Matthew Carter



Perhaps one of the most significant typography designers of the 20th century, everyday millions of people around the world use Matthew Carter’s type designs. In 2005, Alec Wilkinson of the New Yorker described Carter as ‘The Most Widely Read Man in The World’, on account of the amount of text set in Carter’s commonly used fonts.

“A font is always a struggle between the alphabetic nature of the letterform, the ‘A-ness’ of the A, and your desire to put some of yourself into the letterform. It’s a struggle between representing something (you cannot take endless liberties with a letterform) and trying to find some iota of yourself in it.”

Throughout his career, Carter’s vast typographic skills and techniques have evolved as technology has. Spanning the migration of text from the printed page to the computer screen, he has been at the forefront of typographical solutions. From cutting metal letter forms by hand to producing many of the world’s most widely and commonly used fonts, Carter is responsible for designing over 60 typeface families and over 250 individual fonts. From Carter Sans, Sofia, Helvetica Compressed, Bell Centennial (designed for US telephone directories) to Snell Roundhand – to name a handful, Carter’s fonts reflect a staggering variety of styles.

After a long association with the Linotype companies helping to build one of the industries largest and richest font libraries, Carter co-founded Bitstream Inc in 1981, a digital typefoundry.

In the mid 1990’s, Carter was commissioned by Microsoft to create a series of “screen fonts” designed to maximise the legibility of type on computer monitors while fitting into the small memory space of early computers. The results included Verdana, Tahoma and Georgia, amongst others.

Matthew Carter’s TED talk:









2 thoughts on “Matthew Carter

  1. This is great, very to the point. Incredible how he designed a font in order to fit within the capabilities of early computers, I’m interested as to how he knew which design would be most memory efficient?


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