Where did the names of the fonts Marlett and Verdana come from?


Commenter BAA says that the -lett part of Marlett comes from the designer Virginia Howlett. BAA adds, "I forget the 'Mar' but I believe it was a co-creator."

If so, then that co-creator was Suzan Marashi, if Vincent Connare is to be trusted. On page 17 of the PDF document From The Dark Side..., Connare identifies the authors of the font as Virginia Howlett, Rom Impas, Suzan Marashi, and Alison Grauman-Barnes. He also identifies Eliyezer Kohen as the person whose idea it was to use a special-purpose font.

According to Virginia Howlett, the original name for the font Verdana was Ventana, which means window in Spanish. Lawyers apparently objected to the name, and the font team explored variations on verde (which means green in Spanish) and verdigris (a green pigment), thereby invoking the color associated both with Washington (The Evergreen State) and Seattle (The Emerald City). The second part of the font name comes from Howlett's granddaughter Ana, following in the tradition of font designers naming fonts after their daughters.

Comments (17)
  1. John Doe says:

    The PDF link is dead. I can't even find it in archive.org. Is this the same presentation?

    2011.ampersandconf.com/vincent-connare.php

    [Sure looks like it. Note that Connare misspelled Rom's name in the slide deck. -Raymond]
  2. Sockatume says:

    This is the first time I've read that font's name as something other than "veranda". A quick search suggests I'm not the only one with this misperception.

  3. FriendlyFires says:

    @Sockatume: Same here!  I am amazed that I could misread the name since its creation and not notice my error until now.

  4. JM says:

    So Marlett might have been called Imshi or Marapas if history had gone slightly different. Or Howbarnes, I suppose. I firmly expect some Windows UI designer to title their book "Marlett & Me".

    Verdana was my favorite Windows sans serif before Calibri came along (although Trebuchet is lovely too).

  5. Mason Wheeler says:

    Why would lawyers object to naming a font after a window?

  6. @Mason Wheeler: probably because Ventana couldn't be registered as a trademark.

  7. j b says:

    @Azarien,

    You mean, like 'windows' cannot be registered as a trade mark because is is a common noun? Or 'macintosh'? Or 'apple'?

    There is a story saying that when Intel tried to trademark '486' (without success), the judge dryly commented that the number 486 had been known and widely used in many different applications long before Intel created its CPU.

  8. AsmGuru62 says:

    Every time I get new Studio – 1st thing to do is to set "Verdana,11" as Code Editor Font.

    This way my code is always readable by default – no effort on my part.

    :-)

  9. kinokijuf says:

    Did the Windows 95 interface have a codename?

  10. @j b That's why Windows is trademarked as Microsoft Windows.

  11. 12BitSlab says:

    In the olden days, when the Z80 processor was king, Zilog tried — without success — to both trademark and copyright the letter "Z".  Thankfully, a court of competent jurisdiction said, "No way!"

  12. John says:

    @12BitSlab:  Zilog was about 20 years ahead of its time.

  13. Jon says:

    @j b: "Macintosh" is not a real word. If you're thinking of an fruit, it's "Mcintosh". And don't forget Apple Computer's issues with the Beatles.

    The story of the 486 is a good example. "486" is perfectly trademarkable. The issue is that it was ruled that while nobody could make a "486" processor they could make a "Am486" or a "5×86". Basically, the more made up a word is, the stronger the trademark rights are.

  14. Drak says:

    @Jon

    I think he was referring to:

    Mackintosh (originally *Macintosh*), a form of waterproof raincoat

    en.wikipedia.org/…/Mackintosh

  15. @kinokijuf, the Windows 95 UI was codenamed NewShell IIRC

  16. laonianren says:

    The OED has MacIntosh as a variant of McIntosh and Macintosh as the inventor of the mackintosh.

  17. Steve Smith says:

    As a UK resident, I was unaware that Seattle was known as the Emerald City.  I wonder if L. Frank Baum was similarly ignorant?  Perhaps he knew something we did not!

Comments are closed.