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Fonts & Encodings by Yannis Haralambous

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11.5. The Panose-1 Classification

Panose-1 is a system for describing characteristics of Latin fonts that is based on calculable quantities: dimensions, angles, shapes, etc. It is based on a set of 10 numbers, which take values between 0 and 15. A font thus becomes a vector in a 10-dimensional space, and one can calculate the distance between two fonts as a Cartesian distance.

The name "Panose" is neither an abbreviation nor a transliteration of the Greek word πανóσιoς (meaning "very holy"). As its author, Ben Bauermeister, confided to us, the name comes from six representative letters of the alphabet. He divided the (Latin) alphabet into six groups of letters: round (O, C, Q, G), half-round (S, U), quarter-round (D, B, P, R, J), square (H, N, X, K, M), half-square (E, F, T, L, Y), and diagonal (A, V, W, Z) letters. Then he selected one letter from each group, taking care that the resulting word be pronounceable, and "PANOSE" was born.

Bauermeister had the idea of Panose around 1982. He first published a book [65] entitled A Manual of Comparative Typography in which he presented the first version of Panose (only seven parameters) and applied it to several hundred fonts. To distribute Panose, Ben founded the ElseWare Corporation, with Clyde McQueen as his partner and Michael De Laurentis as a developer. Panose increased to 10 parameters (thereafter called "Panose-1"). In 1990 Microsoft implemented Panose-1 in TrueType and in Windows 3.1. From that moment on, the history of Panose-1 ...

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