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.”
Brioni is a book typeface and comes with old style figures. Because of the fairly low x-height, the numeral one looks like a Roman one, like a shorter version of a capital letter I. It looks very elegant, but when combined into acronyms, it could be confusing.
“OK, we’ll have a look.”
I called Nikola, the author of the font, and informed him of the situation.
“Hi Nikola, Al Gore wants you to change the numeral one in Brioni.”
I explained, and Nikola agreed to make some modifications. That same day, we sketched alternatives, printed samples, tweaked it a bit further, made new fonts, sent them to New York, and waited for the reaction.
A short email arrived the next day. Al liked the change.
“There was a great cheer from upstairs when they presented the layouts in question to Al. So I would say that it is good to go”, the email read.
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’.
. . .
If you have purchased a licence to Brioni, you can download a free update of the fonts from your online account.