You are reading Typologia, by Frederick W. Goudy


TYPOLOGIA presents more or less graphically my work in type design and describes my own methods of type production. Of course it does more than that; for who, once having begun a book, can resist its own invitations--to quote, to comment, to ponder and amplify? My intention, then, must be not only to say my own say, but also to bring together from widely separated sources the suggestions or statements of others, and to weave them, with the conclusions reached by my own study and experience, into a new fabric.

Leigh Hunt once said that he did not like a grand library in which to study. Neither do I. I like to be in contact with my books, to lean my head against them." I find it so difficult to concentrate my thoughts when faced with a wealth of information contained in a large library that I have practically limited my research to the materials in my own modest collection, picking freely from sources within easy reach, and making the most of things close at hand instead of searching for less accessible matter. I trust, however, that I have presented my findings in a manner which will be interesting as well as useful, and that it may not be said of me, as was said of Bagford, that "he spent his life collecting material for a book...which he was quite incompetent to write," or, as was said of another, that "he was happiest in his quotations."

"Truth is the property of no individual; it is the treasure of all men." If I perchance borrow without specific credit, like Bacon, who took all knowledge for his province, or [with a little reserve] Marmontel, who said, "I pounce on what is mine wherever I find it," I intend merely to adapt the language of the unwitting lenders when it expresses my own thoughts clearly--to draw from their full pools of knowledge wherewith to swell my own more scanty rills. I thank them all.

If only some fifteenth-century writer had taken the trouble to speak particularly of the types with which he was familiar, or had some early printer, who in those days was usually the founder of his characters, recorded for us the details of their construction at the time when printing was in its swaddling clothes, what a service he would have rendered us. What endless and bootless conjecture and discussion would have been saved had only a few of Gutenberg's leaden types, which "made the thoughts and imaginations of the soul visible to all," been preserved to us. Or if Jenson's "white letters," the beauty of which is poorly exhibited by his weak impressions, could even now by some happy chance be found, that we might examine and study them, how wonderful, how illuminating it would be! It was more than fifty years after the invention of typography before there was a crude representation of a type founder at work, and almost as long before there was any illustration of a printing press. "It is wonderful," said Lemoine, "but it is true, that the only art which can recall all others, should almost forget itself."

My remarks on type legibility and fine printing, as presented in the body of this book, present the conclusions of a craftsman intensely interested in every phase of typography; but my work as a typographer, or as a printer, is largely incidental to my work as a type designer. It is the designer's voice that speaks with least hesitation on all these pages.

The chapters on type legibility are the result of much study, and while the conclusions I present may not be accepted by all, since there is a wide divergence of opinion on the subject among readers of varying intelligence as well as among those who use types in their own work, yet I hope my remarks may encourage serious experiment by some college or university laboratory better equipped to arrive at scientific conclusions than is possible to a mere designer. My work in this direction has been mainly to achieve the utmost legibility for my own types, and I believe that if or when I have succeeded, it has been because I have applied the principles I advocate herein. It is regrettable that the problem of type legibility has received so little attention as thus far it has, and that so little constructive research has been done in this field by type founders, or by critical laboratory technicians familiar with lettering and types, and that serious concern with the question has been left, in too large measure, to a designer whose time and opportunity for research are inadequate to meet the issue fully, and whose interest and enthusiasm must do perhaps more than they should.

The chapter on fine printing is an endeavor to present the significance of printing--to get at the soul of the matter. In it I have tried to set down general principles only, rather than to give practical instructions on the craft. I have made no attempt at "fine writing," a thing beyond my capability; I have tried to present in logical sequence the principles I follow in type design, and the methods which I have evolved in order to produce the types I have designed; and to describe as graphically as possible and as simply as I can the intricate technical processes of type production. Interspersed among the details of design, drawing, pattern making, matrix cutting, and so on, I have endeavored to express a measure of the philosophy developed through the years, and to present the conclusions I have arrived at, in an attempt to relieve what otherwise, I fear, would prove to many readers merely a dry-as-dust account of technical processes.

As a designer of long experience, I feel that I am in a better position to speak with authority on the various phases of type design and manufacture than the mere historian or critic, who obviously cannot enter into the motives or thoughts of a designer since he has never been faced with the problems of type production. Mine is the advantage of having bumped my head on my own work.

Some of the chapters of "Typologia" were intended as magazine articles, written in moments of leisure, and all have been revised for the purposes of this book. Their writing was a source of pleasure to me and I sincerely hope that the reader will also find pleasure in their perusal. In spite of the personal pronoun which appears so frequently in these pages, I would emphasize that personal exploitation has not been my aim; I feel that speaking in the first person makes my statements more direct and stronger than they would be if written in the third person.

The book itself, which I have been asked by the University of California Press to write, plan, and supervise, has been set in a new type designed by me & now first employed for the exclusive use of the University-UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA OLD STYLE. Its story is told on the pages under the heading "The Story of a Type".


Marlboro, N. Y.
March 8, 1940

Go back to Table of Contents.

This electronic version of Goudy's Typologia is reproduced by permission of the University of California Press.

While this online, interactive version is a useful reference work for typographers and typesetters, it does not compare with reading the actual book, which is available in paperback (ISBN 0520-03278-0), and printed in Goudy's own "University of California Old Style" fount, set with unique ligatures, and laid out by Goudy himself. Get more "Typologia" Order Information.

Go back to the TYPEART® home page

© 1996-2002 TypeArt Foundry. All Rights Reserved. "TypeArt" is a registered trademark of the TypeArt Foundry.