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Typography: The Origins of Type

Mark-Anthony Karam
September 09, 2012

Typography: The Origins of Type

The basics of typography starts with understanding the origins of type and the alphabet. In this presentation, viewers will get a brief summary of ancient forms of the alphabet and it's evolution.

Mark-Anthony Karam

September 09, 2012

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  1. Basics of Typography The art of designing type began in

    the West around 1455 when Johannes Gutenberg perfected the craft of printing from individual pieces of type. From this early technology, we have derived a great deal of our current terminology. In this section, we will become familiar with typographic terms and measurements that will help us communicate our ideas clearly and efficiently with type.
  2. Origins of Type Typography begins with the twenty-six letters in

    our alphabet. Each character and symbol is composed of sound, which was derived thousands of years ago. However, ancient forms of the alphabet did not represent sound. They represented pictures of things that stood for ideas.
  3. Origins of Type Pictographs: At some point, people began communicating

    visually. They made drawings of things that existed in their World – people, animals, tools and weapons, for example. OX House
  4. Origins of Type Ideographs: As the need for more abstract

    thoughts developed, pictographs started to take on multiple meanings. The symbol for Ox could also mean "Food". Ideographs became a combination of different pictographs that represented ideas. *(Skull & Crossbones)
  5. Origins of Type Phoenician Alphabet: Around 1200 B.C.E., a new

    concept of written communication evolved, which used symbols to represent sounds rather than ideas or objects. Aleph Beth
  6. Origins of Type Greek Alphabet: The Greek civilization adopted the

    Phoenician alphabet around 800 B.C. E. They began to alter the names of the letters such as Aleph to Alpha and Beth to Beta. They also added 5 vowels to the alphabet. Alpha Beta
  7. Origins of Type Roman Alphabet: Just as the Greeks altered

    the Phoenician alphabet, so did the Romans by altering the Greek alphabet. Eight letters were revised (C, D, G, L, P, R, S & V), two letters were added (F & Q), U and W were added 1,000 years ago and J was added 500 years later.
  8. Conclusion: Current Alphabet: The alphabet today, is illustrated and made

    up of distinct symbols and characters that represent thousands of years of typographic evolution. As a designer, you can simplify or embellish letterforms but altering their basic form will reduce their ability to communicate effectively.