Oxford English Dictionary

The heart of the research journey


At the heart of the research journey

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is widely regarded as an authority on the English language. It is an unsurpassed guide to the meaning, history, and pronunciation of 600,000 words – past and present – from across the English-speaking world. As part of the creation of a new online platform, where data is placed at the heart of the academic research journey, a new visual identity was needed to show the enhanced functionality, and relate to the wider Oxford University Press brand.

Wide and deep

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is the internationally recognized authority on the evolution of the English language from 1150 to the present day. The OED offers over 650,000 headwords and traces their usage through over 3.5 million illustrative quotations from a wide range of literary and other sources. In order to improve the functionality and user experience the update of the OED web platform is a fundamental change for the users, customers, and internal marketing/sales teams. The existing platform gives a clunky and dated experience for users, making some of the content in the OED difficult to discover and hinders customers and users in getting the best experience from the product. The OED is full of valuable English language data that can be accessed easily and quickly via digital means, saving researchers time and effort by engaging with the OED in their research journey.

Approaching 100 years old, the current look and feel was also associated with the print dictionary and was time to time to introduce new visual devices to bring the product to life, and illustrate the new functionality.


Challenging perceptions of what a dictionary is

Charting the story of the English language over thousands of years, we needed to challenge perceptions of what a dictionary is, going deeper, wider and further into the meaning of words and their history, unlocking the potential knowledge and data within.

Building on the branding system that ties all Oxford University Press operations together, the ‘launchpad’ for OED was designed to express the historical evolution of words that have come and gone over the history of the English language. It shows the ability to have a quick dive into a specific reference but also a deeper more meandering exploration of rich and proven data. The shape is structured yet fluid and evolving over time.

Ultimately the launchpad brings structure so as not to overwhelm audiences, showing clear paths of research that remain accessible and understandable.

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