If you need an expert on handwriting, signatures and pen and ink, consult a forensic document examiner. But perhaps you need an expert on fonts, point size, and digital typesetting/​output. You need a font detective: someone even more specialized. That’s Thomas Phinney.


  • Typeface/​Font Identification & Dating
  • Point Size
  • History of Type/​Fonts
  • Font Technology
  • Font Output (Printing technologies)
  • Type Design & Font Production


  • Expert on the production and availability of fonts, including Calibri
  • Four font‐​related patents (two on glyph synthesis, one on font identification, one font design patent)
  • Type (font) designer
    • Hypatia Sans, an “Adobe Original” 12‐​font typeface with over 3000 glyphs per font (including Greek and Cyrillic), originally offered as a registration incentive for Adobe Creative Suite. Now available through Adobe Fonts. (This web site is set in Hypatia Sans.)
    • Cristoforo, a revival/​expansion with two fonts of over 1000 glyphs per font (including Greek and Cyrillic), plus a symbol font
    • Many fonts created or modified for private projects and/​or limited release
  • Over a dozen talks on forensic typography in six countries
    • Association of Forensic Document Examiners, Savannah, 2018
    • upcoming: Scientific Association of Forensic Examiners, online, 2018
    • Talks in Rome, London, Barcelona, New York (twice), Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Thessaloniki, Edmonton, Portland, Austin, Vancouver
  • Board member, Association Typographique Internationale (international typography association, ATypI) 2004–present
    • treasurer 2006–16
    • secretary 2016–present
  • Over 100 presentations and workshops at font, typography and graphic design conferences, including ATypI, TypeCon, TypoTechnica, Seybold, HOW, InDesign Conference, Adobe MAX, AIGA, Crafting Type, Typo Berlin, Typo SF, Typo Day (India), Typo Labs, etc.
  • Cited in acknowledgments for contributions to common typography textbooks (including Bringhurst’s Elements of Typographic Style)
  • Author of widely‐​read articles on the history of type, and font formats and technology
  • Guest speaker on typography for many university and college courses, including the Master of Arts in Typeface Design (MATD) at the University of Reading, UK
  • First did professional desktop publishing in 1985, the same year it was developed
  • Has worked with nearly every type of lettering/​font output
    • Learned stone‐​carving from the late Michael Harvey, MBE, whose work graces the National Gallery in London
    • Set cold foundry metal type by hand, and printed it on an iron hand press
    • Helped operate Linotype and Monotype hot metal typesetting machines
    • Set type via phototypesetting, made printing plates from film, and printed from them
    • Operated and printed on many radically varying kinds of presses and output devices
      • Offset lithography presses
      • Gravure press (a form of intaglio printing)
      • Flexography /​ pad printing
      • Screen printing
    • Has personally used nearly all forms of digital printing processes, including
      • inkjet
      • laser & LED
      • dye‐​sublimation
      • direct thermal printing
      • thermal wax transfer
    • Has not operated a non‐​gravure intaglio printing press, nor operated a device to do raised thermographic printing using melting powders


  • Master of Science, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), 1997. MS in Graphic Arts Publishing from RIT’s School of Printing Management and Sciences, specializing in Design & Typography. Achieved 4.0 GPA, received the Alexander S. Lawson fellowship
  • Master of Business Administration—University of California at Berkeley, 2003. Completed MBA at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business part time while working at Adobe


  • 2014–present: CEO, FontLab
    FontLab makes the best‐​known font creation and editing tools, including FontLab, Fontographer, TypeTool and TransType. Most of the world’s commercial fonts today (including Calibri) were designed with FontLab tools.
  • 2013–present: instructor (p/​t), Crafting Type
    Teaching introductions to type design in 3‐​day workshops all over the world, both solo and with other instructors
  • 1999–present: Font Detective
    Took his first case in 1999, a forged will. The will was thrown out, and the perpetrators became fugitives from justice. More clients & cases.
  • 2009–14: Senior Product Manager, Fonts & Typography, Extensis
    Suitcase Fusion, Universal Type Server, WebINK. Conceived and drove WebINK, one of the first web font solutions.
  • 1997–2008: Product Manager, Fonts & Global Typography, Adobe
    In 11+ years at Adobe, contributed to business, technical, design, writing, and evangelism. Responsibilities included driving and specifying typographic functionality in Adobe apps, managing type group’s relationships with Microsoft and Apple, assisting/​evangelizing third‐​party developers, managing beta testing, writing docs and marketing materials, specifying and acquiring custom fonts for global languages, and being a resource for technical, business, legal and product management.


    • One stint split between Type and in Core Technologies, managed Adobe InDesign’s core technology needs (font handling, printing, PDF export, color management, etc.)