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A history of typeface

Published: 23 May 2013
A history of typeface

The often taken for granted, typefaces

We process hundreds of thousands of words every day, all of them visualised in fonts that have their own history, tone and attitude. Here we take a tour of Western typeface's biggest players.


Johannes Gutenberg introduces moveable type printing, marking the true beginnings of modern typography. In 1455, he publishes the first volume of the Gutenberg Bible using an early Textura typeface.


The original Roman font is developed in Venice, setting the standard for the majority of Western typefaces to come.


The Aldino italic type appears with its distinctively condensed and slanted design. By 1527, a more superior italic font is developed by Ludovico Arrighi, inspiring future French italic types.


The French King Francis I decides he needs a unique typeface for a series of books. He commissions the Greek typeface, which is later adopted by the French Court for their printing.

Late 1700s

John Baskerville arrives on the scene with his exquisitely designed Baskerville Roman typeface. His typeface is distinguished by the lowercase 'g', which does not fully close.

Early 1800s

William Caslon IV introduces the clean, unfussy Sans Serif type.


Copperplate Gothic is released by the American Type Founders and becomes the classic font seen etched into the doors of banks, restaurants and lawyers' offices.


The all-capitals Broadway typeface becomes the symbolic font of the Art Deco era.


The New York Times adopts Imperial as its preferred font.


Arial (and its 20 different variations) is developed for Monotype Typography.


The Facebook logo takes on the world with a modified version of Klavika Bold.

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