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September 16, 2006

Heading Back -- An Open Thread

On my way back to Ohio in just a couple of hours. You kids play nice while I'm away. Consider this an open thread.

To get the conversation started: What's your favorite font?

Posted by john at September 16, 2006 10:40 AM

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Deanna Hoak | September 16, 2006 11:05 AM

Can I please take the opportunity to point people to my post on how to be nice to their copyeditor (which includes information on which font to use)?

I don't particularly like to look at Courier New, but it's vastly easier for me to spot typos in it.

Joe Hass | September 16, 2006 11:07 AM

I think News Gothic is my all time favorite, though I also like Futura, Franklin Gothic, Copperplate Bold, and the new highway sign font, Clearview. I've never been much into serifs; must be a personality issue.

Bonus Font Story: My then-girlfriend-now-wife walked into the Palace of Auburn Hills a few years back, and I noticed they replaced the signage. I was able to identify both the display font and the body copy font. To which my wife said, "God, what have I gotten myself into?"

Joe Hass | September 16, 2006 11:09 AM


Not only am I nice to my copy editors, I also bring them cookies on occasion. They, in turn, are impressed that I'm the only person outside their department who argues with them on Gregg v University of Chicago v AP.

Why, yes, I do have a life. Why do you ask?

Jas | September 16, 2006 11:20 AM

I'm a Lucida Typewriter man myself, though Lucida Sans is a nice close second. Apparently I'm not much for serifs either.

David | September 16, 2006 11:32 AM

Four consecutive posts on the same subject in an open thread? Wait, where am I? This IS the Whatever, right?

Brad Ackerman | September 16, 2006 11:40 AM

For headlines, Benguiat. For serif body text, Garamond or Jenson, especially the latter since I've got the Adobe OpenType version with a metric boatload of historical ligatures, lowercase letters, and so on. For sans-serif, Syntax or Benguiat Gothic.

I should have a favorite monospaced font (for programming), but I seem to just use whatever. I suppose that means I'm slacking. I don't have a favorite Japanese font because they're so bleeping expensive, but I'm partial to kyŨkasho-style ones (like handwriting, but not as indecipherable as real handwriting).

Ruth | September 16, 2006 11:40 AM

I love Pristina; I think it's the most beautiful font out there. Alas, I've yet to find anything to use it for.

Deanna Hoak | September 16, 2006 11:41 AM

Joe: Ah, but you call us "copy editors." :-P I've always hated the way that sounds, though some copyeditors are such prescriptivists that they wouldn't dream of going against Web11 on a matter like compounding.

Still, cookies make up for a lot. ;-)

Jeff Hentosz | September 16, 2006 11:51 AM

AP style! Woooo! [all the current and former reporters in the house do the Wave].

ahem...fonts. Seconding Franklin Gothic. There's nothing that face can't make look good. Emigre's Fairplex (Narrow and Wide) is my favorite serif for the past couple years. Still loves the Goudy Oldstyle. Arcana GMM Manuscript is a great script face that looks — I don't know — sort of, "My dearest Neville, I've just met the most beguiling vampire." Yeah, like that.

To file under "You're Kidding Me": Papyrus script has gotten to look awfully dated in my opinion. I thought it was cool in 1997. Which is why I was stunned to see it show up on the poster for Serenity last year. I thought, "Ah, that's just temporary." But no, the characters actually paint the very typeface on the side of the Firefly! I love the movie, but that part makes me wince and laugh at the same time.

Hilary | September 16, 2006 11:57 AM

Personally I prefer the font of knowledge.

Mary Robinette Kowal | September 16, 2006 12:03 PM

Favorite? Oooo... That's hard. I have a weakness for fonts. I love Arts and Crafts Hunter and Victorian Swash. Alas, they are rarely useful. I'm also very fond of Dearest Swash, which is the title font for Shimmer.

Joe Hass | September 16, 2006 12:12 PM


At my current gig (a not-insigificant-sized advertising agency), we have a clearly labeled "copy editing" department, wherein we have delightful throwdowns on such topics as "space or no space before and after an em dash?" The great part about them is that they're not sticklers on any rule: if they mark it, and I decide it doesn't work, there's no skin off their nose. In a previous gig, we had a proofreader who was so adamant about his markups, he'd go to my supervisor and insist that his changes were right, and that the very state of the union was at risk if we didn't remove the repeated use of the word "ensure" in the same graf.

I'm also the de facto proofreader in our department: if it can't go up to the copy editors, the general rule is to let Joe take a shot at it, which I consider to be quite a compliment. Then again, my wife and I have already decided that, should we decide to become superheroes, we will be "Proofing Man and Woman," protecting our fair city from such atrocities as "Steak And Egg's $5.99" by yielding red spray cans and paint pens.

Nate | September 16, 2006 12:23 PM

I've got a special place in my heart for Blackadder. I use for all the names in my chapter titles. Hard to read when small, but cool to look at when blown up.

CJ-in-Weld | September 16, 2006 12:36 PM

Garamond, for body text. It has all the functionality of Time New Roman, but is fresh and pretty!

Annalee Flower Horne | September 16, 2006 12:37 PM

I guess I'm in the minority with the serif-love then... for book typesetting, I like to read things in Times New Roman, Book Antiqua, Bookman Oldstyle, etc. I write in courrier new, just because it's easier to spot typos that way.

For posters and signs, lj icons, etc, I rely heavily on Arial, Times New Roman, Dauphin, and English111 Vivace (my favorite cursive font at the moment). Michaelmas is nice too, and Papyrus certainly has its own undeniable charm.

For immitation fonts:
-star jedi hollow
-Loki Cola
-Lumos (Harry Potter)

Janice in GA | September 16, 2006 12:56 PM

Papyrus, but only for decorative stuff. You couldn't read a whole book in that font, but it shore is purty.

Andrew Wade | September 16, 2006 01:08 PM

What's your favorite font?

For the fixed-width fonts I like fairly heavy 8x12 (bitmapped) fonts. I don't really know their names; they're usually labelled as "OEM" or "VGA" or somesuch. I've used Lucida console on occasion, and I don't mind it, but I really don't like Courier New.

For proportional width fonts, I really haven't found one I've much liked. Tahoma is probably my favourite so far. When I had a job correcting Optical Character Recognition errors I think I ended up going with a large bold Verdana, + slightly increased character spacing. (Yeah, it was pretty ugly). A fixed-width font would probably have been best for that application, but I really don't like prose in fixed-width. The problem with correcting OCR errors is that OCR tends to be confused by patterns that "look the same" - rn/m for instance; and in a proportional font they tend to "look the same" to a proofreader as well. Verdana is one of the few sans-serif fonts to distinguish "I" and "l" well; those bars at the ends of the "I" need not be serifs, but sans-serif font designers persist in omitting them. (pet peeve). Verdana was also good at distinguishing 0/O and 1/l; the most common OCR mix-ups, but for my particular application I simply highlighted all the digits in a passage.

For a few years I used Comic Sans MS as my browser font, as I liked the simple letterforms, lack of serifs, and weight (for grey-on-black text). But it just wasn't transparent enough.

Incidentally I prefer my monitor text to be pale green or pale purple on black - this calls for a pretty heavy font. But I've given up on fighting websites when it comes to colour schemes.

This is all for on-monitor text; for printed text my preference would probably be with the bog-standard Times New Roman.

Mark Erikson | September 16, 2006 01:10 PM

As a programmer, I like ProggyClean for all my coding work. It's a bitmap font, so no resizing, but it's monospaced and does a very nice job of delineating between 1's, l's, i's, 0's, and o's. Oh, and you think the font question is bad with writers? Just ask it in a room full of programmers... then step back and watch the pocket protectors fly :)

Steve Buchheit | September 16, 2006 01:12 PM

Univers. Most every other font I've used goes in an out of style, but univers remains both an exceptionally rendered family, it's versitile, I can stretch and compress it all to heck and gone and it's still readable.

Say, what are the x-heights this year? 2/3 or 3/5. I haven't been keeping up with fashion. Given the prediliction for Garamond (I'm assuming the Adobe cut) and Times I'm getting 3/5, and x-height = cap height. I long for the days when old style makes a comeback, and then we can have discussions about type until we cry uncial.

Andrew Wade | September 16, 2006 01:41 PM

I should probably mention I'm a programmer too so I don't bump up against many fonts, and I'm sure there is many a fine font that I haven't given a chance to. (I am, however, browsing proggyfonts.com at this very moment. Thanks Mark).

Chang | September 16, 2006 01:52 PM

Anything without a serif.

Universal is sexy.

OCR A is hot.

Whatever they use on the MTA signs in NYC is A OK with M.E.

I need some lunch.

Clearmoon | September 16, 2006 02:01 PM

I'm kind of a fan of New Century Schoolbook.

The old mac-person in me will always love Chicago.

Don't ask me why.

whump | September 16, 2006 02:09 PM

Gill Sans, but Lucida Grande also rocks the house for me.

Johnny Carruthers | September 16, 2006 02:12 PM


Patty | September 16, 2006 02:41 PM

Depending on my mood, I like Courier, Times New Roman, or Garamond.

I used to have a typeface called Moravian - decorative, rather than practical - that I used for party invitations, but I lost it somewhere between hard drive crashes.

Hugh | September 16, 2006 02:44 PM

my favourite is the one my children were christened in :-)

Buck | September 16, 2006 03:10 PM

OK, when is one of you font geeks going to post a link so I can see what the heck you're talking about? My ex-girlfriend works in the printing industry and every once in a while, I'd get caught in a fugue state listening to her and co-workers do this. It's like listening to a conversation pitting different bands against each other, when you only know 10% of the references.

Scott Elyard | September 16, 2006 03:23 PM

Cochin italic and Hoefler Text.

MWT | September 16, 2006 03:27 PM

I'm in favor of anything that has wide letters and thick lines. It comes with being near-blind. ;)

On my old Mac, I preferred Geneva. This seems to have gone extinct, though, so on the new Mac I tend toward Optima. My favorite fixed-width is Monaco. I also like a lot of the Lucida ones, Verdana, Arial, and Sand (another one that might've gone extinct with the old Mac).

Nathan | September 16, 2006 03:32 PM

My copy of The Ghost Brigades from Amazon just showed up.

Imagine my shock to open it and find that its printed in Zapf Dingbats.

Gonna be a hard slog.

kim | September 16, 2006 03:57 PM


Dan | September 16, 2006 04:41 PM

I don't think about fonts so much. I tend to just cut the letters and words I need out of newspapers and magazines.

However, I am currently working on a manifesto using Times New Roman.

Chris Sullins | September 16, 2006 05:11 PM

Fonts of wisdom.

RooK | September 16, 2006 05:57 PM

I remember spending money for hundreds of mostly-useless fonts back when I was writing university papers on my 386. But then I fell in lust with the internet, and quickly realized that almost nobody was likely going to see my text rendered in anything other than the stock fonts on their own machines.

For that reason, I suffer with plainness. Woe is me.

Ginny | September 16, 2006 06:19 PM

I'm a fan of good old-fashioned Helvetica. Way back in the early `80's I was a proofreader, and always found Helvetica easier on my eyes.

the angry black woman | September 16, 2006 07:18 PM

I am loving Poor Richard right now, but for web design I am a diehard Trebuchet MS fan. I sometimes write in that font, too.

Anyone willing to trade some of the lesser-known fonts? I'd be interested in seeing what they look like. I'm such a font geek that I ha to get a font viewing program to kep track of the ones I don't allow to load with Windows.


Anonymous | September 16, 2006 07:49 PM

[deleted for not knowing the history of the Gothic font, and bring them damn Nazis into it.]

Kendoway | September 16, 2006 08:29 PM

I liked the Font they had on "Happy Days"....

Oh, wait a minute - that was the "Fonz".


Mitch Wagner | September 16, 2006 08:54 PM

Verdana for proportional screen text.

Tektite for monospace screen text. I look at a lot of monospace screen text all day, in my text editor (where I do most of my writing) and in a couple of other apps that I'm into all day.

For printouts: I don't do them much, but I'm currently preferring good ol' Times New Roman, and something called Courier Dark, which is just what the name sounds like.

Soni Pitts | September 16, 2006 09:08 PM

My favorite font forge is http://www.1001freefonts.com/

Lots of cool fonts, including several logo-based options, like "Empire State" that mimics the Star Wars font.

But, generally speaking, I'm an Arial girl for most applications. It just looks cleaner to me than serif fonts. Although I'd always re-format for harried copywriters.

Julie | September 16, 2006 09:32 PM

While I favor the classic Book Antiqua, some fine folks in Ann Arbor, Michigan *really* love Wingdings:


Sam Greenfield | September 16, 2006 09:42 PM

Poetica Ampersands


Distinct from what other "fonts" people have named as their favorite "font," this is actually a font and not a font family.

But if you're talking font families, I must echo what other have said, and note that Adobe Garamond Pro is the most beautiful and readable serif font family on the market today. http://store.adobe.com/type/browser/P/P_1703.html.

Bill Blum | September 16, 2006 09:59 PM

I'm a big fan of the Computer Modern family.

Byron | September 16, 2006 11:18 PM

Computer Modern would be even better if there was a decent OpenType version of it.

Steve Buchheit | September 16, 2006 11:55 PM

Okay, since we're starting into font pimpage, I want to push some of my favorites.
Chank fonts. www.chank.com
Damn, I wish I could send them more money. And they have cool free fonts (just don't use them for paying work).

Mary Robinette Kowal | September 17, 2006 07:14 AM

Oh, if we're talking font forges I'm a big fan of http://www.p22.com They have many beautiful, beautiful things.

WaywardSailorGirl | September 17, 2006 12:29 PM

In our graphics and 3D modeling department, we've downloaded fonts from the following source with a lot of success...fun stuff in there.


Brian Greenberg | September 17, 2006 02:06 PM

Here's the interesting conclusion from this discussion: 47 comments on "favorite font," and there are about 30 fonts mentioned (I'm too lazy to count). Given that the purpose of a font is to make the text readable/eye-catching, I think we can conclude that tastes are so subjective, that you're bound to make some readers happy & others unhappy, no matter what you do.

Ah well...

John Scalzi | September 17, 2006 02:08 PM

Yup. But I'm not polling folks because I'm planning design. I just wanted to know what their favorite fonts were.

Terry Karney | September 17, 2006 04:21 PM

Depends on what I'm doing. For personal correspondence I like "Present" (Which I've not been able to find an analog for on the PC).

Other than that, New York is good. I like a serif.

Bookman is ok.

Dr. Phil | September 17, 2006 06:55 PM

When I am writing, I use 12-point Book Antiqua, Bookman Old Style, Century Schoolbook, or 14-point Garamond. When I am proofing, I flip between reading in my writing font and the same text in Standard Manuscript Format (Courier New 12, double-spaced, 1" margins all around). Frankly, seeing it two different ways finds different errors, so it's a real help.

For reading manuscripts, Standard Manuscript Format.

For casual notes, I use Times New Roman 9 to 14 point, Courier New for quoting computing commands, directory listings, and other things best seen in a non-proportional font.

There are many, many lovely fonts out there for publishing -- and so far I refuse to spend money on them for making my own printouts, because the outflow of money and disk space would never end. (grin)

Dr. Phil

Eric | September 18, 2006 09:13 AM

Aurabesh (a.k.a. the Star Wars font)

Luke | September 18, 2006 10:10 AM


I am shocked that no one has named it. Definitely in the serif camp, but it arranges them so as not to get in the way.

And for monospaced, I use Monaco.

Tor | September 18, 2006 10:27 AM

I can't go with a font that is too out of the ordinary - but I'm a big fan of Garamond and Book Antiqua...

Pocky | September 18, 2006 12:52 PM

I'm with the Garamond group for the most part. For script stuff... Snell Roundhand has always been a favorite, easy to read but still sorta fancy. Personally I'm sick of Comic Sans... I work for one of those giant-corporate-open-to-the-public places and I cringe every time I see it used. There's a couple of others but alas I'm on my work laptop and I don't have access to my ancient copy of Font Folio 8!

Peter Ahlstrom | September 18, 2006 11:25 PM

I'm currently a big fan of Zap Raygun 2.0 and Coop Flaired.

Mitch Wagner | September 19, 2006 03:03 AM

I'm tempted to make up font names here to see if anyone notices. Like, my favorite fonts are Esmerelda for a sans-serif screen font, Sasparilla for serif screen font, Shazam as a printer font, and Ovacado Extreme for my Palm Treo.

Luke | September 20, 2006 09:29 PM

Yeah, you made that last one up. Everyone knows it's Avocado eXtreme. Or do you mean the Avogadro font under the 'extreme' transformation (like italic, but, you know, extreme!)

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