Journal: News & Comment

Sunday, June 27, 2004
# 10:15:00 AM:

Back to the future

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This month, both Canadian Geographic and National Geographic magazines prominently used the Bell Gothic Black font for headlines in some of of their stories.

Bell Gothic was originally designed early in the last century for the Bell telephone company, to be legible when printed very small on thin phone book paper. (Most telephone directories in North America, including ours in Vancouver, still use it.) But in its large size and heavy black weight, it makes for great headlines too, because it manages to straddle the line between formal and casual, authoritative and whimsical. It feels comfortable in almost any context.

At Navarik, the company I work for, we use Bell Gothic Black for headlines in our proposals, technical papers, and other printed materials. It makes a nice contrast with the serif fonts we use for body text, and manages to convey both the technical expertise and relative newness of the company.

I admire type designers, especially when they can convey such abstract qualities in the shapes and relationships of letters.


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