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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

let's play with fonts

Arial and Helvetica... do you know the difference?

Test your skillz...

When I first took that test, I was a cocky little thing, and shocked myself by getting only 10/20. Then I actually read the article about the differences between the two fonts (you can find it all here on Ironic Sans), and was surprised, in a number of ways. Now I don't think I'll ever use Arial again.

Then I took the test again and got 19/20. There's one that is really, really hard.

I love typography quizzes. I'm not obsessive about fonts, that's probably a flaw in the design part of my brain, but I know enough to get by, and rely on intuition rather than historical facts and cool brands (a bit like my cooking/clothes buying). Still, it's always fun to do type quizzes. Another good one is called the rather difficult font game. And one of my all-time fav bloggers (because he writes about sexy things like tools and books and other great stuff with a sense of fun seriousness) found one recently called cheese or font. Fun!

16 comments:

dinahmow said...

So you probably know Fontcraft: Scriptorium Font?

I would love to learn letterpress.Maybe, one day before I'm too decrepit.

fifi said...

heavens, both of those quizzes nearly did my head in. The only way I scored my ten correct in helvetica and arial was by picking what I didnt think. Or guessing.

Peter said...

I hate sans fonts. I can never distinguish, for example, "r"+"n" from "m".
Then we had the delightful "Kim Jong the Second" as quoted in Media Watch.
Times Roman forever!

Penthe said...

I got 19! I think this is the highest level of satisfaction I've felt since I got my APA scholarship. I might put it on my CV!

naomi said...

I got eight. Every time I thought I had worked out the difference I would get WRONG. I mean I don't profess to be an expert in fonts at all, but ... good fun?

Bernice said...

Arrghhh - damn damn - how many times have I used Arial? damn damn

Pavlov's Cat said...

15/20 and 17/34. I'm surprised, I didn't think I'd do that well.

Garamond rules.

Trevar said...

I can't believe this, but I got 20/20 the first time, and I've never noticed a difference before reading your post!

The Ironic Sans post is a bit stupid, really: how can any font be inherently superior or inferior to any other font? Only a pretentious git would admit to thinking so... (so I shan't admit that I have a preference...)

Ampersand Duck said...

Actually, Trevar, I've come to the conclusion that some fonts ARE superior to others, but not because they are 'cooler' or more contemporary or anything. I think it's just in proportion to the amount of time and energy taken to design them, and how well they work as a group of letters.

As I said, I'm not obsessed with fonts, but I just had to spend a week or so with a type catalogue trying to commit to a 'house' typeface in metal type. So I sat down with a good typography sample book and tried to work out what I did and didn't like about the bunch of fonts that were available. By eliminating what I DIDN'T like, I eventually came up with my choice. It usually boiled down to how the font looked in italic, because it seems to be really difficult to design a good italic that is both elegant and functional. In the end, I chose Garamond (heh, Pav!).

But I agree, flaunting font preferences online is fairly pretentious, and I'll try not to play that game. I've used plenty of Arial in the past, and I've also -- gulp -- used Comic Sans, but the older I get, the more informed I get, and I guess if I'm devoting myself to hand-set type, I need to get serious about my typography knowledge :)

Pavlov's Cat said...

I don't know about more betterer or less betterer -- I like Garamond because I think it's beautiful. This would be enough to get me into trouble in some quarters on the grounds that caring about beauty is allegedly right-wing, from which I deduce that some people don't have enough to do with their time.

Ampersand Duck said...

Wow, you could have knocked me down with a feather just then, Pav. I don't know if I've missed a big debate about this, but I've never heard of beauty being attached to right-wingism... why haven't I?

I'm thinking right now of the Russian revolution, when artists went wild creating beautiful things for the new regime for the sake of the people, and then as things got less socialist and more totalitarian, stuff got uglier, as if beauty for the sake of it was wasteful. That's surely a swing to the right?

Hmm. I'd love to have this discussion over a glass of something, but maybe it needs to be a post. Is there somewhere you can point me to that discusses such a concept?

innercitygarden said...

Hmm, 13/20. Wonder if the resident Font Freak will kick me outta bed? (He used to layout a magazine for someone who deliberately used Comic Sans just to get on his nerves)

The Shopping Sherpa said...

15/20. And feeling quite smug :-)

worldpeace and a speedboat said...

ooh! 18/20, based on the knowledge of that little article. I made the same mistake twice - there's a capital in Arial I think looks more elegant and Helevetican, and it was my downfall, heh :-)

I'm interested in beauty = right-wing as well. gosh!

about the only crass generalisation I can come up with is that beauty is necessary to the culturally conservative, because anything that falls outside the norm in the perception of beauty is seen as a potential threat (to the safety of how one perceives the world and how one lives in it). they are therefore more likely to be right-wing.

but it's only a crass generalisation and one which would get me shot down in flames quite easily, I imagine.

btw - hello Ducky! sorry I've been out of the loop for so long. I blame slackness.

Mummy/Crit said...

I did the arial/helvetica quiz a weekor so ago, without knowing the difference at all, but got about 18/20 by choosing the one I liked the look of more for the first half of the quiz, and then figuring out the distinguishing characteristics of the two. It was fun, and I ought to read the article!

Gemma said...

20/20 first try! yesssssss. and I am a type novice. Though I did watch part of the helvetica movie and remembered something about spacing which I think helped me with the harder ones. And read the articles first. But maybe having very little clue about type made me extra cautious?

Fun!