Project: The Anatomy of a Typeface

  1. The alphabet is only part of a typeface that contains lots of different characters such as numbers, punctuation, mathematical and monetary symbols and ligatures. Ligatures are where two letters are combined together to make printing easier. Explore you computer keyboard to find some of the other characters. You will need to use your shift, alt and cntrl keys.
  2. Choose a magazine, for example the Big Issue or Heat, and look at the main typefaces they use for the body text and headlines. Go to and use the programme to identify the fonts. Look at the ranges of typefaces all around you and try to identify their distinguishing characteristics. Make notes in your learning log.

Below is a table I created from my computer keyboard.

§ 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 =
¡ # ¢ § ª º
q w e r t y u i o p [ ]
œ ´® ¥ ¨ π
a s d f g h j k l ; \
å ß ƒ © ˙ ˚ ¬ æ «
` z x c v b n m , . /
ç ÷

On the first row are the numbers that appear on the first row of my computer. Under these are the option key + the displayed number, letter or symbol. I discovered that holding either ‘fn’ key or ‘cmd’ key did not change the displayed letter or number or symbol

On the second row I did the same as on row 1. The option key gave the second row results. As with the above rows ‘fn ‘ or ‘cmd’ did not give any different result.

I learned to type in Luxembourg which is a country that operates in both French and German. Hence the keyboards are Swiss/French i.e. QUERTZ instead of QUERTY. However much of my work was done in colaboration with French speakers so I was accustomed to an AZERTY keyboard. All of this confusion did nothing for my typing skills. I remain a sort of ‘semi’ touch typist!!!! But the course I took did wonders for my French bad language as the student behind me was French speaking with a short temper and a wide knowledge of expletives…. I resorted to always keeping a chart of the option key strokes above my desk!! Now I just look them up when I need them.

2. This was my first magazine.



title_1 This was the headline I chose

I analysed all the ‘characteristics’ of the font.

communicating_science_analysisI thought it might be Baskerville but when I looked more closely I saw the following anomalies:

The lower tail on the “C” is tapered while on Baskerville it is a distinct serif. Then I looked for a font, in Adobe, similar to Baskerville and found that Caslon was similar. Adobe Caslon and ITC Caslon 12 has a tail as in my headline but  many of the other Caslons in the group do not have this “C”.

I then went to Identifont to see if it would help. There I discovered that some of the Baskerville’s have this capital “C”. So how I could tell the difference I did not know… The best I could do was either Caslon or Baskerville.

connaissence-des-artsI tried a second magazine in French as it had a ligated letter combination. The headline was:







I then analysed this as in the first headline and concluded it might be DIN

ouvre_du_mois_analysisI typed out the headline in Word using DIN Alternative and DIN Condensed and I compared these to the headline I had.

oeuvre_word_comparisonBut the apostrophe was different. So I asked Identifont. I discovered there were 427 DIN fonts so looking for this apostrophe was like looking for a needle in a haystack especially as Identifont did not have ” ‘ “…

I saw that a number of designers had worked on DIN typeface and so I put this into google and and found a list of DIN typefaces. The closest I could find was FF DIN. But it was not exactly the same as the magazine headline.