Monday, July 18, 2005

Hello to Bello

Anyone with a computer is faced with the delightful task of choosing fonts for word processing, correspondence and the like. Those of us in the creative business understand the importance of typography to effective communication as well as aesthetics.

For instance, have you ever noticed that many direct mail letters use a typewriter font despite the fact that letters haven't been typewritten in ages? It's because through years of testing, direct marketers know that the Courier font has an authority quotient that's entirely independent of the content. Font choice can be driven by much more than good looks alone.

That said, Bello is good looking. Bello is a heavy looking new script font created by a European type foundry named Underware that recently won a best new ''display font'' award from the Type Directors Club. As the name suggests, display fonts look best when used in headlines rather than body copy.

Reminiscent of the lettering in old hand-painted signs, Bello has a fun retro look that takes full advantage of its digital origins. Unlike the old days, when fonts were created on metal plates, digital fonts have advantages that actually make them closer in look to calligraphy. The New York Times explains:

One tricky thing about script fonts is that in actual handwriting, the form of one letter might be affected by the letter next to it. Interestingly, Bello uses a digital format called OpenType, which, among other things, makes just such adjustments. As you type the word ''Bello,'' for example, the second ''l'' looks different from the first. Helmling suggests this may be exactly what people find attractive about Bello and other script fonts. It's not just the appeal of ''handwritten flavor,'' as he puts it, in a digital age. It's the way that technology allows users to harness those comforting imperfections perfectly.
Anxious to see what all the fuss is about? Until it gets archived, you can read the The New York Times Magazine article about Bello here.