Friday, January 4, 2013


I am a proud font geek going way back. My late father worked as a scenic designer/art director, and I have fond memories as a child of playing for hours with the endless combination of adhesive fonts he had in his basement workroom that were known as Letraset. Nowadays everyone is aware of fonts, and like a favorite color, everyone has a favorite typeface. Mine is Century Gothic. It's clean and simple and is easy to read on both the computer screen and the printed page. 

Graphic designers and typographers the world over will tell you that every typeface is different, but even lifelong professionals can find it difficult to spot the unique characteristics differentiating typefaces of similar styles and proportions—until now. Obsessively organized into 17 group classifications, The Anatomy of Type:  A Graphic Guide to 100 Typefaces by Stephen Coles explores 100 typefaces in loving detail, and contains enough information, from the quirky to the illuminating, to turn anyone into a proud font geek.

Each entry showcases a specific typeface, with letters enlarged and annotated to reveal their key features and anatomical details, teaching students about the fine elements of type design. Sidebar information lists each font's designer and foundry, the year of its release, and the different weights and styles available; feature boxes explain the origins, attributes, and best uses for each typeface. Ever wonder how Claredon, Didot, and Centaur came to be? Or why Gil Sans proportionally resembles old-style serif faces, despite its inconsistent weight stress? Or who "pirated" the first font? The Anatomy of Type provides answers these questions—and so much more. just published a terrific review of The Anatomy of Type (“If your aim—like mine—is to blow past jovial dorkery, level up, and ascend to a realm reserved for the truly insufferable pedant . . . may I recommend a new coffee table hardback from Stephen Coles? The Anatomy of Type offers granularity that would glaze the eyes of a normal, well-adjusted human. I couldn’t get enough of it.”), and the Rhode Island School of Design this week has featured the book on their blog.

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