I Love Typography

Sunday Type: garbage type

roman, italic, rotalic

August marks iLT’s first birthday, and I’d like to ask you all for suggestions on how we might celebrate. I have begun organising some prizes, so if you can think of a competition or whatever, then let me know in the comments below. Don’t be shy.

I’ve recently begun heading this post with a lovely photo of found type. Let’s stick with that. Here’s one from Simon Pascal Klein:

simon pascal klein

The image/photo blog is a newly created section of Simon’s blog called TypeNuts. Simon contacted me upon realising that I’d used the same name for the early iLT cartoons and an idea for a type news site that I’m still developing. So, if you can think of an alternative name, then let him know.

Bekka Palmer takes a look at garbage type—literally type constructed from garbage. Don’t try this in your living room:

YouTube Preview Image

Matt Sutter’s Octopus made entirely from Avenir, and called—well, could it be called anything else—the Typtopus—has found its way onto a t-shirt:

typtotus t-shirt

Some hyperbole in the title, but several nice posters in 40+ Killer Typographic Posters. This is one of my favourites:

beauty type poster

A while back I mentioned the Inkthis exhibition in Leicester. Here are some photos of the event:

inkthis 3: facelift


The Flickr set is here. I’d love to organise this kind of event in Japan some day.

Discovered the work of Robert Bolesta. Here’s value Pack from way back in 2005:

robert bolesta value pack

Are there words that you consistently misread? Painter Christopher Wool and writer/musician Richard Hell teamed up to create Psychopts a collection of frequently misread word pairs:


Salve mistaken for slave. Via mediabistro. Would love a copy, though I think they’ve sold out.

Aegir Hallmundur of Ministry of Type has been busy with beziers again. This time he has done a wonderful job of resurrecting this wonderful poster with its rather nice PK monogram.

ministry of type

Be sure to see Aegir’s stamps too:

polish stamps

He mentions printing these A3. I certainly hope so; they’d make beautiful posters. Inspiration from AceJet 170’s post.

I mentioned the Konstfack Characters last month. A recent post on typographer.org led me to this video of the characters in action:

F is quite the dribbler; a little greedy though.

Some ceramic type from Stephanie DeArmond:

stephanie dearmond

A couple of noteworthy book covers. On the left, Milk, designed by Barbara deWilde; on the right, Kerouac’s On the Road, designed by Jez Burrows for Penguin’s 2008 Design Award.

book design

Love the intro to Debbie Millman’s Design Matters Live video. What’s more, it’s an interview with none other than the hugely talented designer Marian Bantjes:

YouTube Preview Image

And a recent piece from Bantjes for Wired:

marian bantjes

This piece on Wikipedia made me laugh a lot. Upon reflection, it’s not so funny (perhaps too much caffeine), but I still like it. Introducing, not an italic, not even an oblique, but … drum roll … the Rotalic:

rotalic the rotated italic

Via itsnicethat.com.

Love these PoppTags, letterpressed gift cards to accompany your gift of wine:


Via swissmiss.

I just picked up the latest issue of idea (アイデア) magazine, which features the work of Herb Lubalin, Alan Fletcher, et. al. Content includes a great republished interview with Lublain (from 1969), an article by Helmut Schmid on the work of Karl Gerstner, and much more.

idea magazine

idea magazine

herb lublain idea magazine

Spot the deliberate mistake in the last spread. Why isn’t idea magazine more popular outside of Japan? In time, I’ll upload some more spreads to my Flickr Idea set.

Matthew Raw’s Barrier Language Wall:

matthew raw

Sunday Links

Type badges from unconfessableideas

Graphic Design Museum Breda—photos

3D Type

Better CSS Font Stacks—via Andy Rutledge

Everywhere but body type

Calligraphy is art t-shirt

Down with Helvetica; design your own font—via How

Type Tips

Sometimes when setting type, you may need to set just a word or two with accented characters that your chosen font just doesn’t have. If you don’t have the accent, then search for a suitable one in another font, adjust baseline shift to ensure that it’s at the right height, then kern your letter and your borrowed accent together:

type tip accented characters

If you find that your text has numerous accented characters that don’t exist in your chosen font, then you’re probably using the wrong font. Good fonts should provide broad language support. Find one that can set all of your text.

There’s a wonderful line in Bringhurst’s The Elements of Typographic Style from the chapter on Analphabetic Symbols (chapter 5),

In the republic of typography, the lowliest, most incidental mark is also a citizen.

So, in honour of those oft-overlooked citizens, here are a few periods or full stops:

the humble period / full stop

Though in many fonts, the humble period is circular (or very nearly so), there is ample room for bringing a little character to this incidental mark. Question: in one language the period is actually a letter of the alphabet. Which language?

Today’s Types

First, something fun. Timothy Donaldson’s ITC Jellybaby, curvy and bold with small offset counters:

ITC Jellybaby

And Robert Slimbach’s roman script Brioso Pro:

brioso pro font / typeface

Originally designed in 2004, it’s now available in all its OpenType glory.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s Sunday Type. If you missed Jos Buivenga’s mid-week article, Anivers—birth of a typeface, then be sure to take a look. Have a great week.


  1. Johanna

    Hah - I did a ground meat alphabet in my first term of uni, too - way back in 2004 ;) Mine didn’t have such a flashy name, though, or, now that I think about it, actually no name at all - just “Hackalphabet”.

    Thank you for your great collections of type-related things for Sunday type - thoroughly enjoyable! (Not sure if that phrase makes sense, but as these words came to my mind instantly when typing this “thank you”, they must have some kind of relevance.)

    Greetings from Germany,

  2. Johanna
    Makes complete sense. Thank you. Do you have any photos of your Hackalphabet project? Likewise, greetings from Japan.

  3. Is it Arabic with the period as a letter, or actually, number?

  4. Jeff
    Not Arabic. But I guess you could be thinking of Eastern Arabic Numerals (٠[0]١[1]٢[2]٣[3]٤[4]٥[5]٦[6]٧[7]٨[8]٩[9]), where the zero does resemble a period.
    Clue: northwestern America.

  5. Top stuff as always, Johno. I especially liked the book covers and it got me thinking: how about a post specifically related to excellent typography in book (cover) design? Of course, the real challenge would be knowing where to start!

  6. Elliot
    That’s a great idea. In fact a two-part post covering book cover design and the setting of type within the covers would make for a good post.

    Yes, were to start? Fancy writing a piece?

  7. Another inspirational Sunday (real Sunday) Type ;-)
    I love those ceramic letters and popptags. I was wondering if Simon knew that you’ve originated the term Typenuts. I’ll see what I can come up with for his type photoblog.

    I don’t know in which language the period is actually a letter of the alphabet (perhaps in one of the Native Indian languages?), but did you know that in Armenian the period is what we use for the colon here “:” ? Here’s an Armenian newspaper for you to look at. See all those periods/colons?
    And speaking of an Armenian alphabet, I just came across the letters from the Museum of Armenian Letters on Flickr, fascinating stuff.

  8. inspirationbit
    Very interesting. I had no idea that the Armenian period U+0589 (։) resembles a colon U+003A ( : ). I wonder what the story behind that is.
    Thanks too for the great Flickr set link.

    And, no, I didn’t just happen to know the Unicode reference for the Armenian period. I looked it up on unicode.org :)

  9. One person’s junk is another’s typography it seems! Hehe, very neat.

    Thanks for the writeup John!

    I love that idea. Though it scares me just a little, since I’ll probably start buying books based solely on the covers. (As if I haven’t done that before…)

    I wouldn’t know exactly where to start, but a lot of covers coming from Penguin are quite nice. And let’s not forget Chip Kidd.

  10. Thanks for that unicode.org link, John.
    I don’t know what’s the story behind the Armenian period, but Armenian alphabet is full of surprises. It contains sounds that don’t exist in many other languages, it even has two different letters for “R”. One is a soft “R”, another one is a harsh “R”.

    But I guess the most interesting letter from a typographic perspective would be the Armenian small ligature U+0587 that’s pronounced “yev”. It doesn’t have the capital version, so when a word contains sounds “ev” somewhere in the middle (e.g. Yer[ev]an), then the small ligature “ev” is used. However if a word starts with the sounds “ev” (e.g. [Ev]a ), then two letters “E” and “v” are used instead of the small ligature.

  11. Hamish
    Chip Kidd. Yes, goodness, we could devote several posts to him. I like what Zeldman wrote about him here. And in that there’s another idea for a series of posts: The Work of ….

    I’m off to study Armenian! Sounds fascinating. I can feel a Vivien-authored post on Armenian typography coming on :)

  12. Johanna

    - I do :) It was a fun project - the task was to create an alphabet using whatever one would come up with. My first try was a pixelfont-like grid of tealights, the lighted ones forming the charakters - but messing around with mushy meat was simply more fun.

  13. The Inuktituk alphabet uses a “.” for the Latin “a” equivalent.

    I picked up that issue of Wired after flipping through it half-heartedly and seeing Marian’s piece.

  14. Nice post once again!

    I’m really looking forward for the anniversary competition. I had some trouble finding out some of the terms for the last crossword (i only new them in portuguese) but i’ll gladly try another one.

    I really enjoyed the two book covers, i think it’s a nice addition to your already so complete weekly post. And since you mentioned book covers I’m still amazed with the covers for the portuguese (Brazilian portuguese to be more accurate) version of Ellen Lupton Thinking with Type. There are 3 different versions of the cover but since the book covers where printed with movable type the aren’t actually two similar books.You can see a foto of the tree covers here, along whith detail fotos of the version that i own.

    No idea about the north american language. And talking about ideas, that idea (アイデア) magazine looks great! Got to try and find some place that sels it here in portugal!

    Keep up the good work!

  15. Don’t know about the . letter, but Justin sounds pretty sure. ;)

    Not sure what your other competition ideas were. I’d be interested to hear/read them. The idea I had was that we could attempt to design an “a” for a hypothetical font, or maybe a few letter that demonstrate a few more features, like a, f and g or something like that. Obviously designing fonts and typefaces is a lot of work and takes a lot of time and skill, but the aim of just a few letters could be to design the bowls, mitres (if they’re the right terms)… that kind of stuff. I think that would be fun. The winners could either be the best letters, or random draw.

  16. Henk Metselaar

    On the design of book covers:
    We visited the Dick Bruna house in Utrecht last week (he’s the creator of miffy). Also on display are some of the very many book covers he designed for Bruna (his family’s publishing house, think Dutch Penguin). I was thoroughly impressed with his simple, rather minimalist design that gives such a strong visual impact and is identifiable at first glance as ‘Bruna’.

  17. Nikolaj

    I think the period is a character in Greek. (Iota?) But it could also be in Latin.

  18. Nikolaj, that’s a great idea about the Greek iota, but not correct. Don’t know where that phrase comes from because iotas don’t have any dots.

  19. Nikolaj

    It’s something Christ said. But the language then was Aramaïc, and He could also be referring to Hebrew. Honestly I don’t know. I know that the NT is in Greek, but back in the day they talked in Aramaïc. So the translator might have tried to get across an idea that’s not really translatable.

    I might have to research it.

  20. Oh yeah, I forgot about that one! Funny how biblical language and phrases permeate our own language, often until we don’t remember where they came from.

  21. Dan

    Nikolaj might be on to something. The Hebrew “yod” is sometimes rendered as a period (in cursive, though)… Thanks again for a great read. iLT is my favorite blog. Greetings from Romania.

  22. Nikolaj


    Thanks for sorting that out. I think I heard that in a sermon somewhere once. So I’d go for that.

  23. Perhaps the Iota/Jesus reference you’re thinking of is the theological battle that culminated in the Council of Nicaea (325 A.D.) where the definition of the Holy Trinity was bashed out. The iota comes from the “homo-ousian” / “homoi-ousian” debate; meaning roughly “of the same substance/essence” and “of similar substance/essence”, respectively. Only an iota (Greek letter i ) separates the two words.

    If you’re interested in the history surrounding this event, then I reommend Schaff’s History of the Church—Anti-Nicene Christianity, A.D. 100-325. Vol. 2.

  24. Nikolaj


    thanks, yet that was not what I was referring to. (Though I am interested in it)

    I was referring to this:

    Matthew 5:17-18
    “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.
    For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”

  25. Johanna
    Thanks for getting back to me with that photo.

    Thank you. And thanks for the link. Good luck in finding idea in Portugal. If you can’t find a copy, then let me know, and I’ll grab one from the new-stand and post to you.

    Sounds wonderful. Do you have any photos?


    The Inuktituk [sic] alphabet uses a “.” for the Latin “a” equivalent.

    Does it? I have no idea. Perhaps we’ll need to check with someone at Tiro Typeworks; unless you have a reference.

  26. Nikolaj
    Interestingly (I just checked online), the English Standard Version of the Bible reads, “… not an iota, not a dot, ….”. Not that I’m anything of an expert on the Bible; but interesting nonetheless.

    Just had a though for a post on typography and the Bible throughout the ages, from the 42-line Bible to the present-day. Thinking aloud….

  27. johno
    It doesn’t, as it turns out. On further checking, I had a bad source. The Inuktitut ‘a’ is a triangle pointing left. Add a dot above the vertical stroke, and it becomes ‘aa’.

    I know the answer is also not Cherokee, as they aren’t from northwestern America.

    Am I on the right track in thinking the answer is a native American alphabet? There’s not a lot of native North American alphabets. All that I know of except Cherokee use Canadian Aboriginal syllabics.

  28. Good stuff as always. For the anniversary i think we should have some kind of fun give away or type design contest, something along those lines.

  29. Nikolaj


    “Just had a though for a post on typography and the Bible throughout the ages, from the 42-line Bible to the present-day. Thinking aloud….”

    I’ll be supporting aloud!

    As a side note, I saw you used four points instead of three in a row.
    I thought of saying it’s wrong, but in your post you are consistent in it, so I was thinking that there was maybe a rule that I don’t know about it.

  30. Leo Shaw

    What font is that “a” in the accented characters tip?

  31. Leo Shaw

    I do believe that’s Umie (a typeface John’s working on).

  32. Bert Vanderveen

    Spot the deliberate mistake in the last spread. Why isn’t idea magazine more popular outside of Japan?

    Because it’s VERY expensive over here (talking about the Netherlands). Up to € 40 for a single issue. € 240 for a subscription. That’s serious money…

  33. Leo
    Justin is right.

    Yes, that is expensive. I’ll have to get some as prizes.

  34. That hamburger ‘face’ is great. That’s a whole lotta beef. I wish I was half as clever/creative as the people that create the stuff you post.

  35. Love this blog and these posts. Really liked the octopus, among other things. i tried creating flowers out of type a couple of months ago, kinda fun. Made me wonder about creating more complex figures, and then I find Johno’s find. Nice.

    -As for contests, I really like the idea of using ground meat, tealights, even teabags for creating fonts. Sarah France, a friend and excellent designer, recently made a nice ampersand constituted by (what seem to be) small bits of wood. So a contest to create your own type, or rather adapting another, using unusual materials seems rather enticing. Having no formal type training whatsoever, I did not have anything of the sort at school.

    -Designing a bookcover for an imaginary book, maybe with a given or random theme. Maybe like the Dadaists, we could make up a theme or title from random words selected from a user created pool.

    -best hand made font (this includes my first proposal, but could be limited to hand drawn/painted)

    -all I got for now, gotta get to work now, designing my personal image and choosing the proper type is killer!

    Cheers fro Colombia.

  36. even being a vegetarian i really enjoy the meat packed type…i know weird but VERY creative. Awesome post!

  37. What’s the gorgeous circus-type font under the Typografism.se link?

  38. Yes, that was sloppy of me. I should have put some kind of source there. I think it’s from the book ’Alphabet’, an international annual of letterforms. Unfortunately only one issue was released, in 1964. The book is somewhere at home, so I’ll dig it up later.

  39. thanks frederik!

  40. Until then You can take a closer peek at http://typografism.se/?p=56

  41. Thanks for that, I did have a quick browse on the linked site but my Swedish clearly needs work.. :)

  42. Sam

    Is the language with the period in the alphabet Lojban?


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