Exercise: A Typographic jigsaw puzzle

On the facing page the typeface Baskerville has been deconstructed so it only contains the strokes, serifs and bowls that are common to all the letterforms. Your task is to try and put it all back together again to read

the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog

This is a pangram containing all the letters of the alphabet. It is all in lowercase.

Start by drawing your baseline, determine the x height by identifying a whole letter such as x, e or n and draw your median line. This should provide a good starting point to try and piece together all the other elements. Remember that some parts will be used more than once, for example the same stem will be used in several letters. Try and account for all the parts without leaving any stray serifs behind.

step 1

These were my utensils for the job. Baking paper to trace, a sharp pencil, a nail scissors, because it was curved, UHU and the page from my notes.

step 2





Then I printed out the text in large point size so that I could see all the serif details.

step 3
step 3


I used the baking paper to trace the shapes and started the jigsaw.




step 4
step 4

Until the whole thing almost came together. I could not fit the “X” of fox to the slanted pieces that were given.I also found that the teardrop of the “r” was not in fact a teardrop…


But this is what I managed.



Having spent some time looking closely at typefaces, has your appreciation of them increased? If so in any particular aspect? Do you think that understanding more about how typefaces are constructed will be useful to you in future?

My appreciation has totally changed. I had never really looked that closely at fonts. I was broadly aware of the difference between serif and sans serif and of some of the more extreme typefaces. One thing I really learned is that it is sometimes very difficult to tell the difference between different designers’ reworking of some of the typefaces. I also appreciate much more the work of typographic designers. One needs a great deal of skill and patience.