Best App for Font Fanatics
Anatomy lesson: The Typography Manual features an elegant visual glossary to illustrate every typographic twist and turn, a nifty way to learn the technical vocabulary behind the letters you read every day. The glossary’s flash-card format presents a bold, fullscreen illustration for over 100 terms from “abrupt serif” to “x-height.”
Typography ebook: The app offers a competent reference guide to the world of type, combining high-level views (a broad history of typography) with nitty-gritty details (the roles of various kinds of dashes or the difference between “font” and “typeface”). This will be familiar territory for seasoned designers, but it’s a great intro for anyone who wants to learn about the art and science of constructing and combining letterforms.
Em calculator: For math-challenged web designers, the app’s em calculator converts pixel heights to more flexible and accessible em units for style sheets and web pages. An “em” is a unit that matches the height of the current font. (The standard height of fonts in a web browser is 16 pixels, for example, so 1 em is 16 pixels in that context.) There’s also a conversion table to convert between inches, millimeters, and points.
Slide rule: The app’s Font Size Ruler gives designers a quick-and-dirty way to eyeball a font’s point size, whether it’s in print or on paper. Hold the ruler up to the text you want to measure and nudge the slider back and forth to change the size of the “quick brown fox” to match the height of your text. The ruler displays the point size, and you can choose to view the result in either Georgia or Helvetica.
Accent on HTML: For workaday web designers, the most useful feature of The Typography Manual is very likely its reference guide for HTML characters. The web relies on special codes to represent symbols and accents (
© stands in for the © symbol, for example). These codes aren’t exactly a cinch to remember, and this reference guide eases that particular headache.
The Typography Manual
Website: The Typography Manual
Graphic designers and font fans will find lots to love in this technical survey of the typographic universe. The app combines a guide to the history and technique of type with a font-size calculator, ruler, and HTML reference for web designers. A visual glossary illustrates letterform anatomy when you need to brush up on the difference between diacritic and dipthong.
Font finder: Give WhatTheFont a photo with a typeface to identify, and draw a box around the mystery font, as shown here for “Updike.” (WhatTheFont works best with a single line of block text; it doesn’t cope well with script, for example.) On the next screen, WhatTheFont shows the individual letters that it’s found and asks you to confirm that the U is a U and the P is indeed a P. From there, it’s ready to find its matches.
The typeface unmasked: The app lists the font contenders, showing the most likely matches first. Scroll through the list to find the best match, and tap your selection to get more info. The app provides the link to the font’s page at the MyFonts website, which you can either email or visit directly.
Quick! Name that font! As if you didn’t already know, WhatTheFont will tell you that the title of the Best iPhone Apps book is set in Myriad Pro. No kidding: Snap a photo of a typeface, pass it to WhatTheFont, and the app lists the most likely fonts, along with links to buy the typefaces (the app is made by a font retailer). Designers, font fans, and the morbidly curious will find WhatTheFont super-handy. The rest of us can simply marvel.
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