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Loraine Furter

Specimen

Published in the Libre Graphics magazine n°2.3, 2015.

The form of type specimens has varied over time: single sheets, postcards, posters, books, and since the inception of digital typesetting, the arrival of the Internet, and the creation ofweb fonts, digital and web specimens.

Since the first known specimen by Erhard Ratdolt in 1486, these documents have usually either displayed all the letters of the font from A to Z plus the punctuation and other glyphs; used pangrams—sentences containing all the letters ofthe alphabet—such as “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog;” or have used “greeking,” false Greek or Latin texts such as the famous lorem ipsum—derived and altered from Cicero’s De finibus bonorum et malorum —to be shaped by the typefaces.

Traditionally, collections of type specimens proposed a kind of neutral treatment for every font: the same layout, font size, text, etc. This, in addition to a sense of exhaustivity—the use of pangrams is representative of that tendency—and efficiency (one page per font or less) is supposed to help comparison of fonts. It suggests a very specific, formal approach to typography, and supposes that you already have content, naked, that needs to find the perfect shape, the “one”.

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March 2015, version 1.0, license CC-BY-SA.