It shouldn’t surprise you to know that the KeyPulp founding editors are an opinionated bunch. But when we came together to create this site, we agreed on just about everything. One of the only elements of the site we spent any serious length of time hashing out was when it came down to typefaces and fonts (and yes, they are different things—and yes, we did debate both).
A quick search for the word “serif” in my KeyPulp inbox is enough to induce nightmares, I tell you.
But we’re not the only people in the world to have strong reactions to typeface: Comic Sans will always draw ire; the 2009 Ikea shift from Futura to Verdana caused such a kerfuffle that even TIME took notice; Mad Men was discovered in 2008 to use fonts from well after the show’s early-60s setting, much to the dismay of typeface designers everywhere; and Microsoft Word’s default font, with a few tweaks, even managed to fool 60 Minutes into running a potentially damaging story about George W. Bush that turned out to be false.
But not all of the strong reactions to typeface selections are so negative. Typefaces—fonts, if you want to be colloquial but also probably wrong, depending on your use—have the power to evoke an almost visceral response from us. They drum up memories, signal familiarity, provide clues of what to expect. Think about the whimsical Lumos font of the Harry Potter chapter headings; The Beatles’ all-text logo (identified here as ‘Boottle’ font); the dripping letters that signify both The Rocky Horror Picture Show and the stage play that came before it; the ubiquitous Impact font used on just about every meme, thanks to I Can Has Cheezburger.
Ever since the advent of the printing press, typeface has mattered. And nerds that we are, the KeyPulp editorial board was enthused to see them finally get their place in the spotlight thanks to the PBS Arts Off Book interactive series, whose latest episode debuted today. So enthused, in fact, that we couldn’t help but include the video above and share with you, our dear readers. Because if you’re here, chances are you share at least a little bit of our passion.