Martin Luther King Jr. handwriting font
Update #16

There’s a new update available to the Martin Luther king Font. You can download the font from your account:

You are new? Download the font for free here:

Following up on the number update from February, this Update adds the numbers: 7 9 0 0(version 2) and a semicolon.

The new version will show up in your font menu as “Martin Luther King 2021 April.” I recommend uninstalling older versions to keep your font menu organized.

A big “Thank you.”
to everybody who supported the creation of the font this month. This update is possible because of the financial support of 23 people from around the world. I want to take some space to thank them:

J. Harris, Montgomery, Al 🇺🇸
J. Horton, North Turramurra, NSW 🇦🇺
N. Renner, New Britain, CT 🇺🇸
B. Desclee, Brussels 🇧🇪
K. Engelbrecht, Bern 🇨🇭
R. Wampler, Colorado Springs, CO 🇺🇸
D. Chamberlain, Benicia, CA 🇺🇸
H. de Wolf, Zaandijk 🇳🇱
K. Tilley, Linthicum Heights, MD 🇺🇸
C. Smith, Nedlands, WA 🇦🇺
J. Ford, New York, NY 🇺🇸
P. Herman, Bonsall, CA 🇺🇸
F. Chaplais, Ile de France 🇫🇷
J. Holze, Magdeburg, Saxony-Anhalt 🇩🇪
N. Wilson, Broken Arrow, OK 🇺🇸
T. Zwitserlood, Amsterdam, NH 🇳🇱
J. Wilson, Nashville, TN 🇺🇸
G. Sjölin, Örebro 🇸🇪
R. Lindsey, Grand Terrace, CA 🇺🇸
H. Colsman-Freyberger, Mannheim, Baden-Württemberg 🇩🇪
F. Engerer, Nürnberg, Bavaria 🇩🇪
H. Billetter, Kerpen, North Rhine-Westphalia 🇩🇪

join the list of supporters:

Transparency is important. Please find a detailed spreadsheet with the total number of supporters and donations →here.


Let’s talk fonts.
Usage Tip: Activate Initial and Final Forms.


“Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge, which is power; 
religion gives man wisdom, which 
is control. Science deals 
mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two 
are not rivals.” 

Martin Luther King Jr.

In handwriting, a letter written at the end of a word can differ from the form in a word or at the beginning of a word. Advanced handwriting fonts like the Martin Luther King handwriting font offer features to address that. To activate this feature is easy, but every software places the button for it in a different spot. The good news: once you learn it, you never forget it. What you are looking for is to activate standard or common ligatures.

The example shows how to activate final and initial forms in Word.

Other software, like LibreOffice or TextEdit, automatically activates the feature and offers different ways to manipulate the text’s appearance.

Martin Luther King handwriting font - advanced features in TextEdit

Some software, like InDesign, will give you more detailed access to features.

Martin-Luther-King-handwriting-font advanced features in InDesign

Why new numbers?

In the January update, I mentioned that almost all the alphabet letters are now in the font (capital Z is still missing). While looking for missing characters, I came upon the last page of Dr. King’s seminar notes* on Social Philosophy from October 3, 1961, to January 23, 1962. In the sample, we can see a lot of numbers.

Usually numbers appear between words. While the letters used to write English stem from Latin writing, numbers derive from Arabic writing culture. I like to think that this switching can throw off a writer. So I am always happy to find a sample with many numbers where the forms appear usually executed with more care. Note the different fives at the beginning or end of a number.

*Unfortunately, the manuscripts at the online archives of the The Martin Luther King jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University are currently not available for download. You can still see the records but no files. I hope this is just a temporary issue. I will update you as soon as this changes.

The former numbers remain in the font and are stored in stylistic set 1. You can switch between the different numerals through the advanced typography menu. In some contexts, one set may be more suitable than the other.

In Word, you can reach the menu with these short cuts:

Ctrl+D or Ctrl+Shift+F on PC

or 

Command+D on MAC. 

In Libre Office, you can change the stylistic Set through the character menu and then pressing the Features Button.


Future Outlook

In the next update, I will add the missing numbers. An exclamation mark or question mark is still missing. And I am still very excited about the initial and final letterforms for future updates.


You can support the development of the Martin Luther King font.


I hope you enjoy the font. I enjoy working on the project very much. Without support, this project would not be possible! The more people support the project, the more time I can spend working on the font. I will add one additional letter for each 100€ ($110, £90) donated monthly. Thank you.

I like to download…


I like to download and donate monthly…

Name your price (min 1.00€)

So What
Ligature Melodies

This is the 4th experimental font design added to the 2020 Font Collection.

Imagine Andy Warhol and Miles Davis had a font. “So What” is inspired by a trick from Andy Warhol and a song from Miles Davis. To create the font, I locked myself in the studio listening to Davis’s “So What” on repeat for 8 hours. What emerged was a concept for a font drawn in four angles, with eight variations of each letter, and an algorithm programmed into the font to exchange the letters as you type. While you type the font creates a unique pattern melody for every word you type.

Warhol’s trick goes like this:


Sometimes people let the same problem make them miserable for years when they could just say: So what.
“My mother didn’t love me.” So what. 
“My husband won’t ball me.” So what. 
“I’m a success, but I’m still alone.” So what.


I don’t know how I made it through all the years before I learned how to do that trick. It took a long time for me to learn it, but once you do, you never forget.

Andy Warhol,  →The Philosophy of Andy Warhol, 1975

A & B → “So what” is a rhythmical study

The initial idea is that letters have a characteristic angle (A) and an intuitive distance to the baseline (B). Listening to Davis’ music, I would go across the page and intuitively sketch an angled grid (A) to accompany the musical structure. Then I would write, “SO WHAT MILES DAVIS KIND OF BLUE” and repeat every letter until I feel that the “concept” or style of the letter would match the music, angle, and general feeling of the idea as a whole—followed by all uppercase letters, numbers, and signs. On the next page, I continue in the same way with lowercase letters. Afterwards, I mark letters that feel right with a circle and letters that have potential with a dot.

The words concept and style only loosely describe what is happening while I am drawing. I make decisions based on a combination of many qualities. Specifically, I like to mention the letter’s movement path: the movement to create a letter. It is essential for me that a movement’s feeling comes together with all the letters written before and relates to the basic movement idea of a letter.

The creation is an unfolding process and not a vision that I just need to get out of my head into the font. Sometimes, I have an idea for a letter’s movement, but most of the time, I watch (with surprise) what my hand is doing.  

How are the letters digitized?

I care a lot about maintaining the intuitive quality in the transfer from paper to screen. Written with a felt pen, I had no significant, thick/thin contrasts to transfer. What I care the most about is capturing the movement in the right way. Whereas the creation process is fast and filled with excitement, the transfer to the screen is meticulous. Here an example:

Detour: Cage

Regarding the distance to the baseline(B), I ask myself if the writing movement should happen on, above, or below the line. As I am writing down this description, I thought of a music notation from John Cage. The composition was a gift to the pianist David Tudor on his Birthday in 1958. In the description, Cage writes:

The 5 lines are: lowest frequency, simplest overtone structure, greatest amplitude, least duration, and earliest occurrence within a decided-upon time.

Perpendiculars from points to lines give distances to be measured or simply observed.

The work is one of my favorite pages of “Designing Programmes,” an essay collection by swiss typographer Karl Gerstner. I had the honor of recreating the book in 2007 together with the author. No wonder some of the images stuck in my mind. I recommend having a look at the book.  The printed version has sold out, and I decided to offer the digital edition for free here: desiginingprogrammes.com.

I like the work because the interpretation of the reader has such an open and prominent place. Cage’s Notation deals with reading sound. How could this be reflected in the reading text? 

Let us assume for a moment that a text or rather the smaller unit, a word can be changed just by altering its appearance. A simple example would be color. Looking at the image below, which of the following says more or less yes or no to you?

Now, color is a convenient example. Looking at distances and their use in writing is a bit more complicated.

Let us examine how spaces are handled in the font “So what”. The four variants have four different angles, and each letter has an individual distance to the baseline.

Looking at the distance of a letter to the baseline, what could be the effect on reading a text? 

The first effect I notice is that I am playfully stretching the pronunciation when I read the text. My pronunciation reminds me of physical feelings, like being on a rollercoaster, riding the bike very fast, or dancing. These feelings can be exciting, exhausting and enlivening. A quote from typographer Wolfgang Weingart comes to mind: “Of what use is readability if there is nothing to excite us to take notice of a text.”

Cage’s work consists of a doted square and a square with lines placed on top of each other. There are different versions of each square that all fit together. The musician reads the squares by relating the marked positions and relating them to each other. And to make things even more complex, you can rotate each square. So we have a manifold of possible information.

A similar principle applies to the “So what” font. I call it “ligature Melodies”,, and you can create your personal melody. But first, let me show you the…

The five font files.

There are four variations of each letter (-17°, 0°, 4°, 12°). There is no strict separation between lower case and uppercase letters (A, a), so you can choose eight variations in some cases.

The variations or font styles are labelled referencing the angles.

You can combine the styles manually as you type, or you can use…

The fifth font: Andy and Miles. 

Here is where the fun happens. I programmed different algorithms to combine different styles. The program is activated as you type. It picks one letter from the alphabet 4°, and as you type changes it to the same letter from -17°, with the next keystroke, the letter will be changed to 0°  and so forth.

Ligature Melodies

This array -17°, 4°, 0°, 12° can be described as a melody. As you type, it will be that melody throughout your text. I stored different tunes in the Andy and Miles style. Access them through the advanced Font menu. The features are called Standard Ligatures, Discretionary Ligatures, and Contextual Ligatures.

The melody of Discretionary Ligatures

4°, -17°, 0°, 12°

The theme of Contextual Alternates

-17°, 12°, 4°, 0°

The tune of Standard Ligatures

4°, 0°, -17°, 12°

Here you see an example video of how to access them in word:

Here is an example of how to apply the different melodies stored in the font


What is the value of having all that in a font? Smile.

While explaining the research, thoughts, and experiments that led to this font, I asked myself: what is the value of these features? What is the importance of having a melody expressed in space between the letter and the baseline stored in a font design?

I think there is value in questioning and experimenting with the way one does everyday activities like writing. Experimenting has an element of learning in it. What would be the lesson learned from this font? This brings me to the question of how to judge or value a piece of art, a design, or a creation.

Studying typography and design, I learned different techniques and systems to assure and measure the quality of a composition. Or how to find dissonances, the parts that don’t fit. Many of them are relatively simple and tied to the way our brain works and processes information. In my practice over the years, I found principles to measure if a design works or not, or if it is good or not. They are not sentences that I frame and hang on the wall. I have these principles in my mind, which leads to forgetting them from time to time. But these principles always come back to me. While working on “so what “, it was a body reaction principle one can’t deny: laughing.

When a piece makes me chuckle and smile, I know this is on to something. It doesn’t happen very often that I chuckle to myself using a font. This one certainly made me smile and even laugh some times.

And maybe that is one of the many lessons that I took from this experimental creation: Fonts can make you smile while typing.

I hope you use the font with curiosity, and when you chuckle now and then while typing, that would make me very happy.


This is an experimental font added to the 2020 Font Collection.

Martin Luther King Jr. handwriting font
Update #15

There’s a new update available to the Martin Luther king Font. You can download the font from your account:

You are new? Download the font for free here:

This Update adds the numbers: 1 2 3 4 5 and an alternative period.

The new version will show up in your font menu as “Martin Luther King 2021 March”. I recommend uninstalling older versions to keep your font menu organized.

A big “Thank you.”
to everybody who supported the creation of the font this month. This update is possible because of the financial support of 23 people from around the world. I want to take some space to thank them:

J. Harris, Montgomery, Al 🇺🇸
J. Horton, North Turramurra, NSW 🇦🇺
N. Renner, New Britain, CT 🇺🇸
B. Desclee, Brussels 🇧🇪
K. Engelbrecht, Bern 🇨🇭
R. Wampler, Colorado Springs, CO 🇺🇸
D. Chamberlain, Benicia, CA 🇺🇸
H. de Wolf, Zaandijk 🇳🇱
K. Tilley, Linthicum Heights, MD 🇺🇸
C. Smith, Nedlands, WA 🇦🇺
J. Ford, New York, NY 🇺🇸
P. Herman, Bonsall, CA 🇺🇸
F. Chaplais, Ile de France 🇫🇷
J. Holze, Magdeburg, Saxony-Anhalt 🇩🇪
N. Wilson, Broken Arrow, OK 🇺🇸
N. Faulkner, Bournville, Birmingham 🇬🇧
T. Zwitserlood, Amsterdam, NH 🇳🇱
J. Wilson, Nashville, TN 🇺🇸
G. Sjölin, Örebro 🇸🇪
R. Lindsey, Grand Terrace, CA 🇺🇸
H. Colsman-Freyberger, Mannheim, Baden-Württemberg 🇩🇪
F. Engerer, Nürnberg, Bavaria 🇩🇪
H. Billetter, Kerpen, North Rhine-Westphalia 🇩🇪

join the list of supporters:

Transparency is important. Please find a detailed spreadsheet with the total number of supporters and donations →here.


Let’s talk fonts.
Benchmark:
How close does the font come to the original?



On the left side you see the original manuscript and on the right side the same text set with the Martin Luther King font.

A significant step for me in creating a font is to compare an original manuscript with the font. I have added a PDF (Martin Luther King font comparison.pdf) to the font files. In the document, you can see the font side by side with an original manuscript.

My aim here is not to create a copy of a page but to capture a hand’s aesthetic so that the page is not a copy but could be the second page from the same writer.

This overview and comparison gives me a good insight into where the font needs improvement and where to continue work in the future.


Why new numbers?

In the January update, I mentioned that almost all the alphabet letters are now in the font (capital Z is still missing). Now I focus on marks and signs. While looking for missing characters, I came upon the last page of Dr. King’s seminar notes on Social Philosophy from October 3, 1961, to January 23, 1962 (view the complete binder online at The Martin Luther King jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University.) In the sample, we can see a lot of numbers.

Note the different fives at the beginning or end of a number.

The former numbers remain in the font and are stored in stylistic set 1. You can switch between the different numerals through the advanced typography menu. In some contexts, one set may be more suitable than the other.

In Word, you can reach the menu with these short cuts:

Ctrl+D or Ctrl+Shift+F on PC

or 

Command+D on MAC. 

In Libre Office, you can change the stylistic Set through the character menu and then pressing the Features Button.

Future Outlook

In the next update, I will add the missing numbers. An exclamation mark or question mark is still missing. And I am still very excited about the initial and final letterforms for future updates.


Support the development of the Martin Luther King font.

I enjoy working on the project very much; I hope you enjoy the font. Without support, this project would not be possible! The more people support the project, the more time I can spend working on the font. I will add one additional letter for each 100€ ($110, £90) donated monthly. If you want to support: please donate monthly. The continuity will help me and the rhythm of the project. Thank you.

Martin Luther King Jr. handwriting font
Update #14

This update comes to you a bit earlier than usual. January 15th is Martin Luther King jr’s Birthday. So I thought it would be a good reason to release a new update.

You can download the font from your account:

You are new? Download the font for free here:

This Update adds the letters: ă â à ā ą å ã ć č ç ě ê ė è ē ẽ ḡ î ï ì ī į ĩ ĺ ł ń ň ñ ô ò ő ō õ ŕ ř ś š ţ û ù ű ų ů ũ ŵ ẁ ŷ ỳ ỹ ź ž ż as well as the $ and an alternative comma.

The new version will show up in your font menu as “Martin Luther King 2021 February”. I recommend uninstalling older versions to keep your font menu organized.

A big “Thank you.”
to everybody who supported the creation of the font this month. This update is possible because of the financial support of 23 people from around the world. I want to take some space to thank them:

J. Harris, Montgomery, Al 🇺🇸
J. Horton, North Turramurra, NSW 🇦🇺
N. Renner, New Britain, CT 🇺🇸
B. Desclee, Brussels 🇧🇪
K. Engelbrecht, Bern 🇨🇭
R. Wampler, Colorado Springs, CO 🇺🇸
D. Chamberlain, Benicia, CA 🇺🇸
H. de Wolf, Zaandijk 🇳🇱
K. Tilley, Linthicum Heights, MD 🇺🇸
C. Smith, Nedlands, WA 🇦🇺
J. Ford, New York, NY 🇺🇸
P. Herman, Bonsall, CA 🇺🇸
F. Chaplais, Ile de France 🇫🇷
J. Holze, Magdeburg, Saxony-Anhalt 🇩🇪
N. Wilson, Broken Arrow, OK 🇺🇸
N. Faulkner, Bournville, Birmingham 🇬🇧
T. Zwitserlood, Amsterdam, NH 🇳🇱
J. Wilson, Nashville, TN 🇺🇸
G. Sjölin, Örebro 🇸🇪
R. Lindsey, Grand Terrace, CA 🇺🇸
H. Colsman-Freyberger, Mannheim, Baden-Württemberg 🇩🇪
F. Engerer, Nürnberg, Bavaria 🇩🇪
H. Billetter, Kerpen, North Rhine-Westphalia 🇩🇪

join the list of supporters:

Transparency is important. Please find a detailed spreadsheet with the total number of supporters and donations →here.


Let’s talk fonts.
Benchmark:
How close does the font come to the original?



On the left side you see the original manuscript and on the right side the same text set with the Martin Luther King font.

A significant step for me in creating a font is to compare an original manuscript with the font. I have added a PDF (Martin Luther King font comparison.pdf) to the font files. In the document, you can see the font side by side with an original manuscript.

My aim here is not to create a copy of a page but to capture a hand’s aesthetic so that the page is not a copy but could be the second page from the same writer.

This overview and comparison gives me a good insight into where the font needs improvement and where to continue work in the future.


Language support and marks.

With the last update in December, I introduced support for languages other than English. The font works fine in English. But to work in the 21st century, a font has to support many languages. For example, German needs the little two dots over a vowel to indicate a change in pronunciation. Or french is not possible to write without a beautiful acute.

You can imagine that finding samples of ä,ö,ü, or é isn’t easy. These letters need to be improvised based on the manuscripts at hand. For example, the dots from a lowercase i and j can indicate how Dr. King might have written an ö. This update adds the letters: ă â à ā ą å ã ć č ç ě ê ė è ē ẽ ḡ î ï ì ī į ĩ ĺ ł ń ň ñ ô ò ő ō õ ŕ ř ś š ţ û ù ű ų ů ũ ŵ ẁ ŷ ỳ ỹ ź ž ż

These letters come from a variety of languages written around the globe. It is one thing to design letters and another to create a handwriting font. Often the letter-form appears different when they are typed or written. Finding out the correct form of how to write a letter is not that easy. I remember one example, the “L with stroke,” which is used in Poland. A friend from Warshaw contacted me to correct my work. The “stroke” is not “stroked” across the letter, but as a wave gently placed above the letter. These details one can only get to know from someone who learned writing in that language.

Now that almost all letters of the alphabet are in the font (capital Z is still missing), I focus on marks and signs. While looking for missing characters, I came upon the last page of Dr. King’s seminar notes on Social Philosophy from October 3, 1961, to January 23, 1962. You can view the complete notes online at The Martin Luther King jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University. Here we see a spreadsheet with numbers and many Dollar signs.

Future Outlook

In the sample, we can also see a variety of numbers. Note the different fives at the beginning or end of a number. The font’s current numbers are from samples found in text samples and don’t work well in big numbers. An exclamation mark or question mark is still missing. You can expect additions to the numerals, symbols, and I am still very excited about initial and final letterforms in the next updates.


Question:
Do you know a teacher in the US?

On Monday, January 18th Martin Luther King Jr. Day will be celebrated in the US as a national holiday. The holiday is an annual reason to commemorate Dr. King’s life and work, especially in schools.

As an avid user of the font, I wanted to reach out to you and ask: Do you know a high-school teacher in the US? Please forward them the link to the site. I imagine using the font as a student to, for example, write a paper about Dr. King would be an inspiring and entertaining aid. I would be curious to see the possibilities of the font being used in this context. The font is free for personal and educational use.


Support the development of the Martin Luther King font.

I enjoy working on the project very much; I hope you enjoy the font. Without support, this project would not be possible! The more people support the project, the more time I can spend working on the font. I will add one additional letter for each 100€ ($110, £90) donated monthly. If you want to support: please donate monthly. The continuity will help me and the rhythm of the project. Thank you.
Donate to the font. Thanks.

Typographic Object #0 – 8
HOW
ARE
YOU

Nine Typographic Objects produced in context of the Typographic Postcard Series. The project was first presented on Kickstarter in September 2020.


Typographic Object #0
HOW ARE YOU

2020

sold

Owner: J. Ulanovsky, B. A., Argentina
November 2020


Typographic Detail:
On the first day of January in 2002, the Euro currency was introduced. After 1999 keyboard manufacturers started to print a € sign on the E key. This makes it easy to spot the age of a European keyboard.


Typographic Object #1
HOW ARE YOU

2020

sold

Owner: D. Low, Hornsby, Australia
November 2020


Typographic Detail:
On the first day of January in 2002, the Euro currency was introduced. After 1999 keyboard manufacturers started to print a € sign on the E key. This makes it easy to spot the age of a European keyboard.   


Typographic Detail #2:
Notice the letter’s position on the key. The H and U are in the lower left and not on the upper left like most keyboards. Instead of an extended upright type with a rather static appeal, the typeface used here is condensed and cursive which gives the keys a fast look. This design was used on Apple keyboards until the mid-2000s.


Typographic Object #2
HOW ARE YOU

(OREO Edition)
2020

sold

Owner: E. Kulzer, Astoria, NY, USA
November 2020


Typographic Detail:
On the first day of January in 2002, the Euro currency was introduced. After 1999 keyboard manufacturers started to print a € sign on the E key. This makes it easy to spot the age of a European keyboard.   


Typographic Detail #2:
Notice the letter’s position on the key. The H and U are in the lower left and not on the upper left like most keyboards. Instead of an extended upright type with a rather static appeal, the typeface used here is condensed and cursive which gives the keys a fast look. This design was used on Apple keyboards until the mid-2000s.


Typographic Object #3
HOW ARE YOU

(A1243)
2020

sold

Owner: A. Hinderling, Berlin, Germany
November 2020


Typographic Detail:
Typographic Object #3 is entirely made from keys taken form Apple A1243 keyboards, which was introduced in 2007. On its back, one reads: Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in China Model No. A1243 EMC No. 2171.


Typographic Object #4
HOW ARE YOU

2020

sold

Owner: P. Borgwat, Haarlem, Netherlands
November 2020


Typographic Object #5
HOW ARE YOU

(IBM Model M)
2020

sold

Owner: Y. Kafai, Philadelphia, US
November 2020


Trivia:
The keys used are taken from IBM Model M Keyboards designed in 1984 and presumably built around 1989 (see picture below). The IBM Model M Keyboard was manufactured in the United Kingdom. The unit is still being produced but moved from IBM to Unicomp Inc, Kentucky, USA.

In PCWorld (Jul 8, 2008) Benj Edwards writes about the Model M:
“Stung by the criticism, IBM assembled a ten-person task force to craft a new keyboard, according to David Bradley, a member of that task force and of the 5150’s design team. Their resulting 101-key design, 1984’s Model M, became the undisputed bellwether for the computer industry, with a layout that dominates desktops to this day. As we peek under the hood of this legend, you’ll soon see why many consider the Model M to be the greatest keyboard of all time.”



Typographic Object #6
HOW ARE YOU

2020


Typographic Detail:
On the first day of January in 2002, the Euro currency was introduced. After 1999 keyboard manufacturers started to print a € sign on the E key. This makes it easy to spot the age of a European keyboard.   


Typographic Detail #2:
Notice the letter’s position on the key. The H is in the lower left and not on the upper left like most keyboards. Instead of an extended upright type with a rather static appeal, the typeface used here is condensed and cursive which gives the keys a fast look. This design was used on Apple keyboards until the mid-2000s.


Typographic Object #7
HOW ARE YOU

2020


Typographic Detail:
On the first day of January in 2002, the Euro currency was introduced. After 1999 keyboard manufacturers started to print a € sign on the E key. This makes it easy to spot the age of a European keyboard.   


Typographic Object #8
HOW ARE YOU

(TETRIS)
2020

Typographic Detail:
On the first day of January in 2002, the Euro currency was introduced. After 1999 keyboard manufacturers started to print a € sign on the E key. This makes it easy to spot the age of a European keyboard.