number of letters to spell...

I want to purchase magnetic letters for my new project. I’m going to put a magnetic board on the front of my fridge for the family to leave messages for each other. what letters will I need the most of in desending order. Did I phrase that right? For day to day crappola, how many of each letter in the alphabet will I need?

Back when I was interested in ciphers and attempting to solve cryptograms, I found it useful to remember ETAOINRSH, and Wiki agrees with me.

Or you could just ponder the letters in a game of Scrabble, or watch Wheel of Fortune, or get a couple of sets of Bananagrams and glue little magnets on the backs of them. The Bananagrams entry has a decent breakdown of the letter frequency, by the way.

Or you could just get a whiteboard or two and invest in some dry erase markers, which come in a variety of colors. I got a whiteboard some years ago, and while I mostly use it to write down when we are low on milk, we sometimes put up notes for each other, too. In fact, I’m thinking of getting another whiteboard so I can leave a note for my husband to CLEAN OUT THE DAMN CATBOXES ALREADY!!! and similar urgent messages in red. He’ll probably leave a demand for lasagna, also in red, also with at least three exclamation points. However, HIS messages won’t be correctly spelled.

Thank you Lynn. We have mini fridges in each of our rooms and have bought packs of letters but each pack has only a few. we do what we can to humor each other. I want to continue the magnetic theme in the kitcken on a large scale.

Back when typesetting by hand was done, wasn’t there a standard number and proportion of letter type kept on hand?

Buy two magnetic Scrabble sets. That should be enough for lengthy messages.

Lynn’s suggested order may need to be modified to account for family names and other commonly used words. For example, if a family member is called Zack or Jacqui or something.

Yep. And there were compartmented boxes or drawers, with the biggest compartment for the letter E, next biggest for T, etc.

Why would anyone spend time picking out letters when they could use any magnet to hold a hand written note?

Don’t ask me; ask Claude.

Have you considered an erasable white board attached to the frig door? The only thing you could lose is the pen (easily replaced). I’m told one of those pens will generate an almost unlimited number of letters at minimal cost.


I’m still trying to figure out why you would need to attach a magnetic board to a refrigerator to hold magnetic letters. Why not … just … (wait for it) … put the letters on the refrigerator?

Anyway, my mother-in-law devoted one whole side of her fridge to the letters. I believe she had 2 sets of letters, but I believe each set had both upper- and lower-case. That was enough for most of our messages, but all we did was spell out “Happy Birthday BobArrgh” and stuff like that.

Also, consider looking around for the Magnetic Poetry stuff. They have a lot of words and phrases, and you can fit more of them in a tiny space than you can with individual letters.

Finally, if the Magnetic Poetry stuff doesn’t have the words or phrases you want, consider making your own. Get some strips of magnetic “tape” and print your words on a strip of paper which are then glued to the magnetic “tape”.

Tiny magnets under bottle caps are cool, too.

refrigerators in question are stainless and non magnetic.

Check out the last paragraph of the first reply…you know, the first answer to the question.

Stainless what, aluminum? All steel is magnetic.

Not quite true Is stainless steel magnetic? Does it depend on the amount of chromium, or nickel alloy?

I always remember ETAOIN SHRDLU as the English letter frequency ranking, which I learned from Terry Winograd’s naming of his early computer program SHRDLU. This sequence comprised the first row of letter bins for the now extinct linotype machines.

The Wikipedia article gives a link showing the letter rankings for various kinds of text:

Yup, our stainless steel oven, toaster, toaster oven, dishwasher and kitcken sink all also are non- magnetic.