Reading types in Oxford English dictionaries

Parable type in the New Oxford Dictionary of English

Many of the various printed editions of Oxford dictionaries are now typeset principally in Parable, a typeface designed by Christopher Burke, Research Fellow in the Department. These include the Concise, Compact, Paperback, Pocket, Little, and Colour Oxford Dictionary as well as the Oxford Paperback Thesaurus. Parable is also used effectively in the Oxford Dictionary of English (pictured) – a hefty hardback representing contemporary usage – for the entry texts, alongside Frutiger and Argo (designed by our Visiting Professor, Gerard Unger).

Christopher designed Parable between 1996 and 2002, specifically for use at small typesizes in books such as dictionaries and bibles. It was introduced into the Oxford dictionary range in 2004 by OUP designer Michael Johnson (also an alumnus of the department) when he was redesigning the Concise Oxford Dictionary. At Michael’s request, Christopher designed an alternative italic ampersand especially for the entry ‘ampersand’, because the dictionary’s editors were uncomfortable with Parable’s Granjonesque one. (See more about this here.)