Re: Reasons not to use the Courier font

Subject: Re: Reasons not to use the Courier font
From: Arlen P Walker <Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- jci -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Mon, 04 Oct 1999 09:45 -0500

>We are presentation crazy these
>days. I believe the world could get by with about 4 fonts, instead of
>400,000 and growing. I would take Courier with me to a desert island.

I just went through the exercise of cleaning up ad organizing the fonts on my
machine. (I had over 1000; I had never counted them before, they just sort of
arrived there and never left -- the fonts who came to dinner.) I definitely
didn't manage to get down to 4, but the final total was significantly less than
I started with. Among the "essential" ones I kept was "Gill Sans" (for you
Arial fans, my apologies, but I consider it an Abomination and a Drag -- I kept
it only to maintain compatibility with the Windows users who can be excused for
Not Understanding) as I do 90% of my print sans-serif work in it. (For web work
the font choice is less wonderful; there are no excellent web fonts, only a
handful of acceptable ones.)

In principle I quite agree. Aside from Gill, I like Caslon and Baskerville, and
could probably be content with those three for the majority of my work.

But the problem is (and this forms the reason for the 400,000 and growing) that
each of us would pick a different set of four absolutely crucial fonts.
Obviously, no one's choice of fonts is nearly as intelligent nor as tasteful as
mine, so you should all immediately cease using the fonts you have chosen in
your ignorance and instead bask in the brilliance of my choices. All other
fonts should be abolished. (There now, was the trowel big enough this time to
set off your humor detector? It's so hard to be subtle in an email!)

I recall one of the previous times the "to serif or not to serif" question came
around someone quoted studies showing that Europeans preferred sans-serif,
while US folks preferred serifs. For this manual, the operative question is:
"who will be reading it?" If you want to battle the font choice (and sometimes
there are good reasons to do so; I don't know enough about this case to say if
this is one of them) then check survey figures which cover the intended
audience. I can toss my opinions on this in with everyone else's here, but the
simple truth is, on this issue, none of our opinions is worth the life of the
electrons which bring them to you. If you can't find survey figures (the
temptation is to say you're not looking hard enough, but we'll avoid that) then
create some of your own by asking members of the existing audience. (Not having
a 1000-page book set in Courier on my shelf, I feel safe in assuming I am not
part of this audience. Believe me, I'd remember a book like that!) When it
comes to fonts, opinions are like feet: everyone has two and they all stink.

Have fun,
Chief Managing Director In Charge, Department of Redundancy Department
DNRC 224

Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- Com
In God we trust; all others must provide data.
Opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.
If JCI had an opinion on this, they'd hire someone else to deliver it.

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