Hermann Zapf and His Design Philosophy. Selected Articles and Lectures on Calligraphy and Contemporary Developments in Type Design

Overview   Process  

Task: to translate and publish a book by the recognized master of type design.

The book includes selected articles and lectures by the prominent designer Hermann Zapf on calligraphy, type design and typography, as well as a detailed catalog of his typefaces. The author covers a wide range of creative and practical issues related to the development and application of a typeface in the past, the present and the future.

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The book with and without dust cover

The edition is beautifully illustrated with calligraphic and type works of the author and addressed to type and graphic designers, decorators, and book artists.


Again and again one is astonished at the richness of forms contained in the alphabet. Many excellent typefaces from earlier periods are in most effective use today, and it may be asked why it is necessary to design new ones. But the conditions of our time present the designer with new problems, different from those of the past. A new type, besides having beauty and legibility, must satisfy the modern technical demands of high-speed and rotary presses and machine-made paper. Just as musicians and painters search for contemporary ways of expression, building on the richness of the past, so typographers and typefounders are dependant on the great tradition of the alphabet.

Types are tools, the tools of the compositor. There are suitable and unsuitable tools, and not every tool is fit for every job; it is the compositor’s task to choose the right face for the right job. Like a good tool, the type must express its purpose; a type designed as a newspaper face is as unsuitable for a book of lyric poetry as a display advertising face is for a lengthy text.

In the designing of a new face, the type’s purpose determines its individual form. All of the technical requirements must be considered and embodied in the actual drawing. An advertising face whose purpose is to catch the eye may be the inspiration of a moment; but a face for book printing or a newspaper requires a long period of consideration, experimentation and comparison. A new book or newspaper face is therefore the outcome of months, even years, of preparation before the design is ready to be submitted to expert opinion. From the decision to bring such a face on to the market to the cutting of the first trial characters, and then to the production of the first full series, is a very long road.»

From the article Autobiography in Type

Release date: December 11 2013


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Hermann Zapf (born 1918 in Nuremberg) is a prominent German type designer, calligrapher, book artist, author of many articles on contemporary typography and publishing techniques. Zapf taught computer typography at Rochester Institute of Technology. Since 1948 Zapf has developed hundreds of typefaces for hot metal typesetting, linotypes, phototypesetting and digital print, with some of the faces becoming industry classics.

260 pages
Press run: 3000
Dimensions: 194×290 mm (7,6″×11,4″)
ISBN 978-5-98062-067-7

Published by permission of Hermann Zapf and The Society of Typographic Arts (Chicago)

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Pages 28–29

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Pages 36–37

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Pages 178–179

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Pages 184–185

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