A Taxonomy Of Type


Seth Stevenson reviews Stephen Coles' The Anatomy of Type, which provides a close look at the design and background of 100 different typefaces:

You’ll discover that Times New Roman was released in 1932 (credit for its design remains in dispute!), created for The Times of London newspaper. We learn that its defining features include long, sharp serifs; very wide upper-case letters; and a comparatively small dot above its i. Coles suggests it is a good choice for a "conventional office-document look" but that Le Monde Journal—commissioned for the French newspaper Le Monde in 1997—is a "fresher alternative."

For Stevenson, the book "provides a glorious opportunity to taxonimize another everyday visual encounter." He claims that now, as he peruses "the text of subway ads and pasted-up flyers," that he delights, "in assessing their glyph widths, their stroke weights, their ascender heights."

(Image from James and Karla Murray's  New York Nights, a book Maria Popova calls "a striking, lavish street-level tour of New York City’s typographic neon mesmerism, revealed through the illuminated storefronts of some of the city’s most revered bars, diners, speakeasies, theaters, and other epicenters of public life.")