Choose typefaces with authority, if you want authority

The font you use is important because we know it’s not what you say but how you say it.  So in written communication it’s the typeface you use.

Sarah Palin’s organisation has chosen Gotham as the typeface for her official website.  I doubt she chose it, hence the term “organisation”.  It was President Obama’s typeface for his successful campaign.

Running for office?

The choice of Gotham,

Gotham has authority

some say, is an indicator that she is serious about running for office.  The typeface has an authority about it.  This is not a political blog, so, “no comment”.

The serious points are these:

  • Typefaces send overt messages to those who are not experts and covert messages to those who are experts in typefaces;
  • Typefaces let you say things in different ways; and
  • Typefaces can be crafted for your own needs, despite the many thousands available.

Choose what works

Therefore, choose carefully.  My MSWord package offers me about 300 typefaces, of which I must have used about 25 at the most.  Some are clearly to be avoided.  As with all communications, don’t just choose what you like: choose what works.  And if you don’t know, then ask an expert such as Duncan Edwards.  For me, Helvetica still holds its head well above water other after 55 years.

Helvetica: holding its head above water after 55 years

Gotham was designed by Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones in 2000 from their review of signs in New York.  They looked at the “letters of the city” and distilled Gotham.

"Letters of the city" like this inspired the designers of Gotham

Strange, then, that Palin’s organisation should have chosen it: New York is east coast, more liberal than the Republican centre, and urban rather than suburban and rural.  But this is not a political blog.

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