TYPOGRAPHY SKILLS / History and Terminology / Term 3, Week 1

In today’s class, we had an intense recap on the history of typography – how symbols were used to signify things, creation of cuneiform, development of sounds to phonetic, transformation from symbols to letters and eventually the Roman alphabets that we use today.

The root stems from cave drawings from back in 25,000 BC, where cavemen drew symbols representative to the things/objects. These symbols, or more accurately referred to as pictographs, would be the earliest way of identifying things through method other than sound, as well as to record stories and ideas. In 3000 BC, Sumerians created cuneiform, the first left-to-right reading system ever created. As the society grew, there was the need to represent ideas and concepts in addition to just objects seen by naked eye which caused ideograms to emerge. Ideograms were more difficult to understand because unlike pictographs, ideograms are symbolic rather than pure representation of a form. From this point onward, society began to split in halves – those who understood ideograms, and those who didn’t.

The way of communication between people became more diverse as society expanded and not long, the need for another system was required. As civilisation became more developed, the world needed a more complex and perhaps more concrete system of communication. Mouth to mouth communication was not reliable enough and was impossible to be recorded for future generation, pictographs and ideograms alone were not sufficient for the developing world to fully communicate their situation, conditions and ideas. A system of writing which represents speech voices was created to counter the problem and expanded communicating possibilities, and we know them today as Phonetics. Due to phonetics, Romans were able to create alphabets, A-Z, which is the writing system that we know today.


Exercise 1: Book of Type Terminology

This exercise requires us to create a small booklet containing terminologies used in typography which needs to be interesting enough to read despite of the heavy text content. Throughout the whole booklet, we need to choose one out of the five classic typefaces (Garamond, Baskerville, Bodoni, Century, Helvetica) to use. Layout and typesetting will play very important roles in making the booklet enjoyable to read. We will also need to feature artwork from design books that shows how the terminology is applied in the design.

This time around, I’m trying to be more experimental with my layout, paying less regards to inside & outside margin, tighten up the leading, etc. I’ll need to test print this (hopefully by this weekend) to see whether it looks as legible on physical form as it is on the screen.

I picked the modern typeface, Bodoni for my booklet. Influenced by Didot typeface, Bodoni’s stark contrast among the strokes make it look particularly stylish. The font looks formal enough but not too polite to be uninteresting.

Artworks found from design books that show the type terminologies:


To compliment the typeface I chose, the layout I did so far for the booklet is modern, quite minimalist with irregular placements of texts that I’m experimenting on. I try to involve the featured artwork with the terminology’s meaning & example (rather than just having it placed on the same/opposite page) by connecting them with line (some function as pointers). I haven’t decided on the book cover yet, but I’ll probably experiment with piling up letters on top of each other, playing at their sizes, widths and weights.

Sketches of book cover

Moodboard for book layout & cover

moodboard book cover layout


17/6/16 Work in progress of the layout so far:


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