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The New Typography Movement (History and Principles)

Updated on February 26, 2011

El Lisstzky, a key figure in the development of the New Typography movement, was one of the first designers to abandon the classical rules of typography and advocate asymmetrical layouts, geometric shapes, a limited range of colors, and sans serif letter-forms.   He's considered the first person to apply modern art techniques to typography.   Lisstzky's principles were later adopted by Maholy-Nagy and applied to the famous Bauhaus course.

"This puts it into deliberate opposition to the old typography whose aim was "beauty" and whose clarity did not attain the high level we require today. This utmost clarity is necessary today because of the manifold claims for our attention made by the extraordinary amount of print, which demands the greatest economy of expression." (Die Neue Typographia, pg. 66)

Jan Tschichold

When he visited the Bauhaus exhibition in 1923, Jan was impressed with much of the work, especially Lissitzky's, and was heavily influenced by the modernistic principles that he had witnessed. This influence was seen as he began to construct the principles and guidelines for a new era of typography. In 1928, Jan Tschichold published his book, 'Die Neue Typographie' (German for "The New Typography). He aimed to make guidelines for a new era of typography in a time when it relied too heavily on beauty rather than clarity and functionality. These guidelines helped with attaining clear, functional, and simplistic type that would greatly enhance the readability of printed literature. It become a textbook for functional typography and its methods were quickly adopted be many printers and designers. This is when the New Typography movement really began to take off.

The Guidlines

Tsichichold believed in limiting typefaces and, much like Lissitzky, strongly favored bold, sans serif types, which don't feature "serifs" at the end of the letters' strokes. He believed these to be more expressive than other typefaces, more simplistic, and clearer. He also favored asymmetrical arrangement of type and was a proponent of standardized paper sizes.  

In Conclusion

The New Typography movement provided a much needed re-haul of typographic techniques in an age when new technology was more easily allowing typographers to experiment with the ways they could arrange type on a page.  “Die Neue Typographie” provided guidelines that quickly caught on and helped birth a new era of typography.


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    • Anjo Bacarisas II profile image

      Anjo Bacarisas II 5 years ago from Cagayan de Oro, Philippines

      very nice and interesting hub, i like the concept of this hub. I enjoyed reading. blessed :)

    • Timstown profile image

      Timstown 6 years ago from New Jersey

      Thanks for you kind comment!

    • sligobay profile image

      sligobay 6 years ago from east of the equator

      Interesting piece and well written hub. I've never thought much about typeset and yet its been around since the first printing press.