THE OTHER WEEK, I discovered (just as many of you did, I'm sure) that a "brilliant" is a traditional term for a type size of 3.5 points. The threshold of legibility for the human eye is around 7 points. Perhaps this is how the 7.3 point "minion" or 7.6 "brevier" came to be? These amusing group of words quickly reminded me of one of my favorite typographic endeavors, "Minuscule". The purpose of Minuscule is exactly what one might suppose. This typeface was created to be typeset at small point sizes, specifically below the usual legibility threshold. In fact, five versions have been developed (italics were also added, recently): Minuscule Six, Minuscule Cinq, Minuscule Quatre, Minuscule Trois, Minuscule Deux for six, five, four, three and two point type, respectively. Two point type, you say? Yes! Don't believe me? Print out of copy of the .pdf sample on the website (link posted below) and see it for yourself. I must admit that reading French set at 2 points is a little difficult, but that is only because I can't read French… not because I can't make out the letters!
This set of fonts are probably the most intriguing to me of any that I have ever come across because of the research behind them. Under the "About" section on the website, you can read a brief section about the 19th century ophthalmologist, Dr Émile Javal, whose work inspired Minuscule. If there is an ounce of curiosity or love for typography in you, I would highly recommend spending a few minutes perusing the other categories that follow, as well. Here is a snippet from the section "The Word Outline" if you need more coaxing than that: "The eye first reads the words outlines. We do not read by deciphering one letter after the other, but by identifying, at once, already memorized word images. This point favours the use of lower cases." It is just plain fun knowing the "why" behind why we do what we do.
Now, we all know that a "minikin" is a traditional term for a type size of 3 points. Thanks to Minuscule, we can read one. The only question I have is, "What do you call a type size of 2 points?"