Type Tasting by Sarah Hyndman

is creating fontastical online experiences

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I’m on a mission to change the way we think and talk about typography and to make it exciting for everybody.

I say the word “typography” and people often assume it’s a specialist subject, but I disagree and I can prove it. I show you that it’s a secret code hidden in plain sight, and that you already know how to read it. From shop signs and food packaging to your favourite book covers or movie poster, I show you that typography is the magical and wondrous language of your everyday life.

As part of this mission I research how the very shapes of the words you read profoundly alter your experiences, and show how understanding this can lead to positive behaviour change. I believe that by co-opting the language of consumerism and turning it towards good, we can make the world a better place.

Become a patron and you will be a part of this change.

My plan is to write, design and publish a series of small books to document the process and share the results of each topic, while also continuing with the research. This will take time and money; to analyse the data, write and design the books, and to have them printed.

The books will be written in everyday language and designed to be attractive, accessible and useful. All my research is self-initiated and self-funded, which means I can explore topics intended for good without a commercial agenda, and the results aren’t locked away behind non-disclosure agreements. Your support means I can continue to do this. I gather the data by taking my Pop-up Typography Lab to events and I create lots of online experiments and surveys. All are designed to be fun, exciting and surprising to take part in, and participants often become a part of the discovery process. The books will be just as innovative and engaging, with extras like scented bookmarks and textured (or maybe edible) pages and bellybands. Sign up and let's make this happen.

Every single one of us is already an expert in typography as a type consumer. All of these codes of references only work because you and I have been learning to recognise them all of our lives.Sarah Hyndman interviewed by Rob Alderson

The series of multisensory experiments, for me, turned typography on its head.” Natalie Kelter, designer, writing for Creative Review.

My business cards feature a game that demonstrates what I do. Pick the “Hello” you prefer, then read your personality analysis based on your choice. The answers are based on my comprehensive typeface personality profiling research, but written in a lighthearted style. Click here or on the image below to play the game. (Passive-Aggressive Font Fortunes coming soon!)

Written for you, not for scientists
Some of the books in this series will be companions to the two academic studies I have co-authored with Professor Charles Spence from the University of Oxford. These will be written in a clear and non-academic style, and with examples to show why the results are useful to you. They will tell the behind-the-scenes stories, with anecdotes from participants, and show that some of the best insights come from failed experiments. I'll also tell you about the things that went wrong: sweets being spat out at the mass jellybean experiment at the Science Museum, the time I accidentally made chocolate taste even cheaper, coping with extremes of noise and weather, the number of times I've had to re-gather data until I finally learned how to collect it in exactly the right way for a scientific study, or about the scent that is now indelibly seared into our memory. Sign up and your patronage will make this possible.

I have experience writing and designing books as I’m a published author of two books, something that I’d never have imagined even five years ago. The first was ‘Why Fonts Matter’, which I originally self-published before it was picked up by Penguin/Random House, it’s now been translated into languages including Chinese and Korean and is on permanent display in the Design Museum London. I’m looking into opportunities to lecture and run experiments in Hong Kong and Korea.

I’m very excited that my ‘Type Dating Card Game’ was published in February 2019 by Laurence King. It’s a version of a game I play with audiences at talks to much laughter and hilarity. The photo below is from a reveal moment at Glug, and I’ve even played it with a huge audience at South by Southwest.

Sarah playing the Type Dating Game with the audience at Glug, photo by Jonathan Cherry.

The research results book series
Each book will be A5 size with a lightweight cover so that it can be posted around the world economically (that's about the size of a sheet of letter paper folded in half, but with many more pages). They will also be available to buy in digital format. The books will be published and sold via my Type Tasting website. Titles will be published one at a time as the data is analysed and each book is written, designed and printed. My aim is to publish a book every two to three months. The frequency will depend on how much financial support I receive, meaning I can spend my time producing the books instead of taking on other projects to support myself.

As a patron you can choose a level that gives you access to advance drafts of the books, to be credited in each book, or to receive signed copies posted to you anywhere in the world.

‘Typographic Interventions’ will document what I think will be a very important project with an agenda to initiate positive behaviour change. I've made initial explorations into the language of enticement vs the voice of authority or guilt and it's now time to give this project my full attention, with a view to ultimately publishing a blueprint for creating positive change through typefaces and language. The preliminary experiments have been featured in The Times and iNewspaper, showing that there is interest in the topic. 

‘The Great Jellybean Experiment’ will be the everyday-language companion to the published study ‘The role of typeface curvilinearity on taste expectations and perception’ by Carlos Velasco, Sarah Hyndman (Type Tasting), Charles Spence (University of Oxford)—an experiment that demonstrates that typefaces alter the perceived taste of a jellybean. This book will also document the learning curve of a non-scientist gathering information for a scientific study; from the initial inspiration, the discoveries she made along the way, and the number of attempts it took to gather the data in the ‘right’ way. “Fascinating insight into how type can influence our feelings, our senses, and even our taste” Professor Charles Spence, University of Oxford.

‘Smell: typographic memory matching’. Typefaces and smells are memory storage systems. Some of the associations are shared, while others document individual experiences. Over the last five years hundreds of people have taken part in the scent and typeface pairing experiment. This unique process taps into instinctive emotional responses and charts the distinct patterns that reveal the collective memories of a society. Early stages have been written about by CNN and Wired. This book will share the results. "Sarah Hyndman brings a frisky mix of art and science to her multisensory analysis of typography and communication" Ellen Lupton, curator, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.

The full research results book series (working titles)
Typographic synaesthesia, Personality types, Typography & the art of congruence, Budget to premium, Motivational typography, Semiotic equations for choosing fonts, Sound of type, The great jellybean experiment, Multisensory typography, Tasting type, Coffee type, Smell & typographic memory mapping, Still vs sparkling, Chocolate type, Proustian type, Mood & emotion, Typographic interventions, Semiotics & cultural context, Typography for robots, Ice cream type, Secret codes.

“Type Tasting surveys have given the graphic design community comprehensive information to use as hard evidence behind our typographic choices” Computer Arts Magazine.

Why the heck am I doing this?
I first fell in love with typefaces as a kid in a sweet shop, where I loved the way the words on the packaging fizzed and popped with excitement. At school, my books were covered with meticulous drawings of my favourite band's logos, and my first job was as a sign maker where I felt like I was giving voices to the personalities of the different shops along the local high street.

However, once I became a graphic designer, the subject of typography seemed to become so serious. Everyone was careful to speak about it using the correct terminology and it was clearly an intimidating topic to anybody outside the industry.

“Graphic designers can get a bit serious and beard-stroking about typography” Angus Montgomery, Editor, Design Week.

Fonts turn words into stories
Yet typefaces/letterforms are like the wallpaper to our lives; they document our experiences, the things we love and hate, everyday rituals, our tastes from the highbrow to pop culture, serious to fun. Discover an old sweet wrapper and the lettering can transport you right back to your childhood, like a typographic version of Proust’s madeleine cake.

My mission is to change the way we talk about typography by describing it in a new way and making it exciting and accessible to everybody. (I explain more about this in an interview you can read here).

TEDx talk Multisensory imagination grenades”
This is my TEDx talk from a few years ago at the very beginning of this journey, before I understood what the research would entail, and it ends with a story told in ten fonts.

I now talk about my research at lots of conferences and events, get interviewed in press, on radio and occasionally I surprise my friends when I pop up on TV. I've met some of my absolute heroes, which has been terrifying (when I saw Tobias Frere Jones, Erik Spiekermann or Bruno Maag sitting in the front row when I was about to give a talk), amazing (when Professor Charles first invited me over to Oxford University to talk about collaborative research) and completely surreal (when Heston Blumenthal invited me over to the Fat Duck Lab).

My type and perception research has been featured in:
AIGA / BBC Radio 4 / Computer Arts / Communication Arts / Creative Review / CNN / i Newspaper / It's Nice That / The Times / Wired

You can also find me…
On Instagram, Twitter and this is my Type Tasting website (which sounds like it's a big organsiation but really it’s just me).

I believe it s time to change the way we talk about typography and to use it to create positive change. I think I’m in a place to contribute that, but I know I can’t do it without your help. Thank you.

My profile photos are taken by Juliana Johnston and Ivan Jones in my  studio in East London.
3% complete
$500 dollars per month: It’s all systems go! It’s going to take work to keep this Patreon updated. The reason for doing this is to avoid burnout, and your support means this can be part of my day job, not an unpaid night-shift.
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By becoming a patron, you'll instantly unlock access to 69 exclusive posts
By becoming a patron, you'll instantly unlock access to 69 exclusive posts

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