Color Block Font

Experimenting with a Colored Writing System

This is the font at present:

Try it by enterring text here to render as a color blocks below:


Writing systems have been evolving since they were first created. Modern technology has cheapened the production of color to the point that we can legitimately experiment with a color-based system.

  • Is it possible that we could read better with a color-based system?
  • Is it possible that we could pack more text into a given area with a color-based system?
  • Can we make something beautiful and pleasurable, even if it is not technically superior to a glyph-based system?
  • How easy it is it learn to read this system?

This project, like all Public Invention projects, is a free-libre open source attempt to explore these questions, and invites your participation. This is not a finished system; it is a barely started system, even though it is built on my experience from a long time ago.

My experience, which should not be thought of as authoritative, has suggested to me some design decisions. Punctuation, at least in Roman-alphabet based writing systems, should remain glyphic (logographic?) rather than color-based. Likewise it is very helpful to have capitalization, which is represented in this system as a slightly higher block. The font currently displayed uses the same colors (up and down) for vowels. Beyond these observations, I make no assertion that I have any idea what the color palette should be or who to map the colors into the alphabet.


I first implemented the system you see here (the block-on-top-of-block limited palette system) 25 years ago, when I was in graduate school, on a workstation. It required a complete desktop graphics system; at that time there was no hope of a browser-based system using Javascript and CSS.

The current implementation, which you can see in your browser on this page, using the CSS "before" and "after" features to define the color blocks. I don't claim this is in the least big a good a way to do it, but it should in theory work on any modern browser.

How You Can Help

You can play with this idea, and maybe come up with something better. Perhaps you could learn to read it. Perhaps you can improve this implementation. Perhaps you can build a browser plug-in that would let any page be rendered this way.

Finally, you can probably improve the styling of this page itself, of present a better presentation of the idea.

Authors and Contributors

Color Block Font is written and maintained by Robert L. Read at PubInv.

This is a newly created work, please send comments, ideas, or suggestions to Rob or open an issue.

Check out our parent project, Public Invention.

This is project is a part of Public Invention (PubInv), a nascent organization that needs your energy and talent. Contact Us.

All materials produced by PubInv are free and open-source, and licensed either with the GPL (for code) or the Creative Commons Share Alike v 4.0 licenese (for text and designs.)

Creative Commons License
This file and all PubInv materials by Robert L. Read by default is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.