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“There is no design without discipline. There is no discipline without intelligence.” Massimo Vignelli

“When Allen Lane founded Penguin in 1935 he had a pretty simple, but pretty radical idea: make great literature available to everyone at an affordable price and for it to appeal not just to the wallet, but to literary taste and the eye, with beautifully designed jackets and style,” John Makinson.



Penguin was founded in 1935 by Allen Lane. Lane was waiting in Exeter Lane Station looking for something to read. He soon realised that all he could find were reprints of 19th Century novels. In 1934 he decided that he wanted to found a publishing house, producing well designed and visually pleasing paperbacks sold at a sixpence each - the same price as a packet of cigarettes at the time. Penguin books shortly became the first mass-market paperbacks in Britain. It began as an imprint of the Bodley head, republishing existing works of fiction and non-fiction. Within a year it became its own separate company which began to form its own, unique, visual identity alongside ‘commisionig new writing, launching new series and redifining the boundaries of publishing.’


The Birth of Penguin

Allen Lane (source:




The basic horizontal tripitite division of the covers, as well as the penguin itself, were devised by Edward Young, who became the company’s first Production Manager. A basic horizontal grid divided the front cover into a clearer type hierachy. Each cover was divded into three bands. The top band was for the name of the Publisher: Penguin Books. This was most commonly written using Gill Sans but occasionally also Bodoni Ultra Bold - a faux nineteeth-century revival. The second and third bands were used for the remainder of the front cover and spine information. Apart from the Publisher’s name, all text was dispayed in two weights of Gill Sans - a relatively new typeface at the time. Although the imprint was Penguin Books the publisher was The Bodley Head, whose name remained on the front cover for 80 titles until Pengin became a company of its own.


Horizontal Grids

Still She Wished For Company: Dustjacket 1937

Flying Dutchman 1938




Edward Young devised a simple colour coding system during the early years of Penguin. Each variation mainly remained it the suggested 3-band horizontal grid. The key difference was the colour representing a specific genre, theme or interest.

The Gun 1939


The Complete Angler 1939

Colour Variations

Some covers occasionally included small illustrations relevant to their story. At this time, Penguin Book titles were using a mixture of type size, weight and kerning. This arguably made the books lack the strength of consistency they could have potentially achieved.

Lawrence of Arabia/ Zionism and Palestine 1940

A Room of One’s Own 1945


Colour Variations

Siamese White 1940


Murder By Burial 1943

Colour Variations

The colours on the covers were used to indicate subject matter. Initially the colours meant as follows: - crime dark blue - biography cerise - travel and advenure red - plays green

This was an aspect of the design which remained prominent for far longer than the original design.The colour coding made it easier for readers to define their choice of book through genre.As the horizontal grid was still implemented throughout these colour variations, they still appear consistent and visually pleasing. The cover colour variations were ideal because they were bold, eyecatching and easily recognisable.




Lane’s secretary suggested Penguin as a “dignified, but flippant” name for the company and the office junior Edward Young was sent to sketch the penguins at London Zoo as its logotype. Young was then asked to design the covers of the first set of ten paperbacks to be published in summer 1935 including Ariel and A Farewell to Arms. Considering illustrated book covers to be trashy, Lane insisted on his following a simple horizontal grid for Penguin’s jackets in colours that signified the genre of each book: orange for fiction, green for crime, and blue for biography.

Right: Initial logo sketches

The logo devloped a vast amount over 70years.Although new ideas were often introduced, the logo seemed to continue alternating back to the older, initial designs.


Edward Young

“It started with the simple logo and name, suggested, allegedly, by a typist who was earwigging the board meeting. Allen had already hit upon the idea of an animal logo, inspired by the template offered by the contemporary publishing house The Albatross Library. “It was the obvious answer, a stroke of genius,” said Penguin’s original designer, Edward Young. “I went straight off to the zoo to spend the rest of the day drawing penguins in every pose.”The clear logo was matched with the archetypal modern, but not too scarily modern, typeface, Gill Sans, and the now classic three-band cover, with colours related to the subject: orange for fiction, dark blue for biography, etc.” Edward Young (Quoted from the Guardian)








1946 11

Logo Development

The original logos were generated by Edward Young in 1935 when he was asked to draw rough sketches of penguins at London Zoo.

Two years later in 1937, the Penguin logo’s flippers and feet were extended in length and the Penguin is turned to face in the opposite direction to the original logo. The logo was then flipped back to face the original direction in 1938. There are clear visual elements taken from both previous logos, however the white lines on the flippers were removed. In 1945 there was a more dramatic change in the style of the logo. The Prenguin was again flipped to face the opposite direction, but also lifting its right leg in the air. This caused the Penguin to look asthough it was dancing.

One year later, the logo returned back to styles more similar to the1935 and 1938 versions. 12

Logo Development





1987 13

Logo Development

Between 1947-1948 the logo showed a vast amount of experimental variation. Each logo was slightly unique yet they all linke together in some shape or form.

During 1948, the dancing penguin was appeared again. The two variations were slightly similar to the 1945 versions of this logo.

The 1949 logo was more resemblent of the 1938 version. These later designs are very similar to one another. In 1950 there was a completely new approach to the logo design. This logo featured a series of joint lines within the penguin

itself. This design was far more intricate than any previous versions of the logo.

The logo was not developed for another thirty seven years. In 1987 the logo returned back to a style much closer to the 1949 version. 14

Logo Development


Logo Development


The final logo, chosen in 2003, was based on Jan Tschichold’s 1946 version. The 2003 version shown to the left is still currently used in 2013. This logo was adapted and refined by Pentagram‘s Angus Hyland. The colour scheme used within the logo itself and the orange oval border surrounding it resembles the main theme of Tschichold’s classic Penguin book cover designs.



1947- 9

The bold use of colour gave Penguin a strong sence of identity and overall apprearance to begin with. The company then strengthened its design ethos under the direction of the German typographer Jan Tschichold (19021974) during the 1940s. Tschichold’s main goals included the implementation of a consistent look and feel across all Penguin books. Initially Tschichold assessed the current design methods of Penguin books current at the time. He soon began to define a list of elements which required attention. These included aspects such as type, layout and alignment. Tschichold’s alterations to the Penguin book covers were simple but effective. By implementing a strict set of rules, the covers became noticeably more consistent. Tschichold was the best Typographer of his time and had been strongly influenced by Swiss modernist styles. His rules and layouts portray a modernist approach to the new Penguin style. Tschichold’s rules are still present in modern day. The impact of his work for Penguin books has remained prominent for almost 75years.


Jan Tschichold

Sans serif, looked at in detail, is admittedly capable of improvement, but there is no doubt that it is the basic form from which the typeface of the future will grow. Other individual expressive possibilities of type have nothing to do with typography. Jan Tschichold

Image Source:


JAN TSCHICHOLD’S COMPOSITION RULES: TEXT COMPOSITION All text composition should be as closely wordspaced as possible. As a rule, the spacing should be about a middle space or thickness of an ‘i’ in the type size used. Wide spaces should be strictly avoided.Words may be freely broken whenever necessary to avoid wide spacing, as breaking words is less harmful to the appearance of the page than too much space between words. All major punctuation marks - full point, colon, and semicolon should be followed by the same spacing as is used throughout the rest of the line.



Jan Tschichold’s Compostion Rules

INDENTING OF PARAGRAPHS The indent of a paragraph should be the em of the fount body. Omit indents in the first line of the first paragraph of any text and at the beginning of a new section that comes under a a sub-heading. It is not necessary to set the first word in small capitals, but if this is done for any reason, the word should be letter-spaced in the same way as the running title. If a chapter is divided into serval parts without headings, these parts should be divided not only by an additional space, but always by one or more asterisks of the fount body. As a rule, one asterisk is sufficient.Without them it is not possible to see whether a part ends at the bottom of a page or not. Even when the last line of such a part ends the page, there will always be space for an asterisk in the bottom margin


Jan Tschichold’s Compostion Rules

PUNCTUATION MARKS AND SPELLING If this can be done on the keyboard, put thin spaces before question marks, exclamation marks, colons and semicolons. Between initials and names, as in G. B. Shaw and after all abbreviations where a full point is used, use a smaller (fixed) space than between the other words in the line. Instead of em rules without spaces, use en rules preceded and followed by the word space of the line, as in the third paragraph above. Marks of omission should consist of three bullet points. These should be set without any spaces, but be preceded and followed by word spaces. Use full points sparingly, and omit after these abbreviations: Mr, Mrs, Messrs, Dr, St,WC2, 8vo, and others containing the last letter of the abbreviated word. Use single quotes for a first quotation and double quotes for quotations within quotations. If there is still another quotation within the second, return to single quotes.


Jan Tschichold’s Compostion Rules

PUNCTUATION MARKS AND SPELLING Punctuation belonging to a quotation belongs within the quotes, otherwise outside. Opening quotes should be followed by a hairspace except before A and J. Closing quotes should be preceded by a hairspace except after a comma or a full point. If this cannot be done on the keyboard, omit these hairspaces, but try to get the necessary attatchment. When long extracts are set in small type do not use quotes. Use parentheses () for explanation and interpolations: brackets [] for foot notes.


Jan Tschichold’s Compostion Rules

CAPITALS, SMALL CAPITALS AND ITALICS Words in capitals must always be letter-spaced. The spacing of the capitals in lines of importance should be very carefully optially equalized. The word spaces in lines either of capitals or small capitals should not exceed an en quad. All display lines set in the same fount should be given the same spacing throughout the book. Use small capitals for running headlines in contents pages. They must always be slightly letter-spaced to make words legible. Running headlines, unless otherwise stated, should consist of the title of the book on the left-hand page, and the contents of the chapter on the right. Italics are to be used for emphasis for foreign words and phrases, and for the titles of the books, newspapers, and plays which appear in the text. In such cases the definite article ‘The’ should be printed in Roman, unless it is part of the title itself. In bibliographical and related matter, as a rule, authors’ name should be given in small capitals with capitals, and the titles in italics.


Jan Tschichold’s Compostion Rules

FIGURES Do not mix old style text composition with modern face figures. Either hanging or ranging figures may be used if they are cut in the fount used for the text. In text matter, numbers under 100 should be composed in letters. Use figures when the matter consists of a sequence of stated quantities, particulars of age, &c. In dates use the fewest possible figures, 1946-7, not 1946-1947. Divide by an en rule without spaces.


Jan Tschichold’s Compostion Rules

REFERENCES AND FOOTNOTES The reference to a footnote may be given by an asterisk of the fount body, if there are only a few footnotes in the book, and not more than one per page. But if there are two or more footnotes per page, use superior fraction figures preceded by a thin space. Do not use modern face fraction figures in any old style fount. Either hanging or ranging fraction figures may be used provided that they are in harmony with the face used for the text. For books composed in any old face letter, we recommend Monotype Superior Figures F627, to be cast on the size two points below the size of the face used. Footnotes should be set two points smaller than the text. Indent the first line of these with the same number of points as the paragraphs in the text matter. Use equal leading between all lines of footnotes, use the same leading as in the text matter, and put 1-2 point lead underneath the last line in order to get register with the normal lines.


Jan Tschichold’s Compostion Rules

REFERENCES AND FOOTNOTES For the numbering of footnotes use normal figures followed by a full point and an en quad. These figures may run either throughout the chapter, or even through the whole book, according to the special instructions given by the typographer.


Jan Tschichold’s Compostion Rules

FOLIOS These should, as a rule, be set in the same size and face as the text, and in Arabic numerals. Pagination should begin with the first leaf in the book, but the first folio actually appearing is that on the verso of the first page of the text. When there is preliminary matter whose extent is unknown at the time of making up the text into pages, it is necessary to use lower-case roman numerals, numbered from the first page of the first sheet. The first actually appearing cannot be definitely stated, but may be on the acknowledgments page, or at latest on the second page of the preface. In this case, the first Arabic folio to appear will be ‘2’ on the verso of the first text page. Folios for any text matter at the end of the book, such as index etc., should continue the Arabic numbering of the text pages.


Jan Tschichold’s Compostion Rules

THE PRINTING OF PLAYS The same rules should apply to the printing of plays as to the printing of prose. Names of characters should be set in capitals and small capitals. The text following is indented. Stage directions should be in italics, enclosed in square brackets. The headline should include the number of the act and the scene.


Jan Tschichold’s Compostion Rules

THE PRINTING OF POETRY For printing poetry use type of a smaller size than would be used for prose. All composition should be leaded and the words evenly spaced with middle spaces. The titles should be centred on the measure, not on the first line. The beginning of each poem may be treated as a chapter opening, with small capitals, etc. Extra leading, especially between verses of irregular length, may often be misleading, as it is impossible to see whether the verse ends at the bottom of the page or not. The safest way of recognizing the poet’s intention is to indent the first line of every new verse, after which leading is not really necessary. Therefore, the first line of the second and following verses should be indented, unless the poet has indicated a shape not allowing for indentations.


Jan Tschichold’s Compostion Rules

MAKE-UP Books should, with certain exceptions, be made up in the following order: I. Preliminary pages: 1, half title; 2, frontispiece; 3, title; 4, Imprint or date of publication; 5, dedication; 6, acknowledgments; 7, contents; 8, list of illustrations; 9, list of abbreviations; 10, preface; 11, introduction; 12, errata. II. The text of the book. III. Additional matter: 1. appendix; 2. author’s notes; 3. glossary; 4. bibliography; 5. index. The above should each begin on a right-hand page, imprint and frontispiece excepted. As a rule, chapter headings should be dropped a few lines. The preliminary pages should be set in the same face and style as the book itself. Avoid bold faces. The index should be set in two or more columns and in type two points smaller than the text. The first word of each letter of the alphabet should be set in small capitals with capitals.




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