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26 Mar 2011

Just My Type

Just as verbal pedants write in to complain about the anachronisms in Downton Abbey and car enthusiasts complain because an episode of Marple set in the early ’50s shows a ‘classic’ vehicle not produced until 1964, so type nerds notice with horror that a poster in that same episode of Marple is using a font designed in the 1970s.

This is just one of the gems I have learned from Simon Garfield’s wonderful book Just My Type. You wouldn’t think that a book subtitled ‘A Book about Fonts’ could be entrancing, but this one is. Describing the type on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, Simon tells us that ‘the R loops like a sustained guitar note, its tail curling beneath the o to reach the l, while the lower bowl of the g smirks as it fuses with the S’. He discusses the effect on type of everything from Nazism to the i-pad and even gives a list of his eight worst typefaces in the world. When you have read this book you’ll look at street signage, cinema posters and newspaper headlines in a whole new light.

Despite everything we hear, there is hope for the publishing world if mad but delightful books can still find someone willing to take them on.

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