24 February 2011

If fonts were programming languages

If fonts were programming languages, this is what they'd be...
Helvetica - The C Programming Language. It's old, completely overused, and yet also the best solution to many problems.

Times - C++. This is also grossly overused, and is the second best choice for any large tasks.

Courier - Fortran. This font is old and reliable and we're going to be stuck with it for a long time.

Chicago - Lisp. It's quirky, old, and used in many surprising places.

Computer Modern - Fortress. A mathematical and beautiful font, but pedantic.

Garamond - Java. This font sure seems a lot like Times. Not used quite as much, and has some new flaws and quirks of its own.

Palatino - C#. This font is like Garamond, but some things like that uppercase-P just aren't connected. This makes it attractive for some users, and appalling to others.

New Century Schoolbook - Smalltalk. Initially, this font looks like it's for kids, but it's both serious and playful.

Comic Sans - Python. You wouldn't think that this font was serious, but it's used in a surprisingly large number of contexts. And it's a safer choice than it would appear at first.

Zapf Dingbats - Perl. This font is useful for patching things together. If you need that special symbol to make your sub-sub-bulleted list, this is your ad hoc solution.

LED Marquee - Javascript. This font is the unsung hero. Many times it's used improperly, making things overly flashy and distracting, but it's also sometimes the only venue for transferring very important information.


  1. Hey Andres: Less forgot then not knowing where it would fall. It's kind of a Helvetica ripoff, no? Maybe it would be Pascal, although I believe Pascal came before C. Some language that is practical, boring, and doesn't "scale up." (That is, a sign or webpage might be in a sans serif font, but for a book you'd want a serif font like Times.)