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Fonts & Encodings by Yannis Haralambous

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11.3. The Alessandrini Classification of Typefaces: Codex 80

In 1979, Jean Alessandrini [30] proposed another classification of typefaces and, most of all, a new terminology that makes up for some of the deficiencies of Vox's. Inspired by the biological classification of animal species, he describes typefaces with a series of qualifying terms that go from the general to the specific. He presents 19 classes, called désignations préliminaires (preliminary designations); two éventualités (possibilities), which are modifiers orthogonal to the concept of category; and five lists of additional qualifications, which he calls listes de renseignements d'appoint (lists of extra information).

What distinguishes Alessandrini is that he invented neologisms for all of Vox's categories, his own new categories, and even roman and italic, uppercase and lowercase. His choice of names such as deltapodes and aliennes (the film Alien had just then come out) is tinged with humor.

This classification has been roundly criticized by the adherents of the Vox classification. Nonetheless, we believe that it deserves to be studied just as much as that of Vox. In the rest of this section, therefore, we describe it in broad strokes.

Here are Alessandrini's 19 dénominations préliminaires:

1. Simplices

Simplices (plain typefaces) is the name that he gives to sans serif typefaces on the entirely correct grounds that the name "lineal" refers to lines, whereas, at the end of the day, all typefaces are made of lines, ...

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