Typography (often abbreviated as "typo") refers to the various typesetting and printing processes using characters and raised shapes, as well as the art of using different types of characters for aesthetic and practical purposes. 

Printing technique 

Typography originated in the art of joining movable characters to create words and sentences and print them. This technique was developed around 1440 by Gutenberg, who did not invent movable type printing but rather a set of joint techniques: movable type in lead and their manufacturing principle, the typographic press, and the oily ink necessary for the printing. 

Typography, by extension, is the professional poster printing technique that uses the principle of relief, such as movable characters in lead and wood, but also relief images, first woodcuts and then metal and photopolymer clichés. Typography was virtually the only form of printing until the twentieth century when it was replaced by offset, itself the product of lithography invented in the early nineteenth century. Letterpress printing still exists for limited edition crafts, as well as for cutting, embossing, and stamping. 

The art of drawing and using characters 

Typography is the art and manner of designing and using type: choice of font, choice of police, and layout, regardless of the publication technique (printing, display on screen, etc.). Currently, typography as a technique has become marginal, while as a practice, applied by every computer user, it has become universal. The transition from a very complex profession (or even art) to generalized use and all the more complex as an ever-increasing number of new fonts appear every day, has risen many concerns and debates. 

The term "typographer" was used to refer to both the printer and the type designer since the same person performed both of them. When the character designer field became a separate business, most designers rejected the term "typographer". 

A distinction should be made between typography (letters whose shape is definitively fixed, used within the framework of a particular technology, printing, IT), from calligraphy (manual drawing, using a writing instrument, cursive writing) and lettering (manual drawing, using all possible instruments, of all kinds of letters). 


The first movable characters used in Korea and China were made in terracotta, ceramics, sometimes in wood, finally in copper, the printing always being done by hand with a stamp, such as the Japanese baren, or frotton.  

In Europe, wood was used to engrave entire pages of text (xylographies). It was Gutenberg and his associates who first pioneered the movable type fused with an alloy of lead (80%), antimony (5%) and tin (15%) - in hand molds specially designed for this purpose. Such technique made use of oily ink and the press, the whole constituting a coherent end product, and later on enjoying some additional variations.

Typefaces are grouped into categories, according to various classifications - serif (like Times New Roman), sans serif (like Helvetica), fancy, etc. -, in families of characters (garalde, humane, mecane, etc.), in fonts (Helvetica, Caslon, Times New Roman, Arial), size and weights (bold, italics, etc.). Since the computer age, these have been made digital fonts.