Project #7: Color-block Font for Writing

Robert L. Read
Published in
2 min readJan 4, 2017


Color is vivid. Throughout recorded history, it has been expensive to produce color compared to monochrome design. Writing systems, which have been constantly evolving since their invention initiated recorded history, have generally been monochrome.

But now color is cheap or free, which raises questions:

  • Is the next evolution in writing systems in the direction of using color?
  • Is it possible that we could read better with a color-based system?
  • Is it possible that we could pack more legible text into a given area with a color-based system?
  • Can we make something beautiful, even if it is not technically superior to a glyph-based system?
  • How easy it is it learn to read this system?

Twenty-five years ago, I experimented with a color writing system on a workstation using a graphics program that represented letters as two square blocks of color chosen from a limited palette. However, today, it is possible to create a browser-based implementation of the color writing system. It looks like this:

An Example Color-block Font Rendering of “Ozymandias”

Go to the site to try it on any text you want to paste in.

This is a Public Invention project which is just initiated. There is much that would have to be done before it could be considered an effective writing system. But more importantly, it is fun to play with. It’s an idea that needs some people to designers to play around with it and see if it can be made fun, beautiful, and effective.

Like all PubInv projects, it is completely free-libre open source, released under the GPL 3.0 for code and Creative Commons for non-code writings.



Robert L. Read

Public Inventor. Founder of Public Invention. Co-founder of @18F. Presidential Innovation Fellow. Agilist. PhD Comp. Sci. Amateur mathematician.