Typeface identification

Ken Moffat zarniwhoop at ntlworld.com
Tue Apr 25 21:50:58 CEST 2023

On Tue, Apr 25, 2023 at 02:48:24PM +0100, Peter Flynn wrote:
> > As a sideline, I am working on a simple recognition/identity system
> > for faces based on the appearance of some letterforms — for example
> > the double-loop or fish-hook lowercase "g" — designed to let
> > beginners identify the typeface they want.
> Beginners usually lack the technical vocabulary to describe their
> difficulties, especially when English is not their native language, and they
> often use the only words they can think of, which sometimes leads to
> confusion.

As a native English speaker, most of the details for how to describe
the variations in fonts are not common knowledge.  In the past I was
interested in trying to use TTF and OTF fonts to cover the main
languages I was[1] likely to find on the web (and a few less-common
variants).  In the end I went with the descriptions from wikipedia
when I could find them (and it is possible I misclassified some

Those results are at http://zarniwhoop.uk/ttf-otf-notes.html
(now old, but very little now changes in unicode for the
subset of current languages found on the web).

Please note it is plain http://, also (if anyone accesses it) the
'Please send any comments to' should be disregarded - that address
no-longer gets to me.

Anyway - the TeX connection is that I used xelatex to produce the
PDFs of Glyphs and Languages.  For me, part of the interest was
"does it reliably cover what I encounter", part was "does it look
nice? (very subjective, my ideas of niceness are a million miles
away from Knuth's).  Oh, and for general creation of (non-TeX)
documents it helps to not have very many fonts (scrolling down
though several hundred when editing a paragraph to use a new font is
not fun).

> Unlike other classifications (Vox, especially) I am not trying to group the
> faces into categories, but to provide some features which can be used to
> locate a specific face.
> (It was triggered by requests like "What's that typeface where the bar on
> the e is slanted and the capitals are lower than the ascenders and the f is
> so narrow you hardly need ff fl fi ffl ffi?")
> As a test, I'm slowly working through the faces listed in the LaTeX Font
> Catalogue, building on the list of features as I go. So far:
> a-form	hooked/round
> e-form	horixontal/sloped
> g-form	fish-hook/double-loop
> Ascenders	above/cap-height/below
> Serifs	bracketed/square/hairline
> R-form	straight/convex/concave/s-shape
> c-form	bulb/stroke
> I am not trying to capture all design features, just those that are
> immediately explainable and visible to a beginner.
> If anyone else has done this before, please scream now :-)
> -- 
> Peter Flynn
> Cork 🇮🇪 Ireland 🇪🇺

Sounds interesting.


1. In those days it was easy to use google news to look at reports
from different countries.

git gets easier once you get the basic idea that branches are
homeomorphic endofunctors mapping submanifolds of a Hilbert space.
                -- Isaac Wolkerstorfer

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