What have the Romans ever done for us… font & proportion

What’s interesting when you’re a prolific blog writer such as I are the interconnected blog-posts that intertwine and combine:

As you may know I recently returned from a trip to Rome and jokingly (in the style of Monty Python’ Life of Brian) asked ‘What have the Romans ever done for us’ and then proceeded to list the incredible advances made under the Roman Empire; from concrete, under-floor heating, stadia… the list is endless.

But what is the thing you see probably every day that also comes from Rome? In every newspaper, magazine, printed publication, hoarding, poster, building… – The Roman typeface or font. Go to the Word application and there it is: Times or Times new Roman:


The Letter A – Times New Roman

And this is where the blog posts intertwine; I wrote ages back about the principles of proportion and the Golden Section, and here we see it again:

If we take just the letter A:
With two squares and the arc drawn from point B to C at centre point A we create the Root Five rectangle:


The root five rectangle

Now draw a line from point C through F (Top right of lower square) to base at G:

Construction of A

Construction of A

The two rectangles within HCDF are two perfect Golden Rectangles and we then have the basis and construction of the letter A as found at the Trajan’s Column in Rome dated c112AD:


Construction of letter A at Trajan’s column, Rome

For those with further interest in this topic (and analysis of more letters), go to the almost forensic typography analysis of The Geometry of Roman Lettering by Tom Perkins

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