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History of Typography

Fonts are a very important element in any successful design. Typography is the way letters look and how they are arranged together, and in the wide world of design, there are thousands of fonts available for our use that can be bought online. Typography has a massive effect, and it can speak louder than words. The use of good typography will make a successfully completed design, and bad use will determine a design as well.

A question: Where did all these fonts come from?

In ancient civilizations, hieroglyphs were used as a fundamental form of communication, and as time passed, images were transformed into alphabets, which evolved to reach the form we know today. Ancient cave painting has been dated back to 20,000 B.C., which is probably the first record of written communication. It is believed that around 3,500 B.C., Sumerians developed formal writing, and after hundreds of years, the Phoenicians had their own writing form, and because they conducted trade via boat, they introduced it to the Mediterranean world. After about 100 years, Greeks developed the alphabet. The word alphabet is a combination of the first two Greek letters, Alpha and Beta. During the middle ages, the writing was developed, and a wide range of writing styles proliferated.

In the 15th century, Johannes Gutenberg developed a printing press, which transformed the world and typography. With this innovation, typography was all about communication with the public through signs, posters, newspapers, and other printed material. Typefaces needed to better appeal to viewers, so they became bolder and had shading, and people experimented mostly with serif and sans serif typefaces.

Today, graphic designers have the tools and technology to create typographic designs to serve their clients, and with the knowledge of typographic history, designers can feel confident in their work.

Over the decades, typography has been changed and expanded to be a more effective means of communication. Nowadays, most people have access to different fonts and typefaces through technology, which used to be limited to a small group of people, and many talented designers raised in the field using technology and unique techniques in their works like Alex Trochut, Christopher Wool, Craig Ward, and others. The well-known designer, Wim Crouwel, is a Dutch graphic designer who created a typeface called ’New Alphabet’ in 1967.

Typography has evolved over the centuries from painting to characters, and it has become an integral part of the modern lives we live in now. These days I see typography used in all places, grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants, roads, and many others. But I think as time pass, people will start to pay more attention to the quality and will try to improve their choices.


Works Cited

“A Brief History of Typography and Its Role in Design.” Martin Blog, 11 Dec. 2013, Accessed 10-26-2016.

“The Evolution of Typography.” InfoAmerica, n.d., Accessed 10-26-2016.

Rabinowitz, Tova. Exploring Typography: An In-depth Guide to the Art & Techniques of Contemporary Typography. Thomson Delmar Learning, 2006.

Siebert, John. “The Evolution of Typography: A Brief History.” Printmag, 10 June 2015, Accessed 10-26-2016.


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