I Love Typography

Sunday Type

Adrian Frutiger turned 80 this week. I’m sure you’d like to join me in wishing him many happy returns. In fact LinoType has a page where you can leave him birthday greetings. I’d like to begin by thanking Stefan for the wonderful interview, and thank all those who read and commented. I’ll be sure to let you know when Stefan releases his next typeface. Perhaps we can have him introduce it to us.  If there’s someone you’d like to see interviewed by iLT, then let me know.

If you like ampersands, then I guess you might like The Ampersand, a web site devoted to…wait for it…

ampersad ampe

Talking of ampersands, one reader, after reading Jonathan Hoefler’s piece on the ampersand, asked if I might write about my ten favourite asterisks. I must admit that I’ve never given it—the asterisk—much thought; and although the ampersand lends itself to some rather elegant and sometimes quirky interpretations, the asterisk is a little more limited. However, if there’s an asterisk that you’re particularly fond of, then let me know. Here are some to get you started:


And if etymology is your thing, then you might be interested to learn that the word asterisk is from the Greek asteriskos, meaning ‘little star’. I wonder if anyone can name the typefaces!

From stars to brooches. If I were a brooch-toting kind of person, then I might well tote one of these:

jon williamson typo brooch

Thanks, Sonia. And if a brooch is not quite big enough, then this furniture might fit the bill:

type furniture

Thanks, Michael.


Though calligraphy is not typography, it can teach us much about type, and why letterforms are as they are. In fact, if you are designing type (sans or serif), then you might be surprised how much easier it is if you have some grounding in the art of calligraphy. So, how about some free resources to get you started. Alice Young’s blog is a good place to start. Then there’s the work of the very talented Georgia Angelopoulos, of the Fairbank Calligraphy Society.


Then you might like to take a look at these six free e-books on the subject.


Everything from the above Ludovico Vicentino’s Operina, on the chancery script, to Benedikt Gröndal’s Handwriting Models, and Leonid Pronenko’s Russian Calligraphy. And, for video, you might enjoy these:

YouTube Preview Image

For more in this series see the IAMPETH web site. I’ve mentioned this web site before—this time I shall say nothing about its design; only that it’s a truly wonderful resource.

YouTube Preview Image

And this is one of many from John DeCollibus:

YouTube Preview Image

This from Adam Romuald Kłodecki:

YouTube Preview Image

A search for calligraphy on YouTube will reveal many more.

And finally, some Online Script Lessons.

Free Fonts

Today’s is one of exceptional quality. But coming from Fred Smeijers, you’d expect it to be something special. The free font is the Semi Bold weight of Fresco (also used in today’s header).

fresco from Fred Smeijers

Remember, this is for a limited period only, so hurry. Also worth listening to Fred Smeijers on Type Radio. And if you haven’t yet read his CounterPunch, then I recommend it.


Smashing Magazine has another bumper Showcase of Big Web Typography. If you thought my mastehead was big, then stand away from the monitor and take a look at this one:

big type from Smashing Magazine

Bechira Sorin has some very creative experimental type. I particularly like these two (Swade and Smoke, respectively):

ink type


Love this poster from Peter Crnokrak. A_B_ Peace & Terror visualises the degree to which each UN member state contributes to peace and terror:

peace and terror poster by Peter Crnokrak

Read more about it on AisleOne.

New Type

Fruiger Serif, a collaboration between Adrian Frutiger and LinoType’s Type Director, Akira Kobayashi. Wish  they’d put together a better PDF specimen.

frutiger serif

And, no, Fruiger Serif isn’t Frutiger with serifs clipped on. Rather it’s a reworking of Frutiger’s  Meridien (1957).

Sunday Links

Beautiful Web Typography

Doodle Covers—Unbeige

Fonts are like….—Swissmiss

T-shirts: type+humour—Sackwear

APA Letterpressthanks to Peter

Ratatatat—Comic Font

Calligraphy Portraitsthanks to Able

An interview with Nick Curtis—MyFonts

Great photos of Fraktur mon Amour—Ministry of Type

TypeSites—Legendary Aircraft site review

Always happy when readers send in their take on “i love typography”. Here’s Tamlyn Rhodes’ made with some old card letters he found:

ilt cardboard

If you have one of your own, be sure to let me know.

Today’s Types

ITC Lubalin Graph—a slab serif Avant Garde Gothic.

ITC Lubalin Graph

and the rather fun and bubbly DF Gusto, from Rian Hughes:

df gusto

Coming Up

The fourth instalment of Type Terms, Type History, Modern (or Didone); and more interviews, typeface reviews and a book review. Next Sunday I’ll publish the second iLT crossword too.

Have a great week.


  1. This Fresco free font is really great, love the ebooks on calligraphy too. Thanks for this.

  2. Wow … Thanks for your great resources! Very inspiring!

  3. Gotta love those ampersands! The box letters can be bought directly from http://www.set26.ch/, great! I wonder how my iLoveTypography costs:-)

    The link to Klepas was very useful, thanks. Ode to Fred Smeijers, thank you for giving the Fresco Semi Bold OT away. Looking forward to the new crossword. Have a great week.

  4. Am I right in thinking the top third asterisk is Annivers?

  5. Harry
    Yes, Anivers it is. Well spotted.

  6. FV

    John Sans at lower left? Lower third has to be Didot, but which one… :)

  7. top right is FF Meta.

  8. I cheated, but lower second is Univers

  9. My favourite asterisk must be from Bodoni Poster. No, wait, Neo Sans! Umm, scratch that, Farnham Display Bold! Now I know: HTF Whitney Black! Hm, but what about Dederon… And Simple… And Ziggurat… And You see, I have a soft spot for cool asterisks :)

  10. Middle bottom must be Clarendon. I have a question: when you look at a typeface in, say, Word, why do some look nice and crisp while others look terrible in small sizes? It does seem to have no relation to what fonts look like in a PDF specimen file.

  11. Klaas, when you design a typeface, you also have to program hinting, which will tell the OS how the font should look on screen, when should the pixels move if there isn’t enough space to show the stem correctly for example. Some fonts obviously have good hinting, some aren’t hinted well (it’s a difficult and very tedious process too). In a PDF a different technology is used, so the fonts look smoth.

  12. Kari Pätilä

    Look — it’s a new favicon.

  13. I love Sunday Type, even on monday!
    Good work Johno, Sunday type is becoming as regular as going to church.

  14. hangfromthefloor

    I believe you have a typo (‘Fruiger’) in the link text of that section.

  15. Thanks again for the mention, John. We’ve gotten 56 referral hits from your website so far today.

    And I appreciate you not commenting on the design ;o)

    Best regards,

    James Ivey
    IAMPETH Webmaster

  16. I used to dabble with calligraphy when I was in high school. The German black letter was my favorite. Thank you for the e-books. I feel like getting back into it.

    Fresco is lovely. Thanks!

  17. Fresco is nice.

    I only recently discovered the variety in asterisks. They’re pretty cool. I quite like Baskerville (I think that’s what I’m thinking of - very thin centers and bulb-like ends).

    I’d love to know how you get headers to associate with certain posts. It’s pretty spiffy.

  18. Some impressive guesses on the asterisks. Naming the typeface based only on the asterisk is extremely difficult, if not impossible in some instances—a number of typefaces share almost identical asterisks.

    Well spotted.

    I’m pleased that readers are clicking through to you. Be sure to let me know if you have any events/classes planned.

    For the alternate headers I use WordPress custom fields. If you want the code I use, just send me a mail: jboardley [at-sign-here] gmail [dot] com.

    I’ll name all the asterisks next week.

  19. The Smashing Magazine article was really well-written. I really love that publication. There’s hardly ever a bad article in it.

    I used Fresco in a poster I made on Saturday. Bit of a coincidence! It’s a great font, though. Good post, thanks for the links.

  20. Ko

    “Calligraphy is not typography”, but I wonder why. I would have thought there is plenty of overlap between these two areas of art. Many typefaces have started out as calligraphic sketches. And when setting up a calligraphic text, one would use many principles (if one may call them such) of typography.
    It might be an interesting subject to explore the connection between calligraphy and typography.

  21. Ko

    Why are there no asterisks with seven arms, legs, petals or whatever you call those things? The five and six armed versions are common, you may see a very occasional eight-legger and I have on my work computer a four sided version from Blippo Bold YU, one of the sixty Serbian Orthodox Church Latinica fonts, that looks so weird it can’t be confused with a + or x. (In the ‘normal’ Blippo/Blippo Black versions that float around, the asterisk is five sided - such detail could possibly help in finding out if a typeface has been derived, copied or ripped of from another font: type forensics).

    Getting carried away here. Is there an asterisk with seven extremities?

  22. Andrew

    Oh, can’t wait till next Sunday… not that this Sunday wasn’t great. Cause it was!

  23. Wonderful post this week, loved the calligraphy section! I’m also really curious on who are you going to interview next!

    PS: great new favicon!

  24. Wonderful post

  25. Rather off topic, John, but I LOVE how you’ve styled the number of subscribers!! That is absolutely beautiful! Please do tell how (or give a link)?

    I like seeing work done with type as the main graphic, like the ampersand book. It seems more creative to me than just using pictures. I wish I could learn the secrets…

    Wow! And what styling for AJAX edit comments! You have been working really hard behind the scenes here lately, John!

    Ah, and I had an idea about the interviews: would one with a designer that does typography well be out of the question? I’m thinking questions about getting a solid handle on using type would be helpful to those of us trying to learn it. I know it’s not the same as interviewing a type designer, but I thought it would still be interesting and helpful.

  26. A student of mine turned me on to your blog and I am very grateful she did as I just finished my first test surf. Fantastic site - thank you for a great resource and interesting read! I will share with my designers and students alike.

  27. Ko
    I can’t think of any seven-spoke asterisk. I guess that it would soon start to look like something of a blob at small sizes.

    About “calligraphy not being typography”, chapter three of Fred Smeijers’ Counterpunch does a wonderful job of explaining the differences (there are similarities and overlaps, of course) between handwriting (calligraphy), lettering, and typography.

    Written letters can be used only during the process of writing itself: the moment of production and of use is one and the same.

    Thanks. The main reason for the new favicon is that it scales well, and I can use it at larger sizes elsewhere: twitter and as a Gravatar.

    Thank you. The subscriber count is made with the Feed Count plugin and a CSS background image (set with Anziano Ornaments and small caps. The interview idea is a good one. Do you have anyone in mind?

  28. The interview idea is a good one. Do you have anyone in mind?

    Indeed! That’s an easy question: YOU!

    I’ve also found Cody Curley’s use of typography very beautiful (haven’t seen him around lately!), and Jon Tan, too. If you feel weird interviewing yourself, I can come up with some questions for you :)

  29. I second Travis comment, Sunday Type is indeed becoming a Sunday tradition. =)

    There is just one problem with it – I want more, it’s addictive. ;)

  30. Lauren
    you’ve got me thinking now. Me interviewed on iLT? I wonder? I guess it would help readers get to sleep :)

    Magnus & Travis
    Thanks very much. I really enjoy writing it each week, and it’s wonderful to receive such positive feedback.

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