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The Character Issue

By Adam Tschorn

A typeface is more than just letters: Clinton's friendly serif, McCain's classic Optima and Obama's newcomer Gotham are on message too.

IT’S one of the most visible choices Sen. Barack Obama has made, and it’s burning up the blogosphere and YouTube, being debated on the radio, even parodied.

It’s a typeface, of all things, one called Gotham that the Illinois Democrat chose for his rally banners and campaign signage, a collection of letter shapes some typographers are calling the hot font of 2008.

Though a discussion of fonts may seem obscure, anyone who has agonized over the look of a wedding invitation or spent hours sweating over a r?m?nows that letters can say nearly as much about a person as the words they spell out. And now that we are in the computer age, the message conveyed by a font is no longer subliminal, it’s overt.

We see type as the clothes that words wear,” typographer Tobias Frere-Jones said. “You have more than one outfit in your closet, because you don’t wear the same thing to the office that you’d wear to the beach.”

Typefaces with big round O’s and tails are considered more friendly, whereas linear fonts evoke overtones of “rigidity, technology and coldness,” according to British psychologist Dr. Aric Sigman who published a 2001 study, “The Psychology of Fonts.”

Read full article here: The Character Issue