ARE you true to type? There’s a quick way to find out, apparently, and that’s to check what font you use when you’re bashing away at your keyboard – as most of us do these days, even if it’s only for e-mails.
Handwriting used to be the giveaway. Some cutting-edge companies even hired handwriting analysts to find out if job applicants were everything they claimed to be. Now they’re apparently using font choice to tell your type.
Ever since we discovered computers and cellphone texting, cursive script – what we used to call “real writing” when I was little – is dying out.
I used to be especially proud of my handwriting but all the hours I spend at the keyboard have literally cramped my style. Now I have trouble deciphering my own scrawled shopping lists.
And the formal calligraphy over which I lovingly laboured, creating gorgeous posters, certificates and scrolls? That’s been replaced by fonts with fancy names like Verdana, Lucida Handwriting (as if) and even – the outright cheek of it – Calligraphy, a soulless script whose flat perfection can never reflect the microscopic gullies, eddies, pressure points and passion of the artist.
No, the font’s the thing – and if you want it to say the right thing about you, you’d better find out what that is. A few years ago, bestselling horror novelist James Herbert was so furious when his publishers used what he felt was an inappropriate font for one of his books, he made them pulp the lot.
According to researchers at Wichita State University, you should stick to the classics if you want to impress – Arial, Verdana, Times New Roman, Georgia, Century Old Style et al.
Want to ditch your boyfriend? There’s even a font suggested for that. It’s the “cold, unemotional” Courier New.
But whatever you do, never, ever use one particular “goofball” font. Described in a Reader’s Digest article as “the wacky uncle of the font family”, Comic Sans is everywhere. It’s frowned upon by those in the know and there’s even a campaign dedicated to its demise.
Set up by designers Dave and Holly Combs, the Ban Comic Sans website has a growing band of followers. After all, type talks, reckon the couple. “Comic Sans as a voice conveys silliness, childish naivete, irreverence, and is far too casual … It is analogous to showing up for a black tie event in a clown costume. We are summoning forth the proletariat around the globe to aid us in this revolution,” they say, with their tongues only slightly in their cheeks.
“We call on the common man to rise up in revolt against this evil of typographical ignorance.”
And my own everyday choice? The unobtrusive, legible Times New Roman, which I must admit never gave me pause for thought before. It’s not surprising, I guess, as deeply psychological as all this is supposed to be. Though completely detribalised (I like to think), I’m originally a Brit, and this font is described as traditional and chilly – just like the land of my birth.
And guess who colonised and enslaved my ancestors. That’s right – the Romans. – Stevie Godson
(A version of this column first appeared in the Daily Dispatch newspaper)
Comic Sans cartoon by arnoKath