For example a flame who looks like a flame

flame's typography look like flame

Or a typography snow who looks like snow

snow's typography look like snow

Do you know the name of this exercice ?

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    In literature, it's called "onomatopoeia," so I'd coin "fontomatopoeia." Commented Nov 4, 2013 at 13:17
  • I like Lauren's suggestion! But other than that, there's no name for this. Other than maybe "University Typography Class 101 homework"
    – DA01
    Commented Nov 4, 2013 at 15:44
  • 1
    Hm, that went over well.:) I'll make it an answer. Commented Nov 4, 2013 at 19:51
  • 1
    In Dutch we have the term 'letterbeeld', which translates (poorly) as 'letter-image'. And indeed, @DA01, this is a homework assignment I give in my design class!
    – Vincent
    Commented Nov 5, 2013 at 10:58

7 Answers 7


The term for words of this nature are "autological" (e.g. "short" is autological because it is short; "long" is not because it is a short word).

This has been extended to the visual medium(s) via the word "autologlyph"

  • thx horatio PleaseEnjoy
    – ZANTAR2054
    Commented Nov 6, 2013 at 22:00
  • "Autologlyph" may be the answer, but mercy, that's a bitch to say with that car crash of Ls in the middle. Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 20:18
  • I agree, but next to "onomatopoeia" it is downright friendly! When I was but a young child, my family dragged to me to Wales at some point, where we visited Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch
    – horatio
    Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 21:35

In literature, it's called "onomatopoeia," so I'd coin "fontomatopoeia."

  • 2
    Onomatopoeia is the name for a word invented to mimic a particular sound. Examples are the word "meow" and the word "hiss" which when spoken, imitate the sound they are describing. While your comparison with onomatopoeia is interesting, it's not really a good enough analogy. If it were like the visual equivalent of onomatopoeia, it would have to be a "word" invented purely because the letter forms look like what it's describing. The best examples I can think of for this would be "<3" or ":-)", which aren't technically words, but you get the idea. Commented Nov 6, 2013 at 23:51

Pace Lauren, it could be called illustrative type. And it's almost skeuomorphic.

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    No, this is not almost skeuomorphic!
    – DA01
    Commented Nov 5, 2013 at 15:45
  • @DA01 I did wonder about that wording. But the link explains all. Commented Nov 5, 2013 at 15:55
  • oh...maybe I'm being dense. Was the comment meant to be tongue-in-cheek?
    – DA01
    Commented Nov 5, 2013 at 16:04

I know it as Expressive Typography


While Lauren's answer is certainly the best. Often this style of typography is referred to as "display type". Other than that, I don't think there's a specific name.

  • I wouldn't say this style is 'display type' but rather, this style is but one small example of what 'display type' encompasses.
    – DA01
    Commented Nov 5, 2013 at 15:46
  • Downvoter: I didn't mean it's all that display type is... just that's how I would refer to it. It is display type. Elaborate, illustrative, display type.
    – Scott
    Commented Nov 7, 2013 at 0:01
  • I didn't downvote, but I agree. It is a display face (as opposed to being a text face).
    – DA01
    Commented Nov 7, 2013 at 1:03

It's not in any way skeuomorphic. This term has to be the most mis0used term on the interwebs this decade. I'd agree it's almost hyperreal which people often should be saying when they say skeuomorphic.

They're almost ideograms. However ideograms are wordless images, which of themselves form words in some written languages (East Asian, Ancient Egyptian languages) (paradox is only apparent I'm just not saying it correctly!)

  • Did you look at the article I linked to? Commented Nov 5, 2013 at 11:20
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    I do apologise. I jumped to a wrong conclusion. I wrote a big appreciative comment to the blogger under wideEyedPupil moniker. Thanks for sharing with me, forever grateful :-) I've just read so many wrong blogs on this topic! Commented Nov 5, 2013 at 11:53

it's often referred to as "ornamental"

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