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Speak Up: Typographic Quiz

Do you think of yourself as a type expert? A font guru? Do you brag to people about your mastery of typographic trivia?

Well baby, it’s time to put your money where your mouth is. I got a hold of the AIGA Typographic Quiz that was given at the AIGA conference in DC last year.

Allan Haley, who currently co-chairs the Typography Group of AIGA was gracious enough to share with me the questions and the answers.

First of all, let me tell ya — it’s hard.

At Voice, the quiz was given to about 20 teams of 8-10 designers each. All of us were pros too — novices were few. As best as I can remember, the team that won got 20 out of 30 questions correct. And that’s because Jonathan Barnbrook was on the team. Totally unfair. Most of the other teams got less than 15 answers right — mine scored 14.

So first the rules. We’re on the honor system here. Please, don’t look up the answers. No textbooks, no Googling, no cheating. Discuss amongst yourselves on the blog all you want.

The quiz and answers are below.

Here’s the Quiz.

Here’s the Answers.

Maintained through our ADV @ UnderConsideration Program
PUBLISHED ON Aug.27.2003 BY Tan
Tan’s comment is:

And by the way, Allan is planning to give the second edition of this quiz at the next AIGA conference in Vancouver.

The winner will receive the entire Linotype Font Library on CD.

Start studying now.

On Aug.27.2003 at 07:14 PM
Armin’s comment is:

>And that's because Jonathan Carnbrook

Well Tan, you already have one wrong answer. It's Jonathan Barnbrook. Google that.

On Aug.27.2003 at 08:06 PM
Armin’s comment is:

If the type quiz at Vancouver is the same one Allan gave at TypeCon I doubt anyone will get 5 questions right. I think it's funny that at a design conference there need to be teams to answer this, at TypeCon it's every type geek for themselves. These guys know their shit.

Watch out here comes a small rant — I don't understand why the AIGA wouldn't do a graphic design quiz. It would be ten times more fun and more people will get into it. Because really, that typequiz at TypeCon... I think I got one right, and I pride myself in my typographical knowledge.

On Aug.27.2003 at 08:32 PM
jonsel’s comment is:

Darn that was harder than it should have been... I think I got about 10 right for sure. Answers are on their way.

On Aug.27.2003 at 09:07 PM
Stephen Coles’s comment is:

I can guess why they do a typographic quiz, Armin. It's because Allan already had this one cooked up for TypeCon2002. I started to take it until it seemed really familiar. I assume the AIGA 2003 quiz will be the same as this year's TypeCon too. In that case, I got a 18 on both.

On Aug.27.2003 at 09:30 PM
Stephen Coles’s comment is:

Ok, after re-reading I see that it's slightly modified from the TypeCon02 quiz. Mostly omitting the Toronto and Canada questions.

On Aug.27.2003 at 09:33 PM
Tan’s comment is:

Hey, it's type, not spelling. Fixed.

Do you guys remember any of the TypeCon Canadian questions?

On Aug.27.2003 at 09:51 PM
Hrant’s comment is:

Yawn... ;-)


1) Stephen, what are you talking about? Only like three of the questions are the same, and one of those is "backwards".

2) I wasn't at TypeCon :-( but I did see the Typophile thread about the quiz: it was much harder than this one...

3) #6 is obsolete, and #30 is problematic.


On Aug.28.2003 at 12:39 AM
Hrant’s comment is:

I think I just scored in the low 20s.

But I remember a math test in high school were I thought I'd gotten a 16 (out of 20), but I got a 4 instead... I still squirm from that.


On Aug.28.2003 at 12:46 AM
Paul’s comment is:

Without help I think I can honestly claim no more than 6 or 7. Shall we post our answers here and see if, collaboratively, we can ace it?

(Not wanting to start until folks agree, lest those who disagree feel cheated.)

On Aug.28.2003 at 09:03 AM
Sam’s comment is:

Too early to post our individual answers!

It was a fun quiz, but more trivia than I was expecting. I mean, Eric Gill's underpants? ew!

On Aug.28.2003 at 09:24 AM
Tan’s comment is:

let's give it another few hours before posting your answers. I'll send out the correct answers this weekend.

On Aug.28.2003 at 11:01 AM
Tan’s comment is:

Ok, here are the grades so far. Even w/ TypeCon experience, the scores were as expected. This thing was hard. Anyone with more than 15 gets my admiration.

(I gave a partial on #30 if you got 2 out of 3 right, thus the .5)

HRant -- 17.5

Sam -- 14

Steven Coles -- 16.5

Jonsel -- 16.5

Colin -- 15

Armin -- 8.5

No 20 yet. I swear I'm grading quite leniently. You can check for yourself soon.

On Aug.28.2003 at 11:42 AM
Tan’s comment is:

Sam -- you get my admiration too. I got 10 when I took it.

And I assume you guys are cool w/ my posting the results.

On Aug.28.2003 at 11:43 AM
Sam’s comment is:

Thanks! I can't believe I missed the one about the part of the "e." Overthinking...again.

Way to go, Jon! Portfolio Center reprasentz!

On Aug.28.2003 at 11:48 AM
jonsel’s comment is:

Looks like we could all use a little typographic history primer.

Tan, I'll take that .5 anytime!

On Aug.28.2003 at 11:49 AM
Tan’s comment is:

> I don't understand why the AIGA wouldn't do a graphic design quiz. It would be ten times more fun and more people will get into it.

Not a bad idea Armin. I'll pose the idea to them and see where it goes.

On Aug.28.2003 at 11:54 AM
Hrant’s comment is:

Huh. Well, I'm still happy.

> I gave a partial on #30

You mean my third choice is actually a man? :-/

I've met all three of my choices in person,

so I'd like to know which one is hiding a

secret even greater than Gill's...


On Aug.28.2003 at 11:55 AM
jonsel’s comment is:

Yeah, well El Arminito's pulling down the PC average, although he was only a teacher, not a student. For shame. ;-)

On Aug.28.2003 at 11:55 AM
Sam’s comment is:

I guessed Frederick Goudy for #30---was that wrong?

On Aug.28.2003 at 11:57 AM
Armin’s comment is:

>Yeah, well El Arminito's pulling down the PC average, although he was only a teacher, not a student. For shame. ;-)

FUCK. I totally sucked. Good thing I never said anything stupid like I pride myself in my typographical knowledge. Because I would look like an ass right about now.

Shame, shame, shame.

On Aug.28.2003 at 12:01 PM
Tan’s comment is:

hey, 30 was admittedly damn hard. But I'm just grading by a list that Allan gave me. I suppose there are numerous other women type designers -- some obscure I'm sure. You'll get the list, so don't kill the grader.

...and Goudy was anatomically 'unqualified'.

On Aug.28.2003 at 12:02 PM
jonsel’s comment is:

and Goudy was anatomically 'unqualified'.

Don't tell him that.

On Aug.28.2003 at 01:06 PM
Tan’s comment is:

new contestant results.

Jesus de Francisco -- 10.5

Paul Kimball -- 11

...and so far, Jesus has been the only person to get #28 correct. Damn, how did you know that?!

On Aug.28.2003 at 02:18 PM
jes�s’s comment is:

You mean "incunabula"?

I'm from Spain and over there you grow up knowing all kinds of useless (except for quiz questions) latin expresions...

I've also had the chance to view some -like Gutenberg's 42 line Bible and many beautiful medieval manuscripts, doing some school research at Madrid's National Library-.

On Aug.28.2003 at 04:09 PM
jes�s’s comment is:

But, incunabula and all, I only got 10,5 :-(

What was the 0.5 for, btw?

On Aug.28.2003 at 04:11 PM
Tan’s comment is:

oh, it's number 30. I have a list of about 15 women type designers -- Judith Sutclife wasn't on there, so I gave you a partial for getting the other 2.

I'm sure Judith is a real person, so no biggie.

A few other people had the same complaint. I can only grade off the answers that I have from Haley.

hey, 10.5 is just fine -- no shame there.

Ok people -- why don't you start sharing answers with each other?

See if you can get them all as a group. Betcha can't

On Aug.28.2003 at 04:27 PM
Hrant’s comment is:

> Jesus has been the only person to get #28 correct


I wrote: "First books". How was that wrong?

Oh, maybe "First printed books"?

That's what I meant, but I have to concede sloppiness...

BTW, I want my 0.5 points for Fiona Ross! You know how many millions of Indians read using her work? She's done more serious font stuff than probably all the other women on that list.


On Aug.28.2003 at 06:28 PM
Tan’s comment is:

Yes, the translation of the word itself meaning "First Books" is technically correct also.

But the answer that I was looking for was "the first 60 year period from the invention of printing (1440-1500)"

Incunabula refers to a period in this case. Jesus actually nailed both definitions in his answer. The question was flawed -- so fine, you have your point.

Add 0.5 for Fiona Ross too -- and your score would be 19.


On Aug.28.2003 at 07:10 PM
KM’s comment is:

Damn that was difficult. Too much trivia! And as for the Apple corporate typeface—they're all wrong. It's Myriad!!!

My wife is shaking her head... : (

On Aug.28.2003 at 07:21 PM
Tan’s comment is:

ok, new score:

Kris McCaddon -- 15.5

good job Kris.

On Aug.28.2003 at 07:32 PM
KM’s comment is:

Woohoo! Did I get the job case answer correctly?

On Aug.28.2003 at 07:44 PM
Hrant’s comment is:

18 is fine. Thanks!


On Aug.28.2003 at 07:49 PM
Tan’s comment is:

Ok, the answers have been posted below the Quiz.

In most cases, there was one most correct answer (or set of answers) for each question. Either you got it, or you didn't.

Just remember, I didn't make the quiz. I'm just the T.A. who administered it. If you have a dispute about an answer, don't bellyache to me about it please.

There is no prize except pride. Hrant is the unofficial high score so far.

On Aug.28.2003 at 07:55 PM
Tan’s comment is:

And I'm no longer accepting/grading answers. Check and post them yourself.

I'll be in the teacher's lounge taking a smoke...

On Aug.28.2003 at 11:56 PM
Armin’s comment is:

The only one I have a complaint is the Sagmeister question. They never specified that it was the one where he carved himself, for some reason I was thinking of the headless chicken jambalaya poster for New Orleans. I demand a recount. I don't.

On Aug.29.2003 at 08:39 AM
Tan’s comment is:

true. but it's the first one that people think of. a number of people got it right.

I had a jpg of the poster and was going to include it, but it had too much info on the city and stuff.

no recount!

On Aug.29.2003 at 10:15 AM
Tan’s comment is:

the other answer that was arguable was the "counter" in the e.

Like many others, I always thought it was called an "eye" or the "lining", but just as I said, it's the more correct answer.

On Aug.29.2003 at 10:18 AM
Hrant’s comment is:

> it's the more correct answer.

You mean "counter" is more correct? I don't think so, because the more specific a term, the more accurate it's considered. "Eye" is a special_case/subset of "counter", and the more correct term for the "e". Some people might even say it's not a counter at all.


On Aug.29.2003 at 11:44 AM
Colin’s comment is:

Hrant, I think with the wording of the question, "counter" is more correct. It reads, "What is this part of a character called?" not, "What is this part of the lowercase e called?"

On Aug.29.2003 at 11:57 AM
Hrant’s comment is:


That's a pretty clever trap, assuming it was on purpose.


On Aug.29.2003 at 01:05 PM
Colin’s comment is:

Yeah. I probably would've put counter anyway.

On Aug.29.2003 at 02:15 PM
Kent Lew’s comment is:

Oh man, how come nobody told me there was a Type Quiz going on here?! Coles?! Hrant?! Dang.

I could tell you what I scored, but now you wouldn’t believe me.

BTW, seventeen of the questions were the same as the TypeCon 2002 quiz (’02 Hrant, not ’03)

— Kent.

On Sep.02.2003 at 06:45 PM
Tan’s comment is:

go ahead and post your score Kent. did you do better than 20?

On Sep.02.2003 at 06:52 PM
Hrant’s comment is:

Who's the *#?$@& who told Kent?! ;-)


On Sep.02.2003 at 11:49 PM
Kent Lew’s comment is:

Nevermind. We’ll let Hrant continue to bask in glory. ;-)

I imagine that Allan will adapt the quiz again for next month’s AIGA. You better hope so. This year’s TypeCon quiz was pretty damn esoteric, I must say, in retrospect. (Hey, don’t blame me, really; Allan made the final cut!) Still you might want to check out the post at Typophile for a leg up, since Allan will probably pull at least some questions from there.

— K.

On Sep.03.2003 at 06:56 AM