Bic "Universal Typeface" Project Reveals How Normal Your Handwriting Really Is

The masters of no-frills ballpoint pens are working on an intriguing new project: Bic is trying to crowdsource a "universal typeface." The project is up and running on its website, The Universal Typeface, and is essentially trying to gather up a ton of handwriting samples, aiming to create a typeface culled from the lettering of we internet-goers. It's been a thriving success to this point, drawing over 250,000 character submissions so far. The final result is set to debut in August, and in spite of some of the shaky penmanship we know is out there, we're tickled pink to see it.

It's a curious project for Bic, which doesn't have much to gain beyond publicity. Although the real prize in all this — the so-called universal typeface — is still a couple months off, taking part in the project does give you a little feedback. After submitting your sample to the website, laying out a preferred handwriting style for all 26 letters of the English alphabet, you get a brief comparison between your own work and that of all the other participants, telling you the discrepancies in the sizing of your letters compared to the average.

So far, residents from over 70 countries have taken part in this font-building experiment, an impressive figure considering the project is only for the English alphabet.

Whether other language alphabets will ever get the same treatment eventually is hard to guess, but with Bic's promotional savvy on full display here, it's not hard to imagine foreign-language speakers embarking on their own, similar efforts someday.

There is one stumbling block in all this — the only way to actually input your samples is through the use of a touchscreen. Whether it's a device attached directly into a desktop, or the screen of a mobile device, you'll have to try to replicate your natural handwriting style in a less-than-natural format. Unless you've got a stylus specifically for touchscreen scribbling, you'll have to trace your letters with your fingertip, which will almost certainly look differently than it might have with paper and ink.

All in all, it's a very fun project. It's even worth a glance if you don't want to take part — while waiting for the typeface's completion, you can always looks at some comparisons between handwriting styles along various lines — gender, age, and handedness among them.