ATGCXYR
A short DNA 'word' showing the four bases A, T, C, and G, the 'unknown' base X, and the 'pyrimidine' and 'purine' characters Y and R.

I recently downloaded the Deja-Vu font family and discovered the open-source typography community. I thought it would be fun to try to make a font myself. Since much of my time is spent looking at biological sequences, I thought a way to visualize DNA molecules in a text editor would be cool. The result: DNA Type. DNA only contains a few letters, so I’ve only made 7 characters so far. However, you can use it to write secret messages to your fellow bio-nerds, as long as the messages contain only A, T, G, C, Y, R, and X! The message is read off from the top strand.

Spencer, what’s your favorite instrumental electronic band?
RATATAT

What was the name of that movie which predicted the infringement of human rights based on genetic predisposition, a possibility which seems very plausible in todays high-throughput sequencing world?
GATACA

DNA is cool, but I’m really more of a protein guy. With a protein font you can make meaningful amino acid glyphs for the whole alphabet. However, polypeptides are usually displayed alternating up and down. I think this is possible with glyph variants, but I need to learn more about the TrueType format and the FontForge program before attempting something so complex.

Download

Version 0.
Download TrueType font
Download FontForge source file

Known bugs

  • Pretty much unreadable at smaller than 48pts.
  • Only 7 characters. Not even the lowercase works.
  • No hinting for small sizes beyond FontForge’s autohints.
  • Doesn’t work for RNA. No one cares about the difference between Uracil and Thymine, anyway.
  • Ugly glyphs. What are you, an artist? Go back to research.

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