Typeface Tuesday – Courier

When I first started writing my Typeface Tuesday articles back on my Graphical Content blog the first font I chose was Gill Sans. One of my favourite all time typefaces (yes people do have them) it is the print typeface for Gabriel Design.

So, now that Typeface Tuesday is now over here at Graphical Communicator it seems only fair that I take a look at the font I use here, and discuss why I use it. In case the title of this article hasn’t given it away, this typeface is Courier.

Typeface Tuesday Courier

The first thing you may think when you look at Courier is, assuming you are of a generation which remembers them, “oh now that is the typewriter font”. And you’d be right. The face was originally designed in 1955 specifically to look like the key strokes from a typewriter. It was then redrawn for use on electronic typewriters themselves by Adrian Frutiger for IBM. It kind of, therefore, ties the look and feel of the font to a past age, to a previous technology, and to a kind of simplicity.

It is not unique in being ‘monospaced’ but is by far the most famous typeface to be so. Monospaced type allows for all type to align vertially as well and horizontally. Effectively all characters fill pretty much the same shape. Therefore, at the same type size all the letters will line up one under the other line after line, almost as if being in a grid.

It’s for this reason that Courier has become the default typeface for many codes, especially in web design. The grid effect cause by the monospacing makes it easier for coders to scan quickly through looking for syntax errors and other anomolies. It’s harder to spot such things when the font is smoothly running words from one to the other, especially is lines of code are roughly similar. In these cases certain elements of the code will be one below the other and easy to find.

So, is this why I have chosen Courier for the Graphical Communicator website and branding? Well, no. It’s something quite different. When I started Graphical Communicator part of the brief I gave myself was, in part, to look back at where I have come from. Not just when I was a child (in Rough Scamp) but when I started out at MW Publicity (in First Visuals). Whenever I see Courier I am reminded of the briefs we used to get at MW Publicity. Neatly typed, on an IBM electronic typewriter, with all the information we needed, including occasionally some text. We’d have individual logos and photos in the job bag but essentially the starting point of any project was a typed page. To that extent it is graphic communication striped right back at thos point. Which is where I was inspired for use on this site. It may not always be Courier, but, back at the beginning it always will be.

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