Author Archives: Chris Dean

My name is Chris Dean and I am a typographer. I strive to set text to make it easier to read as supported by research in the domains of reading comprehension and cognitive psychology. I also conduct experimental research designed to support or refute typographic conventions in accordance with objective measures of human performance and empirical data. I am currently a graduate student in the Master of Design program (MDes) at NSCAD University under the supervision of Dr. Raymond Klein, chair of the department of psychology for Dalhousie University.

Article review — Fortune favors the bold (and the italicized): Effects of disfluency on educational outcomes (Diemand-Yauman, C., Oppenheimer, M. & Vaughan, E., 2010).

Full reference Diemand-Yauman, C., Oppenheimer, M. & Vaughan, E. (2010). Fortune favours the bold (and the italicized): Effects of disfluency on educational outcomes. Manuscript submitted for publication. Experiment 1 in one sentence Participants remembered more items from a list set in “bad” fonts compared to “good” fonts.   Experiment 2 in one sentence Participants remembered…

How to cite and reference Typophile for academic research

Following a request by a student asking how to cite Typophile for her graduate thesis, specifically, how to cite and reference the same person multiple times from the same thread on a forum with pages as opposed to a single scroll. I checked the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Sixth Edition, only to discover that…

Article review: Studies of the efficiency of drug labeling (Hailstone & Foster, 1967).

Reference Hailstone M. & Foster J. J., (1967). Studies of the efficiency of drug labeling. The Journal of Typographic Research, 1(3), 275–284. Experiment 1 In one sentence Participants identified drug labels that were type-written significantly faster than compared to drug labels that were hand-written with no significant difference in accuracy. What did they change? Writing style: Type-written…

Two space, or not two space?

Most likely in response to yet another client insisting on riddling their pages with holes created by double spaces after their periods, a colleague asked me for advice. In an effort to provide her with some ammunition to help bring down the offending parties, I composed for er the following:   Question “Is there some definitive…

The Elefont in the room

Today I walked into a conversation amongst peers and colleagues who were discussing their feelings about foundries offering newly released typefaces at lower and lower prices. Given my position, I had to remain somewhat neutral, so I bit my tongue, and have chosen to speak in my house, rather than cause a disturbance in someone else’s. To…

No comment

I am so fucking sick and tired of idiots making comments with stupid hyperlinks using phrases such as “click here” that I finally took time to respond to a comment which did just that. Only I didn’t use any swears because it wasn’t my house. This is. ———— @Mr X: Thanks for the information. A…

Open source typefaces

Try to comment and add a link, if you can. Here is one to get you started.

HOME. Sweet.

I changed the home page from About to HOME in an effort to help people create accounts for commenting. If you squint, you can probably see the capital letters yelling at you in the top left corner.

Pedantic pencils

Before we begin, try to say the following *part* of a sentence in one breath:   “…constructive feature manipulation and untrammled exploratory norm-violation, with the internal, optical consolidation and ‘divergification’ of the bouma or word-form for visual processing as the principal goal, when it comes to text type.” ~ Anonymous   What in the fuck…

I’m going on a diet. The Helvetica Diet™!

After following the most insane Typophile thread I have ever come across, which covered everything from personal problems, mental and physical health issues, family crisis, legal issues, death, and then progressed onto dietary discussion, I decided I would throw in my (sarcastic tongue-in-cheek) 2¢. The Helvetica Diet™! Theres got to be enough rich, fat North…

Baskerville bullshit?

After having the same article tweeted, facebooked, emailed, posted, mentioned to me, and a few days trying to piece together a messy collection of hyperlinks and pages, I prepared the following article review. And as far as bullshit goes, a good scientist can’t say that. It was just a hook. In order to support or…

  Figure 1: Instaspam®. Please. Fuck off already.


I just came across a Typophile thread announcing TypeSnitch. Somewhat of a type police operation. I haven’t looked into it yet as I got so excited I wrote this little piece based on the Miranda warning: “You have the right to remove serifs. Anything you set can and will be underlined agate you in a…

Times. They are a-changin’

I was reading a few Typophile threads about a new typeface called Chatype. Something of an official typeface for the city of Chattanooga. After it spiraled downward into a debate about the ethics and commerce surrounding Kickstarter and spec work,  the concept of Disneyfication sprang to mind. In Halifax, Nova Scotia, the largest industry is…

Click where?

This has been a long time coming. It’s old, but much of it still applies, and I am truly amazed at how people are still making the same mistakes we made a decade ago. Taken from Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox, October 3, 2005: Top Ten Web Design Mistakes of 2005. ———— 2. Non-Standard Links Following are…

Horst Deppe. My mentor.

Nevermind the book title, here’s the APA

Below is a comment I made from a Typophile thread — New site: Type Library. Seeing as it took me about an hour to figure out how to format a single reference, I figured I’d share it with you here as well. Enjoy.   Now this is how you properly reference something. Below is a…

Updates: 06.09.2011

Added some new pictures to the Look at the type section taken in Chicago where I was presenting my “In search of the Font Effect” paper at The Fourth International Conference on Design Principles and Practices. If anyone can recommend a good non-flash based gallery plugin for Word Press, please let me know.

Good enough is good enough

I was commenting on a thread on Typophile entitled “Typography/Layout help please,” and as I’m in such a shit mood lately it got a little ranty towards the end. I thought it best to delete it, but before I did , I thought I might as well let it out, in a more controlled fashion,…

New section added: Look at the type

New section added: Look at the type. A gallery of type I see, but as I don’t own a digital camera, it’s probably going to be a slow build.

Updates: 27.08.2011

I have alphabetized the navigation to help me find what I’m looking for as I am in the process of re-organizing the content and information architecture. Removed “Other networks” and placed its content into the Contact section. Added some more threads to the Typophile threads section. Discovered the “Drafts” feature after losing a bunch of…

First. Publication. Ever.

It’s official: Dean, C. T. & Klein, R. M. (2011). In search of the Font Effect: The effect of conflict upon reading and naming typefaces serially. Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, (4)6, 401–420. After over 30 rounds of attempted revisions the journal still couldn’t figure out how to use the provided high resolution…

My name is Christopher Dean and I am…

…also known as a typewriter first invented and made by William Austin Burt and patented in 1829 as US patent number 5581X. During my time as a professional typographer in corporate culture I often felt as though I was a cog in the machine. Little did I know to what extent this could be true….

I’m going public

I am going to be interviewed about my graduate research on Monday, 08 November between 4:45–5:30 Atlantic standard time. Listen online at I hope to have an MP3 posted shortly afterward.

There is no B

I just came back from a five hour eye examination where I was being investigated for signs of strabismus. The good news is, it appears as there is no sign of strabismus. For someone who spends a great deal of time looking at type, macular degeneration would be somewhat of a barrier. The bad, or…

I love Latin (squares)

Below is a conversation between myself and professor Raymond Klein, my former supervisor, about Latin squares and the design of an experiment he is working on: Ray: There are 3 conditions (ABC). Each participant will draw a different scene in each condition. There are 6 orders of the conditions so we will need to run…

Just say no

As opposed to a blog post that promotes discussion by asking a question, this is a call to action. From a FontShop Facebook photo, the FontShop profile asks the following question: “Quick Poll: Facebook has introduced a way to include their “Like” buttons on other websites. Should we add them to pages so you…

Does teaching sign language to children inhibit verbal language acquisition?

A potentially difficult longitudinal study. Here is a three minute You Tube video clip regarding this. Be sure to watch it to the end.

What typeface of dyslexia do you have?

Question: How can we measure the effects of type design on dyslexia? Read Regular, a typeface designed for people with dyslexia, has been in the works for some time. Do you know of any scientific studies that investigate it’s effects on reading performance? IV: Typeface DV: Reading time Comprehension Further reading: Klein, R., McMullen, P….

Kerning in logographic systems of writing

Question: Is there an equivalent to kerning or tracking in logographic systems of writing like chinese? IV: Inter-logogram spacing DV: Reading time Comprehension

Who said the serif?

I am reviewing citations and references for some of my writing and I find myself at a surprizing loss; after reviewing my entire library, some internet, and even a discussion at Typophile I discover that I am unable to come up with a single a typographic reference that supports the claim that “serifs are easier…

Designing is…

Typography as applied orthography

Typography as applied orthography

Change the font and save money

An article from Yahoo news, Here’s a legal way to print money: change the font. I have not doubled checked the sources but a good read so far.

EyeLink 1000 is here!

Our lab now has access to EyeLink 1000. An impressive piece of hardware. I hope to be taking out for a test drive in the next few weeks. It has two options: with or without a chin-rest. With the chin-rest it is significantly more accurate than our older EyeLink II. Without the chin-rest it’s about…

Can typographers be applied scientists?

We are all too familiar with the ongoing discourse surrounding the re-definition of the role of the typographer. Food for thought: “A scientist approaches a problem by carefully designing its parameters, seeking out relevant information, and subjecting proposed solutions to rigorous testing. The scientific view of the world leads a person to be skeptical about…

The “ultimate” way-finding typeface?

I wanted to post it on Ralf Herrmann’s blog, but it is giving me error messages in German: Great discussion. I too would like to see empirical data to support the effectiveness of this design. Without a background in the sciences it’s not quite fair to expect practicing typographers to be able to design and…

30 floors up.

Downstyle versus Upstyle

Background Typographic convention gives us the following reasons why downstyle is preferable to upstyle: a) 80% of the time words appear set in lowercase letters resulting in a more familiar word shape (bouma). b) Proper nouns like Your Name get a little more prominence and stand out as the proper nouns that they are. c)…

Art versus science

I was recently forwarded a link to an interesting review article: Song, H. and Schwarz, N. (2010). If it’s easy to read, it’s easy to do, pretty, good, and true. The Psychologist, 23(2). 108–111. It speaks of how typographic design can influence people’s expectations and behaviours for non-type related tasks such as cooking or exercising….

Fooling with @font-face

We’re in the process of fooling around with Typekit and @font-face so bear with us for the next few days. Testing, testing. 1, 2, 3…

Talk about timing!

No sooner had I uttered the words (literally, <3h) Typophile seems to me making great strides forward with repairs. Well done.

The troubles with Typohile

Well Typophile is having serious problems. It appears as though years of content and virtually all functionality at Typophile is broken and there is no clear or central communication regarding how or when it will be repaired. It looks as though the only solution will be a three month rollback. Keep your fingers crossed. In…

Apple’s tablet…

OLED could be Apple tablet’s secret solution for e-reading.

Chat room active!

Just got a functioning chatroom up. Modifications to come. You don’t need a profile to join. C’mon by!

Font hinting explained by a font design master

Font hinting explained by a font design master (by Richard Fink, a friend of mine from typophile).

30 typographic print ads

30 typographic print ads. Took a brief look at it. I think I’m blogging about a blog that’s blogging about other blogs. Of interest is that the images on the 1st source link to the external source they came from (but not the one about the Nintendo DS at the bottom).

Reading in the brain

From the New York Times, a review of Reading in the brain – the science and evolution of a human invention. Stanislas Dehaene’s latest book.

Designers shouldn’t shoot from the hip

An article on how Google runs effective design meetings. I particularly like the quote: “Mayer discourages using the phrase “I like” in design meetings, such as “I like the way the screen looks.” Instead, she encourages such comments as “The experimentation on the site shows that his design performed 10% better.” Art versus science. Here…

The legibility of Verdana?

An article about Verdana from Microsoft. Six paragraphs down in the last sentence you read: “…In a 2005 study of legibility, comparing six commonly used text fonts, Verdana (especially in combination with Microsoft’s ClearType technology) was found to be the most legible.” Can anyone cite this study?

Does hinting influence reading performance?

Independent variable Hinting Dependent variables Time to read (words per minute) Comprehension Discrimination

Does ClearType™ influence reading performance?

Independent variables ClearType™ Traditional anti aliasing Aliasing Dependent variables Time to read (words per minute) Comprehension Discrimination

Case and style

Independent variables Case (CAPS, MiXeD, lowercase) Style (Roman, Mixed, Italic) Dependent variables Time to read (words per minute) Comprehension Discrimination

Twelve typographic days of Christmas

. On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, A pair of fonts for free. On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me, Two Times New Romans, And a pair of fonts for free. On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me, Three free-hands, Two…

The Future of Reading conference announced

The Future of Reading conference, sponsored by the RIT School of Print Media and the RIT Cary Graphic Arts Press, will be held at the Rochester Institute of Technology, 12–19 June, 2010.

Updates — 17.09.2009

References Purcell, D. G., Stanovich, K. E. and Spector, A. (1978). Visual angle and the word superiority effect. Memory and Cognition, 6(1). 3–8 Purcell, D. G., Stanovich, K. E. (1982). Some boundary conditions for a word superiority effect. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 34a. 117–134.. People Stanovich, Keith

It’s alive!

Frakencompüter lives! It died due to a hard drive hardware fail, so I swapped the internal 160 for a new 300. Fast. To date, I’ve replaced a fan, a battery, a keyboard and an adapter. I think the only original parts left are the board and the optical (and of course the well weathered shell)….

The article of the future

If there were ever an opportunity for typographers to collaborate with scientists, this would be it. The Article of the Future, a project by Cell. Think peer-reviewed science journal article meets web-page. I started a thread at typophile about this, but as you can see, there is little to no activity. I guess I’ll just…

Ambigrams, palindromes and semordnilaps

It appears as though ambigrams are becoming a popular design exercise. I have noticed a bit of difficulty distinguishing between ambigrams, palindromes and semordnilaps (I think you need to scroll down to see semordnilap). I wonder if it’s possible to design an ambigram/palindrome or an ambigram/semordnilap?

About is (to my knowledge) the largest typographic forum in the world where all things type are discussed. I have made many important connections there. I strongly recommend you create a profile, and it is s preferred custom that you use your real name as your user name. You will get greater respect that way….

It’s finally here!

Starling (designed by Mike Parker of The Font Bureau Incorporated) has finally been released! I had the luxury of speaking with the designer for hours, listening to him tell me stories about it’s background &c. Imagine Shakespeare reading you a draft of his latest play. As far as I’m concerned, Starling is the Univers of…


My name is Christopher Dean and I am a typographer. I strive to set text to make it easier to read as supported by research in the domains of reading comprehension and cognitive psychology. I also conduct experimental research designed to support or refute typographic conventions in accordance with objective measures of human performance and…