Saturday, February 23, 2008

Copperplate font must be stopped

by Andy Behrendt

It's been an arduous couple of weeks since last I blogged. There has been a lot of reading for my courses, even though I only have four of them this semester. There was also an edition of the Concord to put together last week and a sermon/presentation on the Apostles' Creed that I gave at my Teaching Parish on Wednesday night. And it has been so ridiculously cold—my car wouldn't start after my night class on Tuesday, and I only got it going with the help of my buddy, Matt. (I am at least thankful, with condolences to Meta, that my car did finally start.) But that's not the half of it.

Most of my fellow Master of Divinity middlers, particularly those of us vying for an internship site in the Twin Cities, would agree that the last two weeks have been grueling because of internship interviews. I have now sat down for six such interviews, and I've got at least one more to go. Some folks find this particularly nerve-racking. I find it time-consuming, but it's also rather fun. I have really enjoyed talking to the various pastors and lay leaders about their congregations and discussing my own hopes for ministry. I'm really, really hopeful about at least two of the sites, and I'm getting mighty excited about internship in general. Where I will end up is up to God (through God's assistants at the seminary's Contextual Leadership Initiative), but I trust him (them).

Like I said, although the interviews are time-consuming, I don't find them nerve-racking. What has been racking my nerves perhaps as much as anything in the last couple weeks is a typeface. Yes, a typeface. A font, if you prefer. You'll notice it just to the right of this paragraph. It's called Copperplate (aka Copperplate Gothic). And it's ruining our world. "How can you have such a problem with a font?" you might ask. Well, having designed publications from time to time over the past several years, I have become familiar with a lot of fonts—sometimes too familiar. Copperplate and I first got acquainted around 2001, when I became editor of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay's student newspaper. Copperplate and I used to be friends. But then Copperplate made friends with too many other people.

You may be one of them. You may have been scrolling down your list of fonts on Microsoft Word or PowerPoint one day and thought, "Hey, that's a cool, subtly seriffed font. It's nice and wide. It looks classy, and yet I don't think I'd want to pick a fight with that font. I'm going to use that font for my poster/presentation." I can't blame you. I thought the same thing. But that was many years ago.

I see Copperplate font at least once a day now. Lately, it's been several times a day. If you see the same font in different places on the same day and that font isn't Times New Roman, Helvetica, Arial, Verdana or Tahoma (and if you can tell Verdana and Tahoma apart, my hat is off to you, my friend), well, then we've got a problem. Here is a small sampling of the places where I've seen Copperplate in the last couple weeks:
  • On the sign of a possible internship site when Tracy and I visited it one Sunday morning.
  • On the cover of a book required for my Jeremiah course.
  • On a poster for Tracy's museum.
  • On the title page of a classmate's assignment that I proofread.
  • In the "Milwaukee" of the Milwaukee Brewers' own logo (this one really pains me; I only noticed it this week)
The fact of the matter is this: Copperplate is on the verge of an overexposure to rival that of Comic Sans MS. Remember Comic Sans MS? It was a great font. When everyone first fired up Windows 95 and saw that baby among the options, it was impossible not to use it. But eventually so many people were using this cartoonish delight so often that it started showing up in completely inappropriate situations. I'm not sure that I ever saw it in a funeral bulletin, but it got almost that bad before, somehow, there came a magic moment at which just about everyone came to their senses.

That time is now for Copperplate. I had originally intended to make this blog entry into a larger critique of various little things that are grating on my nerves. I wanted to discuss the term "unchurched." (I know it's ideal to have a one-word term for people who don't attend a church, but can't we come up with one that doesn't make church into a scary verb? If I weren't going to church, I'd find something like "churchless" a little less derogatory. "Churchless" also at least clears the spell-checker in Microsoft Word.) And don't get me started on Hannah Montana. (Doesn't it frighten anyone else that the biggest star in America is the daughter of the guy who sang "Achy Breaky Heart"?) But right now I would be happy enough if we all were just a little more careful about diversifying our typefaces.

We drown our sins at the baptismal font (and in daily repentance). It's now time to repent and drown our sins with Copperplate font.


Blogger efc said...

Well, one place you won't see Copperplate is associated with the Obama campaign. I saw a little note that their main face was Gotham which led me to this wonderful type shop in NYC. Here are some typefaces that are really delicious. Unfortunately they are way too expensive for me, but they sure are nice to look at!

2/23/2008 10:34:00 PM  
Blogger Rev Scott said...

I'm a Garamond man myself - but I definitely see what you mean.

2/25/2008 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger Meta said...

Andy, I'm designing my wedding invitations right now and I think you should double check my font choices before I send them to the printer. What do you think? :)

2/27/2008 03:05:00 PM  
Blogger Joe Fox said...

Agreed. I feel the same way about BankGothic.

10/06/2008 11:25:00 AM  

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