Saturday, 1 December 2012


Source: playtype

Communication is Typography:

Writing is where visual communication and spoken language meet. 

Typography can be summarised as a mixture of, meta-communication, paralinguistic features and kinesics. 

Meta-Communication is what indicates how verbal information should be interpreted, and how the surroundings to the verbal communication have meaning. It may support or contradict verbal communication, such as implicit communication that is not expressed with words.
Synonym: Tone of Voice
Source: wiktionary

Paralinguistic features refers to the non-verbal elements of speech emphasising how something is said, not what is being said. involving breaks, sighs, intonation, pitch, volume, pausing and tone of voice.
Source: wikipedia

Kinesics features refer to the way in which particular body movements and gestures serve as a form of nonverbal communication, and are regarded in a certain way.
Source: google

Type Classifications:

- Humanist/Blackletter
- Old Style
- Transitional
- Modern
- Slab Serif
- Sans Serif


Humansist type reflects the English Blackletter type family, with reflections of Roman type. It is easy to see how the type category has developed and improved over the years since it was originally designed in 1928.
Source: barrettcreates

Key features of Humanist type:

Sloping bar on the lowercase “e"
- Heavy weight to the font
- Poor contrast between the thick and thin strokes
- A wide set in the capitals
- Oblique, steeply sloped, heavy serifs
- Oblique stress
- Small x-height
- Long descenders

Due to the early development and the lack of knowledge about readability at the time, Humanist fonts are not as readable as Old Style faces like Garamond, Goudy, Palatino or Times New Roman which were not developed until later. The Complete Typographer by Christopher Perfect and Jeremy Austen had this to say about it:
"Shortly after Gutenberg’s invention of movable type in 1455, the first group of roman types, called Humanist, appeared in Italy during the 1460s and 1470s. […] The term “Humanist” derives from the 15th-century Italian humanistic handwriting on which these types were closely modeled. […] 
Humanist designs are not frequently used today for continuous text setting. Their heavy weight, wide set, and obtrusively large capitals considerably impair their legibility. In addition, the strong calligraphic influence make the letter shapes too irregular for continuous text reading. However, they are used extensively in advertisements and for small amounts of brochure copy." -- barrettcreates
Source: lateralaus
Easily definable features of a Humanist font, such as strong serifs with brackets, contrast in strokes and heavy, wide letters. 

This type family has reflections and similarities to calligraphy and calligraphic fonts. It is originally said to be a copy of Italian scholar's hand writing, showing a certain formal tone to it. 

Here is an example of the most recognisable Humanist font in circulation. Centaur was designed between 1928-1930, by Nicholas Jenson, Bruce Rodgers and Frederic Warde. It is designed for the Metropolitan Museum, and has an essence of Italian inscription. 

Source: myfonts

Source: ilovetypography

Old Style: 

Source: ilovetypography
A brief timeline showing the history of where old style fonts originated from. The first old style typeface, originated in Italy in 1495, spreading through Europe until it reached the English around 1725. Adobe Caslon was designed by William Caslon.

Source: identifont

Source: fontsplace
Transitional fonts:
Source: carriedils

Transitional fonts are at the mid-way point between Old Style fonts and Modern fonts.

They appeared in type history when calligraphy and handwritten style fonts were phased out.

Source: identifont
Times New Roman

Times New Roman was commissioned from Monotype Corporation by the Times newspaper of London in 1931. The design was based on research into legibility and readability, it has become one of the most widely used serif typefaces. It was designed by Stanley Morison and Victor Lardent in 1932.
Times New Roman and Baskerville are still very popular Old Style fonts, and are used widely across newspapers.

Modern fonts:

Modern type was a reaction against typography and design in the late 19th century. The Bauhaus produced many designers and typographers such as El Lissitzky and Herbert Bayer, who pushed this type style into modern times.

Source: nadinechicken

This font was designed by Herbert Bayer, in 1925.

The early modern fonts featured slim, simple lines, with set strokes and they were predominantly sans serif fonts.

Source: fubiz
Bauhaus catalog cover designed by Herbert Bayer. Bauhaus archives.

Colour began to be introduced into type and image, and reflected the changing social and political issues as well as the change in design between modernism and post-modernism.

Slab Serif: 

Source: designwoop

Slab Serif fonts are usually used for headlines and statements due to the clarity, boldness, readability and legibility. The serifs on the individual letterforms help to read bold type at a large point size, so the letterforms don't merge or blend together. 

Slab Serif fonts came around in the early 1800s, and were also known as Serif or Egyptian fonts. 

"Like the industrial revolution, the Slab Serif was born in Britain, and was no doubt inspired by a new wave of advertising, and those beefy letter forms that could be found on just about every billboard, pamphlet, and poster of the day. Until this time, type was designed to serve one purpose—it was designed for long stretches of texts, for books. But with mechanisation, and major innovations in printing technology (e.g. the Steam Press, 1814), advertisers in particular were looking for a type that stood out from crowd; a type that shouted, look at me! Thus was born the the display face—type for use at large sizes, for short bursts of copy.
…there is sometimes a lack of understanding of the fundamental difference between types designed for display and types meant for text. The difference can be expressed as a maxim: text types when enlarged can be used for headings; display types, if reduced, cannot be used for text setting.—Walter Tracy**
Those posters were a riot of big type, often a half-dozen different styles on a single page.   They were designed to be noticed." -- ilovetypography
Sans Serif:
Source: tipsaquirrel

The first half of 20th century is the end of the Modern era, the moment when revived typefaces were flooding the typography mainstream.  But it was also the time when a completely different font design was booming, called sans serif (which is French for "without serifs").  It wasn't an absolutely new idea at that time, since first sans serif faces had appeared in the beginning of 19th century; but never before this seemingly peripheral and exotic trend claimed so much importance as in 1920s and 30s.

They were also called 'Grotesk' fonts, and Helvetica became the most important Sans Serif font in history.

Helvetica is a widely used sans-serif typeface developed in 1957 by Swiss typeface designer Max Miedinger with Eduard Hoffmann. -- wikipedia

Some fonts however can be so similar, that there was uproar as to the differences between Arial and Helvetica, kick starting the sans serif trend. Used still to this day very often for bodycopy.