Typeface Descriptions & Histories

Descriptions of common Windows fonts, as taken from within the font files themselves.

Arial

Contemporary sans serif design, Arial contains more humanist characteristics than many of its predecessors and as such is more in tune with the mood of the last decades of the twentieth century. The overall treatment of curves is softer and fuller than in most industrial style sans serif faces. Terminal strokes are cut on the diagonal which helps to give the face a less mechanical appearance. Arial is an extremely versatile family of typefaces which can be used with equal success for text setting in reports, presentations, magazines etc, and for display use in newspapers, advertising and promotions.

Book Antiqua

This is a roman typeface based on pen-drawn letters of the Italian Renaissance. Because it is distinctive and gentle in appearance it can be used to give a document a different feel than is given by the more geometrical designs of most text faces. It is also useful for occasional lines, as in letter headings and compliments slips. Its beautiful italic has many uses of its own.

Bookman Old Style

The origins of Bookman Old Style lie in the typeface called Oldstyle Antique, designed by A C Phemister circa 1858 for the Miller and Richard foundry in Edinburgh, Scotland. Many American foundries made versions of this type which eventually became known as Bookman. Monotype Bookman Old Style roman is based on earlier Lanston Monotype and ATF models. The italic has been re drawn following the style of the Oldstyle Antique italics of Miller and Richard. Although called 'Old Style', the near vertical stress of the face puts it into the transitional category. A legible and robust text face.

Century Gothic

A design based on Monotype 20th Century, which was drawn by Sol Hess between 1936 and 1947. Century Gothic maintains the basic design of 20th Century but has an enlarged x-height and has been modified to ensure satisfactory output from modern digital systems. The design is influenced by the geometric style sans serif faces which were popular during the 1920's and 30's. Useful for headlines and general display work and for small quantities of text, particularly in advertising.

Century Schoolbook

The first Century was cut by Linn Boyd Benton working with T. L. De Vinne for Century magazine to replace the unsuitable face they had used previously. This was followed a few years later, at the turn of the century, by Century Expanded. It was Morris Fuller Benton, who made several other versions of Century, who also made several versions Schoolbook for ATF, starting in about 1919. The best known appeared in 1924.

This face does the job it was meant to do very well. It is round, open, and sturdy, and although heavier in appearance than many other serif fonts, it comes near the top of the list of no-nonsense text fonts that will withstand a lot of punishment. Generations of children learned to read with this font.

Comic Sans MS

Designed by Microsoft's Vincent Connare, this is a face based on the lettering from comic magazines. This casual but legible face has proved very popular with a wide variety of people.

Courier New

Designed as a typewriter face for IBM, Courier was re drawn by Adrian Frutiger for IBM Selectric series. A typical fixed pitch design, monotone in weight and slab serif in concept. Used to emulate typewriter output for reports, tabular work and technical documentation.

Garamond

Monotype Drawing Office 1922. This typeface is based on roman types cut by Jean Jannon in 1615. Jannon followed the designs of Claude Garamond which had been cut in the previous century. Garamond's types were, in turn, based on those used by Aldus Manutius in 1495 and cut by Francesco Griffo. The italic is based on types cut in France circa 1557 by Robert Granjon. Garamond is a beautiful typeface with an air of informality which looks good in a wide range of applications. It works particularly well in books and lengthy text settings.

Georgia

Designed in 1996 by Matthew Carter. Georgia is the serif companion to the first Microsoft sans serif screen font, Verdana. It was designed specifically to address the challenges of on-screen display and hand-instructed by leading hinting expert, Monotype's Tom Rickner. Georgia was jokingly named after a tabloid headline ‘Alien heads found in Georgia.’ If you must have one serif face for reading on a computer, then you've found the best one right here.

Haettenschweiler

Haettenschweiler derives from a more condensed typeface, called Schmalfette Grotesk, first shown in the early 1960s in a splendid book called Lettera by Walter Haettenschweiler and Armin Haab. Schmalfette Grotesk was a very condensed, very bold alphabet of all capitals – schmalfette means ‘bold condensed’ in German, and grotesk indicates it is without serifs.

It was immediately picked up by designers at Paris Match who cut up pictures of it to make headlines. Soon everybody wanted it. In due course, extra-bold extra-condensed faces for families like Helvetica began to appear, looking remarkably like the original Schmalfette. Photoscript had made a lowercase version quite early on. Later, they made a less condensed version and called it Haettenschweiler Extended as a tribute to a designer whose idea so greatly affected the graphic scene in the second half of the century. Use this distinguished face in large sizes for headlines.

Impact

1965. Designed for the Stephenson Blake type foundry. A very heavy, narrow, sans serif face intended for use in newspapers, for headlines and in advertisements. Aptly named, this face has a very large x-height with short ascenders and descenders.

News Gothic MT

Sans serif faces can get very boring and can be difficult to read. One of the primary reasons is that font designers cannot make many variations in the shape of a sans serif letter, particularly those like 'l', 'i' and 'o'. News Gothic MT, however, has a nice angularity that allows it to wear better than most, and you will find it a pleasant change from the other sans serif typefaces of this world. Originally designed in 1908, News Gothic MT preceded the more fiercely geometric forms of the twentieth century. This design, with its plainly stated, unselfconscious letterforms, was revived by Monotype in 1962. You'll find it useful as a text face, but it's quite nice for headlines and section headings as well.

Rockwell

Rockwell is a distinctive version of a geometric slab serif design, which has retained its popularity since its appearance in the 1930's. The slab serifs, or Egyptians, originated in the nineteenth century when they were used principally for display work. Rockwell is notable for its judiciously clipped slab serifs, and is given a particular sparkle by means of its angular terminals. In more recent years this style of typeface has been increasingly used for text setting where their even colour and visual impact can be fully exploited.

Tahoma

Tahoma is one of Microsoft's new sans serif typeface families. It consists of two Windows TrueType fonts (regular and bold), and was created to address the challenges of on-screen display, particularly at small sizes in dialog boxes and menus.

Since the Tahomas are TrueType fonts, they can be rotated and scaled to any size, and anti-aliased by the rasterizer built into Microsoft Windows 95 and Microsoft Windows NT 4.0. These features give the fonts significant advantages over bitmap system fonts such as MS Sans Serif.

The Latin, Greek and Cyrillic characters were designed by world renowned type designer Matthew Carter, and hand-instructed by leading hinting expert, Monotype's Tom Rickner. The Arabic, Hebrew and Thai characters were designed by the Monotype Drawing Office to complement Carter's initial designs. Tahoma sets new standards in system font design. It is ideal for use in User Interface Scenarios and other situations requiring the presentation of information on the screen.

Times New Roman

This remarkable typeface first appeared in 1932 in The Times of London newspaper, for which it was designed. It has subsequently become one of the worlds most successful type creations. The original drawings were made under Stanley Morison's direction by Victor Lardent at The Times. It then went through an extensive iterative process involving further work in Monotype's Type Drawing Office. Based on experiments Morison had conducted using Perpetua and Plantin, it has many old style characteristics but was adapted to give excellent legibility coupled with good economy. Widely used in books and magazines, for reports, office documents and also for display and advertising.

Trebuchet MS

Trebuchet, designed by Vincent Connare in 1996, is a humanist sans serif designed for easy screen readability. Trebuchet takes its inspiration from the sans serifs of the 1930s which had large x heights and round features intended to promote readability on signs. The typeface name is credited to a puzzle heard at Microsoft, where the question was asked, "could you build a Trebuchet (a form of medieval catapult) to launch a person from the main campus to the consumer campus, and how?" The Trebuchet fonts are intended to be the vehicle that fires your messages across the Internet. "Launch your message with a Trebuchet page".

Verdana

The Verdana typeface family was designed specifically to address the challenges of on-screen display. Designed by world renowned type designer Matthew Carter, and hand-instructed by leading hinting expert, Monotype's Tom Rickner, these sans serif fonts are unique examples of type design for the computer screen.

In its proportions and stroke weight, the Verdana family resembles sans serifs such as Frutiger, and Johnston's typeface for the London Underground.

The Verdana fonts are stripped of features which are redundant when applied to the screen. They exhibit new characteristics, derived from the pixel rather than the pen, the brush or the chisel. The balance between straight, curve and diagonal has been meticulously tuned to ensure that the pixel patterns at small sizes are pleasing, clear and legible. Commonly confused characters, such as the lowercase i j l, the uppercase I J L and the number 1, have been carefully drawn for maximum individuality � an important characteristic of fonts designed for on-screen use. And the various weights have been designed to create sufficient contrast from one another ensuring, for example, that the bold font is heavy enough even at sizes as small as 9 ppem, or 7pt on the screen.

Westminster

In the mid-1960s after banks began printing machine-readable account numbers on checks, a British font designer made an entire typeface along the same lines. No one took this typeface seriously, however, until Photoscript produced it, naming the typeface after the bank that helped Photoscript fund the font's production. Westminster was an instant hit, and the very font makers who had previously rejected the idea rushed out to commission alternative designs.

This is the first of those designs, and it's the best. Although you're welcome to use only the numbers (perhaps you run a bank), the rest of the face can provide a number of interesting uses at both large and small sizes.

Wide Latin

Wide Latin has been much used and not a little abused as well. For example, more logotypes than you can shake a stick at have used Wide Latin. It has also been used with the serifs knocked off the right hand side to give a feeling of speed. Sometimes the type will be oblique as well. Do you remember the PanAm Airlines logo?

Wingdings

ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRTUVWXYZ
abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz
1234567890
!@#$%^&*()_+-=

The Wingdings fonts were designed by Kris Holmes and Charles Bigelow in 1990 and 1991. The fonts were originally named Lucida Icons, Arrows, and Stars to complement the Lucida text font family by the same designers. Renamed, reorganized, and released in 1992 as Microsoft Wingdings(TM), the three fonts provide a harmoniously designed set of icons representing the common components of personal computer systems and the elements of graphical user interfaces. There are icons for PC, monitor, keyboard, mouse, trackball, hard drive, diskette, tape cassette, printer, fax, etc., as well as icons for file folders, documents, mail, mailboxes, windows, clipboard, and wastebasket. In addition, Wingdings includes icons with both traditional and computer significance, such as writing tools and hands, reading glasses, clipping scissors, bell, bomb, check boxes, as well as more traditional images such as weather signs, religious symbols, astrological signs, encircled numerals, a selection of ampersands and interrobangs, plus elegant flowers and flourishes. Pointing and indicating are frequent functions in graphical interfaces, so in adition to a wide selection of pointing hands, the Wingdings fonts also offer arrows in careful gradations of weight and different directions and styles. For variety and impact as bullets, asterisks, and ornaments, Windings also offers a varied set of geometric circles, squares, polygons, targets, and stars.