Tuesday, 12 June 2007

What type type are you?

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
Body: Garamond
If document was for printing only (ie, no hassle with fonts on recipient's side):
Headlines: Adobe Myriad (Bold)
Body: Garamond
For websites:
Headlines: Georgia
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:
Headlines: Baskerville
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.


fredericknoronha said...

Anything old-fashioned, in serifs. That was for newspapers (while I was working there). It would depend on what the use is, I guess.

Hanisha Vaswani said...

Actually, I have favourite font too :). Verdana, 11 pt., regular.

Falstaff said...

I'm partial to Garamond. Though I've used Palatino Linotype as well. And had a brief but torrid love affair with Bookman Old Style.

Space Bar said...

you know what? my day's effectively ruined. there used to be a font on my comp that someone gave me, that i liked a lot. i used it on win messenger and stuff. now you asked, and i looked to see waht on eath that font was called, i can't find it anywhere! it seems to have disappeared after i upgraded, and i'm left with fonts called autralian surise and poor richard.


but in gen, times new roamn for work; verdana for the web, though i'm also partial to trebuchet ms.

farrukh: copywriter & journalist said...

Interesting post, Z.

As a copywriter and journalist, onw would think I would have an inclination towards serifs, but it's not so.

I like to use Arial because it's contemporary, clean and does not look like the default font. Also, it's usually installed in all computers and usually is found at the top of the typeface list.

Anything that is default, in my opinion, becomes too commonplace. And I hate it when MS Word keeps changing my Arial preferences to Times New Roman in the most sneaky ways.

Any client who does product for kids inevitably finds Comic Sans cute. It gives me the creeps to see that typeface in an ad. I believe there are many 'Save the world from Comic Sans' clubs out there ;-)

If I had to choose serifs, I gravitate towards Garamond.


Space Bar said...

yay! eureka!

it's fruiteger: http://www.fontseek.com/fonts/frutiger.htm

*phew* now i can get on wht my day!

Rushina said...

I have always used Times New Roman and now I am not comfortable with anything else. I remember a time about 10 years ago when I liked to use Comic Sans MS because I felt it was a 'fun" option.

What's really funny is if my husband and I work on a document there is always a conflict with us changing the entire document each time we pass it to each other.

He says TNR is the most boring "typeface" on earth. He is more fickle than me, his current favourite is Trebuchet.


Sayoni said...

The one font which should be banned is Comic Sans. It is a lazy font--especially in children's books, used when one does not want to think. I confess to a partiality for Bookman Old Style and Trebuchet.

Ravages/CC said...

4-5 years ago, I used Trebuchet MS for titles and subheads, with a bit of Arial or Tahoma for the copy. Now use Trebuchet and Verdana, with Georgia for highlights/quotes.

That's at home. At work, no art-director lets me near their collection of type. I make suggestions of course - Headlines are in Gill Sans condensed or Trajan Pro, depending on job. Copies are to be rendered in Myriad pro or Tahoma, again depending on other factors. Switch to Goudy Old Style when the need of the hour is old-world styles.

Of course, no art-director will seriously consider my suggestions. Till I bung them one on the head. Or...

Just realised - for a while, I had a humongous crush on a font called Helvetica Nueve.

Ramanand said...

I'd plump for Verdana by default. But seeing some passionate preferences here, I'm all set to try some of the others.

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Times New Roman. Would use Ray Roman if I could get it on my machine.

Nothing else seems to work for me. Obsessive, I fear.


Ravages/CC said...

We made a smallish spelling error. Our crush was on Helvetica Neue. Not Nueve. We regret the mistake, but then, our crush was ages ago and we'd like to forget the people who hurt us.

Kraz Arkin said...

Hate - Times New Roman

Love - Trebuchet

Was obsessed with at one point of time - Meta.

neomatrix said...

Helvetica works like a Swiss knife. There is a film made on the typeface

Amongst the new ones I like “Myrid” and Meta.

But I would always choose my font depending on its end use and the kind of image I want to create.

I strongly disagree with people on the "Serif Brigade". My argument being the new technology and exposure to sans serif has made it equally legible, so please give it a chance. (Not that I am against using serif typeface)

balihai said...

arial, for the poetry, has worked for me till now. its clean, good and keeps my eq in check.

Anonymous said...

I prefer Tahoma or Century Gothic. I like the roundedness - the no edges feeling. Do not like Times New Roman at all. It is so strange - I convert all documents to my favorite typeface before reading. I mean, imagine being so biased about a typeface?!?!

neomatrix said...

BTW, there are a lot of typefaces created by tweaking Helvetica ( just to avoid copyright infringments)
Arial and Swiss are amongst them.


Anant Rangaswami said...

I don't have a favourite -- it would depend on what I was doing with the typeface, surely.

Is it a love letter? A legal notice? A banner? A headline? Body copy? Targeting men? Women? Children?

Raju Kane said...

I am amazed as to just how much thought some people give to the typeface, font whatever. If you had asked me before I read the postings on the blog, my instant reaction would have been "who gives a s**t." Obviously I am wrong. You live and learn.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Pete, first of all, I do all my typing in a basic text editor. I don't even know what font it is in.

If I have to format something and print, like a letter, it usually goes out in Times NR, though like some of your other clients here I really don't like it. Seems sort of insipid to me.

One font I've always found elegant is Goudy Old Style. And I also like Lucida Casual, though it seems to be difficult to find these days (there are all manner of other Lucidas, some of which are nice).

I also like my own handwriting, but I suppose perhaps you didn't mean that...

Rochelle Potkar said...

I like Sylfaen, 11 pt [for now]. It’s blurred and gives one the feeling that the contents written in it are not for keeps and can be changed many times over. Bodoni MT, 12 and Palatino Linotype, 11 for hurried sure-footed drafts.

Ozymandias said...

Verdana by choice. It is such a clear and neat font.

Times New Roman 12 pt by dead habit. All official documents happen in that, so all thinking gets strait-jacketed by that now.

lovemarks said...

Oh, quite a mix I must say...
Trebuchet MS, Tahoma (for most stuff); Comic Sans (when I'm in the mood);
Arial or Verdana for easy readability in official documents...
and Times New Roman, when I'm being plain lazy to change the font! :)

Bombay Addict said...

IMO, a good font is more important from the readers perspective than the typist. I find verdana the best in this regard and honestly have not been able to find anything better. For functionality, I'd place TNR and Arial at the top. Verdana takes that readability and adds some beauty too.

I find that while a lot other fonts are beautiful while typing (or even view when enlarged) but they fall short while reading. And here I include the "C" series of fonts that Vista has introduced (calibri, casa blanca whatever).

Nice post Peter.

Rajiv Badlani said...

Fascinating topic.

Depending on my mood (yes, really) either Georgia or Trebuchet, to write text in.

To caption pictures and things one of the Futura Bold variants. Sometimes Bodoni poster type.

Meena Kandasamy said...

At sixteen I wouldn’t write OneSingleWord unless it was forty percent gray letters on a plum background and my monitor looked like a high class youknowwho. The font then was Footlight MT Light, 13 pt.
Now, at twenty one, it is Verdana, eight point (and i colour it red to ward off lazy days, black when i am alright, and blue when i am depressed).

Namita Arora said...

My personal favourite is Verdana. The clean, straight typeface looks crisp, professional and is reader friendly. Have also found it reads well in small font size.

Filmiholic said...

With all this talk of Trebuchet...

A small geeky factoid that was news to me last night (overheard during a Nat'l Geo programme about the building of the cathedral at Chartres).....a trebuchet is actually a massive catapult type object, typically used for storming and destroying castles.

In the case of Chartres, they used it to place large stone slabs.

(The name comes from the French term 'trebucher', to throw over.)