The Health Promotion Font

Fonts have their own stories and personalities, and have the potential to amplify, diminish, or subvert the message(s) that they are intended to communicate. There is also an incredible power fonts have in their layout, colour, sizing, and overall organization in evoking a particular set of senses or feelings from its viewer.

As a growing and ever evolving health promoter, my experience as a practitioner and researcher has grown over the years: I have learned a lot, have been humbled to work with some amazing folks, and have been thrown into various contexts where I have co-designed health in communities in Canada and abroad. Channeling these experiences and thoughts into some thinking about fonts, I have decided that health promotion as a field is well represented by Papyrus.

According to Linotype,

Papyrus® is the work of American designer Chris Costello, an unusual roman typeface which effectively merges the elegance of a traditional roman letterform with the hand-crafted look of highly skilled calligraphy. It includes an extra set of initialing capitals to enhance its unique style.

If you’re curious, here is an intro to Papyrus, courtesy of Costello. I personally do not tend to use Papyrus (and there are many criticisms of it…yes, there was the whole Avatar debate too), but its textured, rough edges, irregular and wide curves have a very elegant, natural and ‘Earthy’ look that I think suggest something that originated from the ground-up, if you will. The spacing, curves and inflections suggest a calm and collective demeanor. Would you agree?

3 thoughts on “The Health Promotion Font

  1. What an interesting idea: “If health promotion were a font…” I quite like Papyrus and I’ve even used it a few times in my work — you might see it this week as you walk down the hallways at DLSPH.

    I’m partial to fonts that appear like printing — especially as if they look as if they were done by brushstrokes. I use them whenever it “fits” the project at hand. You might like fonts like Bradley, Especial K, Flood, Khaki, Kristen, Segoe (a personal fave), Smudger, Tempus (I think it has a bamboo-like quality), or Viner.

    If you want to make it easier to choose fonts, I recommend organizing them into themes in some kind of a binder (virtual or real — whatever works best for you), so that you can flip through different font types fairly easily. I have seven basic groupings that I use — organized enough to be useful, but not so tight as to be rigid.

    Here’s a link to a debate that might interest you, about a font (Museo) that some feel is being overused these days:

    1. Thanks for sharing this Kevin! I get really excited about typography and I hope to be taking a class on it very soon actually. I’m a fan of helvetica, but haven’t found too many favourite fonts to be honest. I know what I don’t like though: I do appreciate seeing fonts other than Times New Roman. I don’t want to pick on Times New Roman but as the Microsoft Word standard font, it has consequentially become a staple font for researchers and academics (I find that most people don’t change it up). I personally am not a big fan of Papyrus but appreciate where it’s coming from — you just wouldn’t see me using it very much!

      Fonts that I do really like are a couple I’ve been using every now and then in my blog: The first is Hammer Keys (e.g., and Aresnale White (drawed text in my blog logo). I love the former because it best resembles an old typewriter font (but I’d like to find a new version of this because I get the Upper and Lower case letters typed out together, limiting how I use this font) and the latter because it’s a nice “genuine” handwritten font to me. I think I’d like to buy a pen/pad to use with my laptop so I can just freely handwrite for the blog too…next steps!

      1. I totally agree that Times Roman should be retired after its two decades of dominance in the word processing world. I this Microsoft agrees, since their current default is Cambria (which is a tenfold improvement over Times Roman, as nice as it once was). They’ve also moved to retire Arial (yes!) by replacing it with Calibri.

        I like ones similar to Hammer Keys (I don’t have that exact one, but one very similar). It’s like a scruffy Courier, which is just like a typewriter, and is obligatory if you are typing up any kind of screenplay. After all, form much match content must match context!

        I’ve never used Aresnale White but I quite like it. Anything that looks like handwriting or printing is tops in my book.

        If you get a pen/pad for your computer, I’d love to see it in action.

        Over and out!

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