I Love Typography

Sunday Type: Iso Type

Give me my Fix

January is certainly the month of lists, and here’s MyFonts list of their Top Ten Fonts of 2007. My personal favourites are these two. The first is a ‘handwriting’ font inspired by a handwriting sample from the 1930s. Mark van Bronkhorst turned it into a font and named it Sacre Bleu:


The next is Jeremy Dooley’s (Insigne Foundry) Aviano and Aviano Sans, the rich- and rather dignified-looking all-caps display faces.

aviano typeface

One List to Rule Them all

Of course the real list (the list we’re all waiting for) is Typographica’s favourite typefaces of 2007.

Typographica’s review of our favorite typefaces of 2007 is in production and we’ll publish it far more promptly than in past years. Keep your refresh fingers pushing and your feed readers running — the article will grace this space very soon.

If you can’t survive the next few days(?) until Typographic’s best of 2007 list, then you can get your fix through past lists: 2006, 2005 and 2004. That should alleviate the withdrawal symptoms until the next one.

Here are a couple of my favourites from 2005-2006:

Omnes by Joshua Darden:


and Zingha by Xavier Dupré:


One of my regular sources of inspiration is AisleOne, and I found this site on his links list. There’s some fine work to be found on the ISO50 web site; I particularly like this rather edible looking poster:


And here’s another rather comfortable and inspiring example from AisleOne:


The next item is here, not because I’m suggesting you buy this calendar from Linotype (though you can if you really want to, of course), but rather here to inspire. How about making your own type-calendar. A different type for each month, perhaps; or type treatments like those below. I like May:

linotype calendar

If you make one that you’re particularly pleased with, why not submit it as a wallpaper.

Moving Type, created by Seb Lester, was featured in the 2007 Typophile Film Festival, and demonstrates the varied emotions that type elicits. I mentioned above the rich-looking Aviano. There are other types that shout corporate, while others exude confidence and elegance, or conjure up whole eras. I’m sure you can think of many such examples.
YouTube Preview Image
And here’s one of Seb’s typefaces, Neo Sans—also used for this article’s header. Thanks, Seb.

Neo Sans

Readers’ Type

It’s really encouraging to come across the work of iLT readers. Nour is a regular reader and was inspired to have a go at type design upon reading Alec’s So You Want to Create a Font series (part 1 | part 2).

web geometric by Nour

Many seem to be put off by the amount of work involved in creating a font. However, what’s to say that you ever have to complete and publish it. Why not create just the lowercase—or even a few letters—for your own use. In the process, you will learn a great deal about how type works, and your good type radar will become that much more sensitive. So don’t be put off by font creation software, discretionary ligatures and kerning—take up your pencil and paper and get drawing. You won’t regret it. If you do have a go, be sure to let me know.

Coming up…

I have so many articles prepared, that I’m really not sure which to post first, so just this time, I’ll let you decide:

Here are your options:

1. An interview with Ellen Lupton;

2. Talking About Type (a kind of essay about type the way we talk and write about it);

3. Type Terms—Transitional Type, part 3 (part 1 | part 2).

All of the above will be published, but it’s for you to choose the next one to be published on Wednesday or Thursday.

And finally…

Well, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing (kerning, gardening, washing the car…), have a great Sunday.


  1. I’m with 2 & 3 :)

  2. I vote for Type Terms.

  3. I vote for an interview with Ellen Lupton.

  4. I vote for 1, then 3, then 2.

  5. I vote for the Ellen Lupton interview, or the next Type Terms…

    It doesn’t matter what order, I just can’t wait to read them.

  6. Thanks everyone. Thus far, looks like Ellen holds a narrow lead.

    Like that video on your blog. Made me smile :)

  7. All of the above! Everything your write is interesting John, how can you force me to choose them like this?! Ok… well, you know I’d love to see the Lupton interview and second to that the Type Terms (I really hope you’re putting together a PDF for us to download and reference for all these type terms. It’d make a great gift in your RSS!)

    Those type chairs are crazy! They look cool, but not too comfy to actually sit in.

    The linotype calendar is nice. And that is one I’d definitely keep for inspiration, even after 2008 is over! It’s a little pricey, though :/

    Oooo, I like the way Nour’s typeface is shaping up! That’s really clean for a sketch. He obviously took a lot of time with it. Nour, you have to be sure to let us see it when you’re finished! Or at least see where you plan to use it if it’s not going to be a completely finished font.

    Seb’s video is fun to watch (so those of you that just scrolled down the page without clicking Play, take a minute to go back up and watch it) and I guess you liked it so much you put it in here twice! Hehe :) It looks like it was done in a 3D program, no? I had to do something similar when I was taking After Effects in school. I never came up with anything remotely as good as Seb. And, er, there are type movie festivals? Interesting… is there ever any plot? I bet Who Shot the Serif would have a very interesting story!

  8. Lauren
    Thanks for the feedback. Well spotted on the video; even after I read your comment, I didn’t immediately see that I’d included the video twice :)

    Yes, the calendar price is set way too high, and much more fun to create one’s own. I wish I had animation skills, but I know zilch about it. Yes, Who Shot the Serif could indeed make an interesting video. Let’s hope someone with the requisite skills (nudge, nudge, Seb) will take up the idea. Off to remove that duplicate video now. Thanks.

  9. Thanks for the feature! I’m flattered :) I’ll be sure to update everyone on my progress. I may be ambitious (going to be moving and starting an internship this month), but I’m going to try to make it into a complete font, at least in one weight.

    I liked the type lists. I didn’t know about ornament fonts and picture fonts, a really interesting concept. I’d have thought stuff like that was sold as vector packs or something. Is it that they’re more versatile as a font?

    I think I’m going to try my hand at a type calendar. That sounds like a really fun project.

    I think the next article should be the Talking About Type one, just because I’ve found it difficult to talk about type on my blog… Always struggling to remember the correct terms. Especially after I learned the difference between a typeface and a font.

    Great article as always (and no, not because I’m in it).

  10. I vote for 3 and I have to say that i have been a fan of ISO50’s work for a long time, that retro style is brilliant. Nice article!

  11. What a teaser you are, John. All those articles sound typelicious, it is hard to chose, but I’d go for #2, #1 and then #3. No matter what, I always look forward to your next post.
    Love the chairs - they’re too delicate and nice to sit on, Lauren ;-) For decoration only, but they would definitely become the main attraction in anyone’s room, especially with the modern interior design.
    Hopefully, they’ll reduce the price of the calendar in a couple of months, then we can all start ordering it ;-) That’s what I usually do here - I didn’t buy any 2008 calendars yet, in a couple of weeks they’ll be offered with 50-75% discount ;-)
    Wasn’t really crazy about any of the typefaces on MyFont’s list, I too look forward to typographica’s list.

    Nour, good luck with your type design. Your drawings reminded me of my art classes at school where our teacher was showing us how to draw letters.

  12. Ooh, a type calendar. Now you’re talking!

    I also love that video you posted, very emotive. The creator has some wonderful art on his web site, if you haven’t seen it.

    As for the next article, I’d love to see an interview of Ellen Lupton.

  13. John, can you answer something for me? What is the difference between leading and line height? I’m imagining it’s some technicality…

  14. I feel much better now that I’ve got my fix :) thanks John!
    I must have the chair by AisleOne ! Such a cool design, but I wonder if its comfortable ha ha. I’ve been a big fan of ISO50’s work. They have such a warm style.
    I vote for the Ellen Lupton interview, shes always inspirational and I have so many of her books. :) Good Stuff!

  15. A vote for 3. Type Terms and after 1. An interview with Ellen Lupton.

    The Neo Sans is lovely, I like how the iLT logo look in it.

    I think is late for this year, but what about a full iLT calendar for next year? We have a lot of good people in here.

    Nour don’t forget to update us with your work on that typeface.

    And I put another vote for a Who Shot the Serif video! ^__^’

    Good week!

  16. Johno
    I’m glad you took the time to visit my blog :)

    Can’t wait for the PDF either. You have some fans in Romania, you know. :)

  17. “If you do have a go, be sure to let me know.”
    - I’m working on one as we speak, I’ll be sure to let you know as soon as it gets finished! (its time consuming you know..)

  18. I vote for all 3 on the same day! Posted within 1 hour of each other.

    Haha, bored at work…

    I believe line height refers to literally the height of the line. Where the leading refers to the space between the lines. Anyone confirm?

  19. TypoJunkie

    Hey John!

    Great stuff, I hope I get some time to see all the inspirational stuff.

    Making a type calendar has been on my mind since last year, but sadly I haven’t gotten around to actually doing it (much like a type poster I’ve been thinking about). Kazuo’s idea of a iLT calendar sounds GREAT!

    Nour, your stuff looks really good! Keep up the good work and be patient while in the later stages, as kerning is REALLY tedious!!!

    Oh, and I vote for Ellen Lupton’s interview, followed by “Talking About Type.

  20. TypoJunkie

    BTW, I can’t believe that Meta Serif did not make the MyFont list!

  21. Thanks to this post, I have now discovered the music of tycho, seen some amazing signage from tokyo, watched a really funny typography video and become inspired to make my own typeface one day, thanks to Nour’s type efforts (I like the rounded and straight edged style of what I see so far, Nour).

    I vote for the Ellen Lupton interview first, as I’m about to receive her book in the mail.

  22. Ko

    Ja, I would like to vote for the Ellen Lupton interview as well.

    Cody - as far as I know, you’re right. At the same time these terms are used with their meanings interchanged depending on what software you are using, or whatever environment you are working in.

  23. nomes

    Can’t wait for the complete list of 2008(The list to rule them all). I was wondering, when you will mention wonderfull work of ISO50. Thank you for getting me hooked on typo ;).

  24. Lauren

    Leading refers to to the vertical height from baseline to baseline (in metal type, lead referred to the strip of metal used to vertically space lines of type). These days, leading and linespacing are synonymous. However, as Ko remarked, different software may use these terms to mean something different. However, the above is the generally accepted, standard definition.

    Thanks everyone else for your comments; I’ll be back soon to answer them…

    With four furlongs to go, looks as though Ellen Lupton has extended her lead…

  25. Kristin

    ISO50’s work is great, and his music (myspace.com/tycho) is some of the best i’ve heard in recent weeks.

    I can’t wait for the Ellen Lupton interview!

  26. Typojunkie
    Thanks! FF Meta Serif couldn’t be on the MyFonts list as their list comprises only those fonts they sell/’resell’. FF Meta Serif is from the FontFont library of types and only sold/distributed through FontShop and its affiliates (I’m pretty sure). No doubt it will find its way onto Typographica’s 2007 list—would be really surprised by its omission.

    Thanks. Nice site, BTW. Haven’t seen Birka Bold for a while :)

  27. Yes Tycho has some nice music. If you like that style Kristin check out Bonobo.

  28. Cody, Ko and John, thanks! Mark Boulton says that using the terms as synonyms is incorrect. I just glanced over it at first and it never really struct me as remarkable. But in my recent post on web typography, a reader noticed that note and was wondering why. I thought they were relatively the same, too, but I wanted ask the experts for advice :D

    I’m still not 100% sure what line height is though. Cody said the height of the line. Which line? Baseline to baseline? Then it’s leading? Or is leading now technically used incorrectly because it should refer only to the strips of lead in between the rows of metal type (or now in the digital world, the space between the characters from one row to another)? Perhaps it is just a naming issue between programs? Someone thought it was easier to call it line height (especially so people quit mispronouncing it as leeding)? I know in CSS it’s line height. Maybe that’s what Boulton was referring to as being incorrect?

    I know this is a small thing, but now it’s really bugging me!

  29. Lauren
    I can’t see where Mark Boulton has written that linespacing and leading shouldn’t be used synonymously. He does write,

    If your measure is wider than the guidelines for optimum legibility then increase the leading, or line-height as it’s sometimes wrongly called.

    But he refers to the term ‘line-height’, not linespacing. I never use the term ‘line-height’—I only know it from CSS; it’s not strictly a typography term. The CSS line-height property is not always equivalent to ‘linespacing’—it depends on whether the element is a block-level or inline-level element. Perhaps the CSS experts out there could clarify this.

    In summary, linespacing and leading are synonymous. Interestingly, the height from the text baseline to an image placed above it is also referred to as leading.

    So, if talking about type, it’s probably best not to use the term line-height. Is that any clearer?

    And here’s the definition of lead from The Elements of Typographic Style:

    [rhyming with red] Originally a strip of soft metal (type-metal or brass) used for vertical spacing between lines of type. Now meaning the vertical distance from the baseline of one line to the baseline of the next. Also called leading.

    From Mr Bringhurst himself.

  30. TypoJunkie


    No wonder I could not find Meta Serif on Myfonts… Thanks for the clarification.

    I’m surprised no one has picked up on your reference to Lord of the Rings (or if they have, they’ve not mentioned it).

  31. I got the LoTR reference, but didn’t want to admit it. I’m ashamed of my nerdery.

  32. TypoJunkie
    You’re welcome. And I’ve never even watched Lord of the Rings :)

  33. Leigh

    Glad to see that you’ve noticed ISO50. He does awsome stuff.
    As for the vote, I say 3, 2, then 1. I’ve been waiting a long time for another “Type Terms”.
    Nour’s typeface looks very promising, and I agree that it looks better sketched out then in Adobe Illustrator. I hope to design a typeface someday, but I don’t have the time or motivation right now to take on such a monumental task. Someday though…


  34. John, right. That’s the line I’m refering to. I never said linespacing ;) Yes, now it makes sense. It is what I thought: line height is a CSS property representing leading. They should’ve just called it leading so that everyone would know what it is! Thank you for taking the time to clear this up; I knew I could rely on you. I can sleep easy tonight and I’ll let Kristarella know, too! (oh, you’ve already done that! Thanks!!)

    And I’m going to buy that book. I have a list (all typography books!) to buy from Amazon with money I got for Christmas and Bringhurst and Lupton are at the very top. I’ll be sure to use your affilate link, too, so you can get a little cash out of the exchange.

    John, you really must watch the LOTR movies. They are fabulous! And I hear that Jackson gets to make The Hobbit, too!! Yay! That was a really adventurous book.

  35. PJ

    Great site. Just discovered it last week. I’m now spending waaaaay too much time perusing it. I vote for the Ellen Lupton interview first - love her work.

  36. I was the same way PJ. At first I was just using it as a reference for my type class but now I’m neck deep in the type goodness. Check out the Typoholism article that was posted a few months back, I think you’d get a kick out of it.

  37. I spent a summer once filling a notebook with type drawings. I learned alot about type. So, your comment about drawing type even if you don’t create a whole font with it is good advice. Thanks.

  38. Leigh
    Thanks for your vote. Looks as though Transitional Type is narrowly closing the gap on front-runner, the Ellen Lupton interview.

    And here’s something to illustrate leading:

    what is leading?

    You certainly won’t regret buying the Bringhurst book; it will be one of those titles that is always close at hand. If you can, buy the hardback version—it really is a beautiful book.

    Perhaps I’ll have to watch LOTR, and give Alec some company in the kingdom of nerd;)

    Welcome to iLT. If you haven’t done so already, some of the site’s main content is accessible through the Typography tags & search at the top of the page. I really need to make it easier for readers to find content—especially the older articles. Another one for my to do list :) Hope to see you here again in the comments, PJ.

    Good idea. I have a follow-up Typoholism article as a draft (I have some 30 draft articles) and another titled The Typographic Dating Game—well, it made me laugh ;)

    That’s encouraging to hear. I’m always sketching letter forms, and mine are dreadful, but it’s a great lesson. Perhaps I’ll post some of my sketches here some day—tagged under ‘comedy’. Yes, type design is not about FontLab. Griffo, Baskerville and Grandjean never used it ;)

    Apologies if I’ve missed anyone out. Sometimes the comments come in so fast, it’s quite a task to keep up. But keep them coming! That goes for the lurkers too: whatever your level, feel free to leave a comment!

  39. Ok, John! I bought the hard cover! Actually, it’s the only one available from Amazon right now and I wanted my free shipping :D

  40. Oh, and I just joined StumbleUpon and look what the second push of the Stumble! came up with. Have you seen this yet? Naturally, I immediate thought of you!

  41. I vote for the Ellen Lupton interview - I loved “Thinking With Type”.

    I like the video, though I think it would be more interesting if font choices were less obvious.

    Nice to see that Neo Sans has Polish characters.

  42. Thanks for the link Lauren, that ASCII art generator is very cool!

  43. Looks as though the Ellen Lupton interview will be the next article, followed the week after by Transitional Type, then perhpas my Typographic Detail for the Web article. Hope that has whetted your appetites.

    Yes, thanks for the link. I seem to remember seeing something like this ages ago—though nowhere near as slick. I was thinking of alloinw some kind of icon/Gravatar(?) in the comments, but didn’t go ahead with it because I’d have no control over the designs; and they can make the page look a little messy. Perhaps everyone could have their own ASCII pic’.

  44. Hi, John! I have to thank you for all this incredible work in iLT! I’m a design student in Brazil and this blog really helps me in classes and is a great entertainment in my rare spare times. I’m looking forward to see the typography wiki and an interview with Jos Buivenga.

  45. Thanks for the link to “Moving Type”, very interesting. I also wonder that chair from Aisleone is really comfortable — it looks like it is, but with all those strong borders? ;-)

    I’d like to read more about Type Terms next.

  46. I’m glad you guys found that link fun :)

    John!! You’re going to hit 10,000 subscribers soon! Whoa! It’s believable because you have great content, but it’s still incredible that almost 10,000 people from all around the world read your blog! You really must start monetizing more ;) I know there’s a problogger in there somewhere! In your wildest dreams, did you think iLT would be so successful?

  47. Felipe
    Thank you. iLT has lots of Brazilian readers. I guess Brazilians have naturally good taste :) I don’t think I ever mentioned an interview with Jos Buivenga, but that’s a great idea! I’ll contact him. Let me know if you have any questions for him.

    Looks as though the Ellen Lupton interview is next, but Type Terms is in the oven and will be served soon. How did that maths exam go?

    Every time I look at those RSS figures I must look like a little bunny rabbit starring into the headlights of an oncoming truck. I can’t believe it really. When I first went live with the site, I didn’t have any targets, but imagined that maybe iLT would gain subscribers in the 10s. It just goes to show that the world is full of type nuts; they were simply lurking in the shadows.

    That’s a great idea, Lauren. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to write full-time for iLT! If that were ever possible, I’d like to write my book online, posting a chapter (also in PDF form) each week. By the end of the year, iLT readers would have an entire iLT book :)

  48. I would love to see you making a living from this site. It’s certainly popular enough to do so! Even probloggers like Yaro Starak make a living from this with fewer subscribers, though I’m not sure how his traffic compares, and he also has other sources of income, like Blog Mastermind. You’d probably want to start guest writing on other blog that pay per post, too (like Freelance Switch? They pay pretty well). I think with the introduction of things like the wiki and maybe even a forum (I hear they are very good for advertising money) you would be well on your way to making a good living from iLT. You have the passion, and that’s where it all starts!

  49. “You have the passion, and that’s where it all starts!”

    I thought it all starts with a seed of evil that grows into a monstrous, amoral money-grubbing beast. ;)

  50. Whatever happens financially, iLT is here to stay. Anything in addition to the great comments and feedback, and the joy I get out of writing here is just icing on the typographical cake.

  51. Nice to see something written in your own language sometime (Neo Sans examples) ;)

    I vote 2.

  52. johno
    Oh, no problem — I’ll stay subscribed to the RSS feed nevertheless ;-)

    Thanks for asking about the maths exam — well, it could’ve been better… ;-)

  53. We should take time to think of God too.
    Even more time, than we give to fonts…
    He sent His Son Jesus to die for you and me.
    Do you believe?

  54. templer
    Can you translate it for us? :)

  55. Hi L.E.! I don’t think John ment to take time away from God on Sunday. A day of rest, for some, can include spending time on hobbies, like this blog! :) I think God appreciates type, too. It is, after all, how He’s communicated and preserved His message to us.

    And welcome to iLT. I hope you stick around and join the conversations!

  56. johno

    The first line is russian I guess and I think it goes something like “Seeing exit”. Not very good with russian.
    The second line is polish and it’s a little abstract “Billowing with yellowed”. Third line is not a word ;) First word of fourth line is misspelled “billow” followed by something which could be “rose” if the first letter was “r” :)

  57. templer
    Thank you. And one more question:
    How do you write ‘I love typography’ in Polish?. It would make an interesting header :)

  58. johno
    It’s “Kocham typografię” :)

  59. Asking templer what “I love typography” is in another language reminds me of when I used to work in a pottery studio/shop, that also got a fair bit of tourist traffic. I would ask people from other countries/languages what pottery was in their language. It got to be a fun project, collecting these words. It would be neat to see the header in other languages, depending on the post!

    I love the script Sacre Bleu — it looks textured, like it’s being written onto thick paper. Mm hmm.

    As usual, love love love this post! And all the comments.

  60. templer
    Thank you.

    I now have ‘I love typography’ in about 40 languages, though not sure what I will do with that list. I did once think of setting the header in an alternate language based on IP address.

    I had the same thought about Sacre Bleu, though it’s not quite so evident at smaller sizes.

    Thanks for you kind words again. And did you notice, I didn’t once mention the word ‘lurk’. ;) Oh, blast!…

  61. My contribution from Alejandro Paul’s country, Argentina. In spanish you can say: “Amo la tipografía” or “Yo amo la tipografía”

    Regards, and I love this blog!

  62. Bacardo
    Thank you. Did you make your Flash site? Great work. I have some translations of iLT articles coming soon: Portuguese (Font Creation Case Study), Japanese and Chinese.

  63. Great article. Good to see Scott Hansen (ISO50) in there. He has a lot of great works. His music, Tycho, is also very inspirational.

    Also I think you should post the up coming articles in the order you have them. It seems fitting enough.

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