I was a keen graphic design student. I’d come into class, headphones in, head down, and sit right up the back in the corner near all the spiders. I wouldn’t talk to anyone, instead hastily open Adobe Photoshop and froth over updated fonts. I loved graphic design, and I still do.

I once did a whole project on typography, where I found that it has roots way back before Microsoft Word (shout out to Comic Sans, The Realest Typeface, closely followed by Papyrus). I realised fonts were much more what we know them to be today – people have been working on typefaces since the 1500’s.

I think typography is a well-appreciated art form today – people can understand the difference between a tasty Century Gothic and a badly used Bauhaus 93. But for now, I’d like for us to delve a little deeper and look a little further into the typefaces we know and love.

Garamond was created by Claude Garamond (1510 – 1561). This guy was one of the first independent punch-cutters, offering a service for people to come get their stuff printed without having to go through a print company. He is hailed as one of the “Old Boys” in the typeface game. The typefaces he offered to print in were known for their elegance, resembling handwriting more than any other standard print style. We have him to thank for this classy typeface that you can use for when you want to say things like:

“Honey, where is the marmalade? I need to feed it to Rover.”

Aka The Joker. I’m not joking when I say this is The Realest Font. I can’t read it without a Goofy voice in my head. Comic Sans was originally created for the operating system “Microsoft Bob” — where it sounds like it was right at home. It was offered as an alternative to the more generic fonts like Times New Roman.

Aka The One We All Had to Use in Primary School. Times New Roman was initially invented for the Times of London, dear. It is the Woolworth’s Home Brand version of the font family, being quite cheap and readily available, it manages to just do its job. Apparently, it’s not very legible, but you can be the judge of that.

Aka The Feminine Touch. Papyrus was created over the course of six months – attesting to the fact that good things really do take time (shout outs to Garamond). When you read it, a breathy woman’s voice takes over your head. According to Wikipedia, this font is most recognisable from James’ Cameron’s Avatar, the logo for metal band Lamb of God, and several of Viper’s album covers (the most prolific rapper known to man).

Aka Wingdings. Wingdings is for when you want people to know you’re an anarchist, you don’t play by the rules. Wingdings was originally a Dingbat font, which means it is for purely decorative purposes and was never intended to be typed for any secret code. Its purpose is so people can send message quickly using pictures – sort of like emojis before emojis.

Whatever font you choose, just make sure you appreciate its rich heritage before you whack it onto your next assignment (Times New Roman is dearly loved by UWA tutors, evidently).

Words by Tess “I <3 Comic Sans” Bury

This article first appeared in print volume 88 edition 5 HOME