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A study on text image and typographical texture of Chinese typography

When Sat 13 Oct 1400
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What
Who Du Qin

The last hundred years witnessed drastic reforms and transformations in the Chinese language and typography: driven by new technologies and revolutionary ideas, its text image and typographical texture have evolved and the quality been also quite unstable in this process. Several factors have been crucial:
1) the invention of electrolytic method of type manufacturing for movable printing in Chinese by William Gamble which led to new standards in typesetting;
2) the emergence of simplified Chinese and the transformed construction of Hanzi characters;
3) the conversion from vertical to horizontal typesetting;
4) the adoption of contemporary punctuation systems;
5) the reform of the Chinese language/writing, and newly surfaced functions of the language born out of the plethora of mediums and technologies;
6) the embedding of non-Hanzi characters;
7) and in the last two to three decades, the DTP revolution and the demise of metal movable type letterpress printing—all of which contributed to very different visual and physical qualities in the printed/typographic matter.

On the other hand, Hanzi-based typography is unique in its organization of characters and composition of layout: unlike the horizontal linear flowing structure found in Latin typography, its characters are mono-spaced and the composition of characters follows a strictly grid-based structure, with each character occupying one grid and the number of characters in theory could be calculated and planned in relation to type size and spaces around type on the page in earlier phases of the editorial/publishing process.

This paper tries to examine the influences of Chinese typography and analyze the evolvement of text image and typographical texture in China in since late Qing Dynasty.

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