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This is a reflection on “Fundamentals of Typography” chapter 1 which can be found here.

In chapter one of this book, the writers Gavin Ambrose and Paul Harris aim to provide an introduction to the complex origins of type. “Type is the means by which an idea is writer and given visual form…and the character themselves have a lineage that extends back thousands of years…” Over the years, we can observe the dynamic nature of language and typography as it changes from one form to another. The book uses the Latin letter ‘A’ to depict this change.

latin A

Not only have the letters changed but even the way thing are read may differ. Below, we can see the difference in reading between Latin, Arabic, Chinese and Boustrophedon


Chapter one continues to give examples of the earlier types of type that have existed throughout the ages such as cuneiform and hieroglyphics then branches off into ideogram-based languages “which use characters or symbols to represent an idea or concept”; these incuse Chinese or Japanese scripts.

Next is the Phoenician characters which were developed based on the Latin alphabet and used to represent sounds instead off words (opposite of ideogram-based).  Over time, these characters have matured and changed into what we know today. The paper then goes into further detail explaining other interesting writing styles such as the boustrophedon or “ox plough method”.

I enjoyed reading this chapter of the book and I believe that anyone who is interesting in design or will be using typefaces, should read this chapter and get a deeper knowledge as to the origin, growth and development that all these different writing styles have undergone.

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