“When one examines the everyday world, one finds people engaged in many varieties of writing, some of which may be overlooked as being routine, or commonplace, or unimportant. These varieties, however, all represent the ability to control the written medium to some extent. It is fair to say that most people, on a typical day, practice some forms of writing. And virtually everyone in every walk of life completes an enormous number of forms.” – (Grabe and Kaplan, 1996)

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BBC Reith Feedback Session_Dalton Maag


Typography is an essential art that is concerned with typeface arrangement for legibility and aesthetic appeal. It originates from the Greek words – ‘typos’ (form) and ‘graphic’ (writing), which together translate to writing in accordance with form. Typography as a medium showcases a wide range of uses of letterforms and has less to do with how letters are produced. It gives the typographer (an expert who dedicatedly works on typography) emphasis on reader-text relations and improving brand communication. With companies fighting to find their base in the market and increasingly indulging themselves in building communities to keep their consumer base engaged, it is now more than important to be culturally relevant to connect and communicate. Typography bridges the gap of being culturally relevant ensuring linguistic diversity.

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Poster 5_Mohamed Samiir

‘Then’ of Typography

Typography gained prominence as the print-media culture grew with meticulously crafted symbols and characters, The Gutenberg Press (year 1450)  being at the forefront of this revolution with the introduction of the ‘Textura Quadrata’ letterform. A 42-liner Gutenberg Bible, released by The Gutenberg Press which is today considered a cultural and artistic masterpiece, contributed to the emergence of a culturally informed society.

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Gutenberg B Glyph Set_FontFabric

A badge given to a building for recognition on its facade contributes significantly to typography. Led by Europe, before the introduction of machinery and printing, there was a development of writing on the Western-type structure as an introduction to the building. A popular widely known architecture type that boosted the spread of architecture typography in the Roman Empire is the chiseled Roman square capitals known as Capitalis Monumental. The following typeface with its use case brought cultural symbolism into the Roman picture, which conveyed the essence of order, stability, and enduring nature of the civilization through the script.

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Details from the column (top) and the entire inscription from a caste_Codex99

Encapsulating Cultural Spirit

Typography with its limitless resource pool collected and preserved in various artifacts is not merely ornamental but whispering heritage-narrators. It encapsulates the cultural collective consciousness by not adhering to a single script but creates an ethos of diverse functional linguistic scripts and adds depth to fast-paced globalized communication. Preserved typography acts like a holy grail for those pursuing communication design and for typographers to reach out to local entities by evoking nostalgia. From well-known linguistic richness flowing from Arabic Calligraphy to various Asian scripts, typography reaches out to represent indigenous languages by becoming their linguistic torch-bearers.

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Indigenous North AmericanType_Typotheque

Tying Multilingual Societies Together

In the complex multicultural society, where every few kilometers, people embrace the richness of linguistic pluralism, typography is not merely a practical matter but also with profound harmony bridges the cultural differences. In a diverse cultural landscape, communication and inclusivity become a challenge that respects linguistic diversity.  Typography then plays a rather strategic role by employing various scripts and introducing cross-cultural references which ensures mass readability and delivers the right information on time. In the digital age, where content is the king, every nook of the world is now digitally connected, responsive design, variable fonts, and multilingual support are now a necessity. Typography becomes a medium for cultural exploration, cross-cultural dialogue, and cultural representation.

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Multilingual Pedestrian Wayfinding System, Brisbane_ Dotdash

Supertext (Larger Highlight on Typography)

Typography influences the way we consume information, express identity, and engage with diverse narratives that reflect habits, design trends, and societal values. Typography dictates the tone, personality, and cultural affluence in bit-size graphical content. The typography from creating a visual identity, now contributes to creating values, ethos, and lifestyle. It today helps determine the brand positioning in the market and engage with the brand’s clientele and cultural associations. With people increasingly showing cultural fascination, typography demands empathy, harmony, and balance.

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Subko Brand Identity_Studio Big Fat

Subtext (Conclusion)

Typography is a cultural reflection of diversity and an extension of history. It seeks attention when needed, rest submerges itself as a shadow cast by a tree on a busy street. It’s important for the passing pedestrian but remains unnoticed by the masses until it is a bright sunny day. It compromises typefaces, type size, line length, spacing, and other similar factors is the definition of visual, graphic, and architectural prowess. It is a traditional old craft that celebrates rich tapestry and resonates with now and future generations. It binds diverse cultures together and at the same time recognizes cultural landscapes and celebrates linguistic diversity.

Photo Reference:

  1. Daltonmaag.com. (2015). Dalton Maag | Portfolio: Custom Fonts: BBC Reith. [online] Available at: https://www.daltonmaag.com/portfolio/custom-fonts/bbc-reith.html [Accessed 6 Feb. 2024].
  2. Samir, M. (2017). Typosters 017. [online] Behance. Available at: https://www.behance.net/gallery/56125595/Typosters-017 [Accessed 6 Feb. 2024].
  3. Fontfabric (2020). The Hidden Story of Gutenberg’s First Typeface and Bible Typography – FontfabricTM Blog. [online] FontfabricTM Blog. Available at: https://www.fontfabric.com/blog/gutenberg-first-typeface-original-bible-typography-used/ [Accessed 4 Feb. 2024].
  4. ‌Codex 99 (2024). The Trajan Inscription. [online] Codex99.com. Available at: http://www.codex99.com/typography/21.html [Accessed 4 Feb. 2024].
  5. Typotheque.com. (2024). Typotheque: Indigenous North American Type book by Kevin King from. [online] Available at: https://www.typotheque.com/books/indigenous-north-american-type [Accessed 4 Feb. 2024].
  6. Dotdash. (2023). Home – Dotdash. [online] Available at: https://dotdash.com.au/ [Accessed 5 Feb. 2024].
  7. Studiobigfat.com. (2018). Subko – Specialty Coffee Roasters — Studio Bigfat. [online] Available at: https://studiobigfat.com/Subko-Specialty-Coffee-Roasters [Accessed 5 Feb. 2024].

Richa Shah is a young architect who loves to explore various stories in architecture. She is very much engrossed in researching about different topics and thinks that architecture can be evolved through writing and communicating. She is a trained classical dancer, an experimental cook, and is obsessed with history, ruins, and civilizations and wishes to explore the countless tales that lie buried beneath them.