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September 11, 2004

Debunking the Killian debunking

An expert typographer explains why the forgery claims are spurious.

Here's my very quick precies. I urge you to read the whole article in situ, it's a fine piece of exposition.

  • The "proportional font" hypothesis is moot. The .pdfs are scans of photocopies of photocopies. The apparent "kerning" may be an illusion induced by multiple generations of photocopying. There were proportional font typewriters in 1972, but our evidence is insufficient to establish that the memos were proportionally spaced in the first place.

  • In 1972 ordinary office typewriters could produce the full range of special characters seen in the memo, including superscript "th". (See Mahablog for more details.)

  • Yes, the font in the memo looks sort of like MS Word's Times New Roman. The whole point of a typeface is to maintain continuity over time and across publishing media. Word's font designers worked very hard to make sure that their "Times New Roman" produced type that matched canonical examples of TNR produced by moveable type, typewriters, or other technology.


Addendum: For more on on the typography, see No kerning by Mark Kleiman.

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