Periodic Table of Typefaces

What’s your favorite typeface?

I’d ask that question when interviewing prospective employees. The correct answer is any typeface that’s not one included in Microsoft Word. My reasoning was if you had an opinion about typefaces, then you must be capable of getting into the details; you saw personality and character in certain fonts. Or you worked with somebody who was just crazy about typography and their opinions rubbed off on you. Good enough for me.

Oh, yeah. I threw people for a loop with that question.

Years ago, when we did things with pencils, boards and rubber cement, we all had our favorites and typeface opinions. Our layout man, George di Girolamo, liked Mistral. I’ve always liked Baskerville and Helvetica.

Naturally, I was fascinated to come across this Periodic Table of Typefaces (click here for the large size; you’ll want to print it big).

The Periodic Table of Typefaces is obviously in the style of all the thousands of over-sized Periodic Table of Elements posters hanging in schools and homes around the world.  This particular table lists 100 of the most popular, influential and notorious typefaces today.

As with traditional periodic tables, this table presents the subject matter grouped categorically.  The Table of Typefaces groups by families and classes of typefaces:  sans-serif, serif, script, blackletter, glyphic, display, grotesque, realist, didone, garalde, geometric, humanist, slab-serif and mixed.

Each cell of the table lists the typeface and a one or two character “symbol” (made up by me simply based on logic), the designer, year designed and a ranking of 1 through 100.

Ranking was determined by statistically sorting and combining lists and opinions from the the sites listed below.  The final overall ranking was achieved depending on how many lists the particular typeface was presented on and it’s ranking on the lists (if the particular source list used a ranking system; some did not, in which case just the typeface’s presence on the list boosted it’s overall score.)  After averaging the typefaces appearances and rankings a composite score was given and the list was sorted on a spreadsheet then finally given an overall score of 1 through 100 based on its final resting position.

Unfortunately, the typefaces could not be sorted exactly numerically on the table while at the same time keeping them in groups of families and classes.  It had to be one or the other.  Of course it COULD have been done but I would have had to seriously sacrifice aesthetics of the overall design (i.e. it wouldn’t have come out looking AT ALL like a traditional periodic table.)  However, upon close inspection, you find that at least the typefaces are ordered within their family/class groupings.

My wife is a chemist, so this will go well with our periodic table refrigerator magnet.

3 Responses

  1. This is my favorite t-shirt for a lot of reasons:
    I love type!

  2. This completely rocks! I love typeface. I was like a kid in a candy shop with it. I think my favorite though has to be 83.

  3. Отличный блог, интересное и полезное содержание!

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