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April 2005

Important note: The Urbach Letter is not a commercial publication. I am not compensated in any way by the providers of the products and services mentioned in this letter; they're recommended because I use them personally, or believe them to be the best. This publication may be redistributed if copied in its entirety. Portions of this advisory letter may be reprinted with permission. [Links Not Working? Click Here to Fix]


Type Dudes What's Your Type?
I'm not talking about your personality type (that's a topic for a future Urbach Letter). I'm talking about type as in typewriter. Type as in font. Type as in typesetting. Not just the digital equivalent of "hot lead," but  the art and science of formatting pages (web or paper) to dramatically enhance all your written communications.

Clueless or criminal?
You're sitting at your computer, creating yet another document in Microsoft Word. Like most people, you're concentrating on your words… not giving a single thought to the shape of the letters appearing on the screen or page. 95% of the computer-using population never changes the default font. They're stuck on Times New Roman, or Arial, or Courier. Four percent have discovered what happens when you click on [Format][Font…], usually when trying to create a bulletin board flyer or invitation, or something "attention getting." You've seen the unfortunate result all too often: a mishmash of fonts and sizes that resembles a ransom note more than an invitation to the company picnic. That leaves the remaining one percent who already know all about graphic design and typography. If you're that one-in-a-hundred person, this article isn't for you. Check back with me next month. Everybody else, listen up. Your knowledge about this stuff is about to increase by at least an order of magnitude (I love that kind of nerdly science talk).

A word of caution:
After you've been exposed to this month's topic, and become "type aware," you'll never again be able to watch the opening credits of a movie the same way. But that's the least of it. You'll start noticing common things around you that were previously "invisible," and suddenly realize there's an entire subliminal world of communication that's been influencing your thoughts and actions all your life, without your knowledge or awareness.

Something new for April
As usual, to get the goods, you must subject yourself to my video tutorial. All the essential things you've got to know about this important topic will be revealed to you in a fast-moving streaming video session. Too busy right now to kick back and watch the video? No problem. I have the perfect solution: my brand-new autoreminder service.

Urbach Video Reminder
Message Request


Just enter your name and email, and click the button to receive a courtesy reminder message tomorrow.

That's all good. But my advice is to break off a couple of minutes of focus time at this very moment, and join me for a little video edu-tainment. Click here to begin:

 Urbach Letter Video Magazine Screen Shot

Click to Open Video Launch Page

April Video

(Please click once and wait for the video to start streaming on your computer)

You didn't click? Grrr. <Victor makes angry face at you> Why not?!!? Are you so sure that insipid make-work project you've been fussing over all morning is more important than what I have to show you now?

Fun With Fonts

Adobe Fonts

Time for a little fun. Here's a link for the Adobe Type Library. Click it and you'll see a page that looks like this:

Adobe Type Library

Next, click on one of the type themes. (I chose "Decorative"), and enter your last name or company name in the box in the upper right hand corner. The gold arrow is pointing to it in the screen shot below:

Adobe Type Samples

Now the fun begins. From this point forward, the Type Library will render your name in every type style you click on. I've got to warn you though, you can waste some serious time on this activity; it's very engrossing. So, I recommend you go at it with some business purpose in mind. The decorative fonts are really fun, but consider selecting a "signature font" for yourself. I did just that 15 years ago when I started The Optran Group. I chose "Gill Sans" as the Optran corporate typestyle, and have been using it as the default word processor font ever since.

If you find a typestyle you like, and think you'll be using it in print, you may want to consider buying it from Adobe or another type foundry. Of course, there are tons of free fonts available for download all over the net (start here, or do a Google search), and they're fine for casual use. However, there *is* a quality difference in the commercial products you'll notice (once you know what to look for).

By the way, if you enjoyed this little diversion, I know you'll really enjoy April's video.

Fine typography is art.


Abstract Driver Error


That's all for now. I'll be back in May with more. In the meantime, please feel free to drop me a note with feedback, suggestions, or attaboys. I'm very reachable at


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© Copyright 2005 Victor Urbach

In this Issue
What's Your Type?
Cool Things of the Month
Steve's Truck Lettering
Useless Facts
Typewriter Prior Urbach Letter articles are here in a searchable index
Urbach Letter Back Issue Archive
FAQ Button

If you're new to the Urbach Letter, or want to know the story behind it, click the FAQ Button
Frequently Asked Questions

Cool Things of the Month

iSlice & Envelopener

The iSlice & Envelopener
In my never-ending quest to bring you the latest in strange and unusual office paraphernalia, I now present two new things you never knew you needed before today. First, the iSlice. It's a tiny little paper slicer, that uses a miniature ceramic blade. The blade is imbedded in the plastic holder, with just a sheet-of-paper-deep amount of the edge exposed. Even though it's incredibly sharp, you can run the blade over your finger and not get hurt. Therefore, unlike a pocket knife, no problem bringing your iSlice onboard an airplane.

You'll use the iSlice to cut out newspaper articles, open CD/DVD cases, remove shrink wrap, even cut through that horrible blister packaging most small electronics and toys come in nowadays.

The Envelopener uses the same type of miracle ceramic blade in a recess to cleanly trim a tiny bit of paper off the edge of your envelopes. No more chopped up correspondence caused by your old-school letter opener.

The iSlice/Envelopener pair is just $8.95 at the repository of things cool: Cyberguys. Buy them.

Keep Your Day Job Steve

Truck Lettering


Useless Facts (Part One)
  • 93% of all greeting cards are purchased by women.

  • Most toilets flush in the musical note E flat

  • A blink lasts approximately 0.3 seconds.

  • A man named Charles Osborne had the hiccups for approximately sixty-nine years.

  • There are 293 ways to make change for a dollar.

  • There are more chickens than people in the world.

  • All of the clocks in the movie "Pulp Fiction" are stuck on 4:20.

  • The longest one-syllable word in the English language is "screeched."

  • "Dreamt" is the only English word that ends in the letters "mt."

  • Maine is the only state whose name is just one syllable.

  • Los Angeles's full name is "El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles de orciuncula" -- and can be abbreviated to 3.63% of its size: L.A.

  • Tigers have stripped skin, not just stripped fur.

  • A goldfish has a memory span of three seconds.

  • There are 336 dimples on a regulation golf ball.

  • Rubber bands last longer when refrigerated.

  • The average person falls asleep in seven minutes.

  • It's impossible to sneeze with your eyes open.

  • A cat has 32 muscles in each ear.

  • A shark is the only fish that can blink with both eyes.

  • No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver or purple.

  • The microwave was invented after a researcher walked by a radar tube and a chocolate bar melted in his pocket.

  • Prosopagnosia refers to the inability to identify people by their faces. In severe case of prosopagnosia a person may not be able to identify themselves in a mirror.

  • The largest number of children born to one woman, who was a Russian peasant is 69.

  • Coconuts kill more people in the world than sharks do. Approximately 150 people are killed each year by coconuts.

  • A galactic year is 250 million Earth-years. This is the time it takes for our solar system to make one revolution around the Milky Way Galaxy.

  • A jiffy is an actual unit of time for 1/100th of a second.

  • Bamboo plants can grow up to 36 inches in a day.

  • The Saguaro Cactus does not grow branches until it is 75 years old.

  • The temperature of a lightning bolt is sometimes hotter than the surface of the sun.

  • The tip of a bullwhip moves so fast that it breaks the sound barrier. The crack of the whip is actually a tiny sonic boom.

Where's the Backspace Key on this Thing?



Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor or an attorney, so nothing in The Urbach Letter should be construed as medical or legal advice. I recommend that you consult with qualified professionals before acting on anything you read in this publication, which is for entertainment purposes only.

Victor Urbach · The Optran Group