The font dilemma

In Slate today, various writers discuss their favourite fonts. This was partly a response to a new documentary on the font, Helvetica. Yes, a documentary about a font. You might find that hard to believe but I didn’t.

Fonts are a staple of my innovation class. There we study Mergenthaler Linotype, a company that survived four successive waves of radical innovation in typesetting as the market leader for a century. The reason for this persistence was that Mergenthaler made early investments in font development. By the turn of the Twentieth Century they had 100 fonts, by 1913, 1000 and double again by 1923. It would take 20 years for entrant to duplicate this investment.

One of Mergenthaler’s fonts was, of course, Helvetica. According to myfonts, it is still one of the Top 10 best selling fonts. Linotype still holds 5 of the Top 10.

Now it would be remiss of me not to point out my font preferences. The Slate writers appeared to favour Courier but that isn’t trying. For academic papers I use Times New Roman. For talky papers I use Book Antiqua. Finally, for consulting reports, I go with Garmond. And of course you can see my blog font here.

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