The seeds to all my computer typeface designs were planted in the late 1990s in the hallowed halls of one of the world’s largest publishers, McGraw-Hill, where as a prominent architect I authored five thick books on architectural engineering. This labor required many letters and symbols which to simplify my work I wanted in one “master” typeface —but finding none, I made one. Within the parameters of a computer typeface’s standard digital database of 220 or so cells, I formulated one font that included every character appearing in all 3,620 pages of these five best-selling books. Afterward, flushed with success and enjoying fat royalty checks, I formed a foundry named BuFontForge and created all kinds of typefaces for duty, pleasure, and possible profit. Again I spurned a computer typeface’s standard digital database —this time because it was inadmissibly deficient as follows:

  1. It excluded many science symbols I knew from my work at McGraw-Hill.
  2. It excluded many letters that appear in English-variant languages worldwide.
  3. It included many obsolete characters that no one uses anymore.
  4. It included some 66 diacritic-laden letters —nearly a third of its database— when more than 400 diacritic letters appear in English-variant languages worldwide.
Custom be damned —this was a file that needed revising! Who to do it but me? First, from a standard typeface’s 66 diacritic letters I removed the letter under each diacritic to create a hanging diacritic, 28 in all, each of which could be added to any letter, which included typing the 400 diacritic letters cited above. Then from this database I removed the diacritic letters and obsolete characters and I added the hanging diacritics, the missing English-variant letters, nearly 60 common science symbols, and a dozen popular icons such as rating stars and checkmarks. Thus this one invention no bigger than a pepperspeck —the hanging diacritic— enables a cast of half a thousand characters to perform on an old-timey eighth-bit stage with no other digital props. No other standard typeface comes even close to having so many characters as this! This superior assembly of letters —the Global Format™— may be the most profound development in typography in forty years. Within its digital parameters I’ve designed serif faces, flared-serif faces, semisans faces, sans-serif faces, architectural hand-lettering faces, and other styles, each of which would be immensely beneficial to:
  1. Billions of computer users worldwide who want to type words like Lech Wal-e˛sä, piñon pine, and Ångström unit, indeed every letter appearing in more than 80 English-variant languages worldwide —with fewer keystrokes and no other typefaces.
  2. Scientists and all their scholarly kin from accountants to zoologists who want to type an arrow or an angle, a scale or graph, a fraction or fleuron, and dozens of other familiar symbols that never appear in standard faces.
  3. Businesses worldwide that make products or render services whose activities involve multilingual communication.
  4. Publishers of newspapers, magazines, and books that describe international subjects or have international audiences, as well as printers of such works.
But my typefaces not only possess the best letters, their shapes are as alluringly simple as Shaker furniture. From root to plume these two traits are twined, conjunctive; and so mated, every exemplar has a muscular heart and a lovely face. As an imprimatur of their polish, here says the Encyclopedia Britannica: “Typography has as its first object not ornament but utility. A printer must never distract, not even with beau­ty, the reader from one’s text.” Care for this as you chair your hands before your keys.