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Indices: Terminology: Contrast

Relative measure between thick and thin strokes of a letterform.

Originally produced by the angle of the brush or pen nib, contrast was retained through the advent of mechanical type design and greatly exaggerated in the work of Didot and Bodoni. It was later almost completely eradicated in sans serif designs of the early twentieth century.


Indices : Terminology : Sort

Within a handset typecase each compartment is considered a sort. The term is also used to describe the contents of such compartment.

Trivia: When a typesetter is missing certain letters needed to finish a job they are “out of sorts.”


Indices : Latin

1. A language first spoken by the Latins in ancient Italy. Associated with the rise of the city of Rome and its later empire.

2. A reference to peoples of Central and South America, their languages, and their cultures.

3. A term for languages that use the Roman Alphabet.

4. A style of Serif, namely, ones of the triangular, pointed variety.

Roman Alphabet

The alphabet used by the Romans. Sometimes called Latin, the Latin Alphabet, or Roman (see Alphabets).

The Roman’s picked up the concept of an alphabet either, directly or indirectly, from the Greeks during the eigth century BC. Over time, they would evolve it into what we now think of as capital or Uppercase letters. The Roman alphabet reached its final form sometime during the Republican era, although serifs would be added a bit later.

By the reign of the Emperor Trajan in the second century AD, the alphabet had certainly long been “finished”. Nethertheless, letters would later be added to it during the Middle Ages (W and Z, for instance).


Indices : History : Trajan

Trajan 1: Marcus Ulpius Traianus. Born 53 AD. Died 117 AD. Roman Emperor from 98–117 (during which point the Empire would reach it’s greatest extent).

Indices : Typefaces : Trajan

Trajan 2: A typeface designed in 1989 by Carol Twombly for Adobe.

Trajan, i.e., the lettered inscription on the base of Trajan’s Column in Rome, is often regarded as one of the best models of the Imperial Roman alphabet. Trajan’s Column was erected by the Senate and People of Rome as a memorial the Emperor Marcus Ulpius Traianus’ wars, which slightly extended the Empire’s frontiers even further into “barbarian” territory than it had already been.


Indices : Vyaz’

Vyaz’ is a decorative style of Cyrillic Calligraphy characterised by tall, condensed and interlocking letters forming a dense and continous band of text. The style originated in Byzantine (Greek) books in the 11th century, and is related to the style of Greek Uncial lettering employed in Orthodox icons. It spread in Russia and flourished particularly in the 16th century. Three kinds of interlocking are typically found in vyaz’ lettering: stem ligation in which adjacent letters share a common stem, letters or parts of letters stacked vertically, and enclosure of smaller letters within larger ones.

David John Earls

David John Earls is a graphic designer based in London (a small polluted backwards city in ­western Europe), and the author of Designing Typefaces, a book published by RotoVision. He considers it a personal quest to persuade owners of his book to burn its detestable dust jacket.

In 1999, David Earls founded, which has since that time offered impartial and non-commercial writing on matters type.


Indices : Typefaces : Souvenir

The original Souvenir was drawn by Morris Fuller Benton and released by ATF in 1914. It appears, in a single weight only, in the famed 1923 ATF catalog. It has a distinctive “warm and fuzzy” look, and is probably one of the softest typefaces ever to have wide popularity.

The most common version today is the 1970 interpretation, drawn by Ed Benguiat for International Typeface Corporation. When ITC was formed, Souvenir was one of their first releases for phototype. With its large x-height, soft round curves, and clean design, ITC Souvenir Light closely follows Benton’s original, which anticipated their design philosophy nearly sixty years earlier. Ed Benguiat changed a few details and expanded the concept to a family of four weights in both roman and italic. ITC Souvenir became hugely popular, and many people associate it with the design aesthetic of the ’70s and of early ITC types in particular.

Johannes Gutenberg

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Indices : Johannes Gutenberg

Johannes Gutenberg

(circa 1398 - Feb 3, 1468) Inventor of the Letterpress printing technique using metal alloy movable type and a press. He is accredited with producing the first western book using this technique, the “42-Line” (aka “Mainz” or “Gutenberg”) Bible. His letterpress printing technique was an amalgam of different technologies available at the time including wine presses and metal alloys.

See also Johann Gutenberg

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Indices : Concepts : Readerability

A portmanteau referring to adaptive pattern recognition skills and cognitive processes applied to reading, which enable humans to read proficiently in a great variety of writing systems, type styles, media, reproduction qualities and environmental conditions.

“The mass of everyday experiential evidence indicates that readerability matters much more to the reading process than the readability of what is read.” – John Hudson

Shinn vs. Papazian Challenge