RE: The glyph of the CAPITAL SHARP S

From: Philippe Verdy (
Date: Thu May 10 2007 - 05:23:32 CDT

  • Next message: George W Gerrity: "RE: The glyph of the CAPITAL SHARP S"

    John Hudson wrote:
    > The fact that it is easier to decipher text when the bottom half is
    > covered than when the top half is covered is an accident of the evolution
    > of Latin letterforms, not a clue to how we read normal text. The
    > arrangement of features could just as easily produce the opposite and
    > equally accidental result.

    An accident? I really think the opposite: the modern letter forms have
    evolved visibly to use this feature (it may have appeared by accident within
    the history of many font styles, but really the selection of fonts styles
    with such feature has really been influenced a lot, given the importance we
    gave to fast reading, notably in newspapers);

    Cursive handwriting doesnot have similar feature;
    The older the font styles, the less this effect is visible, and the more we
    have difficulties to recognize letters and then words.

    I think that this is true as well for other scripts like Arabic or
    Devanagari (whose baseline carries little info but helps fixing the position
    of the line in a compact paragraph, by using a visible junction); the serifs
    in most latin fonts are there not only because they are decorative, but
    because it helps the eye to find the alignment needed for fast reading, and
    serifs must be used with care to avoid creating artificial lines outside the
    bottom and top of letters and their junctions.

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