Writing To Typography. Reflection [Y2: History of Design L1]


In the first lesson, we have learnt about different writing systems, styles, printing techniques and how they evolved from the earliest form to modern. Personally, I am interested in the derivation styles of fonts, including the old style, transitional and the modern style. They are gradually changing and deriving from the earlier forms.

This can be seen in the following images:

But why are there such changes…?

And I saw this interesting video explaining the history of typography in short and answered my question:


– developed by Renaissance typographers in the 15th century. It replaced the Blackletter style of type that was in popular use in hand-lettered writings of the day. Many of the letterforms were based initially on pen-drawn strokes. Old Style fonts are evolved from ancient roman inscriptions.

    • Low contrast between thick and thin strokes
    • Wedge-shaped serifs.
    • Left-leaning axis or stress.
    • Small x-heights.
    • Lowercase ascenders taller than the height of capital letters.
    • Numerals have ascenders and descenders and vary in size.
    • for easy fast reading

Transitional (John Baskerville)

    • improved printing methods -> allowed much finer character strokes to be reproduced and subtler character shapes to be maintained.
    • “Transitional typefaces are typefaces that are in transition from oldstyle to modern. The letterforms change from calligraphic to increasingly mechanical.”

Modern style

    • thin, long horizontal serifs, and clear-cut thick/thin transitions in the strokes. The stress is vertical, i.e. there is no slant on the letters.
    • eye-catching and very elegant at large sizes
    • not recommended to use for large amount of body text
    • strokes of the letters change entirely, from thick to thin
    • modern typefaces have horizontal and extremely thin serifs, stress is vertical¬†¬†

Interesting evolution! I can see how fonts are developed to fit the environment through the time. Nevertheless, nowadays people use oldstyle font and transitional typefaces too, not just the modern style, to create different mood into text!

Thank you for reading:)










Leave a Reply