[texhax] book: Active Literature: Jan Tschichold and New Typography

Reinhard Kotucha reinhard.kotucha at web.de
Thu Jan 8 02:43:15 CET 2009

Fehd, Ronald J. (CDC/CCHIS/NCPHI) writes:
 > From: reinhard.kotucha at web.de [mailto:reinhard.kotucha at web.de] 
 >>   Jan Tschichold, Erfreuliche Drucksachen durch gute Typographie,
 >>   MaroVerlag, Augsburg 2001, ISBN 3-87512-413-8.
 >> It's a reprint of a book Tschichold published in 1960.  I mention it
 >> here because the reprint is still available in Germany.  You can buy
 >> it in book stores or online.  This book is quite interesting because
 >> though Tschichold favoured sans serif fonts a few decades earlier, he
 >> radically combats them in this book.
 > I would be interested to hear your commentary on his opinions
 > against san serif.

He mentions the beauty and perfectness of classical (serif)
typefaces.  He also designed Sabon, as mentioned by Pierre already,
which is based on Claude Garamand's impressive work.

I think that he had been interested in the new typefaces bacause they
had been quite promising.  At this time (the Bauhaus period) there was
a tendency to simplify things.  He obviously recognized later that
simplifying typefaces doesn't improve legibility.

 > Since he worked in a time when typography was moving 
 > off the page, from books onto very large posters,
 > I wonder what his issues were? 

A typeface can either be an artwork, an object of utility, or both.

Classical typefaces are definitely both.  Many of the typefaces
designed at this time qualify as artwork, but they are unusable for
typesetting books.  However, since the purpose of a poster is to
attract attention, these fonts are quite useful there, even if they
are quite crazy and illegible.

 > Today, we lean toward toward san serif because it reads good/well
 > on screen. Has that official opinion changed?

Actually, most people think that sans serif fonts are more legible on
screen because they are simpler.  But why?  What is the difference
between stuff printed on paper and stuff printed to screen?  Why are
serifs useful in books but not on screen?  If the only concern is that
resolutions are different, avoid Computer Modern.  CM fonts had not
been designed with low-resolution output devices in mind.  But there
are beautiful fonts available, carefully designed for low-resolution

The best example I'm aware of is:


See also:



Reinhard Kotucha			              Phone: +49-511-3373112
Marschnerstr. 25
D-30167 Hannover	                      mailto:reinhard.kotucha at web.de
Microsoft isn't the answer. Microsoft is the question, and the answer is NO.

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