Typography has an ancient history. The word comes from two Greek words. The first is ‘typos’, which means ‘form or impression’. The second word is ‘graphos’ or ‘graphein’, which means ‘to write’. The combined word was first used to describe the creation of coin faces of money. Punches and dies were used by the ancient artisans to create currency from metal as well as seals of all types. Typography is the art and science of creating reusable type-faces that allow the Typographer to render a language and a design to be fully visible in its entirety. Presentation is all important in modern business management and in-fact all human activity. Typography is essential for all written presentation, and that is why it is important to know — What is Typography?
Some Historical Facts
Typography was known first, in the modern sense, in Greece, around B.C. 1850-1600. A ‘Phaistos Disk’ was used to create the same features repeatedly with the use of punches and dies. This was mainly used to create currencies and seals. Language symbols were permanently carved on-to the disk. The specific symbols required, in whatever sequence, would then be pressed on-to the paper or other printing material to create an exactly repeatable message. It was China that first invented Movable Type, and developed both wooden and ceramic components. Medieval Europe used single letter tiles to create Wall Lettering, which was also quite laborious. Finally, in the 15th century Europe, Johannes Gutenberg invented the first Metal Movable Type. Individual letter punches were repeatedly used in wax, inked and the material to be printed, like paper, was placed over the composed type face and placed in a hand press. This speeded up printing immensely. Gutenberg Bible is the first example of this revolution. Developments and refinements of this technology continued, until electronically controlled high speed Offset Presses took over the bulk of typography applications. Finally in the latter half of the 20th century, Digital technology further revolutionized Printing and with it Typography.
Traditional Typography slowly developed standardized ‘Fonts’. Fonts were described by specialized terms, such as Spine, Serifs, Stem, Ligature, Terminal, Ascender, Descender etc. ‘Kerning’ is a word used to describe spacing of letters. Type-face is an important part of Traditional Typography and involves ‘style’ and ‘tone’ of the Font. Typography was an art form until the Digital Age completely standardized Typography. Modern Typography of the Digital Age relieved the Typographer from the pressures of uniquely creating each type-face design. This was now the domain of Software and Programs. Graphic designers can develop fonts independently now as seen here. Adobe Design Standard is right now the universal standard for all digitized Typography.
Projecting Ideas Through Typography
Typography is one of the ways of projecting ideas to others and to convince others by the style and content of your messages. In order to be able to master the medium of the written word and visual presentation, it is important to know — What is Typography? Both as a science and an art, Typography still holds a central position in conveying concepts and messages to each-other in Human Society.