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The Al Gore font fix

By Garance Franke-Ruta
As former vice president Al Gore prepared his latest book for publication, he discovered a problem: The font being used in the book made the numeral 1 look like a capital I.

Gore's attention to detail within a 400-page book, and the solution that he and his graphic design team at the MGMT Design firm arrived at for "Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis", have amused Gore-watchers and font nerds alike since they became public knowledge last Thursday.

That's the day Peter Bilak, founder of the Dutch type foundry Typotheque (and also a founding editor of Dot Dot Dot magazine) took to his blog to describe the creation of a new variant of the Brioni typeface for the former vice president, called "Al Gore's choice."

Bilak writes:

Last summer, I received a phone call from Michael, a designer from mgmtdesign in Brooklyn, New York. After the initial how-do-you-do's, he explained that they were designing a new book for Al Gore, Our Choice, the sequel to An Inconvenient Truth.
"Great project", I said.
And it got even better. They had chosen Brioni, one of our typefaces, for the body text.
"And this is why I am calling now", said Michael, his voice dropping a level. "You see, Al is really involved with the project and we spend a lot of time working together in the publisher's office. When he was reviewing the proofs, he had a comment about the typeface."
I took a deep breath and asked what the comment was.
"Basically, he wants you to change the numeral one."
"Interesting", I said. "And how did he come to this conclusion?"
"Well, in the book there're a lot of examples of scientific nomenclature and this particular numeral one is causing confusion when it's combined with capitals."

Bilak took the change with gusto, pleasing his client and also concluding: "Al was right. The new numeral is a lot less confusing when combined with letters. We already changed it for all other weights of Brioni. We'll call this 'Gore's choice'."

Gore's request has elicited amused reactions in the twitterverse, on blogs and from the design media.

"It's been kind of entertaining seeing all the response," said Alicia Cheng, a partner at MGMT Design. The request for a change was not as unusual as the circumstances of it, she said, which required the typeface to be redone in "like five hours... and for a type designer that's incredibly like a rush rate."

"We were cranking out this book in triple time with a whole team of people," she recounts. "Everyone had a meticulous eye, including Al." The choice to have the font "redrawn was the solution we brought to the table as graphic designers," she said. It really "helped clarify the information."

By Garance Franke-Ruta  |  January 12, 2010; 4:23 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
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First return the TARP money to the Fed. Reserve. The cars he builds can not be sold, no market likes them.

Posted by: RayOne | January 14, 2010 12:02 AM | Report abuse

Are you angry about this obvious RICO Act fraud and the national media's complicity in the cover-up, misinformation, reframing and misdirection of the issue and the related “carbon derivatives” market Obama’s Administration is spinning up? Take responsibility and take action. STOP all donations to the political party(s) responsible for this fraud. STOP donations to all environmental groups which funded this Global Warming propaganda campaign with our money, especially The Environmental Defense Fund. They have violated the public trust. KEEP donations local, close to home. MAKE donations to Oklahoma’s Senator Inhofe, the only politician to stand firmly against this obvious government/media coordinated information operation (propaganda) targeted at its own people. People that government leaders and employees are sworn to protect. WRITE your state and federal representatives demanding wall to wall investigations of government sponsored propaganda campaigns and demand indictments of those responsible. WRITE your state and federal Attorneys General demanding Al Gore and others conducting Global Warming/Climate Change racketeering and mail fraud operations be brought to justice, indicted, tried, convicted and jailed. Carbon is the stuff of life. He (Obama) who controls carbon, especially CO2, controls the world. Think of the consequences if you do nothing! For one, the UK is becoming the poster child for George Orwell’s “1984” and the US government’s sponsorship of this worldwide Global Warming propaganda campaign puts it in a class with the failed Soviet Union’s relentless violation of the basic human right to truthful government generated information. Given ClimateGate’s burgeoning revelations of outrageous government misconduct and massive covert misinformation, what are the chances that this Administration’s National Health Care sales campaign is anywhere near the truth?

Posted by: jauregui_john | January 13, 2010 1:10 AM | Report abuse

Maybe now he can get the cyclones spinning in the proper hemispherical orientation in the picture on the book cover.

Posted by: FadingFast | January 13, 2010 1:06 AM | Report abuse

On this--font fix... the former VP is supposedly looking to dot all the 'Is' and cross the 'Ts', but is this somehow about his missing politics? Cannot get the 'real picture', meaning on spending so much time working on something like this.

Posted by: Victoria5 | January 12, 2010 11:52 PM | Report abuse

On this--font fix... the former VP is supposedly looking to dot all the 'Is' and cross the 'Ts', but is this somehow about his missing politics? Cannot get the 'real picture', meaning on spending so much time working on something like this.

Posted by: Victoria5 | January 12, 2010 11:51 PM | Report abuse

I wish that change were universal, so that in NO typefont would a character be mixed up with a different one.

If that were true, I would have known what Kim Jung Il was; it took months before I found out:
Kim Jung Il
Kim Jung ii
Kim Jung il
Kim Jung the 2nd
Kim Jung "eye" "ell"
Kim Jung "eel"

By the way, one of the weakness of Japanese is that they have "belly talk", which means you cannot tell in writing what the wording means, since the pronounciation is critical (but absent). Thus, laws in Japan can be confusing. I thought typography here has let us down, and it should be resolved better sooner than later (something like getting rid of the word "inflammable", since is sounds like the opposite of "flammable", when it actually means the same).

Again: Gore is correct. (Sorry guys, but in this case, it's true.)

Posted by: Pete_from_nyc | January 12, 2010 9:03 PM | Report abuse

Imagine building your whole career upon the boogieman of "global warming" and then finding out that it's been based on falsified and suppressed information on climate change?

Poor Al Gore must be sweating it out over the Climategate emails and documents posted on the internet in November 2009 - just weeks before the Copenhagen climate change conference.

Gore canceled a speech he was to give in Copenhagen on his Chicken Little beliefs about climate change. The cancellation came after the Climategate emails went viral around the globe.

The Climategate emails and documents are from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in the UK. The CRU is the primary source of data on climate change used by Al Gore, the United Nations, every nation, and climate change activists.

The Climategate emails prove that scientists have been systematically faking or suppressing the fact that climate temperatures have been dropping for the past decade - and that temperatures were far warmer in Europe more than a thousand years ago.(It is known as the Medieval Warm Period and lasted from 1000-1300. This was followed by the Little Ice Age.)...

Posted by: AJAX2 | January 12, 2010 7:43 PM | Report abuse

Odd that the people who choose to criticize Vice President Gore miss the fact that this was done to help readers avoid misunderstanding the material being presented and nothing more. Or perhaps not so odd, since these people seem to personally resent clarity and facts, preferring venom and ignorance.

Btw, he is right, the original 1 is oddly out of place with the rest of the font items.

Posted by: JoelB8 | January 12, 2010 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Now he can say he invented fonts

Posted by: scon101 | January 12, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

While Algore is worried about fonts, the rest of the country is freezing its collective a$$ off from "global warming".

Posted by: c_e_daniel | January 12, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Here's the actual blog post with the structural changes (why the article isn't linked to it, I have no idea):

If you want to play around with the text yourself, you can do it on Typotheque's site here:

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | January 12, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Why is he spending so much time on fonts when he is supposed to saving the planet?

Posted by: parkerfl1 | January 12, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

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