In November 2020, I designed a logo for the soon-to-be-famous Etsy store, Scrap Scrunchie Shop and it truly needed a classic typewriter font. I never made a classic typewriter font before, so I had to use font that I didn’t make. Shocking! I have an Underwood No. 5 in my living room but it never occurred to me to make a basic typewriter font because there already are so many of them. What could I offer that wasn’t already available? A comprehensive set of typewriter fonts with various pitches, weights, and effects with extensive language coverage—ready for any classic typewriter font situation that might arise.
If you haven’t thought about typewriters much you may not realize that the stroke thickness comes from the ribbon. There are type bars with strikers or heads with sharp character profiles. The surfaces aren’t flat like normal metal type. Those sharp surfaces strike the ribbon, and the stroke thickens depending on the force applied. When I was a kid, I used a different manual Underwood. We never had an electric typewriter, and a computer printer was still a few years away. I learned not to slam the period, comma, and quote keys too hard as they looked too thick and made dents in the paper. Whereas the W and M needed an extra wallop so they wouldn’t look too pale—a habit I needed to break when we got our first computer.
Manual typewriters didn’t have italics—typists were restricted to 3 kinds of emphasis: red, doublestrike and underline. For red, there was a split ribbon. I typed in red a lot because it looked cool and I felt like it was wasteful not using the lower half of the ribbon. To make a bold effect, typists would type a letter, backspace, and type a letter again. For underscore, type a letter, backspace, underscore. Therefore, I decided not to include slanted italics in this typeface—it would have spoiled the typewriter effect. Instead, I included underlines in place of italics. By the time I completed Typewriter Spool, I’d created 122 fonts. Go check it out.