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WHO Covid-19 tweets

Contributed by Eben Sorkin on Mar 31st, 2020. Artwork published in
March 2020
WHO Covid-19 tweets 1
Source: License: All Rights Reserved.

This series of graphics included in tweets from the World Health Organization (WHO) with information about Covid-19 and the Coronavirus is set in Merriweather and Arial. The WHO is a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health. Their logo appears to be based on a bold condensed Frutiger.

WHO Covid-19 tweets 2
Source: License: All Rights Reserved.
WHO Covid-19 tweets 3
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WHO Covid-19 tweets 4
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WHO Covid-19 tweets 5
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3 Comments on “WHO Covid-19 tweets”

  1. Merriweather’s default figures are oldstyle, or non-ligning. Sometimes these are also called text numerals or lowercase numerals (the latter term, while easier to grasp than the obscure “oldstyle”, is not without issues), as they blend in better into standard mixed-case text including ascending and descending lowercase characters.

    Of course the font user could activate the alternate lining (or uppercase) numerals which are included in Merriweather, but this requires knowledge and effort. When it’s not done, this results in a typographically unfortunate combination of caps and two descending numerals in an acronym like COVID-19.

    Although this scenario is much more common than several other variants, it’s not considered in Nick’s alignment system for typesetting the official abbreviation of “coronavirus disease 2019”. I wonder where Nick would place them. I’d argue it’s the more realistic Chaotic Evil (or rather Chaotic Blissfully Ignorant).

    And yes, of course there are more important things to worry about right now. Listen to the WHO’s advice and don’t get hung up over this small typographic quibble.

  2. There’s something Percy Delf Smith’s Civic and Memorial Lettering about that being the best way to do it! But I’m not in a position to check exactly what it says right now. Of course with custom lettering he had the freedom to make non-lining figures feel more compatible with the capitals through putting expressive flourishes on the capitals, the numbers or both, even if they’re at a different height. From memory his numerals weren’t totally non-lining but clearly not all at cap height, either. (One thing James Mosley has criticised the Trajan-Johnston-Gill-Delf Smith-Sharpington style of lettering for is having trouble making numerals work with capitals-in a lecture I attended he said the fat faces of the early nineteenth century really got this right, and said he felt that it was a weakness of Adobe Trajan. When I look at it I see his point: the numerals do seem a bit narrow relative to the capitals.)

  3. (For anyone interested in the above, I recently learned that this lecture is available to view online. It was an amazing presentation from deep knowledge.)

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