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5 Intro to type

Type anotomy

9 History of Type


10 Readability and legibility 15 Display Type 16 Famous Typographers


The basic typographic element is called a character, which is any individual letter, numeral, or punctuation mark. The capital letters are called caps, or uppercase (u.c.) characters. Small letters are called lowercase (l.c.) characters. Numbers are called numerals or figures.

Modern, or lining numerals are cap height.

1234567890 Oldstyle numerals have ascenders and descenders.



Special characters

Pi characters are special characters used for: Math signs

+-=% Punctuation marks


Accented characters

ÁåéÇü Reference marks


On Macintosh computers, special characters can be viewed for any font with the Key Caps utility under the apple menu. Ligatures are character pairs which have been re-designed as optional single characters.

fi ffl ct Standard characters set in Adobe Garamond.

fi ffl ct

Ligature characters set in Adobe Garamond Expert and Adobe Garamond Alternative

Character Components Typographic characters have basic component parts. The easiest way to differentiate characteristics of type designs is by comparing the structure of these components. The following terms identify some of the components referred to in the next chapter.

Contrast The amount of variation in between thick and thin strokes.

Minimum contrast Extreme contrast Counter The empty space inside the body stroke. Ascender The lowercase character stroke which extends above the x-height. Bar The horizontal stroke on the characters ‘A’, ‘H’, ‘T’, ‘e’, ‘f ’, ‘t’. Baseline The imaginary horizontal line to which the body, or main component, of characters are aligned. Bowl The curved stroke which surrounds a counter. Bracket A curved line connecting the serif to the stroke.

Descender. The lowercase character stroke which extends below the baseline. Loop The bottom part of the lowercase roman ‘g’. Sans serif From the French, meaning “without serif ”. A typeface which has no serifs.Sans serif typefaces are typically uniform in stroke width. Serif Tapered corners on the ends of the main stroke. Serifs originated with the chiseled guides made by ancient stonecutters as they lettered monuments. Some serif designs may also be traced back to characteristics of hand calligraphy. Note that serif type is typically thick and thin in stroke weight.

Examples of bracket serifs.

i) Bracketed serifs with cupped bases

ii) Brecketed serifs with flat bases

iii) Unbracketed serifs Shoulder The part of a curved stroke coming from the stem. Terminal The end of the stroke which does not terminate in a serif. X-height The height of the body, minus ascenders and descenders, which is equal to the height of lowercase ‘x’.


Stem A stroke which is vertical or diagonal. Stress The direction in which a curved stroke changes weight. Oblique, or angled stress Semi-oblque stress

vertical stress




16th century in Germany Typography traces its origins to the first punches and dies used to make seals and currency in ancient times. The typographical principle, the creation of a complete text by reusing identical characters, was first realized in the Phaistos Disc, an enigmatic Minoan print item from Crete, Greece, which dates between 1850 and 1600 BC. It has been proposed that Roman lead pipe inscriptions were created by movable type printing, but German typographer Herbert Brekle recently dismissed this view. 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. The silver altarpiece of patriarch Pellegrinus II (1195−1204) in the cathedral of Cividale was printed with individual letter punches. The same printing technique can apparently be found in 10th to 12th century Byzantine reliquaries. Individual letter tiles where the words are formed by assembling single letter tiles in the desired order were reasonably widespread in medieval Northern Europe. Modern movable type, along with the mechanical printing press, was invented in mid-15th century Germany by the goldsmith Johannes Gutenberg. His type pieces from a lead-based alloy suited printing purposes so well that the alloy is still used today. Gutenberg developed specialized techniques for casting and combining cheap copies of letterpunches in the vast quantities required to print multiple copies of texts. This technical breakthrough was instrumental in starting the Printing Revolution and printing the world’s first book (with movable type) the Gutenberg Bible. Typography with movable type is separately invented in 11thcentury China. Metal type was first invented in Korea during the Goryeo Dynasty around 1230. Both hand printing systems, however, were only sporadically used and discontinued after the introduction of Western lead type and the printing press. In traditional typography, text is composed to create a readable, coherent, and visually satisfying whole that works invisibly, without the awareness of the reader.




egibility is primarily the concern of the typeface designer, to ensure that each individual character or glyph is unambiguous and distinguishable from all other characters in the font. Legibility is also in part the concern of the typographer to select a typeface with appropriate clarity of design for the intended use at the intended size. An example of a well-known design, Brush Script, contains a number of illegible letters since many of the characters can be easily misread especially if seen out of textual context.

Readability is primarily the concern of the typographer or information designer. It is the intended result of the complete process of presentation of textual material in order to communicate meaning as unambiguously as possible. A reader should be assisted in navigating around the information with ease, by optimal inter-letter, inter-word and particularly inter-line spacing, coupled with appropriate line length and position on the page, careful editorial “chunking” and choice of the text architecture of titles, folios, and reference links. The two concepts are distinguished by Walter Tracy in Letters of Credit: these ‘two aspects of a type’ are fundamental to its effectiveness. Because the common meaning of “legible” is “readable” there are those even some professionally involved in typography. They think that the term “legibilty” is all that is needed in any discussion on the effectiveness of types. But legibility and readability are separate, though connected aspects of type, properly understood. The two terms can help to desribe the character and function of type more precisely than legibility alone. In typography we need to draw the definition of legibility to mean the quality of being decipherable and recognisable.

So that we can say for example, that the lowercase ‘h’ in a particular old style italic is not legible in small sizes because its inturned leg makes it look like the letter b; or a figure 3 in a classified advertisement is too similar to the 8. In display sizes, legibility ceases to be a serious matter; a character that causes uncertainty at 8 point size is plain enough at 24 point. Note that the above applies to people with 20/20 vision at appropriate reading distance and under optimal lighting. The analogy of an opticians chart, testing for visual acuity and independent of meaning, is useful to indicate the scope of the concept of legibility. In typography if the columns of a newspaper or magazine or the pages of a book can be read for many minutes at a time without strain or difficulty, then we can say the type has good readability. The term describes the quality of visual comfort an important requirement in the comprehension of long stretches of text but, paradoxically, not so important in such things as telephone directories or air-line timetables, where the reader is not reading continuously but searching for a single item of information. The difference in the two aspects of visual effectiveness is illustrated by the familiar argument on the suitability of sans-serif types for text setting. The characters in a particular sans-serif face may be perfectly legible in themselves, but no one would think of setting a popular novel in it because its readability is low. Legibility ‘refers to perception’ and readability ‘refers to comprehension’. Typographers aim to achieve excellence in both. “The typeface chosen should be legible. That is, it should be read without effort. Sometimes legibility is simply a matter of type size. More often however, it is a matter of typeface design.

However, even a legible typeface can become unreadable through poor setting and placement, just as a less legible typeface can be made more readable through good design. Studies of both legibility and readability have examined a wide range of factors including type size and type design. 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)

Other topics such as justified vs unjustified type, use of hyphens, and proper fonts for people with reading difficulties such as dyslexia, have continued to be subjects of debate. Websites such as Hgrebdes, Ban Comic sans, UK National Literacy Trust, and Mark Simsonson Studio have raised debating opinions on the above subjects and many more each presenting a thorough and well-organized position. Legibility is usually measured through speed of reading, with comprehension scores used to check for effectiveness (that is, not a rushed or careless read). For example, Miles Tinker, who published

Much of the legibility research literature is somewhat 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. Typographers believe that the overall word shape (Bouma) is very important in readability, and that the theory of parallel letterwise recognition is either wrong, less important, or not the entire picture. Studies distinguishing between Bouma recognition and parallel letterwise recognition with regard to how people actually recognize

Text typeset using LaTeX digital typesetting software. Readability can also be compromised by letter-spacing, word spacing, or leading that is too tight or too loose. It can be improved when generous vertical space separates lines of text, making it easier for the eye to distinguish one line from the next, or previous line. Poorly designed fonts and those that are too tightly or loosely fitted can also result in poor legibility. Typography is an element of all printed material. Periodical publications, especially newspapers and magazines, use typographical elements to achieve an attractive, distinctive appearance, to aid readers in navigating the publication. By formulating a style guide, a periodical standardizes on a relatively small collection of typefaces, each used for specific elements within the publication, and makes consistent use of type sizes, italic, boldface, large and small capital letters, colors, and other typographic features. Some publications, such as The Guardian and The Economist, go so far as to commission a type designer to create bespoke (custom tailored) typefaces for their exclusive use. Different periodical publications design their publications, including their typography, to achieve a particular tone or style. For example, USA Today uses a bold, colorful, and comparatively modern style through their use of a variety of typefaces and colors; type sizes vary widely, and the newspaper’s name is placed on a colored background. In contrast, The New York Times uses a more traditional approach, with fewer colors, less typeface variation, and more columns. Especially on the front page of newspapers and on magazine covers, headlines are often set in larger display typefaces to attract

vs. ranged left, and whether text is hyphenated. Legibility research has been published since the late nineteenth century. Although there are often commonalities and agreement on many topics, others often create poignant areas of conflict and variation of opinion. For example, no one has provided a conclusive answer as to which font, serifed or sans serif, provides the most legibility according to Alex Poole.

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. 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) around 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. More than this is found to introduce strain and errors. 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). Examples of critical issues include typefaces (also called fonts) for people with visual impairment, and typefaces for highway signs, or for other conditions where legibility may make a key difference.

words when they read, have favored parallel letterwise recognition, which is widely accepted by cognitive psychologists. Some commonly agreed findings of legibility research include: Text set in lower case is more legible than text set in all upper case (capitals), presumably because lower case letter structures and word shapes are more distinctive. Extenders (ascenders, descenders and other projecting parts increase salience (prominence). Regular upright type (roman type) is found to be more legible than italic type. Contrast, without dazzling brightness, has also been found to be important, with black on yelow/cream being mos effective. Positive images (e.g white on black). However even this commonly accepted practise has some exceptions, for example in some cases of disability. The upper portions of letters play a stronger part than the lower portions in the recognition process.

attention, and are placed near the masthead. Experimental typography Experimental typography is defined as the unconventional and more artistic approach to setting type. Francis Picabia was a Dada pioneer in the early 20th Century. David Carson is often associated with this movement, particularly for his work in Ray Gun magazine in the 1990s. His work caused an uproar in the design community due to his abandonment of standards in typesetting practices, layout, and design. Experimental typography places emphasis on communicating emotion, rather than on legibility.


Display typography encompasses:





isplay typography is a potent element in graphic design, where there is less ocncern for readability and more potential for using type in an artistic manner. Type is combined with negative relationships and dialog between words and images. Colour and size of type elements are much more prevalent than in text typography. MOst display typography exploits type at larger sizes, where the details of letter design are magnified. Colour is used for its emotional effect in conveying the tone and nature of subject matter. •


Book Covers.

Packaging and labeling.

Typographic logos and wordmarks.

Kinetic typography in motion pictures.

Inscriptional and architectural lettering.

Signage such as signage and advertising.

• •

Business communications and advertising. Poster design and other large scale lettering. Advertising

Typography has long been a vital part of promotional material and advertising. Designers often use typography to set a theme and moood in an advertisement: for example using blod, large text to convey a particular message to the reader. Type is often used to draw attention to a particular advertisement, combined with effcient use of colour, shapes and images. Today, typography in advertising often reflects a company’s brand. Fonts used in advertisements convey different messages to the reader, classical fonts are for a strong personality, while more modern fonts are for a cleaner, neutral look. Bold fonts are used for making statements and attracting attention. Display type also apply in advertising design. Display is a particular use of type. In the days of letterpress and phototypesetting, many of the most commonly used typefaces were available in a “display face” variation. Display faces were created for best appearance at large “display” sizes (typically 36 points or larger) as might be used for a major headline in a newspaper or on the cover of a book. The main distinction of a display face was the lack of “ink traps”, small indentations at the junctions of letter strokes. In smaller point sizes, these ink traps were intended to fill up when the letterpress was overinked, providing some latitude in press operation while maintaining the intended appearance of the type design. (..)



F a m o u s t yp o g r a p he rs

elvetica was developed in 1957 by Max Miedinger with Eduard Hoffmann at the Haas’sche Schriftgiesserei (Haas Type Foundry) of Münchenstein, Switzerland. Haas set out to design a new sans-serif typeface that could compete with the successful Akzidenz-Grotesk in the Swiss market. Originally called Neue Haas Grotesk, its design was based on Schelter-Grotesk and Haas’ Normal Grotesk. The aim of the new design was to create a neutral typeface that had great clarity, no intrinsic meaning in its form, and could be used on a wide variety of signage.

(Neue) Helvetica Thai (2012)

When Linotype adopted Neue Haas Grotesk (which was never planned to be a full range of mechanical and hot-metal typefaces) its design was reworked. After the success of Univers, Arthur Ritzel of Stempel redesigned Neue Haas Grotesk into a larger family.

Helvetica Light

In 1960, the typeface’s name was changed by Haas’ German parent company Stempel to Helvetica in order to make it more marketable internationally.

Helvetica Compressed

Defining Characteristics tall x-height, which makes it easier to read in smaller sizes two-storied a (with curves of bowl and of stem) narrow t and f square-looking s bracketed top serif of 1 rounded off square tail of R Language variants The Cyrillic version was designed in-house in the 1970s at D Stempel AG, then critiqued and redesigned in 1992 under the advice of Jovica Veljovic. Matthew Carter designed the Helvetica Greek.

Thai font designer Anuthin Wongsunkakon of Cadson Demak Co. created Thai versions of Helvetica and Neue Helvetica fonts. The design uses loopless terminals in Thai glyphs, which had also been used by Wongsunkakon’s previous design, Manop Mai (New Manop). Initial release included 6 fonts in OpenType Com format for each family in 3 weights (light, regular, bold) and 1 width, with complementary italics. OpenType features include fractions, glyph composition/decomposition.

Helvetica Light was designed by Stempel’s artistic director Erich Schultz-Anker, in conjunction with Arthur Ritzel.

Designed by Matthew Carter, this is a narrow variant that is tighter than Helvetica Condensed. It shares some design elements with Helvetica Inserat, but uses a curved tail in Q, downward pointing branch in r, and tilde bottom £. The family consists of Helvetica Compressed, Helvetica Extra Compressed, Helvetica Ultra Compressed fonts.

Helvetica Textbook

Neue Helvetica W1G (2009)

Helvetica Textbook is an alternate design of the typeface. Some characters such as 1, 4, 6, 9, I, J, a, f, j, q, t, u, μ, and ¶ are drawn differently from the original version.

It is a version with Latin Extended, Greek, Cyrillic scripts support. Only OpenType CFF font format was released. The family includes the fonts from the older Neue Helvetica counterparts, except Neue Helvetica 75 Bold Outline. Additional OpenType features include subscript/superscript.

Helvetica Inserat (1957) Helvetica Inserat is a version designed in 1957 primarily for use in the advertising industry. With metric similar to Helvetica Black Condensed, the design gives the glyphs a more squared appearance, similar to Impact and Haettenschweiler. Strike with strokes in $, ¢ are replaced by non-strikethrough version. 4 is opened at top. Helvetica Rounded (1978) Helvetica Rounded is a version containing rounded stroke terminators. Only bold, bold oblique, black, black oblique, bold condensed, bold outline fonts were made, with outline font not issued in digital form by Linotype. Helvetica Narrow Helvetica Narrow is a version where its width is between Helvetica Compressed and Helvetica Condensed. However, the width is scaled in a way that is optically consistent with the widest width fonts. The font was developed when printer ROM space was very scarce, so it was created by mathematically squashing Helvetica to 82% of the original width, resulting in distorted letterforms and thin vertical strokes next to thicker horizontals. OpenType version was not produced by Adobe under the distortion reasoning, and recommended Helvetica Condensed instead. However, in Linotype’s OpenType version of Helvetica Narrow, the distortions found in the Adobe fonts are nonexistent. Neue Helvetica (1983) Neue Helvetica is a reworking of the typeface with a more structurally unified set of heights and widths. It was developed at D. Stempel AG, a Linotype subsidiary. The studio manager was Wolfgang Schimpf, and his assistant was Reinhard Haus; the manager of the project was René Kerfante. Erik Spiekermann was the design consultant and designed the literature for the launch in 1983. Other changes include improved legibility, heavier punctuation marks, and increased spacing in the numbers. Neue Helvetica uses a numerical design classification scheme, like Univers. The font family is made up of 51 fonts including 9 weights in 3 widths (8, 9, 8 in normal, condensed, extended widths respectively), and an outline font based on Helvetica 75 Bold Outline (no Textbook or rounded fonts are available). Linotype distributes Neue Helvetica on CD. Neue Helvetica also comes in variants for Central European and Cyrillic text.

Helvetica World


Also called Helvetica Linotype, Helvetica World supports Arabic, Cyrillic, Greek, Hebrew, and Vietnamese scripts. The family consists of four fonts in 2 weights and 1 width, with complementary italics. The Arabic glyphs were based on a redesigned Yakout font family from Linotype. Latin kerning and spacing were redesigned to have consistent spacing. John Hudson of Tiro Typeworks designed the Hebrew glyphs for the font family, as well as the Cyrillic, and Greek letters.

Helvetica is among the most widely used sans-serif typefaces. Versions exist for the following alphabets/scripts: Latin, Cyrillic, Hebrew, Greek, Japanese, Korean, Hindi, Urdu, Khmer and Vietnamese. Chinese faces have been developed to complement Helvetica. Helvetica is a popular choice for commercial wordmarks, including those for Societe Generale, 3M, American Apparel, BMW, ECM, Jackass, Jeep, J. C. Penney, Kawasaki, Lufthansa, McDonald’s, Mitsubishi Electric, Motorola, Panasonic, Philippine Airlines, Target, University of Illinois at Chicago, and Verizon Wireless. Apple Inc. has used Helvetica widely in iOS (previously iPhone OS), and the iPod. The iPhone 4 uses Neue Helvetica.

Similar typefaces Generic versions of Helvetica have been made by various vendors, including Monotype Imaging (CG Triumvirate), ParaType (Pragmatica), Bitstream (Swiss 721), URW++ (Nimbus Sans), and Ray Larabie (Coolvetica). Monotype’s Arial, designed in 1982, while different from Helvetica in some few details, has identical character widths, and is indistinguishable by most non-specialists. The characters C, G, R, Q, 1, a, e, r, and t are useful for quickly distinguishing Arial and Helvetica. Differences include: Helvetica’s strokes are typically cut either horizontally or vertically. This is especially visible in the t, r, f, and C. Arial employs slanted stroke cuts. Helvetica’s G has a well-defined spur; Arial does not. The tail of Helvetica’s R is more upright whereas Arial’s R is more diagonal. The number 1 of Helvetica has a square angle underneath the upper spur, Arial has a curve. The Q glyph in Helvetica has a straight cross mark, while the cross mark in Arial has a slight snake-like curve. “Helv”, later known as “MS Sans Serif ”, is a sans-serif typeface that shares many key characteristics to Helvetica, including the horizontally and vertically aligned stroke terminators and more uniformed stroke widths within a glyph.

Helvetica is widely used by the U.S. government; for example, federal income tax forms are set in Helvetica, and NASA uses the type on the Space Shuttle orbiter. Helvetica is also used in the United States television rating system. The Canadian government also uses Helvetica as its identifying typeface, with three variants being used in its corporate identity program, and encourages its use in all federal agencies and websites. New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) uses Helvetica for many of its subway signs, but Helvetica was not adopted as the official font for signage until 1989. The standard font from 1970 until 1989 was Standard Medium, an Akzidenz Grotesk-like sans-serif, as defined by Unimark’s New York City Transit Authority Graphic Standards Manual. The MTA system is still rife with a proliferation of Helvetica-like fonts, including Arial, in addition to some old remaining signs in Medium Standard, and a few anomalous signs in Helvetica Narrow.

Washington’s WMATA uses Helvetica on its signage for Metrorail. The Chicago Transit Authority uses Helvetica on its signage for the Chicago ‘L’. The former state owned operator of the British railway system developed its own Helvetica-based Rail Alphabet font, which was also adopted by the National Health Service and the British Airports Authority. Additionally, it was also adopted by Danish railway company DSB for a time period. CNN used Helvetica as its main font for much of its history; they recently switched to Univers. The NBA on TNT used Helvetica from 2002–05; NBA on ABC used the font during the 2003-04 NBA season. CBS Sports programs have been using Helvetica since 2006, particularly during its broadcasts of the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament and the NFL. The U.S. adaptation of The Office uses Helvetica in its graphics. The computer interface design in the Star Trek: The Next Generation based series and movies called LCARS, created by Michael Okuda, uses Helvetica Ultra Compressed. The PBS 1970 - 1971 Logo uses Helvetica Bold. Starting with model year 1963 or ‘64 Studebaker began using Helvetica script on their dealership signs, commercials and the bases of their hood ornaments.

Max Miedinger


Helvetica is classidied as a Neo-Grotesque type. It was designed by Max Miedinger together with Eduard Hoffman in 1957at the Haas type foundry in Switzerland. Helvetica is based on the type Akzidenz Grotesk. The name Helvetica comes from the latin name for Switzerland which is Confoederatio Helvetica. Helvetica has become a very popular type worldwide, and is used on everything from logos to signage.



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