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Book of Letters From Аа to Яя by Yuri Gordon

Chapter “About the Letter Аа ” (pages 83–97, PDF, 870 KB)

Task: to publish a deskbook on Cyrillic alphabet anatomy for designers, art directors, artists, advertisers etc.

It took only three years for Yuri Gordon, Russian designer, illustrator, type developer and engraver, to write, and the studio to compose, design, and publish the book about each and every letter of the Russian alphabet. It deals mostly with Cyrillic characters, but uses Latin letter examples as well.

Yuri Gordon graduated from the Art & Technology of Print Materials Design Faculty of Moscow Polypraphic Institute (now called Moscow State University of Printing Arts). He has worked as a type designer since 1976. Yuri developed his first complete digital typeface called FaRer in 1996. He is one of the founders of the Letterhead studio specializing on original Cyrillic typefaces.

Book in dust jacket


There are plenty of things we don’t know about our letters. That’s why my book is not about type, although type is mentioned here, too. This book is about each of the 33 letters of our imperfect alphabet as an individual personality. This is not a scholarly treatise but rather a record of my personal experience as a type designer, designer, and a draftsman. It doesn’t claim to be objective or exhaustive but rather tends to be biased as an intimate perception of things.

There’s another distinction: the book was meant for type designers and designers who, like me, are much into logo development. In a logo, an individual character is by far more conspicuous than in a text; so the niceties of the letterforms which would be rejected in a type as way too deliberate, gain importance here. »

From preface by the author


I. History

From a Drawing to a Letter

Linearity of Writing. The Direction of Reading

Tools and Methods of Writing

II. Techniques

Construction of Letters. Grapheme

Capital and Lower Case


Optical Illusions

Text Dynamics

Visual Rhyme

Rhyme in Logos

Type Classification

III. Production

Type or Logo. Differences in Approaches

How to Start Making a Type

IV. 33+33+33

(A separate account of every lower case and capital Cyrillic character: history, construction, variants of construction, classic specimens, constructive relations with other letters, a letter in life, visual rhymes)


Supplementary Indexes



List of Types by Producer

List of Types in Alphabetic Order

Pages 36–37: Type Terminology According to V. Krichevsky and V. Yefimov

Pages 40–41: Text Dynamics and Visual Rhyme

Pages 180–181: History and Construction of the Letter й

Pages 276–277: Letter у in Life and its Visual Rhymes

Release date: February 24 2006


art director
chief typesetter
production managers


Over 4000 illustrations

384 pages

Format: 220×290 mm

Number of copies: 5000

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