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About Typography

The History of Fonts

Typography has a deep, rich history extending back hundreds of years to a time when books were made with handwritten copy. Typographers classify fonts many ways. There are only five widely accepted categories.

Photo Title: The Capitol

"In typography there is a fundamental relationship between the physical image of the text and the visual apparatus of the reader. For 2600 years of making and re-making, the breeding of the Roman letter has been under way. Traditional type sizes are the product of a lengthy accumulation of human attention. Like a star crystallized out of the heavens, like a species of creature, each size of type is relatively absolute. It represents a reduction, a cooking down of the reading and writing experience of many generations."

— Sumner Stone

Venetian Fonts (1430-1530) started with fonts made by Johannes Gutenberg in Mainz, Germany for use with the first printing press. When Mainz was sacked, Nicholas Jensen left Gutenberg's shop snd moved to Venice. There, he created fonts mimicking the hand drawn Italian style.


Installed: Jensen Pro, Calluna

Old Style Fonts (1530-1750) are more crisp and stylized than Venetian as typeface designers departed from purely calligraphic forms. While retaining the character of calligraphic letters drawn by hand, designers were inspired by what could be done casting type in metal.

Available: Sirba Web, Garamond

Installed: Crimson Text, Caslon Pro, Minion Pro

Transitional Fonts (1690-1780) were made at a time when scientific thinking was promoted. Type Designers departed from the Humanist pen shaped forms, drawing letters according to how they could be made to look with inks and papers developed during the Enlightenment.

Available: Bell

Installed: PT Serif, Utopia Std, Baskerville, Georgia

Modern Fonts (1780-1850) were influenced by competing ideas of reason and romanticism. Letters were drawn using a flexible quill that responds to pressure, making thick and thin strokes by squeezing the barrel of the quill. Modern type (1800's) is difficult to read. It makes good headlines.

Available: Kepler Std, Vidaloka Reg

Installed: Teimer Web, Unna, Bodoni

Slab Serif Fonts (1850-present) came about as a result of the Industrial Revolution, and a great increase in new products and the demand for advertising. Slab Fonts are bold, designed to grab attention. They departed from the refined, delicate style popular up until this point.

Available: Arvo, Rockwell, Officina, Serifa

Installed: Museo Slab, Adelle Web

Other Serif Fonts (1980-present) do not fit into any of the traditional categories. They came with the advent of personal computers and have elements from all the other types. Some letters are made by slicing and dicing traditional fonts, then merging them together into composite forms.

Available: Tisa Web Pro, Le Monde Courier, FF Meta Serif Web Pro

Installed: Merriweather

Transistional Sans Serif (1816) The first Sans Serif was made by Willian Caslon. It was developed in the modernist era with technological advances of the nineteeth and twentieth centuries. Transitional type designers rejected hmanist forms as representing the fallibility of man.

Available: Franklin Gothic, Facit Web, News Gothic

Installed: Nimbus Sans, Pragmatica Web, Verdana, Helvetica, Arial

Geometric Sans Serif is a new category loosely added to the five traditional classifications.

Available: Futura, Muli

Installed: Museo Sans(tk), Museo Sans (fs)

Humanist Sans Serif is a new category loosely added to the five traditional classifications.

Available: PT Sans, Gill Sans, FF Meta Web Pro

Installed: Open Sans, Ubuntu, Myriad Pro

Handwriting Sans Serif

Available: Comic Sans, Amatic SC

Installed: Myndraine, Ruluko, Sanvito Pro

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News & Events

Used Pixel Sale

"A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people. It is a never failing spring in the desert."

— Andrew Carnegie

“Typography is the craft of endowing human language with a durable visual form.”

— Robert Bringhurst

“Geometry can produce legible letter but art alone makes them beautiful. Art begins where geometry ends, and imparts to letters a character trascending mere measurement.”

— Paul Standard

Oak Bowery Clean Up

Friends of Oak Bowery invite you to join in the clean up of damage due to the recent tornado.

Music on the Web

Kick off the concert season with 1950’s Rockabilly recordings by the Coker Family Band!