We were just reading the Slate photo-essay on Helvetica, and thinking back to our Lintas days, to a Visualiser who was so devoted to the typeface that he had several T-shirts extolling its virtues. One had all the names of the variants of Helvetica, in their respective typefaces, natch; the other said, "when in doubt, use Helvetica."
And there's a companion piece that asks various authors about their typeface of choice. Many favour—the horror!—Courier.
Curious minds want to know: what typeface do you write in? And why? We mailed this around to our long-suffering list and here's what some have to say:
Ranjit Hoskote: For me, it's Times New Roman, very much — although I'm now experimenting with a genre-sensitive system, with TNR for my poems and Trebuchet MS for prose... :)
Kamla Bhatt: Arial and Trebuchet are the two fonts that I seem to favor.
Neha Viswanathan: Verdana - easiest to read online.
Vikram Doctor: Courier is just force of habit from typewriter days I guess, rather sweetly retro no? I just do Times New Roman, seems like a good newspaper font (though I don't know which papers actually use it these days, we use Meridien Roman which is sort of boring and squashed.
Rajesh Lalwani: I like to use Trebuchet - neat, clean, clutter-free and classy. Same for Tahoma, which I use sometime. Abhor Times New Roman - I itch to change it, everytime I see it.
Hanisha Vaswani: Easy. Verdana. Or maybe - Tahoma. Nice chubby fonts - not too skinny a la Arial, and easy clean lines unlike Times New Roman and other serify stuff. If you want more serious, thought-about reason, here goes: Verdana/ Tahoma fill up a page very well... gives the page decently well-balanced expanses of black and white.
Manish Vij: times new roman. neutral.
Gouri Dange: i hate Times Roman. i dont know why. a truly irrational hate. would need to go into past life regression therapy to figure out why. i love Batang and Footlight (sadly, not in my comp right now) and Garamond and Georgia. the sans-serif fonts like Arial, Univers etc are too sterile for me; and the too-embellished ones i dont like either - so Batang, Footlight, Garamond, Sylfaen, i like for being contemporary and yet classic. (god i'm sounding like some pretentious wine-taster.)
Nikhil Pahwa: For fiction, I prefer serifs: Book Antiqua and Times New Roman. For articles/posts, I prefer sans-serifs: usually Arial. One little known font that I'm very fond of (have always had a copy saved somewhere for six years since I discovered it) is Celticmd. Only used it for design, though.
Kiran Jonnalagadda: My preferences vary with the application:
For shared documents in Word:
Headlines: Trebuchet MS
If document was for printing only (ie, no hassle with fonts on recipient's side):
Headlines: Adobe Myriad (Bold)
Body: Lucida Grande, Lucida Sans, Verdana
For feeds in the feedreader: Candara (takes a little getting used to, but pleasantly readable)
For visiting cards: Optima (and maybe Adobe Myriad)
For presentations, option 1:
Bullets: Hoefler Text
For presentations, option 2: Futura Condensed Medium
For presentations, option 3 (misc): Optima, Gill Sans, Helvetica Neue
That said, my peeve: I really can't stand to see Arial or Helvetica (not Neue) on screen and Verdana in print. They're so not meant for that.
Jerry Pinto: Most of the time I am too lazy to bother with changing the typeface and so I stick to the default Times Roman. But when I do think about it, I like Garamond. But I would never write anything which requires lots of italicisation in Garamond because I think the angle is far too steep. Often the result is that the space between the last letter of an italicised word and the first letter of a non-italicised word becomes negligible and then I have to insert another space for my own sense of how the words should look.(This is more important in poetry than in prose.) Of course, the result is a curly under-lining courtesy Microsoft. And yes, I am not above being spellchecked or edited grammatically by MSWord. I often disagree but I have been chastened — by discovering that I have been wrong — often enough to appreciate it.
Melody: Since this seems like a very worthy project to better the world, I thought I'd add my two bits.
The first bit being Verdana. I think in Verdana, I speak in Verdana & of course, my typeface is Verdana.
The second of my two bits has something to do with my mood-swings. Yes, with so many voices in my head, what did you expect.
I've been know even to use 'Bill' and 'Perpetua' and a variety of other typefaces that I shouldn't know by name.
So there you have it.
Bobin James: My favourite typeface would have to be Verdana... 10 point Verdana!! Am not too sure about the technicalities, but I personally find it easier to read than most others...
Janhavi Acharekar: While I'm partial to Times New Roman for its clarity, have a curious fixation with Arial Narrow. Have also come across a fascinating typeface (during Lintas days, interestingly) — one with sexist overtones — called Girls Are Weird!
Anita Vasudeva: Changes with what I'm writing, not just type of document, but sometimes content of one poem vs. another, kid stuff in Comic sans MS for instance. Swing between Verdana, Garamond, Trebuchet, Georgia, Palatino. All the draft work seems to be in Arial which is the default typeface on my machine, and its become a non-personality. Don't you experiment — write something and see what it looks like in various typefaces — love the way it changes the writing sometimes. Also with corporate housestyles its fun to figure which typeface suits their personality and communication.
Nandini Chopra: arial 10 - straight and no nonsense.
Maya Sriram: Times New Roman- I think it is purely a spill over from my working days where newsletters and reports and more all had to be in this font. Comfort of the familiar, perhaps?
Shivam Vij: I love Times New Roman but only in large 14 size. May be it's my glasses :)
Prakriti Pushp: I have used Book Antiqua for a long time now. It is just so very quaint. Makes even trivial look important.
Amit Varma: Verdana, size 12. I find it clean and readable.
Oh yes. This blog's personal choices.
Of course there were huge excesses back in the day, when we first played with a Mac, when we used just about every font we could find. Then Helvetica became a favourite. Franklin Gothic for text that needed emphasis. In later years, Goudy Old Style took a large share of or affections, with Garamond as a second choice. (And we just luhrve Goudy Handtooled for headlines of a certain type.) Brief flirtations happened with Dom Casual, Bernhard Modern, Caslon Open Face, Futura, some Humanist variants, various "ye olde" type fonts and brush scripts. Nowadays, all paid work goes to publications in Times New Roman, since that's one all desks are likely to have. Online, we prefer Georgia, and for headlines and suchlike, Verdana.
We have about 900 fonts on our system at the moment. That's the most it would take. :)
(Oh, and puhleeze don't follow Slate's example and call them "fonts." A font is a set of characters in a particular typeface, in a specified size and style. Times New Roman is a typeface. Times New Roman, 9 point, italics, is a font.)
P.S. Falstaff, who has weighed in via the comments section, also mailed to advise us to read this and this for the poet's perspective.
P.P.S. k.m. shares our feelings: "Courier is also the *industry standard* in Hollywood. Shame, shame."
Oh, and a note for the designers and copywriters and other communication professionals. This not about the fonts that a communication will eventually appear in; of course you will put one heckuva lot of effort into choosing just the right font on a case by case basis. This is about what you use yourself, when composing, when writing just for you, when it's just you and the computer.
Note: We have added quite a few opinions that have come in via email roughly in the order that they came in, unedited except for the odd typo.