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"Typographer" redirects here. Typography_sentence_0

For the typewriter, see Typographer (typewriter). Typography_sentence_1

Not to be confused with Topography or Typology. Typography_sentence_2

Typography is the art and technique of arranging type to make written language legible, readable, and appealing when displayed. Typography_sentence_3

The arrangement of type involves selecting typefaces, point sizes, line lengths, line-spacing (leading), and letter-spacing (tracking), and adjusting the space between pairs of letters (kerning). Typography_sentence_4

The term typography is also applied to the style, arrangement, and appearance of the letters, numbers, and symbols created by the process. Typography_sentence_5

Type design is a closely related craft, sometimes considered part of typography; most typographers do not design typefaces, and some type designers do not consider themselves typographers. Typography_sentence_6

Typography also may be used as an ornamental and decorative device, unrelated to communication of information. Typography_sentence_7

Typography is the work of typesetters (also known as compositors), typographers, graphic designers, art directors, manga artists, comic book artists, graffiti artists, and, now, anyone who arranges words, letters, numbers, and symbols for publication, display, or distribution, from clerical workers and newsletter writers to anyone self-publishing materials. Typography_sentence_8

Until the Digital Age, typography was a specialized occupation. Typography_sentence_9

Digitization opened up typography to new generations of previously unrelated designers and lay users. Typography_sentence_10

As the capability to create typography has become ubiquitous, the application of principles and best practices developed over generations of skilled workers and professionals has diminished. Typography_sentence_11

So at a time when scientific techniques can support the proven traditions (e.g., greater legibility with the use of serifs, upper and lower case, contrast, etc.) through understanding the limitations of human vision, typography as often encountered may fail to achieve its principal objective: effective communication. Typography_sentence_12

Etymology Typography_section_0

The word "typography" in English comes from the Greek roots τύπος typos = "impression" and -γραφία -graphia = "writing". Typography_sentence_13

History Typography_section_1

Main articles: History of Western typography, History of typography in East Asia, and Movable type Typography_sentence_14

Although typically applied to printed, published, broadcast, and reproduced materials in contemporary times, all words, letters, symbols, and numbers written alongside the earliest naturalistic drawings by humans may be called typography. Typography_sentence_15

The word, typography, is derived from the Greek words τύπος typos "form" or "impression" and γράφειν graphein "to write", traces its origins to the first punches and dies used to make seals and currency in ancient times, which ties the concept to printing. Typography_sentence_16

The uneven spacing of the impressions on brick stamps found in the Mesopotamian cities of Uruk and Larsa, dating from the second millennium B.C., may be evidence of type, wherein the reuse of identical characters was applied to create cuneiform text. Typography_sentence_17

Babylonian cylinder seals were used to create an impression on a surface by rolling the seal on wet clay. Typography_sentence_18

Typography also was implemented in the Phaistos Disc, an enigmatic Minoan printed item from Crete, which dates to between 1850 and 1600 B.C. Typography_sentence_19

It has been proposed that Roman lead pipe inscriptions were created with movable type printing, but German typographer Herbert Brekle recently dismissed this view. Typography_sentence_20

The essential criterion of type identity was met by medieval print artifacts such as the Latin Pruefening Abbey inscription of 1119 that was created by the same technique as the Phaistos Disc. Typography_sentence_21

The silver altarpiece of patriarch Pellegrinus II (1195–1204) in the cathedral of Cividale was printed with individual letter punches. Typography_sentence_22

Apparently, the same printing technique may be found in tenth to twelfth century Byzantine reliquaries. Typography_sentence_23

Other early examples include individual letter tiles where the words are formed by assembling single letter tiles in the desired order, which were reasonably widespread in medieval Northern Europe. Typography_sentence_24

Typography with movable type was invented during the eleventh-century Song dynasty in China by Bi Sheng (990–1051). Typography_sentence_25

His movable type system was manufactured from ceramic materials, and clay type printing continued to be practiced in China until the Qing Dynasty. Typography_sentence_26

Wang Zhen was one of the pioneers of wooden movable type. Typography_sentence_27

Although the wooden type was more durable under the mechanical rigors of handling, repeated printing wore the character faces down and the types could be replaced only by carving new pieces. Typography_sentence_28

Metal movable type was first invented in Korea during the Goryeo Dynasty, approximately 1230. Typography_sentence_29

Hua Sui introduced bronze type printing to China in 1490 AD. Typography_sentence_30

The diffusion of both movable-type systems was limited and the technology did not spread beyond East and Central Asia, however. Typography_sentence_31

Modern lead-based movable type, along with the mechanical printing press, is most often attributed to the goldsmith Johannes Gutenberg in 1439. Typography_sentence_32

His type pieces, made from a lead-based alloy, suited printing purposes so well that the alloy is still used today. Typography_sentence_33

Gutenberg developed specialized techniques for casting and combining cheap copies of letter punches in the vast quantities required to print multiple copies of texts. Typography_sentence_34

This technical breakthrough was instrumental in starting the Printing Revolution and the first book printed with lead-based movable type was the Gutenberg Bible. Typography_sentence_35

Rapidly advancing technology revolutionized typography in the latter twentieth century. Typography_sentence_36

During the 1960s some camera-ready typesetting could be produced in any office or workshop with stand-alone machines such as those introduced by IBM (see: IBM Selectric typewriter). Typography_sentence_37

During the same period Letraset introduced Dry transfer technology that allowed designers to transfer types instantly. Typography_sentence_38

The famous Lorem Ipsum gained popularity due to its usage in Letraset. Typography_sentence_39

During the mid-1980s personal computers such as the Macintosh allowed type designers to create typefaces digitally using commercial graphic design software. Typography_sentence_40

Digital technology also enabled designers to create more experimental typefaces as well as the practical typefaces of traditional typography. Typography_sentence_41

Designs for typefaces could be created faster with the new technology, and for more specific functions. Typography_sentence_42

The cost for developing typefaces was drastically lowered, becoming widely available to the masses. Typography_sentence_43

The change has been called the "democratization of type" and has given new designers more opportunities to enter the field. Typography_sentence_44

Evolution Typography_section_2

The design of typefaces has developed alongside the development of typesetting systems. Typography_sentence_45

Although typography has evolved significantly from its origins, it is a largely conservative art that tends to cleave closely to tradition. Typography_sentence_46

This is because legibility is paramount, and so the typefaces that are the most readable usually are retained. Typography_sentence_47

In addition, the evolution of typography is inextricably intertwined with lettering by hand and related art forms, especially formal styles, which thrived for centuries preceding typography, and so the evolution of typography must be discussed with reference to this relationship. Typography_sentence_48

In the nascent stages of European printing, the typeface (blackletter, or Gothic) was designed in imitation of the popular hand-lettering styles of scribes. Typography_sentence_49

Initially, this typeface was difficult to read, because each letter was set in place individually and made to fit tightly into the allocated space. Typography_sentence_50

The art of manuscript writing, whose origin was during Hellenistic and Roman bookmaking, reached its zenith in the illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages. Typography_sentence_51

Metal typefaces notably altered the style, making it "crisp and uncompromising", and also brought about "new standards of composition". Typography_sentence_52

During the Renaissance period in France, Claude Garamond was partially responsible for the adoption of Roman typeface that eventually supplanted the more commonly used Gothic (blackletter). Typography_sentence_53

Roman typeface also was based on hand-lettering styles. Typography_sentence_54

The development of Roman typeface can be traced back to Greek lapidary letters. Typography_sentence_55

Greek lapidary letters were carved into stone and "one of the first formal uses of Western letterforms"; after that, Roman lapidary letterforms evolved into the monumental capitals, which laid the foundation for Western typographical design, especially serif typefaces. Typography_sentence_56

There are two styles of Roman typefaces: the old style, and the modern. Typography_sentence_57

The former is characterized by its similarly weighted lines, while the latter is distinguished by its contrast of light and heavy lines. Typography_sentence_58

Often, these styles are combined. Typography_sentence_59

By the twentieth century, computers turned typeface design into a rather simplified process. Typography_sentence_60

This has allowed the number of typefaces and styles to proliferate exponentially, as there now are thousands available. Typography_sentence_61

Unfortunately, confusion between typeface and font (the various styles of a single typeface) occurred in 1984 when Steve Jobs mislabeled typefaces as fonts for Apple computers and his error has been perpetuated throughout the computer industry, leading to common misuse by the public of the term "font" when typeface is the proper term. Typography_sentence_62

Experimental typeface uses Typography_section_3

"Experimental typography" is defined as the unconventional and more artistic approach to typeface selection. Typography_sentence_63

Francis Picabia was a Dada pioneer of this practice in the early twentieth century. Typography_sentence_64

David Carson is often associated with this movement, particularly for his work in Ray Gun magazine in the 1990s. Typography_sentence_65

His work caused an uproar in the design community due to his abandonment of standard practices in typeface selection, layout, and design. Typography_sentence_66

Experimental typography is said to place emphasis on expressing emotion, rather than having a concern for legibility while communicating ideas, hence considered bordering on being art. Typography_sentence_67

Techniques Typography_section_4

There are many facets to the expressive use of typography, and with those come many different techniques to help with visual aid and the graphic design. Typography_sentence_68

Spacing and kerning, size-specific spacing, x-height and vertical proportions, character variation, width, weight, and contrast, are several techniques that are necessary to be taken into consideration when thinking about the appropriateness of specific typefaces or creating them. Typography_sentence_69

When placing two or more differing and/or contrasting fonts together, these techniques come into play for organizational strategies and demanding attractive qualities. Typography_sentence_70

For example, if the bulk of a title has a more unfamiliar or unusual font, simpler sans-serif fonts will help complement the title while attracting more attention to the piece as a whole. Typography_sentence_71

Scope Typography_section_5

In contemporary use, the practice and study of typography include a broad range, covering all aspects of letter design and application, both mechanical (typesetting, type design, and typefaces) and manual (handwriting and calligraphy). Typography_sentence_72

Typographical elements may appear in a wide variety of situations, including: Typography_sentence_73


Since digitization, typographical uses have spread to a wider range of applications, appearing on web pages, LCD mobile phone screens, and hand-held video games. Typography_sentence_74

Recent research in psychology has studied the effects of typography on human cognition. Typography_sentence_75

The research points toward multiple applications such as helping readers remember the content better and strategically use fonts to help dyslexic readers. Typography_sentence_76

Text typefaces Typography_section_6

Traditionally, text is composed to create a readable, coherent, and visually satisfying typeface that works invisibly, without the awareness of the reader. Typography_sentence_77

Even distribution of typeset material, with a minimum of distractions and anomalies, is aimed at producing clarity and transparency. Typography_sentence_78

Choice of typeface(s) is the primary aspect of text typography—prose fiction, non-fiction, editorial, educational, religious, scientific, spiritual, and commercial writing all have differing characteristics and requirements of appropriate typefaces (and their fonts or styles). Typography_sentence_79

For historic material, established text typefaces frequently are chosen according to a scheme of historical genre acquired by a long process of accretion, with considerable overlap among historical periods. Typography_sentence_80

Contemporary books are more likely to be set with state-of-the-art "text romans" or "book romans" typefaces with serifs and design values echoing present-day design arts, which are closely based on traditional models such as those of Nicolas Jenson, Francesco Griffo (a punchcutter who created the model for Aldine typefaces), and Claude Garamond. Typography_sentence_81

With their more specialized requirements, newspapers and magazines rely on compact, tightly fitted styles of text typefaces with serifs specially designed for the task, which offer maximum flexibility, readability, legibility, and efficient use of page space. Typography_sentence_82

Sans serif text typefaces (without serifs) often are used for introductory paragraphs, incidental text, and whole short articles. Typography_sentence_83

A current fashion is to pair a sans-serif typeface for headings with a high-performance serif typeface of matching style for the text of an article. Typography_sentence_84

Typesetting conventions are modulated by orthography and linguistics, word structures, word frequencies, morphology, phonetic constructs and linguistic syntax. Typography_sentence_85

Typesetting conventions also are subject to specific cultural conventions. Typography_sentence_86

For example, in French it is customary to insert a non-breaking space before a colon (:) or semicolon (;) in a sentence, while in English it is not. Typography_sentence_87

Color Typography_section_7

Main article: Type color Typography_sentence_88

In typesetting, color is the overall density of the ink on the page, determined mainly by the typeface, but also by the word spacing, leading, and depth of the margins. Typography_sentence_89

Text layout, tone, or color of the set text, and the interplay of text with the white space of the page in combination with other graphic elements impart a "feel" or "resonance" to the subject matter. Typography_sentence_90

With printed media, typographers also are concerned with binding margins, paper selection, and printing methods when determining the correct color of the page. Typography_sentence_91

Principles of the typographic craft Typography_section_8

Three fundamental aspects of typography are legibility, readability, and aesthetics. Typography_sentence_92

Although in a non-technical sense "legible" and "readable" are often used synonymously, typographically they are separate but related concepts. Typography_sentence_93

Legibility and readability tend to support aesthetic aspects of a product. Typography_sentence_94

Legibility describes how easily individual characters can be distinguished from one another. Typography_sentence_95

It is described by Walter Tracy as "the quality of being decipherable and recognisable". Typography_sentence_96

For instance if a "b" and an "h", or a "3" and an "8", are difficult to distinguish at small sizes, this is a problem of legibility. Typography_sentence_97

Typographers are concerned with legibility insofar as it is their job to select the correct font to use. Typography_sentence_98

Brush Script is an example of a font containing many characters which might be difficult to distinguish. Typography_sentence_99

Selection of case influences the legibility of typography because using only upper-case letters (all-caps) reduces legibility. Typography_sentence_100

Readability refers to how easy it is to read the text as a whole, as opposed to the individual character recognition described by legibility. Typography_sentence_101

Use of margins, word- and line-spacing, and clear document structure all impact on readability. Typography_sentence_102

Some fonts or font styles, for instance sans-serif fonts, are considered to have low readability, and so be unsuited for large quantities of prose. Typography_sentence_103

Legibility "refers to perception" (being able to see as determined by physical limitations of the eye) and readability "refers to comprehension" (understanding the meaning). Typography_sentence_104

Good typographers and graphic designers aim to achieve excellence in both. Typography_sentence_105

"The typeface chosen should be legible. Typography_sentence_106

That is, it should be read without effort. Typography_sentence_107

Sometimes legibility is simply a matter of type size; more often, however, it is a matter of typeface design. Typography_sentence_108

Case selection always influences legibility. Typography_sentence_109

In general, typefaces that are true to the basic letterforms are more legible than typefaces that have been condensed, expanded, embellished, or abstracted. Typography_sentence_110

Studies of both legibility and readability have examined a wide range of factors including type size and type design. Typography_sentence_111

For example, comparing serif vs. sans-serif type, roman type vs. oblique type, and italic type, line length, line spacing, color contrast, the design of right-hand edge (for example, justification, straight right hand edge) vs. ragged right, and whether text is hyphenated. Typography_sentence_112

Justified copy must be adjusted tightly during typesetting to prevent loss of readability, something beyond the capabilities of typical personal computers. Typography_sentence_113

Legibility research has been published since the late nineteenth century. Typography_sentence_114

Although there often are commonalities and agreement on many topics, others often create poignant areas of conflict and variation of opinion. Typography_sentence_115

For example, Alex Poole asserts that no one has provided a conclusive answer as to which typeface style, serif or sans serif, provides the most legibility, although differences of opinion exist regarding such debates. Typography_sentence_116

Other topics such as justified vs unjustified type, use of hyphens, and proper typefaces for people with reading difficulties such as dyslexia, have continued to be subjects of debate. Typography_sentence_117

Legibility is usually measured through speed of reading, with comprehension scores used to check for effectiveness (that is, not a rushed or careless read). Typography_sentence_118

For example, Miles Tinker, who published numerous studies from the 1930s to the 1960s, used a speed of reading test that required participants to spot incongruous words as an effectiveness filter. Typography_sentence_119

The Readability of Print Unit at the Royal College of Art under Professor Herbert Spencer with Brian Coe and Linda Reynolds did important work in this area and was one of the centres that revealed the importance of the saccadic rhythm of eye movement for readability—in particular, the ability to take in (i.e., recognise the meaning of groups of) about three words at once and the physiognomy of the eye, which means the eye tires if the line required more than 3 or 4 of these saccadic jumps. Typography_sentence_120

More than this is found to introduce strain and errors in reading (e.g., Doubling). Typography_sentence_121

The use of all-caps renders words indistinguishable as groups, all letters presenting a uniform line to the eye, requiring special effort for separation and understanding. Typography_sentence_122

These days, legibility research tends to be limited to critical issues, or the testing of specific design solutions (for example, when new typefaces are developed). Typography_sentence_123

Examples of critical issues include typefaces for people with visual impairment, typefaces and case selection for highway and street signs, or for other conditions where legibility may make a key difference. Typography_sentence_124

Much of the legibility research literature is atheoretical—various factors were tested individually or in combination (inevitably so, as the different factors are interdependent), but many tests were carried out in the absence of a model of reading or visual perception. Typography_sentence_125

Some typographers believe that the overall word shape (Bouma) is very important in readability, and that the theory of parallel letter recognition is either wrong, less important, or not the entire picture. Typography_sentence_126

Word shape differs by outline, influenced by ascending and descending elements of lower case letters and enables reading the entire word without having to parse out each letter (for example, dog is easily distinguished from cat) and that becomes more influential to being able to read groups of words at a time. Typography_sentence_127

Studies distinguishing between Bouma recognition and parallel letter recognition with regard to how people recognize words when they read, have favored parallel letter recognition, which is widely accepted by cognitive psychologists. Typography_sentence_128

Some commonly agreed findings of legibility research include: Typography_sentence_129


  • Text set in lower case is more legible than text set all in upper case (capitals, all-caps), presumably because lower case letter structures and word shapes are more distinctive.Typography_item_1_8
  • Extenders (ascenders, descenders, and other projecting parts) increase salience (prominence).Typography_item_1_9
  • Regular upright type (roman type) is found to be more legible than italic type.Typography_item_1_10
  • Contrast, without dazzling brightness, also has been found to be important, with black on yellow/cream being most effective along with white on blue.Typography_item_1_11
  • Positive images (e.g., black on white) make handheld material easier to read than negative or reversed (e.g., white on black). Even this commonly accepted practice has some exceptions, however (for example, in some cases of disability, and designing the most effective signs for drivers).Typography_item_1_12
  • The upper portions of letters (ascenders) play a stronger part in the recognition process than the lower portions.Typography_item_1_13

Advertising Typography_section_9

Typography has long been a vital part of promotional material and advertising. Typography_sentence_130

Designers often use typefaces to set a theme and mood in an advertisement (for example, using bold, large text to convey a particular message to the reader). Typography_sentence_131

Choice of typeface is often used to draw attention to a particular advertisement, combined with efficient use of color, shapes, and images. Typography_sentence_132

Today, typography in advertising often reflects a company's brand. Typography_sentence_133

A brand may use typography to express its theme, personality, and message. Typography_sentence_134

Just by looking at the typeface, viewers can get an idea about the message and personality of the brand, which the brands are fully aware of and are tapping into the power of good typography. Typography_sentence_135

Typefaces used in advertisements convey different messages to the reader: classical ones are for a strong personality, while more modern ones may convey clean, neutral look. Typography_sentence_136

Bold typefaces are used for making statements and attracting attention. Typography_sentence_137

In any design, a balance has to be achieved between the visual impact and communication aspects. Typography_sentence_138

Digital technology in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries has enabled the creation of typefaces for advertising that are more experimental than traditional typefaces. Typography_sentence_139

Inscriptional and architectural lettering Typography_section_10

See also: Epigraphy Typography_sentence_140

The history of inscriptional lettering is intimately tied to the history of writing, the evolution of letterforms and the craft of the hand. Typography_sentence_141

The widespread use of the computer and various etching and sandblasting techniques today has made the hand carved monument a rarity, and the number of letter-carvers left in the US continues to dwindle. Typography_sentence_142

For monumental lettering to be effective, it must be considered carefully in its context. Typography_sentence_143

Proportions of letters need to be altered as their size and distance from the viewer increases. Typography_sentence_144

An expert monument designer gains understanding of these nuances through much practice and observation of the craft. Typography_sentence_145

Letters drawn by hand and for a specific project have the possibility of being richly specific and profoundly beautiful in the hand of a master. Typography_sentence_146

Each also may take up to an hour to carve, so it is no wonder that the automated sandblasting process has become the industry standard. Typography_sentence_147

To create a sandblasted letter, a rubber mat is laser-cut from a computer file and glued to the stone. Typography_sentence_148

The blasted sand then bites a coarse groove or channel into the exposed surface. Typography_sentence_149

Unfortunately, many of the computer applications that create these files and interface with the laser cutter do not have a wide selection of many typefaces, and often have inferior versions of those typefaces that are available. Typography_sentence_150

What now can be done in minutes, however, lacks the striking architecture and geometry of the chisel-cut letter that allows light to play across its distinct interior planes. Typography_sentence_151

See also Typography_section_11


Supporting organizations Typography_section_12


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Typography.