Welcome to my page of quotations about typeface and typography. Let’s not get into any tiffs over terminology, but some of these quotes use “typeface” and “font” interchangeably. We’ll just deal with it, to make life more peaceful.
I’m a sucker for a good font. ~The Middle, “The 100th,” 2013, written by David S. Rosenthal [S5, E4, Brick Heck]
Your choice of font says more about you than the words it’s written in. If you’re feeling bold, always italicize. And don’t be afraid to let your freak font fly. ~Brick Heck’s “Fontcast” on The Middle, “The Table,” 2014, written by Roy Brown
When typography is on point, words become images. ~Shawn Lukas, 2015, shawnlukas.com
Typography is the craft of endowing human language with a durable visual form, and thus with an independent existence. Its heartwood is calligraphy — the dance, on a tiny stage, of the living, speaking hand — and its roots reach into living soil, though its branches may be hung each year with new machines. So long as the root lives, typography remains a source of true delight, true knowledge, true surprise. ~Robert Bringhurst, The Elements of Typographic Style, 1992
Nerd truth. Comic Sans absolutely messes up everything it touches. ~Katie Linendoll, 2015
I’m silently judging your font choice. ~Internet meme, c. 2014
Nothing says high school English paper quite like Times New Roman. ~Internet meme, c. 2015
Comic Sans — ruining PowerPoint presentations since 1994. ~Internet meme, c. 2015
The basic theory is that typography should not shout — but Comic Sans shouts. ~Vincent Connare, typographer and creator of said typeface, in a 2017 interview with Ben Beaumont-Thomas, theguardian.com
Arial — Helvetica’s weird, ugly cousin. ~Internet meme, c. 2015
In a badly designed book, the letters mill and stand like starving horses in their field. In a book designed by rote, they sit like stale bread and mutton on the page. In a well-made book, where designer, compositor and printer have all done their jobs, no matter how many thousands of lines and pages, the letters are alive. They dance in their seats. Sometimes they rise and dance in the margins and aisles. ~Robert Bringhurst, The Elements of Typographic Style, 1992
Geometry can produce legible letters, but art alone makes them beautiful. Art begins where geometry ends, and imparts to letters a character transcending mere measurement. ~Paul Standard, quoted in John R. Biggs, Basic Typography, 1968
Your favorite font is Comic Sans — please, tell me about your extensive typographic knowledge. ~Internet meme, c. 2015
…the final haul on Halloween night… ten to fifteen pounds of candy, a riot of colored wrappers and hopeful fonts… ~Steve Almond, “Night of the Living Freak,” Candyfreak: A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America, 2004
I am a lifelong lover of form — content interplay, and this book is no exception. As with several of my previous books, I have had the chance to typeset it down to the finest level of detail, and my quest for visual elegance on each page has had countless repercussions on how I phrase my ideas. To some this may sound like the tail wagging the dog, but I think that attention to form improves anyone’s writing. I hope that reading this book not only is stimulating intellectually but also is a pleasant visual experience. ~Douglas Hofstadter, I Am a Strange Loop, 2007 [wholeheartedly agree!
A font of type is a complete collection, with a proper apportionment to each character, of the mated types required for an ordinary text. The letters are in unequal request: ‘a’ and ‘e’ appear repeatedly in long sentences; ‘z’ and ‘q’ may not be found in a page. The type-founder tries to supply each character in proportion to its frequency of use, so that the printer shall have enough of every and not too much of any character.
The written or printed summery of the proper quantity of types for each character is known in the United States as a scheme, and in Great Britain as a bill, for type… The apportionment of characters is necessarily varied for different languages… The scheme is not, and cannot be, nicely adapted to every kind of literary composition in English. For poetry there must be a large excess of quadrats; for the personal narrative, an excess of I; for tables or statistics, an excess of figures; &c. ~Theodore Low de Vinne, “A Font of Type,” The Practice of Typography, 1899 [Wow! That’s like the publishing equivalent of walking eight miles to school every day, uphill in the snow, barefoot.
An exasperating thing that occurs in the daily life of a job compositor is to find when he has hit upon a good style of type for a display line that there is one letter short. After a muttered imprecation, he generally begins the time-wasting process of hunting through neighboring boxes; failing in his search here, he usually goes through the dead boards, and then the live forms. Finally, after an unavailing search of perhaps ten or fifteen minutes, he pitches the line back in the case and tries some other font. And it is hardly necessary to add that the change is made to the detriment of the display. ~“Some Useful Hints,” The American Bookmaker: A Journal of Technical Art and Information for Printers, Book Binders & Publishers, March 1896 [Oh, how we take modern technology for granted!
The character of typography is not pressing and printing, but mobilization. The
There is only one way of damaging type more destructive than shaking the cases, and that is to unmercifully hammer the face of a form with a heavy mallet and hard planer. If any printer has a font of script he doesn’t want his customers to require him to use, let him try this plan of shaking the case containing it and mark the result. The delicate lines will have such a scratched and broken appearance after a few operations that he will soon be compelled to dump the font into the hell box… The fine serifs are soon broken off, and the dotless i becomes more and more frequent until the font has to be replenished. ~“Some Useful Hints,” The American Bookmaker: A Journal of Technical Art and Information for Printers, Book Binders & Publishers, March 1896
A type has at last been made which absolutely imitates the “fabric” effect of the typewriter ribbon. We wonder some one didn’t think of it before. Every printer can now have a font of this patented type and print typewriter circulars in unlimited quantities direct from the type-face, on an ordinary printing press, without manipulation — the type alone does it all. You should see a sample of this work. ~“Review of Specimens: At Last! At Last!,” The American Printer & Bookmaker, January 1900
Font & Typography Quotations
Original post date: 2015 Oct 29
1st major revision: 2020 Jan 15