I Love Typography

Sunday Type: pointy type

Monotype AirThese last couple of weeks I’ve been dreaming of a life-remote control. It need not be particularly high-tech—I just need a big pause button. I’m moving apartments and packing like there’s no tomorrow. Anyway, I’m taking a break from boxes and gum tape, to talk type.

Let’s start by going back in time to the Linotype and Monotype typesetting machines. AceJet has some wonderful scans from The Book of Knowledge; love the “Can do the work of eight men” sub-head accompanying one of the Linotype illustrations. These days it would take eight men just to find the on button. If you ever find yourself complaining that your old laptop is a little on the bulky side, that it won’t fit into one of those fancy Manilla envelopes, then remember the Monotype machine and count your blessings.

monotype machine

From the old to the new: a new web site. At first glance you may mistake it for one of those all to common gallery/showcase sites. However, TypeSites is different in that it provides commentary and a critique of the sites it lists. Typesites is billed as a weekly look at sites that have great typographic design. Kyle has made a fine start. I guess he’s looking for contributors, so if you’d like to help out, let him know.


The next item is via H&FJ. Some weird and wonderful type from American sheet music (1850-1920), currently being exhibited online by Duke University.

lost and saved

A fascinating essay on the esszet (ß) ligature by none other than writer, curator and type historian James Mosley. Esszet or ß—not for the faint-hearted.

esszet or ß

Some experimental bi-directional letterforms from John Caserta. Thanks to Christian for the link.


This lovely video on the magic that is letterpress. Filmed at the even more magical FireFly Press.

Via How Design.Award-winning Newspaper Designs from Smashing Magazine. Love the left spread text wrap (around the light bulb) from the Danish Politiken newspaper.


Found these beautiful initials drawn by William Morris from the University of Florida Rare Books Collection. For those who’d like to know a little more about this fascinating and talented character, there’s a good chapter on Morris in Simon Loxley’s Type: the secret history of letters (chapter 7).

william morris initials

A great little tool for identifying Serif types. You answer a series of questions relating to the forms of the letters a, b, e, g, y, E, J, K, M, R, U, and W. I was surprised by the accuracy of the results. The ‘application’ searches a database of some 1575 serif families:

serif identification

Free Fonts

Some more free fonts from Smashing Magazine. Here’s Telegrafico an all-caps Geometric Sans (think Futura, Avant Garde, Gotham):

telegrafico free font

The font used for today’s header is Pointy. Designed by James Beardmore. It’s free for non-commercial use, and you can download Pointy here. It certainly made those boxes feel lighter.

pointy free for non-commercial use

Be sure to read the license! Planning to add many more free fonts downloadable from iLT.

Miscellaneous links

The latest incarnation of the popular FireFox browser (3.03b) boasts

New graphics and text rendering architectures in Gecko 1.9 provides rendering improvements in CSS, SVG as well as improved display of fonts with ligatures and complex scripts.—release notes

Any techies out there who know how they’ve achieved this? Thanks to Dylan B. for first alerting me to this via Twitter.And I’ve just noticed this on the Village type foundry site:

If you purchase a single weight (or more) of any typeface we offer, then return later to buy a family set, we will credit you the amount of the original sale. 

A great idea. I’ve been put off buying a single weight because I really wanted the whole family, but couldn’t quite afford it.An interesting Type Specimens Flickr Group.Lots of new iPhone wallpapers.

FontLab Video

Alec Julien’s second Fontlab Studio Video Tutorial on Kerning Classes:

Coming up

An article by US correspondent Alec Julien on small caps; the fourth part in our type terms/type history series (Modern/Didone), an iLT exclusive and lots, lots more.

Help! I need a hand…

I recently noticed that when hovering over links on this site, the hand cursor is not appearing. Well, it appears for a fraction of a second, then vanishes. Any CSS gurus out there who can point me towards a fix?

And finally

A bouncy script to put on smile on your face: Plumero from Umbrella Type,  designed by Diego Giaccone and described as informal, fun and spontaneous; and it certainly is—to hell with the baseline:

Plumero script

Have a great Sunday!


  1. I’m not having any troubles with the cursor, but you can find information about the CSS for changing cursors here. You’d want to focus on the anchors, so something like a{ cursor: auto; } should work in your stylesheet.

  2. I’m experiencing the odd cursor behavior too (in Safari 3 on OS X). It seems to be stemming from the embedded Vimeo clips (hover over them and the cursor flickers) and even effects the content of other tabs if you leave the page open.

    Sorry I can’t offer a solution. At least we know it’s not a CSS bug.

  3. Dylan
    Thanks. I’ll try that.

    Perhaps that’s it. This has only surfaced recently…come to think of it…the same time I started using Vimeo for video. Or it could be something to do with how the Viper’s Video Quicktags plugin styles the embedded video. Thanks.

    Update: yes, that’s it. On pages where Vimeo videos aren’t embedded, the cursor behaves itself. Thanks again. Now off to find a solution.

  4. I gave the problem a quick Google and apparently it’s caused by setting the wmode parameter in the object tags for the videos to transparent. I’d either contact the author of the plugin about it or see if you can edit the output to not include <param value="transparent" name="wmode"> (it’s there in your generated source).

    Hope that helps :)

  5. Great work!

    I wish I had a remote for life too. Actually, that reminds me of the movie Click. It’s pretty funny (has Adam Sandler in it).

    Just finished that video with the old type press. Really fascinating stuff. Worlds away from all our Photoshop, and InDesign, etc… would love to try it some day.

    Your CSS bug is very weird, but I think Sam is right; somehow Vimeo (or Flash) is borking the cursor. I’ve never seen that happen before. So I’m thinking it’s Flash issue. Edit: Looks like Sam has the solution.

    By the way, good job on your second tutorial Alec! My only concern is the audio is a little quiet. But otherwise it’s great.

  6. Sam
    Looks as though you’ve solved the mystery. I’ll take a look at the plugin and see if I can’t ‘fix’ it. If iLT goes offline for the next 3 months, you’ll know I touched something I shouldn’t have. Thanks.

    I noticed Smashing Magazine mentioned your type for programmers article—great stuff. That letterpress video is great; I think the beauty of it is (as is mentioned at the front of the video) its 3D-ness; the fact that it makes an impression; it doesn’t sit on the paper; it enters the paper.

    How about a monospace Pointy as a replacement for Bitstream Vera Sans? :) That would make coding fun.

  7. John
    Yeah, I was really happy when I saw that! Smashing Magazine is great.

    Indeed, the letterpress does have an awesome 3D-ness to it. I have this one paperback, Common Sense, by Thomas Paine, and I’m not sure if it was actually pressed for real, but the type on the front cover would suggest that it was — or perhaps went through a similar (though probably less expensive) process.

    (I’ve had bad luck with the <img> tags, so here are the links)

    It’s also a very interesting book.

    And Pointy for programming? Haha! Now THAT would be interesting. I think you’d be forced to code at 24pt or something.

  8. Some really good stuff today. Love that video on letter press. Nice fontlab video as well. Thanks for all the links John and hope the move goes well.
    :) Good Stuff!

  9. Wow that was a very broad post with some very interesting reading. We only need more hours in the day.
    That telegraphical font is great! For some reason it reminds me of Art Deco… :)

  10. I love that Firefly video. Reminds me that the local hack printshop has an offset press, but nobody who knows how to use it. Sad.

    And I swear the header wasn’t in Pointy the first time I looked at it. But then, I’ve been up all hours sketching for studio classes, so don’t take me at my word.

  11. That serif identification tool is neat! I ran through it with some random criteria and it came up with a couple of really nice fonts I’d never seen before. Like Lacko.

    Telagrafico is lovely. I hadn’t known that people were posting fonts on DeviantArt! Sweet!

    Love the sheet music; love TypeSites;… overflowing with love!

  12. Thanks everyone for your comments. Just on a very brief respite from packing yet more boxes—oh, the joy of moving. Hope everyone’s doing well.

  13. Another Sunday, fast fast fast.

    The video on the letter press is fantastic. It brought me back to when I worked in a printing house and used to receive hard cover books with the titles done by a letterpress. I remember analyzing the type for a good 15 minutes until my boss yelled at me to finish laying the inside of the book out in InDesign =P

  14. Just to let you know I sent you that link to the firefox 3 beta, and it was on facebook. haha. I might not comment a whole lot but I’m still here don’t forget meeeeeeeeee….

  15. Justin
    It may well be that you went to the home page first and saw the default FF Meta Serif masthead. The alternate mastheads only show up for the permalinks (the actual articles viewed on their own).

    Dylan B.
    Thanks! I was digging through my archive of Twitter messages for ages. Now corrected. Next week’s masthead will read “we all love Dylan B.”.

  16. miha

    I can’t decide again what link to click first…there are many interesting thinks:)
    By the way, I answered your mail, and thank you again for the book, it’s a good book – and I can also watch japanese characthers:)

    Good luck with your moving!

  17. Leigh

    Wow! This week was particularly rich in content!
    I must say that the header looks positively dashing in Pointy, but isn’t the i missing it’s tittle?

    I’m having the same cursor problem in Maxthon 2.0.8

    My sister’s going to love that hi-res sheet music!

    I loved the FireFly press video. I think it would be awesome to work with a machine like that! He makes it look so easy. “Hmm, I think I need a Maltese Cross. Simple, I’ll just chop up a few ‘I’s with my special machine, and voilà.” Surely it’s more complex then that.

    That poor old ß. It just can’t figure out what to do with it’s self.

    Alec, speak louder!

  18. I use WordPress and Vimeo, too. If I embed a Vimeo video into a post everything works fine, but if I go back into the post to make an edit it breaks the whole site structure, scrambling everything! Do you have that issue? I’ve never noticed the cursor issue…

    Anyways, thanks for all of the great links, and info here. Always a pleasure.


  19. Aaron Strontsman

    Just in case anyone cares: The ß article consistently misspells “Eszett” as “Esszet”.
    @Leigh: Maxthon uses IE’s rendering engine, thus does the same as IE.
    @Johno: Firefox’s new quality mode for fonts is really nice, if that interests you, it was (at least partly) Robert O’Callaghan’s work: http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/roc/archives/2007/09/textalicious.html .

  20. I declare the root property for all my links, in the generic
    “a {color:blue;cursor:pointer;}” declaration. The “cursor:pointer “gives the “hand symbol across all the “” tags in the site, in all the browsers..

  21. miha
    Pleased you received the book.

    I thought that was one of the main themes of the article—the spelling.
    Thanks very much for the additional info on FireFox. Off to read up now.

    Many thanks; I’ll try that. It appears that not everyone is missing a hand. Thanks for the link too.

  22. Aaron Strontsman

    Hmm … just read the beginning at first, but anyway: although there might have been different spelling during history, it nowaday is commonly referred to as “Eszett”, because that combines the sounds of S (in the German alphabet spoken “Es” = a bit like English “as”) and Z (“Zett” = “tsett”). “Esszet” sounds more like “ess-tsayt”.

  23. Hey there!

    I found your blog through Veerle’s.
    I’m loving it! I’m a big type geek and this site has got it all (even the design of the blog rocks :D)

    I was wondering which was your entry on Veerle’s contest if you did participate?

    Keep up the great work here!

  24. alvarocker


  25. Able
    Yes, I had that problem. My sidebar disappeared to the footer and everything went haywire; not sure why, but now I always use that Viper plugin to embed the video.

    Thanks for coming back on that. I shall re-read the article.

    The Ad Mad!
    I don’t remember seeing mention of iLT on Veerle’s blog (I’m a Veerle fan). No, I didn’t enter the competition, though I wish I had; however, some of the entries are excellent. (one of my ideas was to have a blank black page, with tiny reversed-out type at the bottom, reading “graphic design is… nothing without type.” Enjoyed the video you posted on the 16th—very funny. I guess we can all live in hope.

    Thank you.

  26. Faye

    Thanks for the link to Typesites - bookmarked! iLT just continues to inspire me, great, great stuff.

  27. Faye
    Likewise, your comments are an inspiration.

  28. Johno:

    yes there were lots of great posters out there, and to be honest, can’t wait to see who are declared winners!

    Here’s my Flickr so you can check my entries…There are some stuff I did for typography at College too, bu nothing too cool :P

  29. The Ad Mad!
    Thanks for the link; off to take a look now. When are the winners announced?

  30. Wow, thanks for the great letterpress video!

  31. Julian
    I thoroughly enjoyed the video too. Keep an eye out for an article on the magic of letterpress—hopefully coming soon.

  32. On http://wiki.svg.org/Viewer_Matrix you can find links to some Mozilla SVG developers channels, so you can ask.

    For more on SVG in general see the SVG link resource http://svg.startpagina.nl

  33. WOWZAH—- I could spend ALL day long here. I keep getting sucked back in! Again, thanks for your lovely blog!!! :)

  34. stelt
    Thanks for that link. All looks very complex.

    Design for Mankind
    Thank you. “Wowzah’s” are greatly appreciated here. See you around.

  35. How do I download pointy

  36. Here’s the link:


  37. Thank you. I love the video from John Caserta.

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