Renaissance typography and calligraphy

Chin, R. (2006). History of typography: history of digital font

Typography is the process of arranging type onto paper using different typefaces, fonts, point sizes, serif etc. or, as it is more popularly called, printing (Baines & Haslam 2002).


Gutenberg invented the first printing press in 1455 although Korea is said to have a form of typography in use in the 1200s. Italics were designed by Aldus Manutius in the 1490s. Various typefaces began to emerge; Geofroy Troy designed his typeface based on physical proportions of the human body from studying Da Vinci’s paintings on anatomy (Baines & Haslam 2002, Typography in the 16th Century. n.d).

Chin, R. (2006). History of typography: history of digital font

Designing a typeface is a complicated art. The process is as follow:

1-    Cast pieces of metal to form letters

2-    Place the letters on composing sticks to form words

3-    Place the sticks together in the galley

4-    Place the galley in the chase and wedge well to add margins

Once the form is made up and edited, place it into the printingpress  (Baines & Haslam 2002).

New typography (Digital)

According to Baines & Haslam ( 2002,) with the introduction of this technological advance, computer programs have been designed to replace hand designing, casting and the use of the galley. Besides this, sound and animation options have been added as well as screen brightness and contrast. Even the materials have changed, pixels are used instead ink and links, buttons and IP addresses negate the need for paper.  These authors give these examples of new and adapted typefaces used today:

Digitally adapted typeface

–       Bookman old style- 1858 designed by   A.C Phemister  from Scotland

–       Times New Roman- 1932 designed by the Time London newspaper

–       Courier New – 1955 designed by    Howard Kettler from IBM

Designed and created digital  examples:

–       Comic Sans MS 1944- by Microsoft, Windows 95

–       Trebuchet MS 1996- by Microsoft

–       Webdings 1997- graphics incorporating typeface for web designing

Once again, Typeface  is an early print form used to revolutionize the printing culture


Calligraphy is the art of fancy, beautiful and intricate handwriting. It is penmanship with skill and flair.  Calligraphy was the only way of writing books before the invention of the printing press (Chin, 2006).

History of Calligraphy:

Calligraphy began with cave painting. Then in 3500 B.C., the Hieroglyphics of Egypt were etched within burial crypts. Next, paints were applied to papyrus (the earliest form of paper.) Later, about 1000 B.C., Phoenicians developed alphabetic systems for writing. Influences by Greeks and Romans brought new alphabet systems by 850 B.C.  Latin was used for most biblical writing as the ancient monks were among the few literates of the time and they captured the words of the scriptures painstakingly by hand. Even after Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press, handwritten scripts were heavily in demand(E-ssortment, n.d., Chin, 2006).

According to Sakkal, (1993,) Arabic Calligraphy came about with the early alphabet of the North Semetic people in around 1700 BC.The alphabet was made up of 22 letters and this model was used to develop Arabic , Hebrew and Phoenician alphabets. From North Arabic script, Nabatain script was added and the language style spread through the Arabian regions of Hirah and Anbar, then to Hijaz and was popularized by use of the tribe of the prophet Mohammad, Harbl bn Ummayyah. Several Calligraphy styles refer back to the cities in which they were used. These are known as dry style, which later was adapted to become Kufic, a writing form which led to the development of the cursive family (Sakkal, M.(1993).




Baines, P., & Haslam, A. (2002). Type and Typography. London: Laurence King.

Chin, R. (2006).  History of typography: history of digital font          [PowerPoint slides],   Retrieved: 29 January, 2009,   

E-ssortment,  n.d.  History of Calligraphy.  Retrieved from

Sakkal, M.(1993) The Art of Arabic Calligraphy Part 1 The Language and The            Script  Part 2  A Brief History   Retrieved from:   

Typography in the 16th Century. n.d.   Retrieved from:



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