Type and the UUA new identity

Needless to say, I have some feelings about the new UUA branding; if the traffic on Facebook’s a measure, everyone does. Not just the logo, but the branding and what that means for the UUA. But I’ve been busy at work and it seems like one of those affairs that’s better to sleep on, rather than launch into blogging. Victoria Weinstein synthesizes many threads at her Peacebang blog, however, so I won’t retrace those steps, and suggest you read “A New Logo, A New Era.”

And this is a blog that focuses on church practice and administration, so there are some resources that need to be lifted up.

I commented on Cynthia Landrum’s blog, Rev. Cyn, in a post (“An Open Letter to the UUA“) where she praises the initative and points out how hard (but essential) web development is for non-pros. She ask for nuts-and-bolts helps. I replied to the typeface part:

…I couldn’t help but notice your quandry about the very attractive Scala Sans. Very attractive and very expensive.

You can buy it here: http://www.fontshop.com/fontlist/super_families/ff_scala/

But splash out for the $509 set? I’d think not.

Open Sans, a liberally licensed (free to use) and free of charge typeface, is available for print and web, is attractive and (to my mind) close enough.


For your computer: choose the varieties your want here, and press the small down arrow button to download.



Here’s what that download button looks like. Google Fonts download button

In a follow-up comment, Cynthia Landrum asked what the font associated with the new UUA logo.

It looks like Futura, nicely spaced. Perhaps a close variant. (I know some people think Futura is cliche or passe; I am not one of them.) But I do think it gets oppressive in running text, so I wouldn’t bet on setting an order of service in it.

A professionally supplied version is much less expensive, but I’ll scout around for free-but-good-enough: we’re unlikely to use all the features a designer would anyway. And particularly a web font. If I see the new (or old) logo with Arial, I’ll probably scream.

This is where I should point out that I recently blogged about a really good typographical resource: a place for non-pros to learn the basics quickly, and to use ordinary word processing software and a reformed design sense to make better, more usable print and web documents. Do yourself a favor: get a warm drink and read this introductory part: “Typography in ten minutes.”

An old order of service at the old church

A little Google-noodling lead me to this order of service from Universalist National Memorial Church in 1939. Yes, the service is on one leaf — very different than the norm (in most any church) today. Indeed,

  • an outline pasted in the hymnal
  • hymns and readings on the hynmboards, and
  • announcements from the lectern would produce a similar outcome.

The difference is what the congregants then expected to receive, which is (I suspect) why today’s order of service idiom is essentially the same, bun only more elaborated. Add color, pictures, the full content of hymns today, say, … but is the printed bulletin any more useful or helpful to newcomers, who surely rely on it more than the old hands.

Community Wayside Pulpit recap

Following up on the Community Wayside Pulpit thought — and the Twitter-ed news that it lives in Britain — I thought I’d start with some background from the Unitarian Universalist Association. Some history, the old sayings and the most recent (but not the newest thing…) series of posters as PDFs for printing locally.

Read these first before we consider what comes next.

Those Orthodox books: an unlikely feature

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about two books I got from the British Orthodox Church. But not from Britain.

That church uses Lulu to publish and fulfill their book orders; it’s a leading print-on-demand service. No back stock to get dusty, volunteer time stuck in mailing books and — as a nice side effect — your books may be made closer to the reader. (Mine were made and shipped within the United States.) They were inexpensive (presumably the British Orthodox Church wasn’t making a profit on these) and the quality of manufacture is good.  (The typesetting wasn’t good, but traditional printing doesn’t fix that.)

The only downside — such as it is — is that it makes booktable sales less practical. But given what a resource hole that is, even in the age before e-book readers, I can’t say I’m sorry.

Type matters

This recent blog post from the New York Times spells out how some typefaces (particularly Comic Sans) make facts seem suspect while others (Baskerville is the winner of a small selection) inspire confidence. Baskerville isn’t my favorite — if you need a open-licensed version, see here — but it speaks well that every church should try to put its best (type)face forward when it wants to be seen as compelling and truthful.

First thoughts about the Union Prayer Book, Sinai Edition Revised

It’s hard to judge this book. I’m not Jewish. I’m not accustomed to flow and customary options within the services. The work comes from a small organization. I expect I will be inspired by it and find several prayers or ideas for prayers when I become more accustomed to the text.

So just two observations now.

First, interleaf photos of historic Classic Reform synagogues gives the prayer book a historic feeling, and can’t afford to be seen as a relic. Coming from parallel movement within liberal Protestantism, I know it is a reputation to be overcome.

Second, I wish it were more attractive. Book design is a tricky art, and would be costly. But there is something too plain about this service book. It was dropshipped to me from GIA, a hymnal publisher. I’ve never found GIAs work to be terribly pretty. (They published the hymnal of NACCC, which I wrote about sometime back.) But following the publication last year of New American Haggadah, (NPR) a notable work of liturgy, scholarship and art, so pedestrian a publication of a long-lasting prayer book seems like quite a waste.

And a cautionary tale for Unitarian Universalists.

ObscuraCam to help build church web sites

ObscuraCam is a phone app for Android to help citizen-journalists obscure faces in crowd photographs and videos, say, in undemocratic societies.

It might be helpful in building your church’s website. You can use it to hide the faces of minors and other vulnerable persons, should your church’s policies require or recommend it.

Two examples:


Your blogger, anonymized.


Your blogger, who doesn’t want his book choices known. (It isn’t perfect.)

Another option for a minister’s loose-leaf services book

I can't believe I'm suggesting this.
Some time in seminary (now many years ago) a seasoned minister advised me to “start getting my ‘book’ together” — by which he meant services for weddings and funerals. And uniformly in a half-letter-sized (5.5 by 8.5 inches) three ring binder. It was covered in black vinyl, which was utilitarian. if not interesting to look at.

I had used identical binders as a kid — we’re talking the early 80s now — for my stamp collecting, but at least they came in different colors! Around 2000, these black ones were all that I could find, and even these became scarce — they do wear out — so I bought a couple in case they vanished completely. But then they returned, even in colors, but in an over-designed way that made them better for a commercial office but ugly for worship.


Well, lo-and-behold if the new Martha Stewart line of home office binders doesn’t fit the bill, including this very nice one in pebbled brown paper. At Staples, $7. Made by Avery, who also make the commercial ones. Indeed, the locking-rings mechanism is identical, so all the now-available tabs, paper and binder whatsits will also fit.

E-text and print on demand publishing, collaboratively

Can’t wait to try a newly-released piece of publishing software: Booktype. Ah, but the download servers for the software is down! So watch this and think on what a self-organizing group of people might develop.

Booktype, the open source publishing platform. from Sourcefabric on Vimeo.