I Love Typography

Sunday Type: typesetting type

Questionable Type

First, thanks to Kris Sowersby for his wonderful review of FF Balance. It certainly had me looking at that particular type in a fresh light. Today, we have quite a hefty Sunday Type, so let’s get started. A couple of weeks ago I posted an illustration of ten asterisks. Today, we have the humble question mark.

question marks

No one is quite sure how the present form came to be. Some believe that It originated from the Latin abbreviation for question, Qo, where the Q was written above the o.

origin of the question mark

There are numerous other theories, ranging from the downright silly (the cats tail) to the more plausible, like the question mark evolving from an inverted form of the semicolon. Interestingly, the semicolon [U+003B] is used in Greek as a question mark. Perhaps one day, we’ll know for sure. German readers may also enjoy this TypoWiki Interpunktion (punctuation) article. The question mark is also known as an eroteme.

For most of us, body type rarely goes beyond scribbling a telephone number on the back of our hand. This, from for the love of type, is a few levels up from that:

body type

And no, I will not be posting similar photos of myself covered in lettering (probably illegal in 32 states and as many countries). Many of you will know that the terms uppercase and lowercase come from the two cases used in typesetting. However, with the introduction of the California Job Case, we see those two become one.

YouTube Preview Image

Here’s the lay or layout of a California Job Case:

california job case layout

Wish the photo extended to include those posters underneath. Thanks to Jason Santa Maria for the photo. In fact, Jason was lucky enough to join one of Tobias Frere-Jones’ New York City Type Tours. Be sure to check out Jason’s Alphabet City photos too.

From setting type by hand to casting by machine. The Monotype machine was a stroke of genius; here’s a short video explaining how it works.

YouTube Preview Image

I only wish I had room for one. And from MonoType to Ottmar Mergenthaler’s brilliant LinoType, I recently read the really fun A Line of Type: 120 years of typographic history. I recommend it to you.

a line of type

I’d like to see them tackle an entire history of type using the same format.

Robin McDowell mixes old and new with letterpress and ornamental wood block type designed in Adobe Illustrator and cut by laser.

McDowell wood type, laser cut, letterpress

Also like this lettering from the very same Robin McDowell:

emilie froh

This is what she has to say about its construction:

This design is based on the numeral 3 from ITC Kabel undergoing several ninety degree rotations. The serifs were added later and completed with rounded tips for a friendliness otherwise absent.

Some more of her work here.

New Type

Primavera is a new type from Sudtipos, a collaboration between Alejandro Paul and Angel Koziupa:

primavera

available in regular and italic.

Inspiration

Nice calendar. Not available now, but for 2009, perhaps.

calendar 2008

Via jmdickinson on Twitter.

Give Lego to a type nut, and you’re not going to get a rocket. This young lady is obviously a terminal case:

lego type

Smashing Text Effects

smashing text effects

Inpsired by PSDTUTS, Aegir Hallmundur at the Ministry of Type produced this gorgeous example:

illuminated type

Sunday Links

Flash Player 10: Languages and OpenType

My Fonts: Rising Stars

TypeCon2008—hurry and book!

CSS Gradient Text Effect—web designer wall

10 Examples of Beautiful CSS Typography

Roman Tragedy—great article

Behind the Scenes of Exquisite Web Typography—part 4

How bold can Darth Vader be?—Ironic Sans

An alternative to Comic Sans—FontBlog

TypeBook—AceJet 170

98% off Font Mesa’s complete SilverLand family. See the Silverland page for details on how to claim the discount (just enter a gift code, and you’ll get the whole family for just $4.98).

Coming Soon

Jos Buivenga has almost finished his additions to Anivers (italic, bold, and small caps, plus extended language support). Looks as though it will be available this week some time. Here’s a taste of what’s to come—in the shape of a desktop wallpaper:

anivers desktop wallpaper

As I’m still organising a prize for the crossword, I’ll post it later this week, along with details of the prize. Thanks for your patience.

We have some more interviews soon, plus that piece on Why Type Matters, and the fifth instalment of my type history series, Slab Serif.

Be sure to have a great week!


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  1. jeffjose

    john,
    The “10 Examples of Beautiful CSS Typography” link is broken for me.
    Did I forget to mention it was a great article ? :)
    Thanks

  2. jeffjose
    Thanks for that. Fixed it now. Pleased you could find and enjoy it despite that.

  3. I’m glad that girl can at least wash that type off her body at some point ;-) Have you seen the movie Memento? The guy there has a special type of amnesia, so he tattoos things/notes that he doesn’t want to forget on his body, while he’s investigating his wife’s murder.

    The Emilie type reminded me of a similar face: eight.

  4. Wow!! I’m gonna have to get some legos!

    ¿Why in Spanish do they use an upside down question mark?

  5. mesiu

    Evan, I think opening and closing question (and exclamation) marks are quite useful when you’re reading to a large crowd and you know the next sentence is going to be a question without having even started to read the first word. Pretty clever, uh?

    John, super good article, again.
    And hey, mind the b in Kris’ last name.

  6. Great article once again! Wished i could go to typeCon2008!

  7. mesiu
    Thanks for that. A typo in the first line!

  8. Pedro
    Me too. Who wants to be iLT’s TypeCon reporter; perhaps someone would like to write something about the event…some photos, hightlights—that kind of thing.

  9. Good stuff Johno. Very good “interpunktion” article you linked to. I’ve seen the Helvetica Calendar on Greig’s website. You guys should check out his hand pressed wedding invitation, very clean foil project. :) Keep it up!

    -MP

  10. Really nice Sunday type, I never really thought where the question mark came from, it was always just there. That makes me think about a lot of symbols now. I cant wait for the full release of the Anivers family, yet another great addition to my font book :)

  11. Manu

    A cat’s tail looks like a question mark when he’s curious, and like an exclamation point when he’s alert…

    There can be no other explanation for the origin of those characters :)

  12. Katja Bak

    what an arousing post this week *g*

  13. Manu
    Awaiting corroborative documentary evidence—preferably photos of your own cat ;)

    By the way, Anivers was released today!

  14. Johno — Thanks for the link on “10 Examples of Beautiful CSS Typography”! — Deb

  15. Deb
    Good to see you here again. Pleasure. Working on any interesting projects these days?

  16. > I’d like to see them tackle an entire history of type
    > using the same format.

    Not necessary. Already done:
    http://www.buymyfonts.com/data/book.html

    Actually, the Linotype book was done by Jan Middendorp and Alessio Leonardi precisely because Linotype was so impressed with Alessio’s own book “From the Cow to the Typewriter: the (true) History of Writing”.

    Adam

  17. great post. I really enjoy getting my daily dose of typography, great way to make it threw the day.

  18. kostakis

    great article. nice to read it. keep your writings like this

  1. ? « semangat!—Jun 10, 2008
  2. ?—Aug 5, 2008

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