Typography

Why it is important to study the history of typography?

  • By studying history of typography we know how it is evolved from the simplest form to the complex typefaces. It gives information about the technology used at that time.
  • Alphabets were made and were improvised with time. Initially only uppercase letters were being used by typographers, but during Middle Age lower case, spacing and punctuation marks were introduced. During Renaissance letters were drawn with wide nib pens. Later, in 18th century typographers started using grid and compass for making straight and circular letters. Every typeface has a language of its own; by observing historic work of the typographers we learn what kind of typeface can be used to communicate what kind of message.  By studying their work and research, we know how we can improvise it. By knowing the history we can also predict the future.
  • In early times, printers used to do typographers works as well. Therefore, terms like ‘kerning’, ‘em space’, etc., have come from metal plate printing technology.
  • Typography is linked with histories of art, culture, architecture, commerce, science, technology, literature, and politics. For example, Mughal Architecture and their scripts (like Urdu and Arabic) have visible relationship; both have a lot of curves.

Why the human species began using symbols to communicate?

  • Symbol crosses language barrier and help in communicating. Symbols are assigned to all existing elements in science and they are also used for calculation in mathematics. They are used for traffic sign. Symbols like ‘first aid’, ‘no smoking’, ‘trash’, and ‘telephone’ are so common that nobody needs a training to understand them. Also, people who are unable to speak or listen can communicate through sign language.
  • They are also helpful in delivering messages at a distance. In early times, when there was no language symbols were used for communicating.
  • Symbols give precise information and sometimes can convey more than words. Logos of several companies have some kind of symbol which tells about their product. For example logo of ‘Tostitos’ has two guys sharing chips and salsa, ‘Amazon’ logo has an arrow in the bottom from a to z. there are several such examples. There are made keeping in mind that even if an uneducated person sees the product he would know what it is, he would not have to read the product description.

What is the power of the printed word?

  • Printed information is considered to be more reliable. What we read in newspaper we believe it more than what we hear from others. A written or documented confirmation is trusted more than a verbal one. Written words impact our more.
  • One an information is documented it can be shared easily and can be stored for future reference. This is the best way to pass information from one generation to other. People often make mistakes while passing information, they may, may not remember everything word to word. Therefore written information helps in verifying the facts.
  • Printed material can also be biased, as shown in most of the advertisements. Also, in political campaigns, truth is manipulated.