25 Systems for Classifying Typography: A Study in Naming Frequency

This article was recently published in the Parsons Journal for Information Mapping, and it gives a nice visual overview of diferent type classification systems. I've yet to give it full attention, but this seemed interesting so I thought I'd share. Got the link from @Henrique Nardi 



  • Hi everyone! I actually wrote this with Jess Griscti while we were in school. We've since developed a blog dedicated to the systems. We're also on Twitter! @fontofyou
  • Stephen ColesStephen Coles Posts: 994
    edited September 2015
    Thanks for posting this, Alvaro! (And welcome, Taylor!) Embarrassed to say it's the first time I've seen the doc. It's handy to have a consistent graphical device for comparing all the systems. I also really appreciate the history and commentary for each, though I disagree with a lot of the authors’ opinions.

    As Frode shows, most systems don't place enough emphasis (or any at all) on what Indra Kupferschmid refers to as the “form model”, which is the main structure of type rather than its details. This is also a more robust and timeless approach than those that rely on historical (period-based) terminology.

    Perhaps a tagging system would be more suitable?
    Yes, Indra also refers to this in her writing in the topic. 
  • Thank you Stephen! Totally agree Indra is gold. We took a step back from our weekly postings (Type Class Tuesday) this summer but are planning to get back to it soon. 

    So many type class systems, so little time!
  • One thing you'll want to fix is changing the "Geraldes" to "Garaldes".
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 2,128
    I classify type designs by date, location, foundry and designer.
  • If you want to understand and integrate Kuperschmid, it would make sense to also include Noordzij, Meier, Willberg and Bollwage. They all distinguish between broad nib / Garalde / Old Style and pointed nib / Didone / Modern and split up Sans Serif, Slab Serif accordingly. The same is done in the Czech classification by Solpéra. Distinguishing between Sans, Serif, Display and Script is nice, but also rather obvious. I think that when one wants to make a fundamental contribution to this topic, a systematical approach to distinguishing within serif, sans serif, slab serif and script would really make sense. In my opinion, typeface classification could then be used as a tool in typographic design and also link typeface styles to atmosphere values in a more objective way. Please enjoy these references and suggestions for further research:

    I wonder about the term ‘Hybrid’ in the black letter nomenclature of the DIN classification. In the DIN Classification it says ‘Varianten’ and that should rather be translated as ‘Variants’, I think. Also please take a look at DIN. DIN normally stands for Deutsches Institut für Normung (not for Deutsche Industrie Normung). It seems that DIN has switched to the idea that DIN stands for DIN though. http://www.din.de/en The new website is designed using the ‘right’ typeface, of course ;–)
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 2,128
    What about font identification algorithms?
    What kind of classification system do they use?
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