TypewriterFrom The Urbach Letter – April 2005

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What's Your Type?Type Dudes
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.

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.


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