It is well known that certain spatial frequency (SF) bands are more important than others for character recognition. Solomon and Pelli [Nature 369 (1994) 395-397] have concluded that human pattern recognition mechanism is able to use only a narrow band from available SF spectrum of letters. However, the SF spectra of letters themselves have not been studied carefully. Here I report the results of an analysis of SF spectra of printed characters and discuss their relationship to the observed band-pass nature of letter recognition. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.