Tools to replace swear words with grawlixes: symbols suggesting anger and obscenity

A headline earlier today benefited from some creative obfuscation of the word "motherfucker", and there's no better method than grawlixes: a set of now-traditional characters used to suggest anger, confusion, obscenity, resentment and other likely emotions behind the language. Merriam Webster:

What the #@*% Is a ‘Grawlix'? Sometimes the symbols used for a grawlix might be selected specifically for the word it's meant to represent. In the title $#*! My Dad Says, for example, the resemblance of the dollar sign and octothorpe to the first two letters of the word (you know the one) is probably not coincidental. The grawlix: it's some good $#*!.

Tinwatchman created an open-source library that "makes the web swear like a cartoon" if you want full service, but software developer Sampo Juustila simply collected the best unicode characters and emojis in a nice, easily copied-from page. Advanced grawlixen might want to roll their own from the unicode miscellaneous symbols block.

There's now an emoji called serious face with symbols on mouth - ? - that fits a three-character grawlix into a single characer, but it's so tiny you can barely see the grawlix at standard type sizes.

Blambot offers Potty Mouth, a free-of-charge font of perfectly-drawn grawlixes for use by artists and designers. (Its exemplar is the image on this post!)

The grawlix originates in American comics, and was defined by Mort Walker in a 1964 article that was later collected in the 1980 book The Lexicon of Comicana [Amazon].

Wikipedia collects a few other examples:

Agitrons: wiggly lines around a shaking object or character Blurgits, swalloops: curved lines preceding or trailing after a character's moving limbs Briffits: clouds of dust that hang in the wake of a swiftly departing character or object (?) Dites: diagonal, straight lines drawn across flat, clear and reflective surfaces, such as windows and mirrors Emanata: lines drawn around the head to indicate shock or surprise Grawlixes: typographical symbols standing in for profanities (?),

Read the rest

JetBrains Mono is a free, open source monospace font

JetBrains Mono is a new font designed especially for coders and developers. The lowercase characters are taller than the ones in other monospace fonts, improving readability.

Consider this in contrast to some other fonts. Consolas, for example, has slightly wider letters. However, they are still rather small, which forces you to increase the size by one point to make the font more readable. As a result, lines of code tend to run longer than expected.

JetBrains Mono’s standard-width letters help keep lines to the expected length.

Read the rest

Review / Control

Remedy Entertainment's Control is a masterpiece of weird architecture and bold design, but a tiring shooter.

Greta Grotesk: a font based on Greta Thunberg's hand-lettered signs

Uno's Greta Grotesk is a free font based on Greta Thunberg's hand-lettered signs. Read the rest

Beautiful handpainted transport signs from Kolkata and south Bengal

South Indian indie publishing house Blaft Publications has tweeted a magnificent thread of hand-painted transportation signs from Kolkata and all around South Bengal, from taxi-door logos to bus-signs to danger signs to "for hire" signs. Read the rest

Free "National Park" typeface that looks like the wood signs on the trails

National Park is a free typeface from The Design Outside Studio based on the "National Park Service signs that are carved using a router bit." Studio founder and University of Kansas design professor Jeremy Shellhorn was visiting Rocky Mountain National Park when inspiration hit. He writes:

I had a sketchbook with me and took some rubbings of the letterforms and asked my friend Miles Barger, the Visual Information Specialist for Rocky, if he had the typeface. He asked the sign shop. No one has it? Turns out it isn’t a typeface at all but a system of paths, points and curves that a router follows.

The router’s "bit" follows the path and gives the letters its stroke weight or thickness only when engraving a sign.

It doesn't really exist as a typeface unless a sign is made.

So my design colleague, Andrea Herstowski, students Chloe Hubler and Jenny O'Grady, NPS Ranger Miles Barger and myself decided to make this router typeface a thing.

Our National Parks belong to the people, so this typeface should too.

National Park Typeface (via Kottke)

Read the rest

This is the new Helvetica

Helvetica Now is Monototype's new typeface created for today's screens. Read the rest

Public Sans: a free/open font from the United States Web Design System

Public Sans is a free, open font (available in weights from 100-900, download here) from the federal United States Web Design System with a Github project that you can contribute to: it's billed as "A strong, neutral typeface for text or display." (via Four Short Links) Read the rest

Optician Sans: a font based on eye-charts

Since 1959, patients undergoing eye exams have stared at eye-charts whose limited set of characters was created by Louise Sloan; now, the typographer Fábio Duarte Martins has completed the font and released it for free: Optician Sans. (via Kottke) Read the rest

Try this new font made from corporate logos

Creative studio Hello Velocity's Brand New Roman is "the most corporate Corporate Font ever created!"

(via Laughing Squid) Read the rest

Web typography resource collection

Web Typography Resources is a list of apps, tools, plugins and other stuff that will help you make words look nice on the world-wide web. Highlights include Bram Stein's typography inspector, Monotype's new SkyFonts webfont management service, and Matej Latin's book Better Web Typography for a Better Web. [Amazon]

Previously: Practical Typography [Matthew Butterick] Read the rest

Watch this great intro to the ambigram, a typographical treat

Ambigrams are words or symbols styled so they still have meaning when viewed from another perspective. This video is a great overview of some of the best artists and books on the craft. Read the rest

Magnificent new show of Scott Albrecht's deconstructed, typographical art opening in San Francisco on Saturday

This Saturday (6/30) in San Francisco, Brooklyn-based artist/designer Scott Albrecht opens "A Forgiving Sunset," a large solo exhibition of new woodworks, works-on-paper, and steel sculptures. Scott continues to amplify his blend of artistic vision and exquisite craftsmanship in captivating works that are based in simple typographical forms but manifested from his puzzle-like assembly of numerous individual pieces of paper, wood, or, now, steel.

“The work for this show pulls from a range of experiences and inspirations over the last two years," Albrecht says. "A recurring point of reference in the work was the social climate and the growing gaps I was seeing among relationships — both on a cultural level as well as a personal level — and my own desire to return to something more connected. When I began this collection I developed a somewhat daily habit of listening to the poem, Desiderata by Max Ehrmann. Although it was originally written in 1927, it is, among many things, a fairly timeless call for empathy, compassion and understanding, which seems just as relevant and needed today as I’m sure it did when it was written.”

A Forgiving Sunset hangs at the First Amendment Gallery until July 28. The opening reception is Saturday, June 30, from 7-10pm.

Read the rest

Stellar collection of 1980s tech company logos (also available as a slideshow!)

Available free on, the 1985 Electronic Engineers Master Vol 2 contains page after page of excellent technology company logos, many of which have been lost to the obsolescence of hardware and business plans. Marcin Wichary the designer/typographer/writer behind the Segmented Type Playground and the Pac-Man Google Doodle, turned the logos into a beautifully haunting slideshow.

(via Kottke)

Read the rest

36 Days of Type's annual crowdsourced submissions did not disappoint

36 Days of Type is a long-running collaborative design project where different artists render letters and numbers in a unique style. This year's entries are as delightful as always. Read the rest

Play with letters in this fantastic Segmented Type Playground

Marcin Wichary, a wonderful designer/typographer/writer who I had the pleasure of working with at Medium years ago, created this fantastic "Segmented Type Playground." Learn more via Marcin's Twitter thread about the project. (Among many other prior projects, Marcin created the playable Pac-Man Google Doodle back in 2010.)

Read the rest

Study: two spaces after a period makes reading easier

Amongst people who care deeply about typography and fonts -- which is, in our typographic age, probably a reasonable chunk of people online -- there's been a low-level war about spacing after a period. Specifically: When you finish a sentence, do you type one space, or two?

There are many heated views on this matter.

But recently, a couple of scholars decided to science this one out, and ... things did not turn out well for the one-spacers.

As the Washington Post reports:

So the researchers, Rebecca L. Johnson, Becky Bui and Lindsay L. Schmitt, rounded up 60 students and some eye tracking equipment, and set out to heal the divide.

First, they put the students in front of computers and dictated a short paragraph, to see how many spaces they naturally used. Turns out, 21 of the 60 were “two-spacers, ” and the rest typed with close-spaced sentences that would have horrified the Founding Fathers.

The researchers then clamped each student's head into place, and used an Eyelink 1000 to record where they looked as they silently read 20 paragraphs. The paragraphs were written in various styles: one-spaced, two-spaced, and strange combinations like two spaces after commas, but only one after periods. And vice versa, too.

And the verdict was: two spaces after the period is better. It makes reading slightly easier.

Mind you, the reading-speed improvement with double spaces was only 3%, so we're talking about a pretty tiny delta here.

Small enough, in fact, that this study has not so much resolved this debate as fanned its eternal, eldritch flames. Read the rest

More posts