Martin Luther King Jr. handwriting font
Update #18

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 two new letterforms, lowercase o (version 2) and u (version 2).

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

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

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 22 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:


Let’s talk fonts.


This update adds two new letterforms, lowercase o (version 2) and u (version 2). Vowels appear more often than consonants. In handwriting, letters look similar but are never exactly the same. To make a handwriting font more vivid I add multiple versions of a letter. As you type the font automatically chooses an alternative version to the one used before. For example, when you type the work look, the o’s will appear different.

This change may seem small, but it enriches the reader with a variety of forms. And I find this kind of complexity is very pleasing for the eye.

If this is not working on your computer, have a look at the tutorial from →Update #16 on how to activate Initial and Final Forms. This might help.


Podcast Tip:
World House Podcast


I like to recommend this podcast to you. Dr. Clayborne Carson is the director of the King Papers Project and Editor of Dr. Kings Autobiography. When I started making the font, I reached out to Carson to recommend manuscripts to me for my research on King’s handwriting. He sent me a specific document which you’ve already seen. A picture of (a copy of) it is the header of this email. I use these printouts to mark letter forms. In Episode 3 “Crozer Theological Seminary” Carson explains why this manuscript is so important.

The episodes (21) are very well produced and it is a pleasure to listen to. Just today I listened to 6 of them! The structure of the episodes seems to be oriented on the book Carson wrote on King. So, on one hand, the podcast gives you a great overview of Dr. King’s life in general, and on top, you get updated on the current research status.

https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/world-house-podcast

From the description:
“Listen to Dr. Clayborne Carson, director of The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute, and Dr. Mira Foster, director of the Liberation Curriculum, as they talk about anything and everything related to Martin Luther King, Jr., and the freedom struggles he inspired.

The World House is a series of podcasts designed to introduce you to the work of the King Institute and in particular to the King Papers Project. The project started more than three decades ago, when Coretta Scott King asked Dr. Clayborne Carson to edit and publish a definitive edition of The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr. Although King is perhaps the best-known American of the twentieth century, at the King Institute we continue discovering new information about King’s life. The World House podcast reveals that there is still much that we can learn about this remarkable man.”


Two ways to support the Martin Luther King font.


This project is very dear to me; 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.

1. Spread the word.

Share this email or share a link to the project site: https://haraldgeisler.com/martin-luther-king-font with friends, family, and colleagues you think would be interested in the font.

I like to download…


2. Donate regularly to the font.

I will add one additional letter for each 100€ ($110, £90) donated monthly. The continuity will help me and the rhythm of the project.

I like to download and donate monthly…

Name your price (min 1.00€)

Martin Luther King Jr. handwriting font
Update #17

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 letterforms and fixes the size of the new numbers that shipped with the April Update. And finally, I have added a new PDF to showcase the font.

The new version will show up in your font menu as “Martin Luther King 2021 May”. 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 22 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.


This update adds two new final letterforms, lowercase g (1) and y (2), and an alternate version of the initial lowercase i (3). Further, the update fixes (4) the size of the new numbers that shipped with the April Update. And finally, I have added a new PDF to showcase the font. Let us dive into the details…

Usage Tip: Not sure how to activate Initial and Final Forms? →Update #16 covers that. Click →here to see a video of how to do that!


I have a dream “handwritten” transcript.


This image shows the view from the Lincoln Memorial toward the Washington Monument on August 28, 1963, the day Dr. King delivered the now historic “I have a dream” speech. 

In the description of the Martin Luther King Font, you can read: “My aim with these handwriting projects is to open the door to the content of an author through the aesthetic of handwriting, and the general interest for typography and fonts.” and: “We all know what his voice sounds like, but as a typographer I became curious: how did he prepare his speeches and organized his thoughts in writing, and what does Dr. King’s handwriting look like?

From the beginning of this project, I noticed a difference between the historical figures of my other handwriting fonts. It is easy to find out what Einstein or Freud looked like, but usually, it is difficult to hear a person from the time before the Second World War. However, because Dr. King is often quoted in his voice, it was clear to me what he sounded like. 

A recorded voice conveys tone, speed, rhythm, and timing. While thinking about how speed, rhythm, and tone affect the content of a speech, I remembered a moment in a calligraphy class that I took years ago. We discussed that in religious calligraphy, words would be written with a specific speed. Instead, speed has to be adjusted to the spiritual context of a phrase. 

Choosing a handwriting font instead of regular fonts usually makes the reading longer. Just like it takes longer to listen to a person speak than to read a transcript. I asked myself how the reading experience would change if I read Dr. King’s “I have dream” speech set in his handwriting.

Said and done. Included with the font, you will find a PDF of the speech set in Dr. King’s handwriting. In the document, you will also find a link to an unabridged audio recording from NPR so that you can listen and read along.

I am curious to hear from you if this typographic experiment changed your reading experience. And as I set out in the beginning “opens the door to the content of an author.”


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


Two ways to support the Martin Luther King font.

This project is very dear to me; 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.

1. Spread the word.

Share this email or share a link to the project site: https://haraldgeisler.com/martin-luther-king-font with friends, family, and colleagues you think would be interested in the font.

I like to download…


2. Donate regularly to the font.

I will add one additional letter for each 100€ ($110, £90) donated monthly. The continuity will help me and the rhythm of the project.

I like to download and donate monthly…

Name your price (min 1.00€)

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.

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.