If we’re able to identify why we trust Baskerville so much—the form, the weight, the context in which it’s presented—is it possible to design a font to achieve certain emotional effects?

Bierut likens the reaction to typefaces to the way a voice can impact the way we perceive what’s been spoken. “In a way, typefaces are the graphic equivalent of the human voice, and each voice has a specific timbre and accent,” he says. “In my mind, Baskerville speaks with a calm, confidence-inspiring English accent, sort of like Colin Firth. No wonder it’s so trustworthy.”