Will Hillary Clinton’s Terrible Taste in Typefaces Sink Her Presidential Chances?

Slate's Culture Blog
Feb. 1 2013 6:20 PM

Will Hillary Clinton’s Terrible Taste in Typefaces Sink Her Presidential Chances?

clintonletter1

Today marked the official resignation of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, and not only can we read the text of her resignation letter to President Obama but we can see an image of the physical letter itself. The letterhead’s a bit boring, and the valediction’s a bit wordy. But there is at least one most noteworthy element: the odd choice of typeface.

The reaction in the Slate office was one of revulsion and surprise. The letter’s weird font does not belong to the usual stable of detested typefaces, which includes such howlers as Comic Sans and Papyrus. The Twittersphere has identified it as Poor Richard. Why use such an ugly typeface? And such an obscure ugly typeface?

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It’s not the first time Clinton has opted for it (or something like it), either: See, for example, the letters below, from 2009 and 2010, respectively.

Clinton made other questionable choices in her resignation letter as well: the old-fashioned indents, what appear to be two spaces after each period. What does this say about the presumptive front runner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016?

OK, probably nothing. This is all fairly trivial when discussing one the most influential members of Obama’s first term and the most traveled Secretary of State of all time. Nevertheless, branding has become a key part of any presidential campaign, and typefaces are an essential part of branding. If Clinton does decide to run for the highest office in the land, she might want to avoid awkward fonts with tall capitals, short lowercases, and a general impression of fustiness. It’s the least we should ask for from a typographer-in-chief.

Byron Boneparth is a Slate intern.

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