# Footprints in the Snow

I found some mysterious footprints in the snow and transcribed them as best I could.

Who walked past?

Text version:
..- --- . -..- -..- .... -. -..- . - . .. .. . -

• Shouldn’t the cipher tag be on here?
– PDT
Commented Jun 4 at 4:22
• Given the accepted answer, the "Who walked past" should be "Who or what walked past". Commented Jun 4 at 16:27

## 1 Answer

The lack of a tag confused me for a while. I mean, obviously this puzzle involved Morse code, right?! Not so.

Upon getting nowhere with a Morse translation I tried to think 'outside the box'. What might leave 'footprints' of these shapes? A possibility hit me...

How about certain letters, spelling out a set of words? After all, the base of most letters is either a horizontal line (like a capital 'E') or flat-ish curve (like a 'C') - either of which might make a dash shape when 'treading' in the snow - or one or more point-like 'legs' (for 'T' or 'A', etc.), hence dots.

So, with this idea in mind, I tried to spell out some useful words. And then I laughed as it hit me... You were passed in the snow by...

...all the letters of the English alphabet, walking by in alphabetical order! Like so:

Note that the precise font is crucial here, and my original monospace choice led to much discussion in the comments below, particularly concerning the merits of serif vs sans-serif fonts when focussing on the footprint of the 'I'. In this puzzle's chosen depiction its footprint is a dash rather than a dot, and so requires a line at its base - a good option that accommodates this and still matches all other letters (including having only two feet - not three - for the 'M') is Verdana; thanks to @EspeciallyLime for the suggestion.

Away from computer font discussions, however, the footprints used in this puzzle do reflect how many people might hand-write their alphabet, top-and-tailing a letter 'I' with horizontal bars.

• The "I" is somewhat problematic - in almost any font, if it has a serif, so do several other letters (like F, P, T, or Y). It should probably be a dot rather than a dash. Commented Jun 4 at 15:35
• @NuclearHoagie When writing by pen, I've always drawn my I's with bars in essays, letters, etc., so that is how I always picture an I, but yes either works. I wonder if the bars will be dropped someday... : )
– Amoz
Commented Jun 4 at 16:35
• @NuclearHoagie If you're not typing in all-caps, the capital "I" needs the serifs to distinguish from a lower-case "l". Whereas F, P, T, and Y can all be easily distinguished from other letters with or without serifs. Commented Jun 4 at 18:30
• @DarrelHoffman Nuclear Hoagie's point is that the vast majority of sans-serif fonts don't have a serif on the I, making it a dot, whereas in a serif font (e.g. the one used in this answer) I and T both have serifs so would both be dashes. However, there are a few fonts that do match the pattern in OP, including Comic Sans and Verdana. Commented Jun 6 at 9:51
• It is funny that is so hard to find a font that matches the actual way I was taught to draw the letters in grade school. I intentionally went analog in this puzzle as the fonts are referred to as a who and are walking around in the snow with feet, like an old fairy tale.
– Amoz
Commented Jun 6 at 12:36