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Course & Subject Guides

History of Books and Printing @ Archives & Special Collections: Typography

This guide provides an overview of books located at Special Collections on the history of books and printing.


Typography is the craft of manipulating the attributes and spacing of text in order to enhance its visual appeal and latent recognition. These attributes include type design, line length, tracking, and kerning. Like most aspects associated with the history of the book, typography closely aligns its history with that of printing as prior to this invention manuscripts were transcribed by hand. However, at this time individual letters could be cast and thereby reused, which in turn naturally generated type design.

The study of typography and its application in book printing looks at the social constructs and characteristics of subjects then meticulously chooses the most appropriate font, size, and spacing. Type can vary drastically depending on the purpose of the text from fiction to non-fiction, prose to editorial, educational to commercial, or even religious to scientific. Likewise, the purpose of meticulously designed type can be found in everyday documents, presentations, or most commonly on displays or promotional materials (branding).

The Typography section of the Books about Books Reference Collection covers (but is not limited to) the following topics:

  • Justification (typesetting)
  • Kerning
  • Type designers
  • Typeface
  • Font Design
  • History of Typography