This Monday’s book production class focused on typography: the history of typefaces, typographic terminology, and design principals to keep in mind when working with typography.

In particular, our teacher hammered home to us this fact when dealing with different varieties of type: fonts are not fonts. What we consider fonts when we work with word processing programs are actually typefaces. True fonts are actually subsets of individual typefaces. Thus, Arial itself is not a font – it’s a typeface. However, Arial Bold or Arial Narrow Condensed are correctly considered fonts. As an editor, I can understand his insistence on adhering to proper terminology, but honestly, when you’re fighting against twenty years of misuse by Microsoft, you’re fighting for a lost cause. Just give it up already.

Anyways, other thoughts on fonts: as with most others in the field, my teacher hates “Comic Sans” with the heat of a thousand suns and thinks it should be obliterated from the face of the earth. While I’m not nearly so emphatic, I do agree that it is one fugly, overused font. His hate of Comic Sans is possibly only counteracted by his love of Caslon.

My knowledge of the different font families and the evolution of styles isn’t so comprehensive as his, but I do admit to liking and disliking certain fonts, for entirely arbitrary reasons:


  • Garamond (It just looks nice.)
  • Palatino Linotype (I remember using this font when I helped out with my high school’s yearbook.)
  • Trajan (Mainly I like the name – best emperor of the Roman Empire, yo!)
  • Century Gothic (It’s so round and curvy – it looks really nice in larger point sizes.)
  • Arial  (Utilitarian! Available on almost every computer, unlike Helvetica!)
  • Georgia (Interesting use of descenders and ascenders in numerals!)
  • Clarendon (Mainly I just like the exaggerated tail that is seen on the capital “R” of this font.)

Don’t Like:

  • Comic Sans (No. Just no.)
  • Papyrus (This means you, Avatar.)
  • Trebuchet MS (It looks anorexic and spindly at smaller font sizes.)