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  • Typography Classification

    Core Concepts: Typography Classification

    ■ 19C printers sought a means of classifying type to parallel art and history classification systems

    ■ type classification is determined by historic/technology trends

    ■ 20/21Century designers continue to design new typefaces based on historical characteristics (revivals)

    ■ any classification system must be widely recognized by professionals forming a basis of shared understanding

    Further Study

    ■ Planet Typography Families http://www.planet-typography.com/manual/families.html

    ■ Adobe http://www.adobe.com/browser/classifcations.htm

    ■ I Love Typography (Classification series in four parts) http://ilovetypography.com/2007/11/21/type-terminology-old-style/

    http://ilovetypography.com/2007/11/21/type-terminology-humanist-2/

    http://ilovetypography.com/2007/11/21/type-terminology-transitional- type//

    http://ilovetypography.com/2008/05/30/a-brief-history-of-type-part-4/- transitional-type/

    ■ Typophile http://www.typophile.com

    ■ Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VOX-ATypi-classification

    Emily Carr University of Art + Design Continuing Studies

    Introduction to Typography Instructor: Linda Coe, BDes, FGDC

    Student Notes © 2004 – 2019 Linda Coe Type Classification 1

    Textbook: Thinking With Type: pages 13 – 33

    Glossary C

    Cap height

    Capline

    Capitals (caps)

    Centre align

    Centered

    Chancery italic

    Character

    Character count

    Character set

    Character space

    Chase

    Clarendons

    Closed up

    Colour

    Column

    Compressed

    Condensed

    Contrast

    Counter

    Crossbar

    Curly quotes

    Cursive

  • Type Classification

    Typefaces are classified into between eight and twelve categories/ subcategories according to their particular characteristics. Given the ever expanding collection of typefaces, a precise taxonomy—one that allows for expansion, comprehensiveness, adaptability, correction is yet to be devised.

    During the 19C printers sought a means of classifying type to parallel art and history classification systems. Humanist typefaces take their forms from calligraphic styles and were born in the Renaissance period. Those typefaces in the Oldstyle, Transitional and Modern categories are less organic; more abstract in their shape. They come to us from the baroque and Enlightenment periods.

    As technology improved so, too, grew the finesse with which type forms were produced. It is possible to follow the development of typography through the emulation of handwriting, carved stone columns and increas- ingly dexterous machinery to the digital forms we have today.

    Maximillien Vox proposed a classification system in 1954 adopted by the Association Typographique Internationale (ATypI) and widely used today. Several new category names were derived for the international audience (see sidebar).

    The first four Vox categories are based upon historic forms. The subse- quent five categories are based upon their appearance after which a further three terms categorize those faces based on the processes or tools that shaped their visual design.

    ■ Humanist (Venetian)

    ■ Old Style (Geralde)

    ■ Transitional (Reales)

    ■ Modern (Didone)

    ■ Slab Serif (Egyptian)

    ■ Sans Serif (Lineales): Humanist, Geometric, Grotesque

    ■ Glyphic (Flare Serif)

    ■ Script, Italic, Chancery

    ■ Decorative/Ornamental

    ■ Blackletter

    ■ Hybrids/Other (eg Solex by Zuzana Licko, Sauna by Underware, and Beowulf by LettError)

    The classifying of typefaces is fraught with inconsistency and confusing, overlapping terms: eg Gothic is used to identify Blackletter faces, but the

    Emily Carr University of Art + Design Continuing Studies

    Introduction to Typography Instructor: Linda Coe, BDes, FGDC

    Student Notes © 2004 – 2019 Linda Coe Type Classification 2

    The Vox System

    The Vox system created a few new names for groupings for the international audience;

    Geralde: GARamond/ALDus (Manutius)

    Didone: DIDot/BodONI

    *Texts on type vary in the description of the type classification system. Some systems distribute the typeface designs into more sub groups than others.

    Note, too, the names of the categories vary (for example, Humanist is often referred to as Venetian as the designs originated in Italy).

    A great many people have

    never set eyes on a well-

    formed typeface. — Jan Tschichold

  • term is also used to describe a sans serif face in the US; the class Didone, Modern and Bodoni are synonymous. Clarendon is a term for bracketed slab serif faces in general; Humanist describes serif faces designed from a Venetian model—and is also used to describe classic sans serif faces!

    Revival type designs over the centuries—some faithful reconstructions and others new designs—have evolved and multiplied as new technologies arose.

    Many individuals have attempted to create a practical method for identi- fying and classifying type designs. However, designing type follows no set pattern or rulebook. Particularly true of the contemporary digital period we find ourselves in. Many new designs are combinations of two—or more—styles. The Vox system (or an adaptation of it) remains the most useful.

    Some contemporary typeface designs defy even the most thorough type classification system. This may be because the letter forms do not have sufficient identifiable characteristics or those that they do have cross cate- gories. These faces may be composed of some classical features or be made up of digital media—or both.

    These faces are designed for specialty use so one could consider them “display faces.” They should not typically be used for text settings as their unfamiliarity slow reading considerably. They often provoke intense dis- cussion and debate and are a medium of spirited play and experimentation.

    Examples include hybrid designs such as Fudoni, by Max Kisman and Prorotype by Jonathan Barnbrook

    Emily Carr University of Art + Design Continuing Studies

    Introduction to Typography Instructor: Linda Coe, BDes, FGDC

    Student Notes © 2004 – 2019 Linda Coe Type Classification 3

    An Historical Overview

    Renaissance: 15th & 16th centuries

    Baroque: 17th century

    Neoclassical: 18th century

    Romantic: 18th & 19th centuries

    Realist: 19th & early 20th centuries

    Geometric Modernist: 20th century

    Lyrical Modernist: 20th century

    Postmodernist: Late 20th century

    A COMPARISON OF TYPOGRAPHY CLASSIFICATION SYSTEMS

    Vox British US French German Other

    Medieves Blackletter Text — Gebrochene Schriften Gothic

    Garaldes Old face Old Style Elzevir Antiqua —

    Lineales Sans serif Gothic Antique Grotesk Grotesque

    Mécanes Slab serif — Egyptienne Egyptienne —

  • Stempel Schneidler ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz 1234567890

    Berkeley Old Style ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz 1234567890

    ■ Humanist (Venetian) derived from 15th century Italian humanist handwriting/calligraphic form

    ■ first group of Roman typefaces (evolved after Gutenberg’s invention of movable type)

    ■ flourished in Italy during the 1460s and 1470s

    ■ revived by William Morris and the private press movement

    Characteristics

    ■ poor and gradual contrast between thick/thin strokes

    ■ oblique stress

    ■ slanted bar on the lowercase e; descending cap J tail

    ■ slanted ascender foot serifs on lowercase letters

    ■ caps and ascenders same height

    ■ serifs heavy and steeply sloped

    ■ the set of the letters is generally wide

    ■ type is heavy in weight and appearance

    Examples include:

    Berkeley Old Style, Centaur, Cloister, Deepdene, Golden, Jenson, Kennerley, Stempel Schneidler

    Emily Carr University of Art + Design Continuing Studies

    Introduction to Typography Instructor: Linda Coe, BDes, FGDC

    Student Notes © 2004 – 2019 Linda Coe Type Classification 4

    O e Th Je A

  • Caslon ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz 1234567890

    Palatino ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz�1234567890

    ■ Old Style (Garalde) first cut by Francesco Griffo for De Aetna (published by Aldus Manutius, 1495) the basis for all Roman types cast in the 16th and 17th centuries and early 18th century (Italy, France, England and the Netherlands)

    ■ displays some of the same characteristics as humanist typefaces, but the pen-formed shapes are more refined

    ■ the first italic typestyles were created in 1501: Aldine Italic (Aldine Press, Aldus Manutius) they were compressed, sloping faces, quite calligraphic, to save space on the page

    ■ 17th century punchcutters took the French Old Style models and enlarged the x-height and increased the contrast between the thick/thin strokes

    Characteristics

    ■ sharply cut, economical faces

    ■ slanted stress

    ■ medium weight and contrast between thick/thin strokes

    ■ lowercase letters have oblique ascenders and foot serifs

    ■ bracketed serifs, lighter than Humanist faces

    ■ horizontal crossbar on the lowercase e

    ■ caps are usually shorter than lowercase letters