feel old! My muvva kindly typed my GCSE project on a punch-typewriter. I would never have imagined even the subject being taught, let alone so anally - and I am yet still in my 30s (just)

  9. I'm only 2-3 years younger than you (since you did GCSEs it's probably 2, but I was always the baby of my year, being an August 31st birthday!), and yet had an equally-useless set of classes called "Computer Studies". The day I was given lines for writing a computer program rather than just entering the data into a spreadsheet was the day I gave up caring!

    Having perused her school's ICT curriculum up to A-level, and noting no programming languages even mentioned, I have ordered her a book on cross-platform GUI programming ;-) Better late than never (I was a BBC BASIC nerd from the age of 6 ...)

    I will be an anomaly about fonts partly because I have worked in both the hard-copy typesetting world and the website design world. I know my own preferences, but I'm also quite good at guessing those of my clients!

    WRT feeling old, at least your littles are still little. Mine is far too alarmingly grown-up!

  10. ha ha ha....I have taken the pledge & seek forgiveness. Won't use it again, promise.

    In the world of work I hail from ignorance was not a form of defence but I had no idea Comic Sans was so disliked, will not use it henceforth!



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