December 10th, 2005


Typographical pet peeve

There are a couple of eras that were the utter pits, typographically. One is the Victorian era, the day of ghastly bold-face slab-serif monstrosities utterly unencumbered by taste or restraint. The other is the 1990s, the era of so-called "grunge typography."

Fortunately, those eras have passed. There is, however, one type face that one runs into rather often if one goes to Renaissance fairs that is truly astonishing in its ugliness and illegibility. It's called "Black Chancery."

You can see it at this page on "L" looks like a swash (or swashier; all the upper case is gratuitously swashy) "I", and "T" is confusingly close to "F". "a", "d", "g", "q", and "U" look like the pen left behind a blob of ink. The punctuation looks thrown together and inconsistent, if not incoherent.

The Texas Renaissance Festival's web site used to be done entirely in text rendered as graphics in Black Chancery in a wild frenzy of different sizes. Thank goodness they've changed the site since then; you can see what it used to be like here thanks to the Wayback Machine.

If you want a font that is basically a minimally or non-slanted calligraphic hand, by all means consider the gorgeous Insula font, one of many fine fonts by the Apostrophic Labs people. Alas, their site seems to be in at least semi-permmanent "watch this space" mode, but you can find online archives of their fonts.
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