We’re talking telephone numbers

Custom typefaces for telephone directories can have many advantages, some of which were highlighted in another article. An interested reader enquired about some of the sources for that information, which reminded me that, at one point, I was actually considering directory typography as a dissertation topic during my Reading studies, and had gathered a fair amount of reference material in preparation.

In the end, I wrote a lengthy study of the euro symbol (subsequently published in Baseline), but almost a decade later, I still think the topic is worthy of further exploration. After all, aside from the cost and environmental benefits achieved through streamlined design, directory typography is a perfect demonstration of both typographic choreography (the letterforms and the space around them), and period methods of font creation.

However, as everything moves towards electronic format—who looks at a phonebook when it’s so easy to call Information or reach for Google these days?—perhaps this is a topic reaching its twilight years. (Indeed, a study of mobile phone typography might be more timely.) Still, there’s no harm in sharing some of the collected references, is there?  More ‣ 

Not so smooth

Close-up of ClearType-smoothed text

Discussions of web typography are usually about the frustrating inconsistencies and paucity of decent fonts likely to be available on a user’s machine. But when a client recently made a very sobering comment concerning cross-platform display, I got a rather rude reminder of how easily it is to forget more fundamental issues. Namely, anti-aliasing (or ‘smoothing’ in Microsoft-speak).  More ‣