An Informal Survey on Typefaces

Today, while one colleague was discussing her thoughts about choosing the right typeface for her maps, I began to wonder: “what sorts of typefaces are cartographically popular?” I have ones that I like to use all the time (mostly Adobe Caslon, Gill Sans, and Mostra Nuova), but many of you do, too. I think it might be enlightening to hear what people like, and compile the results into a quick guide, so that in the future, if someone isn’t sure what typeface to use, they’ve got a ready-made list of options that their peers prefer.

So, toward that end, I hope you’ll help me out by answering a very brief survey:

I’ll keep it open through the rest of the week, and then hopefully this weekend (or sometime in the near future thereafter) I’ll compile the results. It’s not the most formal of surveys, but it should suffice to offer me, and hopefully some of you, some interesting ideas of typefaces to try out in the future.

An Uncomfortable Request

So, I’m going to try doing something new this year; something that makes me uncomfortable. I’m going to put donation buttons on my tutorials and other parts of this site. Technically, there are already fairly-well-hidden ones on my river maps, but people usually don’t notice those.

One of the things I value most about the cartographic community is how willing we all are to share knowledge. We’re generally not proprietary or secretive: we’re happy to give anyone our data, our methods, and our advice. I love giving back to my fellow mapmakers, and I spend a fair bit of my time on contributions outside of my ordinary paid work, including:

  • Putting together tutorials, so that others can copy things that they like about my work.
  • Answering questions on Twitter, (often about those tutorials).
  • Working on free resources for my colleagues, such as Project LineworkA Cartographer’s Story, and some occasional contributions to Natural Earth.
  • Making weird and interesting maps, which hopefully provide some inspiration to those who view them. I almost always offer free PDF versions, so anyone can print them out at home if they’d like.
  • Staying active with NACIS, my professional society. I give talks at their annual conference, and I also have served in a variety of roles in the organization, including as Director of Operations, Atlas of Design Editor, MapLift co-organizer, Student Map & Poster Competition organizer, etc. I usually have an idea for something to do through NACIS.

I don’t expect to be paid for any of this work. But, I’m not exactly making a middle-class living most years, and it turns out that there may be people out there who voluntarily want to offer some compensation for my efforts.  I do the same thing from time to time for creators whose works I enjoy.

So, if you want to give it a go, here are a couple of buttons for you.

I’m not anticipating changing anything. I’m going to keep generating probably-interesting, possibly-useful free stuff at random intervals with no set schedule. If you draw knowledge, inspiration, or other value from my free work, and you have something to spare, then please feel free to contribute. Or not; I’ll keep making stuff either way. I, personally, have lots of people and projects for whom I’m not going to be sparing anything more than kind words. Parting with money is a totally different level.

I feel like I’m somehow slightly publicly embarrassing myself by taking this step, particularly if (as anticipated), it yields very little. I know that’s a bit irrational, but it’s true all the same.