Blue Pencil no. 19—Lettering by Andrew Haslam

Lettering: A Reference Manual of Techniques
Andrew Haslam
with photographs by Daniel Alexander
London: Laurance King Publishing, 2011

produced by Central Saint Martins Book Creation

design and diagrams by Andrew Haslam
jacket design by Jason Ribeiro based on an idea by Andrew Haslam
senior editor: Peter Jones
picture research: Suzanne Doolin and Andrew Haslam
copy editor: Melanie Walker

240 pp.
hardcover with jacket
8.25 x 10.625
full color photographs

Jacket for Lettering; design by Jason Ribeiro based on an idea by Andrew Haslam

This dissection of Lettering includes an assessment of each of the book’s sections and subsections. This is done because the book has its good points despite the many complaints enumerated below. The rating system (using asterisks as stars) is based on my notion of how each lettering process should be shown. Following the overview of each of the sections is the more usual dissection of the book focusing on orthographical and typographical errors; and some comments on its typography and design.

Five stars ***** —The sequence of steps begins with original artwork and ends with a final product. The same letter, letters or text is followed throughout. Each significant step in the process is recorded in a clear and easily comprehensible manner. This means that images are sharp and well-lit; large enough to see details described in the captions; cropped to remove extraneous elements; and, whenever possible, are direct. Oblique angles and extreme perspectives are avoided. Close-ups of materials, tools and equipment; bodily movements of hands; or grips used to hold or guide tools; and letterforms are included wherever they add clarity. The goal is not only to explain how a particular process is accomplished but how it affects the appearance of letters. Wherever possible, a control letter or text is employed to make comparisons among processes possible. Captions describe the tools, materials and techniques used at each stage of a process. Specialist terminology is explained.

Four stars **** —As above but not all of the images are good; and the original artwork or the final product is absent.

Three stars ***—As above but the images are too small, badly cropped or murky; and letters are not visible at each stage of the process.

Two stars ** —As above but the images are insufficient to fully understand one or more steps in the process; there are no letters in the sequence of images; and tools are not shown.

One star *—As above but there is no depiction of the steps involved in the lettermaking process. At best, textual descriptions replace the visual sequence.

p. 7 “The word lettering in the book’s title loosely includes all letterforms both calligraphic and typographic. Lettering in its strictest sense is a one-off—no two letterforms being identical—while typography is the mechanical, consistent repetition of characters of a particular font or fonts.”

This is an insufficient explanation and a wasted opportunity to define critical terms—lettering, writing, calligraphy, type—at a moment when the word “type” or, more often, “font” is increasingly used to refer to all forms of letters, whether mechanical or handmade. A simple division between calligraphy and type excludes many other methods of making letters, most notably drawing—a technique that is glaringly absent from Lettering. Drawn lettering, whether done with pencil on paper or with Bézier curves on screen, has been the first step in the production of most typefaces since the advent of the Benton punchcutting machine in 1885.
Drawn lettering differs markedly from calligraphy which is simply writing, albeit writing executed with an eye toward aesthetics. (The literal definition of calligraphy as beautiful writing does not apply to the way in which the term has been used in the 20th century. People often speak of beautiful calligraphy and ugly calligraphy, notions that would be redundant or contradictory if the dictionary defintion was applicable.). What distinguishes most, though certainly not all, calligraphy from drawn lettering is that it is created directly by a pen (whether broad-edge or pointed) or brush while the latter involves outlining and filling in or building-up of strokes. One process is organic while the other is constructivist. Calligraphy usually involves letters “made on the fly” while drawn lettering often involves stages of refinement and revision. The latter may even begin with letters made calligraphically. As a result drawn letters can mimic written ones, but not vice versa. (Calligraphy for reproduction is often a mix of both writing and drawing.)

What Haslam has not elaborated on here is all of the other methods of making letters that are at the heart of his book: carving, engraving, casting, moulding, etc. He missed an opportunity to discuss the differences between letters made by hand—whether by quill, pen, brush, graver, chisel, marker, spraycan, knife, scissors—from those made by machines using pre-existing letters (type). Here was a chance to take “type” out of its historical location in the world of printing on paper and make it applicable to a modern world in which letters are fabricated from from models in repeatable, consistent forms that can be assembled, taken apart, reassembled again, ad infinitum. Thus, type can include letters cast in plastic or metal, carved from wood, created as stencils, etc. that are found in signage and other environmental circumstances. Haslam does mention the notion of repeatability but he fails to elaborate on its implications, let alone discuss how it relates to the many processes described in Lettering.

The anatomy of a letterform pp. 8–9 ***

• This spread is mislabeled. The illustration is the anatomy of a typeface. Most terms referring to letters can be found in typographic terminology but not all. And since Lettering is about far more than type, it would have been better to use a mixture of letters derived from different processes (e.g calligraphy, signwriting, lettercutting in stone) to illustrate the various terms.

• The inclusion of a page of detailed terminology regarding type (not to be confused with letterforms) is a questionable one since at least half of the terms defined on this spread never appear again in the book (e.g scoop, incline, extended foot serif, termination, fillet, angle of italicization, etc.). Furthermore, some of the terms are uniquely British and others are incorrectly defined. (See below for a detailed discussion of the problematic terms in Lettering.)

• “2 Fillet or bracket The small quadrant that infills between the serif and the stem.” (p. 8).

This is an opaque definition. Depending on the style of the serif, a fillet or bracket is normally considered to be part of a serif, not as a separate element. It is created by the movement of a pen or brush and resembles the bracket that holds up a horizontal shelf or other element attached to a vertical surface. It need not be small nor is it limited to serifs attached to stems (i.e. m can have fillets or brackets at the base of all three of its vertical strokes).

• “11 Square-cut serif A serif that ends with a truncated geometric form. Slab serif [sic] is a broad, square serif in which a stroke and serif width are similar. A filleted or bracketed square serif is a wedge-shaped serif with flared terminals where the stroke progressively broadens. A tapered serif, where the converging lines run to a point, is often seen in stone cutting [sic]. A Tuscan or fishtail (bifurcating [sic]) serif is a vestigial serif with a tiny broadening of the stroke which visibly affirms the baseline. A sans serif is a letterform without a serif.” (p. 8).

This is more than a definition of the specific part of a letter. Why describe other styles of serifs that are not shown? Instead, the wide variety of serifs that exist in different types of lettermaking should be clearly delineated. This is especially true since the definition of a serif varies from field to field—for instance, calligraphers do not discuss separate left and right foot serifs while signwriters like John Downer do. (The difference stems from the tools and methods each profession uses to make letters.)

But the real problem with this definition is the term “square-cut serif” itself. It is not a common one in typographic literature—if it exists at all. It seems to be the result of the fact that tiny details of digital type, when enlarged well beyond the traditional sizes of type (such as the 396 pt letters displayed in this spread), become visually enormous features. A serif that appears pointed at normal sizes does indeed have square-cut endings at this scale. But that is because the type designer is compensating for the fact that most digital type is designed to be used at a wide range of sizes. This means that a serif intended to look pointed when reproduced at a small size is drawn thicker than desired and with squared off ends. Similarly, hairline serifs are drawn as “slabs”.

Furthermore, the term “square-cut serif” is liable to become confused with square serif, a term applied (at least by Americans) to the serifs of geometrically constructed slab serif types (e.g. Memphis and Stymie) which have no bracketing and are the same thickness as the main strokes of the letters. Haslam’s definition of a “slab serif” would apply to these typefaces but not to many of those commonly considered slab serifs such as Clarendon. Egyptians, the first slab serif faces, often have serifs that are not as thick as the stems of the letters. His definition of a bracketed square serif is even odder. Normally, a bracketed square serif describes a bracketed slab serif (such as that of Clarendon) while a wedge-shaped serif describes the serifs found on Latin types. Haslam’s “tapered serif” is seen in other areas besides stonecutting—in metal, Bembo has them—but even in stone it applies only to letters inspired by Roman Imperial capitals. (The 4th c. Damasian letters have bifurcated serifs, while the 18th c. gravestone letters of stonecutter Uzal Ward have abrupt bracketed serifs.)

Despite his descriptions of other serifs under this heading, Haslam has still left out wedge serif, Detroit serif (they are trapezoidal), bracketed slab serif, hairline serif, cupped serif, clubbed serif and beak serif—these latter two apply to the head serifs of minuscules or lowercase letters. (Head serif does not appear in his diagram, though foot serif does. The head serif on the Bembo b is labeled “17 Termination” with the definition: “A generic term for the endings of strokes.”). Terminations in blackletter, properly called feet and not serifs, are also missing.

• “12 Lobe A rounded stroke broadening or tapering from the vertical stem.” (p. 8).

The illustration points to the rounded portion of an R. American practice defines this as a bowl, a term not included in this spread (though does appear in the book’s glossary). Instead, a lobe is defined as a teardrop shaped terminal to a stroke.

• “14 Leg A diagonal stroke emanating from a junction which is often tapering and may not terminate in a serif but a tail.” (p. 8).

This definition is overly precise and hence incorrect. A leg can emanate from a bowl, rather than a junction, as it does in the illustration here which shows the leg of an R. A leg also need not be diagonal. See the R in typefaces such as Helvetica and Clarendon. The notion of a leg ending in a tail is a weird one. See below. There are other possible definitions of a leg as well since E and m can have legs. Letter terminology tends to be anthropomorphic and thus there are often multiple definitions for terms. See tail below.

• “15 Tail A stroke termination which tapers and resembles a tail.” (p. 8).

Haslam’s example is the part of the diagonal stroke extending from the bowl of R. The British tend to define the entire stroke as a tail (see Basic Typography by John R. Biggs, p. 22) while Americans tend to call the entire stroke a leg. Most calligraphy and typography books define tail as the stroke that emanates from the bowl of Q or the right descending diagonal of y.

• “16 Extended foot The foot is the final element of the leg and sits on the baseline.” (p. 8).

This makes anatomical sense vis a vis R if the diagonal stroke is called a leg and not a tail.

• “18 Ascender The stroke of a lower-case letter that extends beyond the x-height.” (p. 9).

This is not precise enough. The ascender is the stem of a lowercase letter that extends beyond the x-height. It does not apply to other strokes—such as swashes in scripts—that rise above the body of a lowercase letter. Ascender is also used to refer to letters that have ascending strokes; in roman they are b, d, f, h, k, l and, in the opinion of some, t.
• “ 20 X height

[American usage is to hyphenate the term (x-height) and use a lowercase x since the term refers to a feature that only applies to lowercase letters. This definition could have been much shorter and clearer: e.g. “x-height: The height of the body of lowercase letters. Named after the x because it is one of the few lowercase letters whose body has extremes that can be clearly measured. (The other two are k and z.) Carl Dair, author of Design with Type (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1967), says, “The height of the [normal lower-case] letter is referred to as the ‘x-height’—for the simple reason that the lower-case letter ‘x’ is the only one which has four flat terminals resting exactly at the base and at the upper line of the lower-case [body] height.” (p. 9).

• “ 23 Italic Letters which slope forward and may be linked by connectives [sic] so that the letters flow into one another. See the ‘a’ above.” (p. 9).

This is a common misdefinition. Italics need not slope. In calligraphy formal italics are upright while informal ones slope. Sloping is usually a product of an increase in the speed of writing. Although rare, some typefaces have upright italics (e.g. ITC Novarese and FF Quadraat). Joins, not connectives, is the preferred term in calligraphic literature to describe the strokes that link letters together. The a in the diagram does not have a part labeled as a connective and the term is not defined in this spread, though it does appear in the glossary.

The anatomy of a letterform, p. 9

• “24 Ligature A pair of letters combined in a new form as a special character in a font or drawn as a pair in calligraphy.” (p. 9).

There is no 24 in the diagram. The fi in the diagram is not a ligature. The arch of the f is colliding with the dot of the i. Haslam’s definition is wanting. In calligraphy a ligature is two (or more) letters that share a common stroke, thus becoming a single character. They are written not drawn. In type a ligature refers to two (or more) characters that share a common body in metal or are accessed by a single keystroke in digital type. (Contextual ligatures in OpenType fonts which programs like InDesign can create by accessing predesignated pairings of letters as the user types the individual characters are an exception.) Letters comprising ligatures in type do not have to actually fuse with one another as is evident in ch and ck ligatures as well as many ligatures.

• “25 Thin (stroke) A stroke made with a pen characteristically held at a consistent angle in which the full breadth of the nib is not exploited.” (p. 9).

This definition of a calligraphic feature is illustrated using a typographic letter! In calligraphy a thin stroke is one made by a pen moving in a direction either perpendicular to the pen angle—a hairline stroke—or any direction that between that angle and 0°. In the diagram a has three strokes of differing thickness (only one of which is marked as a thick stroke) and one hairline stroke (which is correctly marked).

• “26 Thick (stroke) A stroke made with a pen characteristically held at a consistent angle in which the full breadth of the nib is exploited.” (p. 9).

This is an awkward, incorrect and insufficient definition. Although the letter shown is type, the description refers to calligraphy. Type has thick and thin strokes as well. In calligraphy a thick stroke refers to any stroke made in the direction of the pen angle—the thickest possible stroke—or in any direction between that and 90°. At a pen angle of 45°, vertical and horizontal strokes are equally thick.

• “29 Incline The angled termination of a stroke.” (p. 9).

This is not a common term. An angled termination is usually described as either angled sheared, or truncated.

• “30 Interline space and leading The space between lines of calligraphy is called interline space, in type this is referred to as leading.” (p. 9).

This is a thorny issue as the term “leading” has been challenged since the demise of metal type in the late 1960s with many in the type world calling for the adoption of alternative terms such as “line spacing”, “interlinear spacing”, or “baseline-to-baseline distance”. The latter is actually how leading is calculated in layout programs such as InDesign and QuarkXpress.

• “31 Angle of italicization The degree of slope in italicized lettering.” (p. 9).

This is not a commonly used term in typography or calligraphy. The more usual term is slope. A good definition would be: “Slope The inclination of oblique or italic letters.” Obliqueness is an important concept since in some styles there is no true italic (e.g. a sans serif such as Helvetica). A true italic has entry and exit strokes as well as a few letters that differ in structure from their roman counterparts (e.g. a, g).

Upper- and lower-case letterforms p. 10 *

• On this page Haslam applies the terms introduced on pp. 8–9 to an entire fount of Bembo. This is a fairly useless exercise since it tells the reader little new that is necessary to understand the various lettermaking practices covered in the book. The page would have been better used to illustrate other letter terms not derived from metal type; or to metal type terms that go beyond those of oldstyle faces to include blackletter, Egyptian, scripts, decorative type and others. Some missing terms: minim, flag, slab serif, swash, flourish, join, outline, inline, shading, cyma, entry stroke, exit stroke, and ductus.

• “Non-aligning numerals have ascenders and descenders and relate to the x height in lower-case characters, aligning numerals stand between baseline and cap height and relate to upper-case forms.” (p. 10).

[This sentence should have a semicolon instead of a comma to separate its two clauses.] Non-aligning numerals are more commonly called oldstyle figures and aligning numerals called lining figures. The latter are sometimes slightly shorter than cap height.

The anatomy of metal type p. 11 ****

• Why is this page not part of the sections about hand-casting metal type, hand composition or letterpress?

• “Metal type has borrowed some of its terms from calligraphy; other terms are derived from the production process.” (p. 11).

This is not true of the terminology of metal type as a physical object which is the subject of this caption and page (The anatomy of metal type). (The accompanying photographs are of a piece of metal type from three different perspectives. None of the terms identified in the text come from calligraphy, e.g. nick, shank or sidebearing.)

• “…Some special characters extend the letterform beyond the body, those combining several letterforms are referred to as ligatures.” (p. 11).

[This sentence needs a semicolon in place of the comma.] Haslam’s definition implies that ligatures extend beyond the body. This is not true. Ligatures were developed to kerns (extensions beyond the body). (See the ffi ligature in his illustration on p. 11).

• “…Metal type is cast in standard sizes, points were standardized in 1886. The standard sizes are factorially related, non-standard sizes, such as 13 point are referred to as ‘bastard’ sizes.” (p. 11).

[The first sentence needs a semicolon in place of a comma.] Points were not standardized in 1886. See The Origin of the American Point System for Printers’ Type Measurement by Richard L. Hopkins (Terra Alta, West Virginia: Hill & Dale Private Press, 1976), p. 39: “By the time the [United States Founders’ Association] committee was appointed, the point system [developed by Nelson Hawks in the 1870s and first adopted by Marder, Luse & Co. in 1877] already was generally accepted and in use at most of the country’s major foundries. Thus, the committee failed to even mention the point system in its recommendations to the Association; the report adopted in 1886 concerned itself only with the size of the Pica which should serve as the basis for the system.” The committee did not define the point. (p. 65). Hawks’ point system became known as the Anglo-American point system since it was subsequently adopted by English typefounders. In Europe a different point system, derived from one proposed by François Didot, was in use.

• “Kerning is the adjustment of space between two characters.” (p. 11)

This is the commonly accepted meaning of kerning in digital type but it is incorrect when referring to metal type. In metal type kerning refers to the adjustment of spacing between two letters that is accomplished by using specially cast characters that have been kerned (made with overhanging parts that rest on an adjacent letter). It can also apply to the practice of sawing metal type to reduce the spacing between letters. Adjusting the space between two letters in metal type was called letter spacing. Generally kerning meant a reduction in space while letter spacing meant an increase in space.

• “Tracking is the equal adjustment of space between letters in a line.” (p. 11).

This term was coined to explain adjusting letterspacing in a line in phototype and has been adopted for digital type. It is wrong in regard to metal type. Letterspacing—as subtly distinct from letter spacing—is the term used in the past.

• “…The stick shown here is carrying 72pt Bembo type and is reproduced actual size…” (p. 11).

The type in the composing stick in the photograph is actually Baskerville. Note the distinctive a and g.

Digital letterforms and type p. 12 ***

• The discussion of digital type makes no mention of software programs (Font Studio, Fontographer, Font Lab).

• “Unicode A character language that accommodates 95,156 characters…” (p. 12).

In 2003 Unicode Character Standard 3.2 there were 95,221 characters: 95,156 graphic characters and 65 control characters, but this number keeps growing. See babelstone which says that in v.6.0 there are 109,449 (of which 109,242 are graphic characters).

1.1 Calligraphy **

• There are no exemplars; and no original artwork, either historical or contemporary.

• “From the fourth century CE, Roman uncials—2.5-cm-(1-in-) high letters—were popular. The forms had large, round counters, very short ascenders and descenders and minimal interword spacing. Referred to as insular uncials….” (p. 14).

Roman uncials are distinct from insular half-uncials (see pp. 48–51 in A Guide to Western Historical Scripts from Antiquity to 1600 by Michelle P. Brown (London: The British Library, 1990) re: Insular scripts; and pp. 24–25 re: Roman Uncial. The word uncial is derived from uncia, Latin for inch, but there are no known examples of Roman uncials that are one inch in height. See Historical Scripts by Stan Knight, p.35.

• “…Charlemagne (742–814) sought to unify the disparate script styles of the various monastic orders by imposing a new form known as the Carolingian minuscule, developed by Alcuin of York (c.735–804 CE) in the monastery at Tours in France.” (p. 14).

The Carolingian minuscule was not developed by Alcuin but selected by him as the preferred script of the empire. See A History of Illuminated Manuscripts by Christopher De Hamel (Boston: David R. Godine, Publisher, 1986), pp. 45–48. There were minuscules (4-line or, as Michelle Brown calls them, quattrolinear scripts) before Alcuin was at Tours such as Corbie minuscule p. 66 which evolved 20 years earlier under Abbott Maurdramnus. Along with Roman Half-uncial, it was a major influence on the Carolingian minuscule.

For more on the history of Western scripts see Historical Scripts from Classical Times to the Renaissance by Stan Knight (New Castle, Delaware: Oak Knoll Press, 1998), pp. 22–25 for Rustics, pp. 26–29 for Square Capitals, pp. 32–41 for Latin Uncials and pp. 44–47 Insular Half-Uncials, and pp. 50–51 for Carolingian or Caroline Minuscules; and p. 10 regarding misconceptions about some scripts. Unfortunately, this book is missing from Haslam’s bibliography.

• “It [Carolingian] was written with a pen held at an angle…” (p. 14).

There were scripts before Carolingian written with the pen held at an angle. What is important is the degree of that angle. For Carolingian it is 25° while Latin uncials were written at an angle ranging from 30° to 45°. “The principle of holding the dip pen at a common angle, and producing consistent thick and thin stroke widths, was retained [after the decline of Carolingian].” This is uniformative. The medieval scripts that followed Carolingian were written with various pen angles: 35° for protogothic (but with manipulation and rotation for some strokes), 45° for textus quadrata, 35°–40° for textus prescissus, 45° for bâtarde, and 30° for rotunda (but with manipulation for some strokes).

• “In fifteenth-century southern Europe, the Carolingian minuscule was used as a basis for the development of [the] humanist bookhand….” (p. 14).

It was not southern Europe but Italy (especially Florence) where this transformation occurred.

• “Johannes Gutenberg (1400–1468)” (p. 15).

Gutenberg’s year of birth is not definite. Wikipedia says c.1398 but Albert Kapr says, “Taking into account all possible combinations we can arrive at no more reliable indication for the year of Gutenberg’s birth than between 1394 and 1404. Nevertheless, on the grounds of what is known about his life as a whole, we may assume that Gutenberg probably first saw the light of day in Mainz in 1400 or shortly thereafter.” (See Johann Gutenberg: The Man and His Invention by Albert Kapr (Scolar Press, 1996), p. 29.

• “[with the advent of printing with moveable type] The purpose of writing had expanded beyond the domain of the specialist calligraphic scribe, who copied precious ecclesiastical books.” (p. 15).

Haslam ignores the long history of scribes copying secular texts and documents prior to the birth of Gutenberg, especially the 15th c. Humanist scholars (such as Poggio Bracciolini) who were responsible for the development of the humanist bookhand and italic.

• “In early sixteenth century Italy the forms of the Carolingian minuscule were adapted into Chancery script by the calligrapher Ludovico Arrighi (1475–1527). Austere in form and inclined for speed, this script was ideally suited for legal documentation. It also had a range of alternative decorative majuscules that were used to open paragraphs.” (p. 15).

This is wrong. Credit is usually given to Niccoló Niccoli of Florence (c.1420) for the adaptation of the Carolingian minuscule into a cursive hand. That cursive hand developed as the chancery cursive (italic) during the 15th century and was fully mature several decades before Arrighi began his career. See The Script of Humanism by James Wardrop (Oxford: At the Clarendon Press, 1963), pp. 12–13. Arrighi’s date of death is conjectural. It is assumed he died in the Sack of Rome in 1527 since nothing is known of him after that. See Wardrop, pp. 45–46. The chancery cursive was not necessarily inclined. Arrighi’s upright formata can be seen in a manuscript of Aristotle’s Ethics now in the University Library, Amsterdam, which he wrote in 1517. Also see An Italic Copybook edited by Stephen Harvard (New York: The Pentalic Corporation, 1981) which reproduces a manuscript by Bernardino Cataneo (1545) that displays both corsiva and formata styles.

• “In the mid-eighteenth century, the use of lettering engraved into a copper plate with a burin—a held-held steel tool—led to the development of a new calligraphic hand, copperplate…. Calligraphers of the time, impressed by the style’s fine lines and flourishes, sought to imitate it by cutting very fine points to their quill pens and italicizing the lettering.” (p. 15).

This is completely backwards. The calligraphic hand preceded the engraved one. Giovanni Francesco Cresci is credited with the shift to a narrower, almost pointed nib in the 1560s. He was inspired by the need to make the chancery cursive a more flowing script than the version promulgated by Arrighi, Tagliente and Palatino. See Luminario by A.S. Osley (Nieuwkoop: Miland Publishers, 1972), pp. 3, 70, 78. Cresci’s work and that of his followers was abetted by the invention of the rolling mill in the early 16th century which Osley says made possible the production of fine copper plates in quantity and even consistency. “By about 1550, the burin in the hands of an intelligent engraver could reproduce the lines, the flourishes and most of the nuances of the pen,” says Osley (p. 3). The first Italian writing book to be produced entirely by copperplate was Essemplare Utile of Giuliantonio Hercolani c.1572—well before the 18th century

• “Engravers devised lettering with flowing forms ideally suited to chasing the burin away from the hand. As a result many of the characters in a single word were linked through connectives.” (p. 15).

The lettering by engravers that Haslam is describing was copied from that of the writing masters. Its flowing forms have nothing to do with the ease of engraving, but with the nature of the pointed pen. Copperplate engravers were able to replicate a wide variety of lettering styles as can be seen in the example on p. 161 of Lettering. Included are Tuscan, italic capitals, fraktur, sans serif, “stub pen”, and roman. Connectives (joins) are part of copperplate engraving only when they are part of the pen-written scripts the engravers are emulating. Again, see p. 161 in Lettering where most of the lettering is unjoined. The lack of knowledge displayed in this paragraph is further reason that Haslam should have included copperplate engraving as one of the processes in the book.

The Universal Penman by George Bickham (1743); Old English Print, Italick Print, Roman Print, Italian Hand and Court Hand: all engraved in copper. (Courtesy Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University.)

• “During the nineteenth century calligraphy was taught in art and design schools as both an independent study and as part of a typography course.” (p. 15).

This is not true. Nineteenth-century design schools were dedicated to industrial, product and furniture design along with the decorative arts. They did not teach typography. That was the provenance of the printing industry where it was taught as part of an apprenticeship (and known as composition) or taught in trade schools. Calligraphy was not taught in art schools until Edward Johnston began his first classes at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in 1899 (where his courses were called “Lettering” and not “Calligraphy”) and at the Camberwell School of Art.

The rest of Haslam’s paragraph [not quoted here] does not mention the decline of calligraphy in design education beginning in 1953 in England when Robin Darwin discontinued the teaching of calligraphy at the Royal College of Art in favor of industrial and graphic design subjects (such as typography) and, in the United States in the late 1960s when the growing influence of Swiss design led to the cancellation of required calligraphy classes at Cooper Union, Pratt Institute and other leading design schools. For England see ”Calligraphy and lettering in the UK” by Ewan Clayton in Crafts Study Centre: Essays for the Opening (2004); for the United States see A Chronology of the Lettering Arts from 1850 to 2000 by Paul Shaw (special joint issue of Alphabet Spring 2000 and Scripsit Summer 2000).

• “Calligraphy was the principal form of reproducing writing….” (p. 15).

Calligraphy is writing; it is not a reproduction of writing.

Calligraphic drawing tools p. 16 **
•“Each tool produces a different type of mark and a stroke with an individual character.” (p. 16).

But each tool is not identified. And there are no samples of the marks each make.

• “Ruling pens were originally designed to draw lines of even thickness for orthographic drawing but have been appropriated by calligraphers for drawing.” (p. 16).

The pen shown is not a traditional ruling pen of the type made by Keuffel + Esser and others for the use of architects, engineers, draftsman and graphic designers. Such ruling pens were used for other purposes besides orthographic drawings: e.g. ruling borders on designs, ruling guidelines and grids, as an aid to inking drawn lettering and more. The pen shown here has been specially made for calligraphers, following the model of one made for Friedrich Poppl in the 1950s. It is much wider than true ruling pens, including “Swedish” pens.

• “When the pen is drawn along a ruler, the stroke width is consistent but held at an angle it produces a splattering of ink.” (p. 16).

This is not true. A regular ruling pen—or even a custom one like the tool pictured here—can make a consistent stroke width with without a ruler if it is held perpendicular to the writing surface with constant pressure. Using it without a guide does not automatically lead to splattering. Splattering or spraying of ink is caused by the angle at which the pen is held, the smoothness of the surface it is scraped across, and the speed and direction in which it is moved. (See “Celebrate!” below.)

“Celebrate!” draft (2010); written by Paul Shaw with a Ruling Writer on Borden & Riley Paris Paper for Pens 108 lb.

• “Yallop made these pens using old aluminium cans. The right side of the pen, which forms the top, is enclosed by a single sheet of metal. The tip is pointed and bellies out to form the ink reservoir, while the left edge of the pen opens to release the ink pressed to the page. Unlike commercially produced ruling pens, the gap between the edges is irregular and consequently the stroke created is clean on one side and roughly scratched on the other.” (p. 16)

This caption requires some elucidation and correction. There are many ways to make pens and several different materials to use. The type of pen shown here was initially made from old soda cans and commonly called a cola pen. But soda cans today are made of plasticized metal that does not work as a pen nib. Some calligraphers have turned to cat food tins calling the resultant tools meow pens. Others have used commercial litho plates. All of these pens are modelled after the “ruling pens” that Friedrich Poppl’s father-in-law made for him out of brass in the mid-1950s. The Poppl pens were copied in the 1980s by several craftspeople. An American version was commercially sold as the Ruling Writer. The “ruling pen” shown in the far left lower image on p. 16 is a German version (see the second photograph of ruling pens above). It is not a true ruling pen.

Ruling pens and folded ruling pens. From left to right: two “Swedish” pens; Ruling Writer; folded ruling pen; “meow” pen (with chopsticks for handle); cola pen (with tongue depressor for handle). The Ruling Writer was made by Matthew Coffin; the meow and cola pens by Paul Shaw.

Ruling pens and folding pens. From left to right: two “Swedish” pens (as above), ordinary ruling pen from Kern (Switzerland), Butterfly folded pen by Jim Chin, German handmade folded pen, and Ruling Writers (as above).

One method of making the cola pen is to fold a piece of metal over a tongue depresser (or dowel, old toothbrush handle or pair of chopsticks) and then to cut the desired shape using scissors or tin snips. Another is to cut the shape first and then fold it over the handle. Tape is used to fasten the “nib” to the handle. The edge of the “nib” is rubbed on emery paper or an Arkansas whetstone to smooth the metal. The shape that is cut is not necessarily the same as those by Yallop. A flatter curve provides a broader edge for writing heavier letters and a blunter nose reduces the tendency of the pen to stick in the paper. The degree of curvature determines the ability of the calligrapher to “rock” the edge to achieve variable stroke widths. Haslam could have shown the sequence involved in making a cola pen.

There is no “right” and “left” side to these pens as Haslam describes them. There is a top (folded side) and a bottom (writing edge). The folded metal has a left and a right side which are identical in shape and edge quality—if the pen has been made well. The gap between the two sides, which forms the reservoir for the ink, is not irregular, contrary to Haslam’s claim. The distinctive ruling pen line with one sharp edge and one ragged one is due to other factors.

It results from the speed with which letters are made, the angle to the paper at which the pen is held, the roughness of the writing surface, the viscosity of the ink or paint used, and the style of script being written. The angle at which the pen is held determines how much pressure is put on the tip or lead edge of the stroke compared to the trail edge. Generally, more pressure is on the tip and thus strokes are smoother on the left side and rougher on the right side. What differentiates cola pens from “ruling pens” in the Poppl style is the thinness and flexibility of the metal. Cola pens are made from thinner metal which causes more of a twang—to use Tim Donaldson’s phrase—that results in more splattering. Also, homemade pens often have unsmoothed edges which cause them to catch on the paper surface more easily, resulting in a ragged line.

“Script” demonstration (2011). Paul Shaw; written with a folded ruling pen on Arches cold-pressed watercolor paper. Note the splatter on both sides of some strokes.

• “Pointed dip pens have two basic forms: copperplate pens (left) and nibs with a reservoir (right).” (p. 16).

This does not accurately describe the pens in the photograph. The two pens at the right are Mitchell nibs, with a reservoir underneath, are actually broad-edged pens not pointed ones. They are one of several brands of metal nibs commonly used today for broad pen work; the others are Speedball and Brause. Haslam unwisely eschews brand names in this chapter. His “Flat-tipped, brass poster pens” (p. 16) are Automatic poster pens. (The name is ironic.)

• “Thicks and thins are formed by the pen being held at a consistent angle as the letters are drawn.” (p. 16).

This is the conventional view of broad-pen calligraphy. However, as shown in the samples on p. 18, broad-edged pens can be manipulated and used at varying angles to create more contemporary thick/thin contrasts. Also, some calligraphers, following the example of Hermann Zapf, add pressure to direction and angle as a means of varying the thickness of a stroke.

• “Permanent waterproof ink, containing shellac (resin used for making varnish), is used for prestigious documents written on vellum or parchment.” (p. 16).

This is not the standard practice of British-trained scribes, those who work the most with prestigious documents. Sheila Waters states, “Non-waterproof bottled carbon ink is recommended…. Grinding your own ink with a Chinese ink stick and slate stone or mixing black gouache, both with distilled water, are best of all. Waterproof inks clog the nib and reduce sharpness of strokes.” Foundations of Calligraphy (Greensboro, North Carolina: John Neal, Bookseller, 2006), p. 1. The same advice is given by Dorothy Mahoney in The Craft of Calligraphy (London: Pelham Books, 1981), p. 33 who recommends non-waterproof inks for use with vellum (she advises against the use of parchment). John R. Nash and Gerald Fleuss, authors of Practical Calligraphy (London: The Hamlyn Publishing Group, 1992) advise, “The first thing to look for when buying ink the words ‘non-waterproof” on the bottle. Waterproof Indian ink is ideal for drafting, drawing and reproduction work, but its large shellac content means that it will not flow easily from a lettering pen, will not produce sharp, crisp strokes, and will, sooner or later, dry on the pen, making it unusable.” p. 28. Commercial letterers and calligraphers in the United States have traditionally used Higgins India ink for work intended for reproduction. (When I use waterproof inks I avoid the problem of ink drying on the pen by scraping the nib with a razor blade after each use.)

Gothic hands p. 17 *

• Why begin a section on calligraphy with gothic (blackletter)? For the past eighty years or so the most commonly used calligraphic hand has been italic; the most important ones historically are Roman capitals and humanist bookhand; and Edward Johnston’s Foundational hand, derived from late Carolingian scripts, is the basis for most Anglo-American calligraphic instruction.

• “These scripts [Gothic] have historical names such as Textura, Bastarda, Rotunda, Schwabacher and Fraktur.” (p. 17).

Schwabacher is a variety of blackletter in type. It does not exist in calligraphy or paleography. Haslam’s list of blackletter variants leaves out secretary hand and textus prescissus.

• fig. 2 “The harsh contrast between the black strokes and the white spaces accentuated in Quadrant Gothic….” (p. 17).

There is no such script as Quadrant Gothic. Haslam probably means Textus Quadrata, another name for Textura.

• “The phrase modern Gothic is frequently used to describe a hand developed in the twentieth century from an older Gothic pattern. Many of these hands are based on those developed by the German calligrapher Rudolf Koch (1876–1934). They are characterized by full-width principal pen strokes and curved, vertical strokes that create an elliptical lozenge between the characters. It is this form of modern Gothic that Rachel Yallop has drawn below.” (p. 17).

“Modern Gothic” is not a commonly used term, but when it does occur it usually refers to a version of textura that has been simplified, shorn of decorative ornament and regularized. In contrast to the work of Rudolf Koch, which is incorrectly described here, it tends to be rigid.

Full-width pen strokes are not a unique feature of textura, but somethng that applies to all styles of broad-pen calligraphy. Koch’s textura, which often has fraktur elements that make it difficult to categorize, is characterized by asymmetry. Unlike most of the blackletter alphabets found in modern calligraphy books, the basic shape is not a balanced parallelogram but one that is out of kilter. The sides remain parallel but the top stroke is often made at a flatter angle than the bottom one (in a closed letter like o) or the feet on vertical stems. (Feet is the proper term, not serifs). Furthermore, the strength of Koch’s letters comes from overlapping strokes rather than having them touch at a corner (as many contemporary books suggest textura should and as Yallop’s letters do). Koch’s letters appear modern because they are not made in a perfectly consistent manner. He deliberately makes parts taller than the x-height or drops others below the baseline to create a more energetic rhythm. And he does not make vertical strokes absolutely parallel. In his purer textura, Koch lets strokes tilt and in his textura/fraktur hybrid he introduces some curvature to the strokes that often reflect a reaction to the previous letter in a word. Koch is intensely concerned with the figure/ground relationship of the counters and interletter spaces as well as the vertical rhythm the strokes make. The overall pattern of his written texts is the goal. See Nicolete Gray on this in Lettering as Drawing (New York: Pentalic Corporation, 1982), p. 56. This aspect of Koch’s textura cannot come across in a few letters such as those that Yallop has written out (“gothic”). Her letters have too much curvature, causing the word to sway back and forth in a singsong manner. She has not overlapped strokes which, along with the excessive x-height, makes them appear weak.

“Es kann kein Werk…” (c.1933). Rudolf Koch. From Rudolf Koch by Oskar Beyer (1953), p. 9

• “The basic calligraphic principle of maintaining a common pen angle is often broken by frequent pen lifts and returns.” (p. 17).

This is not the reason for changing the pen angle. The most common one is to optically adjust the weight of strokes to create better visual balance within a letter (e.g. for the diagonals in letters such as v, w and N). In textura these changes are done unconsciously as a response to fitting letters into an overall pattern.

• fig. 2 “Gothic scripts are characterized by the consistent figure and ground relationship—the stroke widths, the character’s counters and the intercharacter spacing are virtually identical.” (p. 17).

Consistent figure/ground relationships characterize all of the major hands as they do all major type styles. The specific 1:1 ratio of negative space to vertical stroke is true of textura and fraktur but not of rotunda or bastarda.

• fig. 1 “A broad ruling pen is held at an angle of 45 degrees, although many calligraphers prefer to use a shallower angle of 40 degrees. The vertical stroke is drawn first as a bow and then the top of the ‘g’ is formed with a thin upstroke and thick down [sic]. Calligraphers who use nib widths to determine the height of the letter are likely to base the letter on nine—three for ascenders, five for the x height [sic] and one for descenders.” (p. 17).

“Writing in a gothic hand” p. 17, Lettering. Calligraphy by Rachel Yallop.

The pen used here is an Automatic poster pen, not a ruling pen. The ductus Haslam describes for the g is not the best way to make that letter. Instead, the sequence should be: 1. pull down to make the left vertical (it need not be bowed) and bottom stroke, pausing at the corner. 2. pull across the top and then, after a pause, continue by pulling down to complete the descending stroke on the right side; 3. pull the pen down and to the left on its edge from the right end of the bottom stroke of the bowl and then pause before reversing direction and pulling the pen to the right to meet up with stroke 2. See the illustration below.

How to make a textura g in the Rudolf Koch fashion. Paul Shaw. Written with a 1/2" Automatic Pen on matte board.

The proportions of 3:5:1 indicated here are not standard for textura. Historically textus quadratus (textura) has an x-height of 4 pw, ascenders of 5.5 pw (or another 2.5 pw above the x-height) and descenders of 2.5 pw below the baseline. Also, Haslam’s proportions do not describe the letters that Yallop has made: they are 7 pw for x-height, 3.5 pw for ascender height and c. 3 pw for descenders, giving a total of 18 pw. Her letters are too tall to achieve the density that Koch usually aimed for. In Das Schreib-Büchlein: Eine Anleitung zum Schreiben (Kassel-Wilhelmshohe: Barenreiter, 1930; Kassel: Johannes Stauda Verlag, 1984 facsimile) Koch does not use the pw system. His letters in Bild 18 are roughly 4 pw x-height with 2 pw extra for ascenders and descenders; his model n in Bild 17 is closer to 5 pw. Koch was not a stickler for consistency. These models are much more regular than his actual work yet he shows two of each letter to indicate that variation of angle and other elements is expected. See above for examples of Koch’s work.

Bild 17. Rudolf Koch. From Das Schreibbüchlein (1930).

Letter proportions and nib widths p. 18 *

• Why is this topic discussed here rather than at the beginning of this chapter? The concept of nib width proportions, conceived of by Edward Johnston, applies to all broad-pen scripts.

• “A set of nib widths is drawn up the side of the page to serve as a guide for the x height [sic] and the proportions of the ascenders and descenders. For example, uncials might be drawn with an x height [sic] of six nib widths, while half uncials may have only five and Carolingian minuscules four nib widths. The relationship between the x height [sic] and the nib width determines the apparent weight of the letter on the page.” (p. 18).

The usual practice is to mark off pen widths on a separate sheet of paper for x-height, ascenders and descenders; then to measure those increments; and finally, using a pair of dividers or a ruler, repeat them on the paper intended for the final calligraphy. Ruling up a sheet of pen widths invites error. Many calligraphers make master sheets which they then photocopy and place under their final paper. Others make master guide sheets on the computer.

The sample sizes given by Haslam do not reflect reality. Historically, uncials are 4 pw, half uncials are 3 pw, and Carolingian is 3.5 pw—though these are not exact proportions since manuscripts vary. Haslam’s sizes are too large, especially his uncials. For more on this subject see Foundations of Calligraphy by Sheila Waters and Historical Scripts by Stan Knight (New Castle, Delaware: Oak Knoll Books, 1998).

Writing in an italic hand p. 18 *

• Italic is the most important hand among modern calligraphers. The treatment of it here does not do it justice. Instead of showng a traditonal chancery version Haslam treats us to Rachel Yallop’s personal interpretation. Furthermore, only the letters abcd and numerals 123456 are shown. This is no way to explain a cursive hand.

• The instruction in the captions is insufficient. There is no mention of a ductus (the sequence and direction of making strokes to form letters): Fig. 1 “The thick strokes are drawn down from the top of the letter.” (p. 18) and fig. 2 “The thin stroke is made by retaining the common pen angle and writing from the baseline up.” (p. 18). Haslam does not explain that this is true of all broad-pen scripts, with the notable exception of rustic. Thick strokes are either down-strokes or cross-strokes while thin strokes are up-strokes. Yallop is not maintaining a common angle in making her up-strokes. The abrupt shift in weight indicates that she has rotated the pen onto its corner and used it to “draw” a hairline. If she had maintained her 45° angle the up-stroke would have been thicker as it joined the right vertical. The thinness of the up-stroke is also due to the fact that the stroke is diagonal rather than vertical. In the pair of images below the a on the left is made with the pen nib rotated on its corner for the hairline up-stroke while the a on the right is made with a consistent pen angle.

Italic a. Paul Shaw. Written with a 1/2" Automatic Pen on matte board.

• fig. 3 “The bowl of ‘b’ is formed as a separate stroke.” (p. 18).

This may be how Yallop is making her letter, but it is not standard practice. Normally, b is made in one continuous movement with a brief pause at the bottom of the stem before the bowl is begun. At large sizes the letter often has to be broken up into two strokes: the first comprises the stem and the bowl through the curve while the second is the base of the bowl (made by pulling across from the stem to the curve). This is something which a ductus diagram explains very clearly as can be seen below.

Italic b. Paul Shaw. Written with a 1/2" Automatic Pen on matte board.

• fig. 5 “The bowl of the ‘d’ is drawn much the same way as the ‘a’.” (p. 18).

This is true but what Haslam has left unsaid is that traditionally letters fall into groups and the a group includes not only the d but the g and the q; and the b and p form a related group.

• fig. 6 “The broad stroke is added last. All the characters are independent, without ligatures… or connectives, but visually they hold together.” (p. 18).

This is true of this very scanty sample but the implication that italic does not involve “connectives” or joins is highly misleading. Italic is a current hand and as such frequently has joins—even if they are fewer in number than in copperplate. The degree of joining determines whether it is formal or informal. (See A Handwriting Manual by Alfred Fairbank (London: Faber & Faber, 1968) for a detailed discussion as to which ones are permissible in italic handwriting.) Yallop’s samples are poor choices for illustrating italic since the letters abcd (figs. 1–6) do not form a word and numerals (fig. 7) do not normally join.

• “Unlike type there is no common baseline [re: numerals].”

This is not true. There is no difference between calligraphy and type in this respect. In both instances numerals, even oldstyle figures as shown here, have a common baseline. Yallop’s figures bounce because that is her personal interpretation.

• One of the main problems with this page, the preceding page (on textura) and the following page (on copperplate) is that no complete alphabets or exemplars are shown. These are the basic elements of almost every calligraphy book and their absence is surprising. Haslam should have included diagrams covering the following key aspects of broad-pen calligraphy: pen width, pen angle, and ductus. If this was not possible due to space considerations, at least key letters could have been provided.

Copperplate hand p. 19 **
• “Copperplate hand [sic] is one of the hardest to master as it relies on a dexterity that is very different from that required by other letterforms. The stroke is determined by the pressure on the page and not the angle at which the pen is held.” (p. 19).

The notion that copperplate is hard to master is belied by centuries of ordinary people who exhibited competence far surpassing most of today’s practitioners. Copperplate was an everyday hand. Mastery was achieved through endless practice, something which writing manuals constantly stressed. See IAMPETH for examples of those who have mastered copperplate and Spencerian today, proof that it can be done—with practice. Haslam’s distinction between it and the other principal calligraphic scripts, although poorly phrased, is essentially accurate: roundhand relies on pressure rather than pen angle. Pressure upon the writing surface forces the nib to split and widen, thus causing a swelling of the stroke. This is usually a down-stroke since pressure is hard to apply on an up-stroke without the pen getting caught in the fibers of the paper. For some calligraphers accustomed to letting the pen do the work of creating thicks and thins via the choice of pen angle, it is difficult to get used to achieving this through the application of pressure.

• “To ensure the angle of the pen is maintained, nearly all calligraphers draw a series of diagonal pencil guidelines at either 40 degrees or, as here, at 54 degrees.” (p. 19).

In broad-pen calligraphy the pen angle refers to the position, in regards to the x-axis, of the front of the nib on the page. It is not the angle at which the pen is held by the calligrapher. The angle is traditionally 54°—not the 40° that he says is an option. The diagonal lines that are drawn are not to ensure a consistent pen angle but to ensure a consistent slope of the letter. This maintain this angle with ease many calligraphers use a special angle pen holder. (This is not mentioned by Haslam). There are no pencil lines visible in the photographs.

Writing in a copperplate hand p. 19 **
• fig. 1 “It is the consistency of angle coupled with the smooth transition from a thin to a thick stroke that gives copperplate its precise nature.” (p. 19).

This is not true. The transition in italic is smoother, or more gradual, than in copperplate. In copperplate the transition is more abrupt because it is dependent on pressure rather than the movement of an edged surface through a plane. What does Haslam mean by “precise nature”?

• fig. 4 “The same letterform drawn at two very different sizes with the same pen. The right-hand edge of the vertical is at 54 degrees, while the left-hand edge has soft, flowing curves.” (p. 19).

Both letters—and both strokes within each letter—have the same 54° slope. The “soft, flowing curves” are the result of pressure and release (the swelling typical of pointed pen writing). There are no verticals in these letters, only stems, shoulders and legs.

“English copperplate, also known as London script.” (p. 19)

This is not true. There is no mention of “London script” in The English Writing Masters & Their Copybooks, 1570–1800 by Ambrose Heal (1931), the definitive book on the subject. (On her website Christian speaker and calligrapher Sue Bohlin lists London Script as one of the hands she does, but there are six other copperplate styles alongside it with names like Citadel Script and Rook Script.) What is today known as copperplate was called roundhand by the 18th c. English writing masters (Charles Snell, George Shelley, George Bickham, Joseph Champion et al). It was so closely associated with England, due to the country’s mercantile empire, that in other countries it was called, in their various languages, “English script”: anglaise (France), lettre inglese (Italy) and englischeschreibschrift (Germany).

Formal drawing with French curves pp. 20–21 ***

Lettering does not have a section on drawing letters freehand. This is an enormous oversight as there are various techniques whose differences would have proved instructive to readers. Two approaches are those of Michael Harvey, author of Creative Lettering: Drawing and Design (London: The Bodley Head, 1985) and Mortimer Leach, author of Lettering for Advertising (New York: Reinhold Publishing Corporation, 1956). Not only are they different from each other—and from Carol Kemp’s method detailed here—but both men illustrate and explain their methods in ways that are often superior to Haslam’s.

Sketching capital letters. Michael Harvey. From Creative Lettering, Drawing and Design (1985).

Inking stage of lettering. Mortimer Leach. From Lettering for Advertising (1956).

Here is a comparison of Haslam and Leach. This is the sequence of photographs of Carol Kemp working with French curves:
fig. 1 shows a French curve lying on top of inked lettering.
fig. 2. a French curve is being fitted to inked lettering.
fig. 3. a technical pen is being used to draw around the French curve on finished lettering.
fig. 4. a close up of a scalpel being used to correct a blemish (not visible) on finished inked lettering.
fig. 5. the finished inked work.
There is a distinct suspicion that figs. 1–4 are all posterior photographs pretending to be in-process ones. What is missing in this sequence is all of the work needed to make the drawn lettering ready for inking with a French curve. The necessary stages are: 1. create thumbnail sketches, 2. make rough at final size or larger (3:2 or 2:1 are common ratios), 3. make series of tracing paper (tissue) revisions, 4. transfer design from tissue to bristol board using graphite process.

Compare this to Mortimer Leach who combines photographs of the letterer with samples of the lettering. Leach says: “Experience will prove that it is faster and more practical to build up the letters freehand. Using the T-square and triangle for preliminary tissues is a painfully slow process and a definite handicap to the development of a spontaneously drawn line.” (p. 22). See the work of Tommy Thompson (below) made in the same manner as Leach.

Drawing script letters, steps 1–5. From The Script Letterer by Tommy Thompson (1939).

Drawing straights and curves freehand. From The Script Letter by Tommy Thompson (1939).

• The correcting stage (fig. 4) is critical. It is one of the primary reasons that different techniques developed post-Leach. In Leach’s day the basic method of correction was white paint (Pro White in the 1970s and 1980s). Oscar Ogg was called the King of White because his lettering and calligraphy reflected excessive use of the correcting medium. By the 1970s, the development of newer materials led many letterers to use mylar, denril or similar plastics as the substrate for the final inking. Ink sat on the surface rather than soaking in and thus could be scraped or scratched off with a razor blade or X-acto knife. The abraded surface was not a problem for the repro camera. (With these materials the graphite transfer stage was not necessary since the mylar or deneril was transparent and tracing of the tight drawing could be done through it). Another method, one that Jean Larcher used, was to draw on scraperboard, a board with a smooth clay coating. Corrections were made by scraping the ink off of the coating (similar to Kemp’s correction method). A third method, one that Ed Benguiat used, was to cut letters out of rubylith with a swivel blade. This avoided the inking stage entirely. Once the design was drawn rubylith was be placed over it and a swivel knife used to trace the outlines. Then the film was peeled away to reveal an opaque letter against a clear ground. The lettering was then photostatted. Another method of avoiding the ink step was to redraw the pencil letters with a fine marker (available by the late 1980s) and then fill them in with thicker markers. Then the lettering was phototatted. Variations in density and mistakes were fixed on the photostat or film (or, in the digital era, in Illustrator after scanning).

• This sequence includes the final product (one of the nicest examples of lettering in the entire book) but not the orignal artwork. It would have been better to show the pencil drawing that initiated this design instead of some of the portfolio samples on p. 21.

• fig. 2 “The plastic [French] curve is shifted and rotated slightly until it finds the line of best possible fit with the drawing on the base board.” (p. 20).

Haslam makes no mention of the problem of “ink creep” in which ink is sucked under a ruler or French curve via pressure. One method to avoid this is to angle the technical pen away from the edge while inking. Another is to tape something (pennies were commonly used) to the underside of the ruler or French curve to slightly elevate it off the surface and break the “tension”.

• fig. 1 “The complexity of this decorative initial ‘C’ would make it almost impossible to draw it freehand as the letterform has many internal patterns, which rely on consistent stroke widths to create the clarity between the figure and ground effect.” (p. 21).

This is a cadel. Similar, or even more complex, initials were routinely drawn (written) by hand in 16th c. French manuscripts. They did not have the precise edges a French curve provides but they did have consistent stroke widths and well-balanced intervals. The method for making cadels is explicated in Calligraphic Flourishing: A New Approach to an Ancient Art by William Hildebrandt (1995) and The Calligrapher’s Bible: 100 Complete Alphabets and How to Draw Them by David Harris with contributions by Mary Noble and Janet Mehigan (Hauppauge, New York: Barron’s Educational Series, 2003).

• There is too much portfolio in this section and not enough illustration of techniques and methods. Haslam’s comments about the samples tend to be effusive rather than insightful. For example, “This script lettering is beautifully even and exhibits the flourish and swash forms made by drawing around a French curve.” (fig. 2, p. 21). How do swashes made with a French curve differ from handmade ones other than smoothness of finish? Are the curves themselves different since they are pre-existing and mathematical? Are they repetitive and mechanical?

Ruling pens and free lettering pp. 22–23 *
• “Most calligraphers are formally taught a set of horizontal letter proportions based on a skeleton alphabet… Many calligraphers have been taught on a skeleton alphabet based on a square which is generally divided into 9, 11, 13, or 15 units; odd numbers support the symmetrical letters by centring them on the square. The letters are learned as separate groups of majuscule [sic] and minuscule [sic]. There are variations but a typical scheme for the majuscule [sic], based on 15 units, groups together: M, O and Q occupying the full square 15 units; C, D and G occupying 13 units; A, H, N, T, U, V, W, X, Y and Z occupying 11 units; J, K, R and S occupying eight units; B, E and L occupying seven units; F and P occupying six units, I occupying one unit; W breaks with the square and occupies 19 units.” (p.22).

This is an odd subject to be discussing in a section about “free lettering” where such proportions are irrelevant. The subject should have been broached earlier in the chapter. The appropriate place would have been as part of a discussion of Roman capitals, except that Haslam has ignored them. In any case, such a discussion needs a diagram to make it easier to visualize and none is provided.

The unit concept of letter widths is not a common one in calligraphy books. Many books place letters in groups (not all of them the same as those listed here) whose proportions are plotted either on a diagram comprised of a circle superimposed on a square with diagonals drawn from each top corner to each bottom one and verticals determined by the intersection of the diagonals and the circle; or on a stacked double square (with circle etc.). These diagrams are intended for capitals. Ann Camp is one of the few authors who has created similar diagrams for minuscules. See her book Pen Lettering (London: A&C Black, 2008). Other books with informative diagrams are: Foundations of Calligraphy by Sheila Waters, The Elements of Lettering by John Howard Benson and Graham Carey (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1950), and The Art of Lettercarving in Stone by Tom Perkins (Wiltshire, England: The Crowood Press, Ltd., 2007).

Writing using a home-made ruling pen p. 22 *
• “This looser approach to calligraphy is generically referred to as ‘freehand’ as it encompasses a wide range of styles and tools.”

“Freehand” is a British term; Americans use expressive calligraphy. Either way, the term refers to calligraphy that does not follow an historical model, use a proportional system to determine the size and weight of letters, maintain a consistent pen angle, or maintain a consistent letter slope.

• “Yallop has developed her own set of pens… cut from aluminium beer cans.” (p. 22).

See the comments above about ruling pens.

• “The home-made ruling pen has a reservoir of ink that is delivered to the nib. One side of the nib creates a smooth line while the other splatters the ink unevenly.” (p. 22).

This is wrong. See the comments above.

Writing in freehand p. 23 *
• fig. 1 “The home-made ruling pen can be used with many hands but is perhaps best suited to free, expressive letterforms.” (p. 23).

The cola pen is ill-suited to any hand other than scripts, simple roman capitals and, perhaps, textura.

• fig. 1 “…The angle of the [cola] pen remains the same (here approximately 30 degrees)…” (p. 23).

This is not true. The angle at which the pen is held to the paper is often varied in order to achieve different stroke thicknesses as well as to make it easier to navigate curves or handle up-strokes. Calligraphers who are adept at using ruling pens and cola pens constantly change the angle of the pen, their pen grip, and their body position. (This is evident in the f, k and q in the alphabet by Yallop on p. 23). For more information on the use of ruling pens, both traditional and home-made, see “Demystifying the Ruling Pen” by Paul Shaw (Letter Arts Review, vol. 13, no. 2 1996), pp. 10–23 and 44–56.

• fig. 2 “The letterforms are drawn quickly with confidence and the ink forms accidental patterns, blots and scratches.” (p. 23).

The notion that the distinctive effects of calligraphy done with ruling pens and folded pens depends on speed and quickness is a common misconception. Instead the best results are due to a combination of fast and slow movements, of changing rhythms and controlling pressure. This is necessary since such tools have trouble turning the corner in some directions. The best ruling pen work is done by those who understand the variety of speed and pressure and the frequent arm and body shifts involved. See the work of Werner Schneider, Friedrich Poppl, Yves Leterme and Elmo van Slingerland collected in the Berliner Sammlung Kalligrafie.

• fig. 4 “The letters do not have flowing connectives like copperplate….” (p. 23).

This may be true of Yallop’s sample letters, but joined letters are not only possible but common in ruling pen calligraphy. They depend on the style of letter, rhythm and touch as well as on the paper surface and type of ruling pen. A light touch and a blunter tip are helpful as well as a smoother paper surface.

• The samples of ruling pen lettering here are mediocre. Ruling pen calligraphy can be lively, energetic and graceful or it can be dynamic and powerful. These are neither. See the work of Werner Schneider below.

New Year’s card (1994). Werner Schneider. Written with an ordinary ruling pen.

Brush scripts p. 24 *
• “Brush scripts can be painted with either a chisel-ended or round brush….” (p. 24).

“Painted” is the wrong verb. It should be “written”. The category of pointed brushes for brush calligraphy and signpainting is broad and a discussion should begin by surveying the tools available: the kinds of brushes, hairs, sizes and brand names. There are rigger brushes, quills, liners, sumi, fitches, brights, chisel writers, pointed writers, and one stroke; brushes made of sable, ox hair, nylon, camel, squirrel, mongoose, pony, badger, goat, wolf and hog. See the websites for Stonehouses, Premier Brush and Weldon.

• Examples of brush scripts done with a broad-edged brush should have been shown alongside those done with a pointed brush.

• “Brushes come in a variety of widths which determine the size of the stroke within the letterform. The strokes are usually made at a consistent angle and the brush is allowed to run free of ink before being dipped and reloaded with ink. This repeated process of dipping and stroke-making creates a smooth edge… with the tip, while the edge of the stroke made with the hairs nearest the grip is broken….” (p. 24).

These statements are wrong on several counts:
1. a key aspect of pointed brush work (and to a lesser extent of chisel brush work also) is that unlike broad pens the width of the brush does not necessarily determine the width of the stroke, only its maximum. The pointed brush, through manipulation of how much of the tip or side touches the paper, can achieve a wider range of widths than a broad-edged pen.
2. brush lettering if it is loose (as in the samples here) is not tied to a specific angle of brush to paper. There is no equivalent of pen angle with pointed brushes, though there can be for chisel-edged brushes. Brushes may be held in relation to the paper at a variety of angles in order to achieve different effects (by allowing more or less of the brush to touch the paper) as well as to control the speed of writing.
3. normally the brush is not allowed to run free of ink before being reloaded. Lke a pen it is important to maintain a consistent flow of ink—unless one deliberately wants a dry brush effect. The reloading moment ideally comes between strokes or when the brush is about to change direction (up or down) and thus a juncture can be used to hide a brush lift. (The same is true with pens, whether broad or pointed.)
4. the discrepancy in edge quality between the left and right side of the brush stroke is due to pressure not the repeated process of dipping and reloading. If the fingers press harder on one side of the tip of the brush a smoother line will result (assuming the writing surface is smooth, of course). This ability to stress one side of the brush is an important aspect of the tool, a technique that some calligraphers have adopted for the broad edge pen to achieve rough edges (or antiquing) without the aid of extremely rough paper (though some tooth is helpful for a stiff tool like a metal nib).
5. proficient and experienced brush letterers tend to prefer using paint or Chinese stick ink rather than bottled ink because their viscosity can be adjusted to create the right balance of flow and opacity. This is why the technique of paletting or preparing a brush for writing is crucial. With paint there is no “dipping”, only reloading as the brush is rolled in paint on card stock or in a ceramic dish. When a brush or pen is dipped into bottled ink the calligrapher must wipe off the excess in order to avoid blobs at the beginning of the first stroke.

“Healthy Lifestyles”. Iskra. The rough edges are due to writing on rough paper.

Writing in freehand p. 24 *

• The illustrated samples of brush script are mediocre. The example in figs. 1–4 (which is never fully shown) lacks rhythm, tension and grace. The sample in fig. 5 is all capitals. It is an odd choice since all caps—other than simple show-card writing—is atypical of brush scripts.

Fig. 5 “Capitals in brush scripts are often butted, the strokes continually taper from the touch point (where the brush initially touches the paper) to the brush lift (where it is lifted from the paper).” (p. 24).

This is not true. See Brush Lettering: An Instructional Manual in Western Brush Calligraphy by Marilyn Reaves and Eliza Schulte (New York: Design Books, 1994) as well as the work of Georgia Deaver, John Stevens, Carl Rohrs, John Downer, John Burns and Iskra.

• fig. 2 “The angle at which the brush is held, usually between 30 degrees and 45 degrees, affects the nature of the stroke. Each letter is generally completed before the brush is dipped again.” (p. 24).

Haslam should make it clear that the angle of the brush referred to is the angle of the shaft to the paper not the angle of the tip in relation to the writing line (as in broad-pen calligraphy). He fails to point out that Yallop is writing with the side of the brush not the point. It is not true that an entire letter is completed before the brush is redipped. As in broad-pen calligraphy, the amount of writing that can be done with a brush between reloading depends on the size of the letters and their complexity. In both instances, the general rule is to not reload in the middle of a stroke. Reloading in the middle of a letter is not only acceptable but often encouraged—as long as it is done at a moment between strokes. It is clear that Yallop has done this with the lowercase b in figs. 1–4 as well as with the capital B, R and H in fig. 5.

1.2 Digital calligraphy **
• “Carol Kemp is commissioned by design groups to create lettering for specific purposes. This may involve developing specific letters based on existing patterns to exemplify the product name. The nature of the brief varies. Some designers and advertisers provide the wording and a very fine brief that describes the product…” etc. (p. 25).

This description of Kemp’s working relationship with clients is not unique to her or to the process of digital calligraphy. It is not about the lettermaking process and is this unnecessary.
• The distinction between digital calligraphy and digital type design (2.11) is not explained by Haslam.
• Why does the caption to fig. 1 mention the use of FontLab as a software program for doing digital calligraphy? FontLab is intended for type design.
• The identification of tools is incorrect.
• There is no original artwork or final product.

1.3 Graffiti **
• “Graffiti, meaning writing on walls…” (p. 26).

This is not a sufficient definition since modern graffiti can be found on a wide variety of surfaces: vehicles, sidewalks, fences, windows, etc.
• Haslam describes tagging and mentions bombing but ignores piecing, even though all of his examples are “pieces” rather than “tags”. Essentially, tagging uses markers while piecing involves spraycans.
• There is no sequence of making graffiti.
• There are no sketches. It would have been revelatory to show the reader that graffiti goes through some of the same stages as traditional drawn lettering. See Street Sketch Book by Tristan Manco (London and New York: Thames & Hudson, 2009).
• There is no detailed identification of the various tools (markers and spraycans with their different nozzles) used to do graffiti.

• “The highlight is derived from the lens flare associated with fairground lettering….” (p. 26).

It is more likely that the highlight was derived from comic book lettering.

• “Details reveal how the lettering resembles some of the slab serif outlines and three-dimensional forms of fairground signwriting.” (p. 26).

The decorative slab serif forms found in both this unique example of graffiti and fairground signwriting derive from 19th c. wood type.

• fig. 1 “A relatively simple throw-up style by Nylon.” (p. 27).

Haslam needs to define “throw-up style”. It is a quick method of graffiti writing, done by making a layer of paint in one color and a quick outline of the letters in another.

• fig. 9 “A subway train which still carries the legendary tag ‘Stayhigh 149’.” (p. 27).

This is not true. This tag is from the 1970s or early 1980s. The style of subway car pictured was painted red (to inhibit graffiti) beginning in 1984 and was phased out in 2001. The caption should have indicated that the subway train was in New York.

1.4 Tattooed lettering ****

• Why is did Haslam choose to showcase a tattoo with letters derived from refrigerator magnets? There is no gallery which means that this section does not include any example of scripts or decorative lettering typically associated with tattoos.
• The lettering in fig. 2 is not very clear.

1.5 Signwriting *

• Haslam describes the history of signwriting shop fascias but does not include any images of shop fascias.
• There are no step-by-step photographs.
• There are no images of tools. Moreover, there is no mention of the many tools that signwriters use: a variety of brushes (riggers, swordliners, quill writers, etc.), mahl stick, palette, glue and glass, gold leaf, paints (1-shot etc.), Saral paper, and more.
• The gallery (p. 31) is very disappointing. It consists entirely of numerals. Furthermore, the fifteen examples cover only five different lettering variations, none of which are described in the caption. The gallery should have showcased letters and common signwriting styles (shades, shadows, outlines, inlines, multiple tones, split designs, etc.). Atkinson lists eleven variations of shades alone: relief, close shade, split, double relief, blend, carved face, bevel edge, rounded surface, drop shadow, cast shadow and convex face. See Atkinson’s Sign Painting by Frank Atkinson (Chicago: Frederick J. Drake & Company, 1909), p. 26 or Wagner’s Blue Print Text Book of Sign and Show Card Lettering by Charles L.H. Wagner (Boston: Wagner’s School of Sign Art, 1926), Plate 52.

Shading (Plate 52) from Wagner’s Blue Print Text Book of Sign and Show Card Lettering (1926).

For more on signpainting see The Letterheads website as well as the sites of signpainters in the United States and the United Kingdom.

1.6 Fairground lettering ****
• “Bold sans serif letters are sketched between the cap line and baseline and deep maroon gloss paint is applied with a long-haired brush.” (p. 32).

What kind of brush? Signwriters employ a wide variety of brushes.

• “The front face of a letter is often lighter in tone than the back shading, which in turn must be different in tone, either lighter or darker than the ground. The shadow is generally the darkest of all the elements. Here the lining out (painting a thin line around a coloured letter or shape withn a design, often to cover the edge where two shapes butt up to one another) is the lightest colour. The decorative ropework acts as a border. The three-dimensional block is to the right; this is called front shading. If the block is drawn to the left… it is referred to as back shading. The shadow is generally drawn as though the letter is illuminated by strong sunlight and falls below the character….” (p. 32).

This is only half of this caption. Haslam should have replaced this lengthy verbal description with call-outs keyed to the image or with a series of images that show the various signwriting techniques for decorating a letter. Lettering is supposed to be about showing techniques not describing them.

• “Carter rests his hand on a daub stick to avoid smudging the wet paint.” (p. 32).

Is a daub stick the same as a mahl stick? Online a daub stick is described as a stick used to daub something like grease or glue. But the stick in the photograph is being used to steady the signpainter’s arm which is the purpose of a mahl stick.

Painting a winged roundel and lettering p. 33*****
• pp. 34–35 gallery of styles: fig. 2 “Two-tone italic bold lettering.”

The letters are script not italic. Fig. 8 is strictly pictorial.

Panel painting pp. 36–39*
Painting a decorative panel pp. 36–37 *

• This sequence involves no lettering.

• fig. 4 “Long, ox hair brushes are used to paint the design line, while broader, squirrel hair brushes are used to paint in solid areas of colour.” (p. 37).

Different brushes, such as these, are not shown in a separate photograph. In this one the brush is difficult to see.

Painting a top board p. 38 ***

• This sequence is well done but focuses more on illustration than on lettering. The lettering in the ribbon beneath the tiger is shown only in its completed state.

A walzer [sic] top board p. 39 ****
• fig. 2 “It [shiny lettering] is ideally suited to airbrush work where colours can be blended and continuous tone is easily realized.” (p. 39).

There is no illustration of an airbrush and no description of it. The airbrush has been an important tool in commercial lettering (and illustration) for nearly a century. It deserves a section or subsection to itself.

1.7 Canal boat lettering ****

• This is one of the best sequences in Lettering.

Painting canal boat panels pp. 40–41 ****
• fig. 7 “While some painters blend the shadow details, working two wet paint colours into one another, Moore prefers tapering—painting little triangular brush strokes into the lightest colour. Other painters use a series of decreasing line weights from dark to light to visualize changes of tone.” (p. 40).

Moore’s technique is not visible in the photograph. Both methods should have been shown, however.
• Among the three examples of canal boat painting (p. 41) is one that does not include lettering.

1.8 Road lettering and markings **

• There are no stages of the process.

• “Thermoplastic is used to paint markings on the surface of aircraft runways, car parks and athletic tracks.” (p. 42).

What about roadways?

• “Government transport authorities specify strict guidelines that define the colours, line weights, style and lettering sizes required on any particular section of road.… In Britain three proportions of sans serif lettering are specified within the guidelines.” (p. 42).

Haslam describes these proportions but says nothing about the source of these sans serif alphabets. Do they come from typefaces? The sample on p. 43 looks to be a hybrid of Akzidenz Grotesk and Helvetica but the distortion of the letters makes it difficult to be sure.

1.9 Painted stained glass ***

• The images are tiny.
• Lettering is not the focus; it is barely evident.

• “The yellow glass piece for the ribbon on which the type will be painted…” (p. 46).

Letters are painted, but type is not.

1.10 Mosaic lettering *
• “There are two principal ways of laying a mosaic: the direct method which involves the artist working on site setting the tesserae directly on to a cement ground or fascia and the indirect or reverse method which can be undertaken off site. In the indirect method the whole design is put together in a workshop before moved to the site in sections.” (p. 49).

Neither of these methods is shown in a step-by-step sequence.
• There is no verbal description of how tiles are cut, sized, and assembled.

• “Examples of the resilience of mosaic lettering exposed to the environment and city grime.” (p. 50).

The gallery of mosaic examples would be more useful if they showed different techniques.

• “The pavement of the Foro Italico, in Rome, built as an entrance to what would have been the 1936 Olympics which were subsequently moved to Berlin.” (p. 50).

The Berlin Olympics of 1936 were awarded to Berlin in 1931. See Wikipedia and Foro Italico was originally called Foro Mussolini and built for the 1944 Olympics which were awarded to London instead before being cancelled entirely due to the war. (London then got the 1948 Olympics). See Rome 1960: the Olympics that Changed the World by David Maraniss (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008).

2.1 Letterpress **

• “Gutenberg’s invention of modular lettering (type) spawned the discipline of typography (the arrangement of 26 modular letterforms, numerals and punctuation.)” (p. 52)

Twenty-six modular letterforms is incorrect. Haslam is not including both capitals and lowercase, let alone accented letters, alternates, ligatures, dipthongs and abbreviations. Gutenberg had nearly 300 characters in his fount.

• “The outside of the character is shaped with files [in punchcutting], while the counters are made with a separate positive punch, called a counter punch.” (p. 52).

This is not universally true. Some punchcutters, such as Christian Paput and Nelly Gable at the Imprimerie Nationale in Paris, eschew the counter punch entirely. See La lettre—La gravure du
Poinçon typographique
by Christian Paput (Paris: TVSO Éditions, 1998).

ª “As casting type is the beginning of letterpress manufacture….” (p. 52).

This is not true. The beginning is either punchcutting if we are talking about foundry type or it is composing type if we are talking about letterpress printing. Haslam’s phrase “letterpress manufacture” is ambiguous.

• “Overleaf Nigel Roche… demonstrates the making of punches and the casting of letterpress type.” (p. 52).

This spread, despite the words to the contrary, does not show Roche making punches. The 12 photographs are entirely about hand-casting type.

• p. 53 is given entirely to a large photo of the Plantin Museum, but the caption says little about what is visible in the room: e.g. presses, ink daubers, tympans, composing stones, etc.
• There is no showing of the process of punchcutting, only a single image of italic capital punches. There is no photograph of matrices.

Hand-casting metal type pp. 54–55 *****

• This spread ostensibly shows punchcutting, but it only shows typecasting.
• Call-outs would be helpful for a few of the images. The single enlargement is dark.

Storing type: upper and lower case pp. 56–57 **

• The photographs are insufficient. The dull images from the jacket and cover are repeated.
• There should be a diagram of a type case showing where each letter, numeral and punctuation mark belongs.

Upper case, usual arrangement. From Modern Methods of Book Composition by Theodore Low De Vinne (1904), p. 11

Lower case, usual arrangement. From Modern Methods of Book Composition by Theodore Low De Vinne (1904), p. 12

• There is no discussion of the California job case or the types of cases used in Europe, especially in Germany. Here is what David Bolton of The Alembic Press in England has to say about the evolution of typecases, “Originally, all the type for a particular face or size was stored in one large, square, case but it became the practice fairly early on in, for example, England, France, Belgium, to split the type between two, smaller, rectangular cases. Not only was it then easier to handle the weight of the cases, but a larger amount of any particular type face could then be stored. Thus Belgium had divided (i.e. pairs of) cases by 1563, England by 1588, and France at least by 1723 if not earlier. However, whilst English speaking countries and many European countries used pairs of cases, the German and Scandinavian countries continued with the single case (probably because they did not use the Roman alphabet, and thus made no use of small capitals, or accented letters). At the end of the nineteenth century, the need for two separate cases began to diminish, as mechanical typesetting become more common, and a single case, although the same size as one of the pair, again became adopted by many printers in France, U.S.A., U.K., etc.”

• “‘Bastard’ or non-standard sizes—7.5pt, 8.5pt, 9.5pt, 10.5pt, 11pt, 16pt, 22pt, 28pt, 42pt, etc.….” (p. 56).

This is an odd description of the term “bastard size” as half point sizes rarely existed in metal and 11pt and 16pt sizes were fairly common in Anglo-American foundries while 28pt and 42pt were common in German foundries. Theodore Low De Vinne, the eminent American printer and author of Plain Printing Types (New York: The Century Company, 1900) defines bastard types differently, “Bastard types are those with faces to large or too small for the body: a minion face upon a nonpareil body, or a brevier face upon a bourgeois body, is a bastard size.”, p. 57. Typographical Printing-Surfaces by Lucien Alphonse Legros and John Cameron Grant (London and New York: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1916) describe bastard types as named type sizes that do not conform to the new Anglo-American point system (see pp. 64 and 68). But the De Vinne definition seems to be the more common one (see also The Encyclopedia Britannica of 1888, p. 698).

Hand composition pp. 58–59 ***

• Not all of the steps are clearly shown.

Proofing pp. 58–59 **

• The type is shown in perspective.

• “A palette knife is used to smear the top cylinder with a line of ink straight from the tin.” (p. 59).

This is not common practice. Here is what John Southward says in Practical Printing (1900): “Take the can of ink and remove the lid. Then with a palette knife spread a little on the top of the ink table. Let it be a long streak, the full width of the table.… Spread it out as thin as possible, avoiding clots. Take the roller in the right hand, and just and just touch the ink with it.… Lay the roller down lightly on the table and draw it towards you. When you have got to the end of the table it will found that the cylindrical shape has left a series of parallel streaks, while between them there is no ink whatever. Repeat, and some of the intervening spaces will have become filled up, provided the roller was not put down on exactly the same place. Do this over and over again, shifting the position and direction of the roller a little each time, and each time the coating on the table, as well as that on the roller, will be more complete and thinner. Go on, doing it quicker each time, till the whole is beautifully coated with a thin film of ink. This is called distributing the ink. It is a very important part of presswork, and pains should be taken to do it properly.” (Quoted in Nineteenth-Century Printing Practices & the Iron Handpress by Richard Gabriel Rummonds, p. 583). Also see

2.2. Hot metal composition ***

The visual sequence is informative, though some photographs are too small or murky or complicated to easily understand. The large photo of the diecase (p. 61) is upside down.
• Call-outs are needed. Sometimes a drawing is better than a photograph. Those (p. 61) from the Book of Information (1970) published by the Monotype Corporation are not big enough to read the content.

2.3 Book finishing ***
• “Lettering can also be created through onlay—cutting out letterforms in leather and pasting them to the surface of the cover in a similar way to appliqué.” (p. 64).

Appliqué should be explained. It does not appear in the book until 6.2 Flagmaking where it is shown on pp. 196–197. The onlay process is a common one in craft bookbinding and should have been shown since it involves techniques (paring down leather and butting pieces) that are not indicated in this definition. (Onlay appears in the section on block line plates but it is not hand-done.) See A History of English Craft Bookbinding Technique by Bernard Middleton (New Castle, Delaware: Oak Knoll Books, 1996).

Hand-tooled lettering pp. 64–65 ***

• In the photograph of the tools with handles and brass type-characters attached to them the letters are not visible.
• figs.1 & 2 are murky.
• There is no showing of gold leaf tooled letters which are extremely common in bookbinding.

• fig. 10 “The heated tool is then flash-dipped in water….” (p. 65).

Why is this done?

Gouge work lettering p. 65 *

• The process is not shown.

• “Gouge work lettering makes use of curved brass tools, all of which have arcs with slightly different radii.” (p. 65)

This is not visible in the photograph.

Foil blocking pp. 66–67 ***

• The sequence is clear but the word being set is not easily visible. Only with a loupe is it clear that it is the same as the finished sample.
• The finished sample (“Isabella”) has a capital I in place of the second lowercase l. It appears to be set in Times Roman. One of the captions mentions 18pt Edinburgh. Is this another name for Times Roman or a different font? The spacing is very poor. Is this typical of foil blocking? Is spacing material used?

Block line plates pp. 68–69 ****

• p. 69 does not show work with letters, except fig. 4: “Boxes of alphabet sets for hand-tooling, many of which are over 100 years old.” Unfortunately, this image is extremely small. The sets actually look like ornaments, not letters.

• “…machine-engraving zinc alloy; the plate is referred to as a zinco.” (p. 68).

This leaves out the key information that zincos are photo-engraved plates.

2.4 Punch press stencils ****

• What is the model for these stencil letters?
• why are the isolated letters (C and N) not the same as those (L and P) missing from the alphabet displayed?

2.5 Typewriters *

• There is no process shown.
• The caption (p. 72) talks about the development of the shift key, pitch, tabs, etc. but provides no dates or details. The emphasis is more on the keyboard than on the mechanism of creating letters. The hammers (or, as Haslam calls them, levers) are not even shown.

• “The lever [hammer] action, which punched a letter into an inked ribbon and on to the paper, affected the form of the letters themselves.” (p. 72).

Haslam explains how letters had to be monowidth but does not show a typewriter alphabet or a comparable IBM golfball one. He also ignores the effect (schmutz and ink squash) of the hammer and ribbon on the letterform.

• “The typewriter was first patented in 1714 by the British engineer Henry Mill (c.1883–1771). However, it was not until 1868 that the first practical typewriter using the now familiar QWERTY or universal keyboard was designed and manufactured in the United States.” (p. 72).

Haslam does not mention Christopher Latham Sholes who is usually credited with the first practical typewriter. He is more important than Mill whose patent details are not known.

• “The golf balls came with different fonts and sizes, and were interchangeable.” (p. 73).

Haslam does not show any of these fonts, nor does he even name them. His brief history does not note the connection between the development of the typewriter and that of composing machines (see Machine Writing and Typesetting: The Story of Sholes and Mergenthaler and the Invention of the Typewriter and the Linotype by Frank J. Romano (Salem, New Hampshire: GAMA, 1986).

2.6 Braille *****

• There is no Braille alphabet chart.

Writing Braille by hand: slate and stylus p. 76 *****
Writing Braille mechanically: the Perkins Brailler p. 77 *****

• Do the keys of the Perkins Brailler have Braille dots on them? Or do blind people know which key to press by its position? The photograph is not clear.

Refreshable Braille display pp. 78–79 *****
Digital Braille setting p. 78 *****
• “Many blind operators type texts from dictation machines. They listen to the words, type on a QWERTY keyboard, and then read back the Braille to check their text using the refreshable Braille display.”

How do they use the QWERTY keyboard? Do they simply learn the key positions or do the keys have Braille dots on them? The photographs only show someone reading Braille letters created by the link between the QWERTY keyboard and the refresher machine.

Printing and binding Braille documents p. 79 ****

• fig. 2 should show the printed Braille page more directly.

2.7 Transfer lettering ***

• There is no process illustrated.
• This section is about using transfer letters not about how they are made, even though the bibliography lists Letraset & Stencil Cutting by Dave Farey and Colin Brignall (New York: International Typeface Corporation and London: St. Bride’s Printing Library, 1996).
• Although the book is about lettering there should be a note that Letraset and competitors also provided transfers of rules, patterns, gradations, architectural elements, symbols and even solid Pantone colors.

2.8 Snellen eyesight test *

• This is not a process and should not be included in the book at this level.
• Why did Snellen choose slab serif letters for his eye chart? Was there a specific typeface that he used?

2.9 Ishihara colour-deficiency lettering *

• This is not a process and should not be included in the book at this level.
• What typeface was the model for Ishihara’s letters and why?
• How are the Ishihara cards made?

2.10 Designing type (1) ***

• The difference between Designing type (1) and Designing type (2) is not made clear. Apparently, Designing type (1) is about creating an original typeface digitally while Designing type (2) is about the same thing but with a design influenced by past typefaces. There seems to be little reason to have two case studies (especially by the same designer) rather than one. As it is, this section indicates the overall concept of designing type digitally but there is no clear step-by-step process as is done in other sections of the book (e.g. taking specific letters or test words from pencil sketch to digitization to proofing to redrawing to reproofing to fitting with other letters and so on). Instead, the two examples jump about, touching only briefly on subjects which are crucial (like building a family) and on others that are less so (making unusual ligatures). The “English grotesque forms” that inspired the Sheffield City Council typeface are not even identified.

• What this section should really have had is a look at designing type in the period between the invention of the Benton punchcutting machine (1885) and the advent of digital type (c.1981) when type was drawn with pencils and pens, ink, French curves, templates, etc.—or cut out of rubylith—at a huge size and then tested with reducing glasses. The work of Goudy, Dwiggins, Zapf, Frutiger, Benguiat and Carter would have made a good contrast to that of Tankard. For instance, see Adrian Frutiger Typefaces: The Complete Works by Heidrun Osterer and Philipp Stamm (Basel: Birkhäuser Verlag and Schweizerische Stiftung Schrift, 2008).

Designing type (2) ***
2.11 Creating digital type ***
Converting hand-drawn letterforms to digital type pp. 87–88***

• The difference between this and 1.2 Digital calligraphy is not explained.
• This section differs from 2.10 Designing type only minimally. Here the digital typeface is not being created entirely from scratch but is a recreation of an analogue alphabet. Essentially, this section is about type revivals, though Haslam says nothing in this vein. That is unfortunate since type revivals are a complicated and controversial topic that would have been well worth exploring.

• “Interestingly, the woodcut [by Reynolds Stone] was redrawn as the font Janet for metal type but the drawings and matrix (see pp. 60–61) have been lost. All that remains of the font are private press books published at the time.” (p. 86).

When was the typeface Janet created? Why not show it as printed? (The reference to pp. 60–61 implies a reference to Janet when in fact it is a reference to the concept of matrix in general.)

• fig. 5 “The serif form can be flipped vertically and placed over other characters….” (p. 87).

This may be true of many typefaces but certainly not all, especially in modern digital type design where the influence of W.A. Dwiggins has led to many new typefaces with asymmetrical serif structures.


• The notion of printing as a separate chapter in Lettering is questionable. Why are “printing” processes such as road marking stencils, foil blocking and typewriters not included here while rubber stamps, hot foil blocking and vinyl letters are? Haslam provides no definition of what he means by printing.

3.1 Woodblock printing ****

• Despite the name of the section the process of printing a woodblock is not shown and not discussed verbally. Instead, the section is about creating a woodblock.
• There is no mention of wood engraving despite its historical importance and continuing practice.
• There is no mention of the popular practice of linocut which is a similar process.
• The tools for woodblock cutting should be shown. A few appear incidentally in fig. 1. The text emphasizes a paring knife, but burins and gouges are ignored. This may be because Ilse Buchert-Nesibitt doesn’t use these other tools, but then a more traditional practitioner should have been included as well.
• There is no image showing the final design being cut by Buchert. Instead, the examples of final art are by a student whose process was neither the same as hers nor traditional. The student “adapted the classical approach to woodblock carving by using large sheets of thin plywood” (p. 90), but what this specifically entailed is not explained nor is it shown.

• “Most calligraphers like to draw right-reading letters on to tracing or typo paper using pencil or ink.” (p. 90).

Why mention calligraphers when the section is about woodblock artists? There is very little overlap between the two (Rudolf Koch is a notable exception).

• fig. 2 “Ilse cuts away from the letter outlines towards the waste wood….” (p. 91).

This description belongs in the caption to fig. 3 since fig. 2 does not show Ilse Buchert Nesbitt at all.

3.2 Letterpress printing ***
Letterpress block printing p. 93 ***

• Contrary to expectations, this is not the missing half of 3.1 Woodblock printing. This section is about printing mechanical blocks “made photographically… using an acid-etching process.” In the United States these are called zincos, a term Haslam mentions elsewhere, though not here.

• Neither printing with a handpress nor with a Vandercook proof press is mentioned. The former dominated the history of letterpress printing from 1450 to the beginning of the 19th century while the latter is the preferred press of most letterpress printers today. Instead, letterpress printing with a Heidelberg is shown. This is a popular press today for large runs of invitations and stationery, but its procedures are different and not representative of the long history of letterpress printing. Haslam should have shown the steps involved in printing with a handpress: inking, makeready (the discussion of it in figs. 11 and 12 re: the Heidelberg is not detailed enough), imposition, adjusting pressure, proofing, paper, drying, registration, trimming, and folding. A sample diagram explaining imposition, a commonplace in printing manuals of the past, should have also been included.

• “So what is the future for this obsolete process?” (p. 92).

Haslam spends two out of four paragraphs on the demise of letterpress and its future in the wake of desktop computer technologies. This is space that could have been better spent on other things. The editorializing properly belongs in the introduction to Lettering.
• Along with not showing printing of handcut woodblocks, there is no showing nor mention of printing polymer plates. Polymer plates are commonly used in contemporary letterpress printing, but they are not mentioned in this section.
• The images focus on maps, diagrams and illustrations rather than letters.

Printing on a Heidelberg book press p. 94–95 ***

• Imposition, makeready and packing are noted but not fully shown. There is no sequence of printed images to indicate the minute adjustments made by a printer to achieve a good proof. Imposition is explained but not illustrated. Blocking out a chase with furniture and quoins is noted in the captions, but not shown in the photographs.

Storing forms and distributing the type p. 96 ****

• This is informative, but why include it when setting type in a chase is not shown? Figs. 1 and 2 simply show a forme already prepared.
• Why is there a photograph of Hebrew metal types? It is not part of the sequence of storing type and no mention is made of special storage requirements for non-Latin typefaces. The caption, in its entirety, says: “Special characters and scripts used for setting non-Latin languages such as Hebrew are cast on metal body sizes which match with the Latin alphabet enabling languages to be combined.” The special body size is not evident in the photograph. Shouldn’t this have been placed in 2.1 Letterpress: Hand casting metal type or in 2.2 Hot metal composition?
• The samples of letterpress printing (pp. 97–99) are not very informative vis a vis the merits and demerits of lthe process. In reproduction the tactile aspect of letterpress is not evident. Perhaps if Haslam had shown details of items printed letterpress so that the surface of the paper, the crispness of the impression and other aspects could be seen? (The problem of reproduction besets other processes, such as screen printing, in Lettering.) The only useful image is the photograph of Martin Schröder’s imposition—but the final print made from it is not included. Thus, no comparison can be made and the individual elements of the imposition (quoins, leading, other furniture) are not identified.

3.3 Thermography *****

• The samples of thermography are dull but the idea of a selection is exactly what the rest of the book is often missing. In this instance, type shown in perspective (fig. 1) is instructive.

Raising the type above the surface of the page p. 101 *****

• The largest photograph in the sequence is the one that least needs to be large since there are no details to be seen as there is in the other four photographs.

3.4 Lithography ***
• “The process was invented by the Bavarian dramatist Aloys Senefelder (1771–1834) in 1798.” (p. 102).

Stone lithography is an historically important innovation. It is still practiced today, though primarily by printmakers and not by commercial printers, so there is no excuse not to illustrate it. See the Tamarind Institute, Ken Pattern, and Paul Croft.

• “Offset lithographic printing is the most common form of printing used today.” (p. 102)

The focus is on offset lithography rather than stone lithography, though the history (p. 102) is more about the latter. Haslam does not mention Ira Rubel (1903), usually credited as the inventor of offset lithography. See The Evolution of the Book by Frederick G. Kilgour (Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 136.
• Why isn’t this section called Offset lithography? This is important since Americans refer to offset lithography as either “offset” or “offset printing”, reserving “lithography” for stone lithography. Lettering is a British book but much of its audience is likely to be American. Some acknowledgement of differing vocabularies is needed.

•“…offset lithography, in which the ink is transferred, or offset, from the printing plate to a rubber-covered cylinder before being printed on paper…” (p. 102).

The reason for the blanket or rubber covered cylinder purpose needs to be explained. A diagram of an offset press would be useful.

• “Calligraphic lettering and engraving were reproduced lithographically throughout the nineteenth century, but books, being text-led, were not commonly reproduced using offset lithography until the 1960s, when the uptake of photo-typesetting enabled type to be transferred to a lithographic plate through a photographic negative.” (p. 102).

This is a poorly written sentence. In the 19th century books were not printed using stone lithography because it was a planar process and metal type required a relief process. Stone lithography was not limited to reproducing calligraphy but could do any kind of lettering as long as it could be written or drawn on the stone or on special paper that could be transferred to the stone. In the 19th century books were not printed using offset lithography because the process was not invented until 1903. Although uncommon at first due to wariness of the new technology, books were printed offset through the reproduction of metal type via proofs photographically imaged on to metal litho plates. Although offset printing of books and other text-heavy items occurred before the advent of photocomposition, it was this new typesetting process that enabled offset printing to overtake letterpress printing in popularity.

• “A poster [p. 103] designed by Studio Dumbar. The example shows some of the refinements made possible with lithographic overprinting.” (p. 102)

These refinements are not specified. The poster could have had call-outs identifying these aspects. Or a letterpress poster could have been included for comparative purposes. (Despite the implication made by Haslam, overprinting is possible in letterpress.) As is, the Studio Dumbar poster, one of only four full-page images in Lettering, is a waste of space.

Platemaking and proofing p. 104 ***
• fig. 1 “Some smaller presses [printers?] have retained photographic processes for making the colour separation films for each of the plates.” (p. 104).

A description (and, ideally, images) showing the photographic method of color separation should have been included here.

Lithographic printing p.105 ***
• “All lithographic presses are made up of many rollers which move the ink from the reservoir at the top of the press down the ink pyramid to the plate cylinder.” (fig. 4, p. 105).

This is not shown and neither is the way in which the various fountains and controls are manipulated to accommodate the four color process. The sequence does not show a full-color design being built up step-by-step using CYMK colors as it goes through the various pyramids of the press.

Diagram of a multi-color offset press. From Typorama (1964), p. 280

• “Sheets are stacked on a pallet and mechanically knocked-up, the pile is made square.” (p. 105).

Why include a photograph of printed sheets stacked on pallets? Does the method used by offset printers differ from that used by letterpress, gravure, or silkscreen? Certainly, letterpress (using rotary presses) was capable of high volume printing as well.
• There is no showing of original artwork or the finished product.

3.5 Screen printing ****
Vinyl-cutting artwork for screen printing p. 106 ****

• The bottom right photograph should be cropped so that the hands of the man stripping away the background rubylith can be seen.
• The book does not mention hand silkscreening and cutting out artwork by hand rather than by plotter. Historically, silkscreen has been popular because it could be done manually without any complicated equipment.

Preparing the screen p. 107 ****
• “In a photographic darkroom, both sides of the screen are coated with a light-sensitive colloidal solution (not shown), a water-suspended emulsion made of polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) or polyvinyl acetate (PVAC).” (p. 107).

This step is not shown.
• The final artwork is, confusingly, shown on p. 106 where it has nothing to do with the artwork in the sequence on that page. On p. 107 a different example of finished screen printing is shown.

• fig. 1 “The four common mesh grades are ‘S’ (the smallest{), ‘M’, ‘T’ and ‘HD’ (the thickest).” (p. 107)

What does M, T and HD stand for? M for medium? T for thick? HD for heavy duty?

Screen printing lettering pp. 108–109 ***

• Why is this heading needed? How does screen printing an image differ from screen printing lettering? The sequences on pp. 106 and 107 both showed lettering. This sequence shows lettering in only four out of seven photographs. A detail of the finished print is included but not the original artwork. The captions say nothing about how screen printing impacts lettering.
• p. 109 is devoted to four posters by a single designer on a single theme. (None of them are part of the sequence on p. 108.) The caption points out the color combinations but says nothing about printing difficulties or benefits of silkscreen beyond that of registration. For instance, the caption to fig. 1 “Black type printed over a solid yellow ground” (fig. 1) should have noted that silkscreen is especially good for overprinting compared to offset lithography.

3.6 Vitreous enamel signs ****

• In the United States vitreous enamel is called porcelain enamel. This should have been noted.

• “Enamel signs were used in advertising from the 1910s until the late 1950s….” (p. 110)

Despite this statement no examples of enamel advertising signs are illustrated. Instead, 12 out of 14 images, are of car badges (emblems or logos). The remaining two are of subway signs.
• Screen printing should have included samples involving non-paper substrates. That would have made the leap to vitreous enamel signs (a process that involves screen printing) less jarring.

Enamelling pp. 112–113 ****

• The images are not very good. Fig. 2 showing jars of enamel is essentially useless; figs. 5, 8, 9 and 12 showing lettering are too small; fig. 6 showing the weeding out of the rubylith background is no better than the one on p. 106; fig. 7 showing “the huge exposure table” has little in it to provide a sense of scale; and fig. 3 showing the step of base-coating the signs needs to be cropped.

• fig. 2 “The enamel must be made into a paint. This is done by grinding the tiny glass balls into a powder and adding water to form a thick paint. Colour is added to the mix in the form of frits (very thin, biscuit-like fragments of glass in different colours).” (p. 112).

Although this is not part of the enamelling process, showing how enamel paint is made would have been fascinating.
• Instead of showing the completed sign that is being made in the sequence, there are three photographs devoted to a map that is part of an environmental sign system. Lettering is not a key part of these images.

3.7 Rubber stamps ***

• This is a moulding process and thus belongs in Chapter 4 rather than Chapter 3.

Vulcanized rubber stamps p. 114 ***

• Starting artwork is not shown. Letters are not visible in the photographic sequence.

fig. 1 “The lettering stands proud of the surface.” (p. 114).

Standing proud of the surface is a common phrase in Lettering. It means that the lettering is in relief. In this instance it is not evident.
• Most of the images (six out of seven) are of controls. These are not very informative about the vulcanizing process. “The handle is pulled down and an impression is made through a combination of heat and pressure.” (fig. 3) Since the inside of the machine is not visible a diagram might have been better than a photograph.

Photo polymer stamps p. 115 **

• This would have been an opportunity to mention the use of polymer plates for letterpress printing since the same machine and process are used.
• Original artwork is not shown. The finished product, which is shown, has the impression from the stamp in perspective so it cannot be compared properly to the polymer stamp itself. There is no vulcanized rubber stamp to compare to the polymer one. This is signficant since there are pros and cons about both kinds. See websites such as artylicious, blockheadstamps and Monkeyhouse.

3.8 Hot foil blocking ****

• There are no notes on the quality of hot foil blocking and how it compares to foil blocking by hand (in 2.3 Book finishing).

• “For debossed lettering, the die will be wrong-reading and printed from the front. For embossed lettering it will be printed from the reverse of the sheet and the die will be right-reading. The best embossed lettering is produced with male and female dies.” (fig. 3).

Why is this? Haslam does not explain the advantage of male and female dies in combination over a single die (male or female?). Male and female dies are not defined here nor in the glossary.

3.9 Tin plate printing ***

• The history of tin plate printing does not mention its origins in late 19th c. lithography. The phrase “tin plate printing” is ambiguous historically as it often refers to offset lithography using tin plates or to a decorative lithographic process—see Chapter XIV in Practical Lithography by Alfred Seymour (London: Scott, Greenwood & Co. and New York: D. Van Nostrand Co., 1903)—rather than printing onto tin. A Google search suggests metal lithography as an equivalent term.

Printing on tin pp. 118–119 ***
• “The lettering artwork for tin plate printing is prepared in exactly the same way as for lithography or gravure.” (fig. 5, p. 119).

Why is this not stated upfront? There is no explanation why tin plate printing uses lithography and gravure techniques but not those of letterpress or screen printing. (Gravure appears in the following section.)
• The photographs are small and the machines shown are complicated. Call outs or details are needed.

Fig. 1 “Both tin and aluminium are produced in many different gauges….” (p.118).

The photograph does not show a variety of gauges. Instead, it shows sheets of unidentified metal stacked up on tables.

fig. 3 “To allow the ink to adhere to the surface the sheet metal must be sized with either acrylic or a polymer.” (p. 118).

This cannot be seen in the photograph which simply shows a large machine.

fig. 11 “When all the colours have passed through the press and been laid they must be sealed with a varnish or lacquer.” (p. 119)

It is unclear what is happening in this photograph.
• The sequence does not show lettering at any point. The image in the photographs is difficult to decipher.

3.10 Gravure printing *

• There is no detail of a gravure plate to show how it differs from plates used in other processes.

“Intaglio print processes including etching, engraving and gravure hold the ink in grooves below the surface of the plate.” (p. 120).

• There is no sequence and the two photographs present are poor. One shows an “incline, roll-fed press” with no call-outs to identify its various elements—though they are verbally described in the caption. But the parts that are described (the roll of paper, six pyramids with different colored inks and an ultraviolet varnish, and a drying unit) are not those that do the actual printing. The second photograph shows a “revolving gravure plate” and an engraved row of stamps. “The paper is pressed on to the cylinder engraving plate from behind by the impression cylinder and the ink is drawn out of the half-tone indentations in the plate and onto the surface of the paper.” (p. 120) and “The image is printed by drawing out the ink that sits below the surface of the plate. Half-tone images are broken down into a series of tiny dots. The larger or deeper, the dot the greater the volume of ink carried in that area of the plate. Large, deep dots give good ink coverage with almost no visible screen, while tiny dots create very subtle tones….” (p. 120) It is this process that should be visually shown in steps and in detail.

• “Making a gravure plate is significantly more expensive than making an offset lithographic plate, and is specified by publishers for books with very long print runs of several million copies or because of the very soft tones or exceptionally fine lines that can be printed using the process.” (p. 120).

This is the sort of information that should be present throughout the book.
• There is no focus on letters in the photographs.

3.11 Banknotes and security printing *

• Why is this a separate section? It is not a single process but a combination of processes today. “Security printing is a generic term used for all forms of printing in which the sheet of paper represents value [stamps, currency, etc.]….” (p. 121) Haslam notes many of the processes used but does not explain the benefits and drawbacks of each vis a vis combatting forgery.
• The banknote shown (front and back) is not analyzed in any detail: “The face and the seated figure reading a paper… have endless subtle variations in line and colour. The tone that defines the image is created by combinations of multiple colour overlays rather than a single black plate.” (p. 121) Although there are restrictions on the reproduction of currency, the images here could have had call-outs indicating which parts of the design were printed with which processes as well as the presence of holograms, foil strips, watermarks, etc.).
• Why are gravure printing and security printing placed between tin plate printing and dye-sublimation? They should appear before screen printing et al.

3.12 Dye-sublimation ***

• The photographs are not used well. Some are too big and others are too small: the photograph of bicyclists (p. 122) is much larger than it needs to be to make the point that dye-sublimation is used to print on stretch fabrics and banners; fig. 1 “The image is printed wrong-reading on an inkjet printer.” (p. 123) This is not obvious since there is no original artwork for comparison and the image within the photograph is too small; figs. 4–6 “The pressure must be adjusted according to the type and thickness of the polyester. Large pneumatic rams force the hot platen down onto the fabric which is allowed to ‘cook’ for a minute.” (p. 123) The pneumatic rams are not clearly visible; instead it is the bed of the press that is most evident in figs. 4 and 5. Fig. 6 apparently shows the platen. Call-outs would have been helpful in identifying the platen, bed, rams, etc.
• There is no focus on letters in the sequence.
• There is no original artwork and the finished product is only described as “a vibrant, right-reading print”.

3.13 Vinyl lettering ***
Large-format vinyl lettering p. 125 

• The photographs are poor. Fig. 1 shows a computer screen that is hard to read; fig. 2 shows a graphic router “able to hold pens of different widths”, a vinyl cutter or a router but none of these tools are in evidence—only the bed of the machine. Fig. 3 shows a “movable bridge” holding the “chuck, bit, pen and cutter blade” but none of these are clear. The same is true for fig. 4 which ostensibly shows the blade that creates a “cutting path that links the outline of the successive letters”.
• There is no design shown in the sequence.
• There is no lettering visible in the sequence. The example of finished vinyl lettering is repetitive: a photograph of a race car covered in decals on p. 124 and a detail of the decals on p. 125. The detail shows little that is not visible in the larger photograph.

3.14 Inkjet printing **

• Since inkjet printing is the starting process for vinyl lettering (sometimes), dye-sublimation and direct-to-media printing why not place it first among these four processes?

Large-format inkjet printing pp. 127–128 **

• The lettering in the images (“a portrait of Shakespeare and calligraphic lettering”) is difficult to see due to the size of the photographs and, in the largest one, the oblique perspective of the image. However, in fig. 4 the lettering is visible and it is type, not calligraphy.
• The sequence does not show all of the detail it should. For instance, the text says that “Inkjet printing does not make use of plates, the ink is squirted from tiny nozzles slightly above the paper or substrate. A print head is mounted on a carriage which runs across a track over the paper. The carriage is driven to and fro by small electric motors.” (p. 126) But none of this is included in the sequence on p. 127.

• “The Piezo crystal technology can make use of solvent inks that are drawn into the paper and dry in clean, round dots, creating a very crisp image.” (p. 126).

There is no detail of this technology.
• There is no original artwork in the sequence; and the final product is not shown head-on.

PVC banner printing p. 128 *

• Lettering is visible in only one of the three sequence photographs. Unfortunately, the final image is a detail “of the CMYK registration stripe show[ing] the texture of the PVC banner”.
• There is no original art and no finished product.

3.15 Direct-to-media printing **

• The large photograph of the DTM printer needs call-outs to identify the various parts. Like so many modern machines it looks just like a plain box.

Printing on different substrates p. 130 **

• Lettering is only visible in the final image of the sequence and then only at an extreme angle.
• The remaining photographs are small and details of the process are difficult to distinguish: figs. 2 and 3 show computer screens but their content is virtually invisible; fig. 4 ostensibly shows an ink cartridge, though it looks like a brown-paper wrapped box.
• The sequence does not show printing on different substrates. A “thick plastic sheet” is the only substrate mentioned.
• The difference between DTM and conventional inkjet printing is described but not adequately shown. “However, unlike a conventional inkjet printer, the space between the bed and the jet can be varied to accommodate materials up to 4 cm (1 1/2 in) thick. Special ultraviolet-sensitive solvent inks are required which, when exposed to ultraviolet light, harden on the surface of the material.” (p. 129). Fig. 6 (p. 130) shows the carriage head lowered to 1.5mm above the print surface which does little to support this statement. The UV ink stage is not shown.

• “…where she was taught to cut letters by Michael Harvey (see pp.86–88).”

This reference is misleading since Harvey and his work are not shown on those pages. (The reference is to 2.11 Creating digital type which profiles Harvey’s partner Andy Benedek.) However, Harvey’s work is shown on p. 145.

4.1 Letter-cutting in wood ****

• Why does letter-cutting in wood precede the older, and more important, letter-cutting in stone?
• Haslam does not explicitly explain the difference between letter-cutting in wood and woodblock cuts. The distinction is even muddied a bit with the inclusion of fig. 5 (a Chinese wood relief carving) which is compared to Ilse Buchert’s work, but only in terms of how time consuming both are. Clearly, the distinction between letter-cutting in wood and woodblocks is that the former is the final product while the latter is a way station on the path to a printed image.

• “Wood proved to be a far more appropriate material [than stone] for letter-cutting broken script forms (blackletter) than stone, as the thick and thin strokes of the majuscule[s] and, and tightly space minuscule[s] of Textura (see p.15), could be clearly defined.” (p. 132).

This is not true. Wood has no advantages over stone for carving blackletter that don’t hold true for other scripts. In northern Europe there are plenty of examples of textura carved in stone. Nagelsaule? Hortus Botanicus

Hand-cutting letters pp. 134–135 ****

• This is a good sequence of photographs about the technique of letter-cutting in wood. The only complaint is that it is not clear if the pencil sketch on p. 134 is the basis for the letter R that is shown being carved. The final piece is not illustrated.
• The tools in fig. 1 are not clearly delineated.
• Despite these small flaws, this is really one of the best visual sequences in the entire book. It needs a few fixes to be perfect: 1. place the original drawing at the beginning of the sequence; 2. show all of the tools very clearly and with labels; and 3. show the final piece at the end.

• fig. 12 “Where the upper bowl joins the centre bar [in the R] a very fine point has been created that has a length and refinement impossible in stone.” (p. 135).

This is not true. What is possible in stone, according to the lettercutters I know (among them Michael Harvey, Nick Sloan, Richard Kindersley and Kristoffel Boudens), depends on the stone not on the letter. Lettercutters can do a lot in slate or brownstone that they cannot in granite—including cutting joined scripts and fraktur. See the image below [IMG7271] or IMG7948

• fig. 4 “The chisel is tapped into the wood using a small, round mallet.” (p. 134).

The mallet is not shown.

• fig. 6 “Some carvers work on the refinement of a letter with fine, square chisels, but here she [Caroline Webb] works with a chip or paring knife.”

This tool was not mentioned in the caption to fig. 1 describing the tools used by the woodcarver.

4.2 Letter-cutting stone by hand *****
• “While all letter cutters recognize the innate relationship between calligraphy and their own practices, few use a brush to paint the letters on to stone.” (p. 136).

This may be true of British practice but it certainly is not true of American practice. Father Catich, the John Stevens Shop and its alumni (John E. Benson, Nicholas Benson, John Hegnauer, Brooke Roberts et al), Christopher Stinehour, and Ann Hawkins all use a broad brush to paint letters on to stone.
• p. 136, paragraph two describes the proportions of classical Roman capitals verbally. Why not use a diagram? See The Art of Lettercarving in Stone by Tom Perkins (Ramsbury, Wiltshire: The Crowood Press, 2007), pp. 65, 68, and 73–83. Also, it should be noted that these letter groups (round, asymmetrical, symmetrical) do not match those on p. 22. This discrepancy should be discussed.

• “The lettering is cut in caps without interword spacing…” (p. 137).

The lettering in the image is based on Rudolf Koch’s Neuland typeface (1923) which in turn was derived from his own broad-pen lettering. Such lettering has become a common part of the repertoire of contemporary calligraphers. In this image, its use by John Neilson shows the influence of the German lettercutter Sepp Jakob, whose practice contrasts sharply with that of the English tradition embodied by Eric Gill and his lineage. See Schrift + Symbol in Stein, Holz und Metall by Sepp Jakob and Donatus Leicher (Munich: Callwey, 1977).

Hand-cutting letters pp. 138–139 *****

• Another good sequence spoiled slightly by not showing the original artwork and the final product.

• fig. 1 “The large chisel (left) with several points is referred to as a claw. The tip of a chisel may be flat (centre), rounded (second from right), or form a point (right)….” (p. 138).

The tips of the claw chisel are cut off in the photograph; the roundness of the tip of the second-from-right chisel is not easy to see; and there are five chisels in the photograph, though only four are described. A larger photograph would be helpful as would showing tools on a neutral background as in the Eyewitness book series from Dorling Kindersley (this comment applies to the sections on calligraphy and letter-cutting in wood as well). The verbal description of the three mallets in fig. 2 is more successful since there are fewer tools and they are larger and more distinctive.

• fig. 4 “Some letter cutters work out the full size design on paper before redrawing it on the stone. Others… design directly on to the stone and redraw until they are happy with the layout and form of the letters.” (p. 138).

This leaves out the method used by Catich and the John Stevens Shop: writing the inscription on the stone using a broad brush, either directly or on top of a previously drawn design. Pictures showing each of these various approaches would have been instructive.
• fig. 9 shows Fergus Wesssels using a mallet and chisel, but neither is identified in the caption. The mallet is probably the metal mallet and the chisel looks like a pointed one but it could be a flat-tipped one turned on its side. The chisel in figs. 5–8 is not identified in the caption but is clearly a flat-tipped one.

fig. 4 “Once all the letters have been drawn… the fine chisel is sharpened and the cutting can begin.” (p. 139).

There is no mention of a fine chisel in fig. 1. Is this the pointed chisel or a narrow flat-tipped one?
• The B sketched with a white chinagraph pencil is not visible.

• fig. 7 “The chisel is held at a consistent angle in relation to the stone as this ensures an even depth.” (p. 139).

This is misleading. The chisel is held at a constant angle but the depth of cut is not always the same. In “Carving techniques for V-cut incised letters”, Tom Perkins has an illustration with the caption: “Showing that the sides of the V-cut stay at the same angle, whatever the depth of the V-cut.” (p. 40). The wide strokes in letters need deeper V-cuts than the narrower strokes. Perkins’ book is full of excellent photographs of the various aspects of lettercutting in stone. For example see “How to hold the dummy and chisel” (p. 39) and “Applying gold leaf” (pp. 152–153) as well as the clear photographs of chisels and dummies (the more commonly used term for what Haslam labels mallets) on pp. 25–27.
• There is no sequence showing the painting or, more importantly, the gold-leafing of letters cut in stone. Fig. 3 (p. 139) supposedly shows gold leaf being brushed on to a stone, but since the lettering below, as well as above, the pile of gold leaf is gilded it seems that this photograph shows either gold leaf being burnished or excess gold leaf being brushed off. See the depiction of the process in Tom Perkins (pp. 152–153).

Applying gold leaf. From The Art of Lettercarving in Stone by Tom Perkins (2007).

Applying gold leaf (continued). From The Art of Lettercarving in Stone by Tom Perkins (2007).

• “Some cutters consider the addition of any colour or gilt to an inscribed letter to be gauche or kitsch.” (p. 139).

Haslam should have noted the fact that Ancient Roman inscriptions were most likely gilded or rubricated according to Father Catich and other experts.

4.3 Letter-cutting stone by machine ****
Cutting letters in stone using a pantograph pp. 140–141 ****

• There is no original artwork. It is not clear if the lettering visible in figs. 6 and 7 is part of the same design as the two lines of lettering reproduced at the bottom of p. 141. No complete inscription is shown.
• fig. 2 “Engraved right-reading letter patterns” (p. 140) shows patterns in a drawer but it is impossible to see the letters on their tips. The model letters used for machine-cut stone inscriptions are not shown at all. Being able to compare them to handcut models as well as typefaces would be useful, especially since Haslam states, “The inscription is typographic in form, as individual characters are identical.” (p. 141).

• “An example of the final machine V-cut showing centred lines evenly spaced using caps.” (p. 141).

The two lines of lettering shown are poor. The letters look blurry, the letter spacing is uneven (contrary to Haslam’s assertion) and the word spacing is enormous.
• How do the machines achieve a V-cut? Fig. 7 “The cutting point can be moved up or down to accommodate different depths of headstone. The depth of cut is controlled by the amount of pressure the operator applies to the two handles used to guide the stylus.” (p. 140) is the only relevant comment. But the cutting point in the photograph is murky. What is actually happening is not clear. (A cutting tip is shown in detail on p. 143 as part of Computer-controlled machine V-cut letters—but not in action.)

Letter-cutting stone by computerized machine p. 142 *

• The photograph (p. 142) is not detailed enough to see the pale, unpainted inscription clearly. A close-up would have been more effective. The letters were supposedly designed by Macdonald Gill, Eric Gill’s brother, but there are no samples for comparison.
• Why is the “stone of sacrifice”, designed by Edward Lutyens (1869–1944), in a section on cutting letters by computerized machine? The design must have been created before the invention of computers. Is the same design being used today? “In recent years, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission has invested in very high-quality computerized letter-cutting equipment, at its workshops on the Somme in France.” (p. 142).

Computer-controlled machine V-cut letters pp. 143–144 ***

• The computer screens shown in figs. 1–3 are pale and, consequently, the lettering being designed is hard to see. The largest photograph on the page is a waste of space since one-third of it is taken up with a man watching a machine.

• fig. 3 “Fonts for computerized letter-cutting must be designed with a three-dimensional element.” (p. 143).

A sample of one of these fonts would have been welcome.
• There is no final artwork—unless it is the stone of sacrifice shown on p. 142.
• This is the only section in the book where a process is shown on two back-to-back pages. The image in figs. 1–5 (p. 143) however is not the same as the one in figs. 6–9 (p. 144). For the second image final artwork is shown (and in excellent detail), however.

• “Cutters come in a range of shapes, and the machine can incise a 90-degree profile like that created by sandblasting, and produce V-cuts of different depths: 30 degrees for a shallow cut, 45 degrees for a medium cut, or, as in this example, 60 degrees for a deep cut.” (pp. 143–144).

This photograph and information is excellent. But it would have been useful to see similar details of tools for hand-cutting letters in stone and for machine-cutting letters. Wessel’s cut is not described, though his use of a “fine chisel with a slightly inclined (15-degree) cutting edge” implies the angle of V-cut that he uses.

• “To compensate for the stone’s minor inconsistencies in thickness, a precutting program is run to form a digital, topographic profile of the surface of each stone.” (p. 144).

Are there any limitations as to what kind of stone can be used with these machines?

4.4 Sandblasting ****
Sandblasting lettering in stone p. 145 ***

• There is no original artwork or final product as part of the sequence. There is also another bait-and-switch in which the lettering presumably on the computer screen in fig. 1—the screen appears blank—is definitely not that in fig. 4, though it may be that in fig. 6. Fig. 4 shows Times Roman while fig. 6 is apparently a custom font designed by Michael Harvey for Andrew Grassby Stonemasons. The font is described in the caption to fig. 1 but not mentioned in the caption to fig. 6.

• fig. 1 “Andrew Grassby Stone-masons [sic?] worked with the stone cutter and lettering artist, Michael Harvey, to produce a font called Grassby/Harvey which is frequently used by the firm for sandblasting and stone-cutting.” (p. 145). The font is not shown here.

Sandblasting lettering in glass pp. 146–147 *****

• The lettering (“Mother”) in figs. 1 and 2 is not the same as that in figs. 5–12 (“Wendy”). The final artwork, though, is excellent: large, direct and clear. It is what is missing from many of the other sections of Lettering.

4.5 Machine-routed letters ***
CNC-routed letters p. 148 ***

• There is no original artwork.

• fig. 4 “Although the router cuts in a circular fashion (note the rounded outer corner), a perfect point has been achieved on the inner edge.” (p. 148).

The photograph is not large enough to see this detail easily. How does a router cut a perfect point? Routing normally leaves rounded corners.

• fig. 5 “Here the reverse of the letter shows how a strip giving its depth is attached with a welded sem and a support has been spot welded.” (p. 148).

The photograph is unclear.
• The gallery on p. 149 includes extraneous images: fig. 2 “A large, stainless steel ‘R’. Note how the base of the letter is refined with a very smooth arc.”; fig. 3 “A huge 1.2-m (4-ft) tall, 20-cm (8-in) deep stainless steel ‘T’ awaits collection. It can only be moved by fork-lift truck.” In contrast, the other three figures provide vital information on painting and finishing.

4.6 Water-cut letters ****

• This is a good photographic sequence except that the lettering in the first and last images does not match. Fig. 1 shows six lines of repeated outline capitals (perhaps Adobe Garamond) while the image after fig. 10 shows a capital Ariston R.

• fig. 1 “Here a series of letters… have been banked [arranged] together on a scale drawing of the mild-steel sheet…” (p. 150).

Is this done for economy?

4.7 Hot-wire cutting ****
Cutting letters from polystyrene p. 151 ****

• This is a generally good sequence. Fig. 2 would be improved if the image was stronger. Even though the artwork is only a Helvetica S, at least it is visible at each stage of the process.

4.8 Laser-cutting and etching *****

• The only complaint about this sequence is that the lettering chosen for the demonstration is so plain. Fig. 7 “A detail of the counter form, which has been removed to reveal the sophisticated curves produced through laser cutting.” (p. 155). A script letter (instead of Helvetica) would have demonstrated the technique’s ability to handle truly complex curves and negative spaces.
• The lettering on the computer screen in fig. 1 is a bit hard to see.

4.9 Pop-up and paper lettering *

• This section is partially mistitled. The two illustrations show paper that has been cut and sculpted—but not in the manner of a traditional pop-up—and that has been embossed.

• “Pop-ups are generally undertaken by graphic designers who specialize in this form of paper engineering, working with sheets of paper, scalpel, bone folders, tape and glue… The designer of a pop-up makes many developmental prototypes using different techniques and paper stocks before producing a presentation dummy and drawing a production net—a flat outline on which folds, cuts and glue points are marked.” (p. 156)

None of this process is shown since there is no sequence. For examples of true pop-ups involving letters see the work of Ronald King and his Circle Press.
• There is no sequence for the embossing of paper and very little verbal information on the process: “…using hand-made paper pulp pressed into a mould.” (p. 156). There is nothing about machine embossing using dies; or hand embossing using a bristol board template of lettering and a bone folder (or the back of a spoon).

4.10 Machine engraving ****

• There is no beginning artwork or finished product. The latter would have been useful for a comparison to hand engraving.
• Why does machine engraving precede hand engraving? In most of Letters manual processes come before their mechanical counterparts.
• The process described is similar to that employed in making wood type or in the Benton punchcutting machine. That would have provided an excuse to mention these important type-making methods.
• Fig. 1 needs call-outs to identify the various pantograph parts: arms, pattern, cutting point, etc.

• fig. 2 “Engraved brass letter patterns in a range of fonts are used as guides for the pantograph.” (p. 157).

Are these fonts unique to machine-engraving or are they derived from traditional typefaces?

4.11 Hand engraving ***
Hand-engraved lettering on a silver goblet p. 159 ****

• This section has some of the best detailed photographs in the book. The sequence is good also, but there is no original artwork and no final example.
• pp. 160–161 show stunning examples of engraving, but there are no details of the copperplate engraving on p. 161 (i.e. title, date, artist, location, etc.). It is simply called “the engraving plate”. Why is an example of copperplate engraving shown here if the process itself is not included in Lettering? Its absence is a major oversight.

4.12 Glass-engraving ****

• There is some discrepancy between the lettering in fig. 6, the last stage in the sequence, and the lettering in the “enlarged detail of the engraving” on p. 163. The swash Ts are different.

• “There are three basic engraving depths: surface engraving, up to 10 per cent of the glass depth, intaglio or deep engraving up to 40 per of the glass depth…; and relief or cameo engraving where the letter is made to stand proud of the surface by engraving back the ground.” (p. 162).

These three different depths are not shown. The sequence depth is not identified, though it is probably intaglio.
• fig. 3 showing tiny burrs used in engraving should be larger.

4.13 Acid-etching glass **

• The text is very long, but good. But it would be good to have a visual explanation of the process with more detail than the three grungy photographs on p. 165.

• “The effects of cheaper architectural vinyls may be undistinguishable from those created by etching, depending on the viewing distance, the nature of the mounting (face or reverse) and the lighting conditions.” (p. 164).

If examples of both were shown side-by-side this useful information would be even better. Comparisons should be at the heart of Lettering.

• “Acid etching [sic] is used to create several different effects [transparent, translucent, satin finish, rough finish, pearl finish, and white finish], depending on the type of glass and acid combination.” (p. 164).

The gallery on p. 166 shows satin finish but none of the other effects. Instead, there is tinted resin front face, painted front face, acid etching combined with white gilding, and examples of gilding on one side of the glass and painting on the reverse. None of these techniques is illustrated.

Etching lettering on glass p. 165 *

• The three photographs show more of the acid-etching environment than the process itself. There is no lettering visible.
• fig. 1 shows “a scale drawing of a design” to be acid-etched, but not the final product.

Gallery of acid-etched glass pp. 166–167 *

• The large image on p. 167 would have benefited from a separate detail showing the surface of the glass.

4.14 Photographic etching **
• “The process can be used in three main ways: surface etching; stencil or hole etching; and profile etching.” (p. 168).

Why not show each of these ways? The photographic sequence presumably shows surface etching, though it is not labeled as such.
• p. 170 is devoted to finished examples including “photographic profile etching”, “photographically etched stencil forms” and “photo ‘engraving’”. The latter is not mentioned as one of the principal submethods.

Etching letters into metal pp. 168–170 **

• There is no lettering shown in any stage of the process.
• The process is visually boring since the tiny photographs primarily show featureless machines.

5.1 Rendered lettering *

• There is no sequence illustrating how rendered lettering is done.
• Rendered lettering is a pre-World War II process that does not seem to qualify for inclusion in the book. Another 19th c. technique that is missing from Lettering but that is very similar visually—and is still commonly used—is cast stone. “Another well-known variety [of cast stone] was Victoria stone, which is composed of finely crushed Mount Sorrel (Leicestershire) granite and Portland cement, carefully mixed by machinery in the proportions of three to one, and filled into moulds of the required shape. When the blocks are set hard the moulds are loosened and the blocks placed in a solution of silicate of soda for about two weeks for the purpose of indurating and hardening them.” (Wikipedia).

5.2 Lettering in paper *

• Why is this separated from 4.9 Pop-up and paper lettering? The techniques here are watermarks and pulp casting.

• “Relief and debossed lettering are produced by trapping a dampened sheet of paper under pressure between a male and female mould.” (p. 174).

This process is not illustrated.

• “Watermarks are made by placing a letterform, made from wire thread, over the mesh of a paper deckle…. The deckle is lowered into a vat of liquid pulp. The water drains through the mesh leaving the paper fibres on its surface.” (p. 174).

The process is not illustrated. This sentence does not do justice to the long history of watermarks. See Bernstein: The Memory of Paper, WZMA (Wasserzeichen des Mittelalters), or for a better range of samples. For information on how to make a watermark, using several techniques, see The Complete Book of Handcrafted Paper by Marna Burns (Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, 2004), pp. 133–138.
• Pulp casting is described at great length but not shown in sequence. Pulp casting is also called paper casting.
• The examples of pulp casting and watermarking are dull.

5.3 Polystyrene moulding *

• There is no sequence for this process.

• “Lettering can be made in four ways using expanded polystyrene (EPS): moulded into three-dimensional letters; surface moulded; and profile cut or sculpted using an electrically heated hot-wire cutter. Polystyrene moulding is a three-phase process.…” (p. 175).

There seems to be only three ways enumerated. There are four images but only one identifiable method (fig. 4, sculpting with a hot-wire cutter which has already been discussed in 4.7 Hot-wire cutting). Figs. 1, 2 and 3 are all moulded rather than cut or sculpted.

5.4 Vacuum-forming and thermoforming **
Plastic lettering p. 176 **

• In the vacuum-forming sequence four of the seven photographs are tiny. Three of them should be larger to make the image (which is white) easier to see.

• fig. 3 “The letters on the plate are cut with a 10-degree return to make it easier to remove the plastic….” (p. 176).

This important detail is not visible.
• There is no original artwork or final product shown.
• p. 177 is devoted to a poster by Paul Elliman and Graphic Thought Facility made using thermoforming. Why not show the stages it underwent?

5.5 Rapid prototyping ***
Letters formed through rapid prototyping p. 179 ***

• The lettering in the sequence is a sans serif L&P which was used in 4.8 Laser-cutting and etching. Although it is a dull choice, it does make it possible to compare two techniques.
• All of the photographs in the sequence are too small except the last one showing the finished product. Figs. 4–6 are also dark.

• fig. 1 “The letterforms here have been crudely traced for speed but the quality of the ampersand curves can be improved by creating more short facets….” (p. 179).

Does this crudeness matter in the final result? It is difficult to tell since the completed product is shown at an angle.

5.6 Coins and medals *

• There is no process shown.

“Today, large electrical furnaces are used to heat the alloys of zinc, copper and nickel for silver coins…” (p. 180).

The text describes the current method of coinmaking but says nothing about the history of the subject. How were coins made in the past? Casting, die stamping, hammering, striking?
• The only coins shown are seven British coins released in 2008. Given the rich history of coins—and the fact that lettering has been a significant aspect of their design—it is a major disappointment not to see any Roman or Renaissance coins. Nor are there any medals by Pisanello or Matteo de’ Pasti; nor drawings of coins by 20th c. artists such Jan van Krimpen, Eric Gill, or Michael Harvey. See Eric Gill: Man of Flesh and Spirit by Malcolm Yorke (London: Constable & Co., 1981), p. 36. The websites of The British Museum, the United States Mint and Coins of the UK provide some visual information on the process of designing a coin.

5.7 Lettering with plants *

• There is only a single image for this rich topic and it is from 1928. The different methods of creating letters from plants need to be illustrated: topiary, bedding, trimmed hedges, etc. And at least some should be contemporary.

• “The designs for lettering flowerbeds and floral clocks are laid out on graph paper. The gardeners work to a set scale using pegs and string to square up the bed or clock; divisions or letters are marked out with fine sand.” (p. 181).

This is the sort of description that cries out for an illustrated sequence of steps.

5.8 Lettering in food **

• There is no process illustrated.
• the text focuses on rock stick candy, moulded chocolate letters, moulded licorice, stamped licorice and liquified icing. Left out are letters stamped out of cookie dough and baked, alphabet soup letters, letters made using pastry guns, letters carved from vegetables (such as potato stamping) and letters sculpted out of ice.
• The liquorice letters (black) are dark and hard to decipher.

• “Chocolate letters were first created in about 1900 by small independent shops but were not widely popular until the 1950s when major Dutch chocolate companies such as Droste, Verkade and Driessen began large-scale production.” (p. 182).

If this is true, then why did Egyptian letters become the norm? Is there a practical reason?

5.9 Sand casting metal ****
Casting letters in lead pp. 184–185 ****

• This is a good, overall sequence. There is no original artwork and no finished product, but some model letters are shown (albeit in perspective) along with a detail of a completed sign.

• fig. 1 “Letters shown here are in Times New Roman….” (p. 184).

This sort of detail is welcome. It should be more common in Lettering.
• fig. 2 “When the letters have been spaced, they are gently tapped into the sand with a light hammer.” (p. 184).

Again, this is the type of information that should be conveyed regularly in Lettering.

5.10 Cast-aluminium and polyurethane signs **
• “Traditionally street signs, railway signs and fingerposts (signposts at road junctions) were manufactured from cast iron.” (p. 188).

A description of the cast iron process and how it differs from the modern one of cast aluminum—if at all—would have been useful. Even the showing of a cast iron sign next to one made of aluminum or polyurethane would be instructive since Haslam points out at length the drawbacks of the former and the advantages of the latter. “Painted polyurethane signs are indistinguishable from their cast-iron predecessors and are not subject to rust staining.” (p. 187).

Casting letters pp. 186–187 ***

• Several of the photographs are too small or too dark: fig. 1 the lettering is difficult to see; and figs. 7, 8 and 11 are dark, making the lettering hard to see in fig. 8.
• The original artwork, the base plate in fig. 1 (“Potterspury”), does not match the nearly finished sign in fig. 12 (“Westbourne”) nor the stages in between (“Durden’s Corner…”). The final image fig. 13 shows a detail from another text.

• “The letters can be in any typeface but very fine serifs are ill suited to casting.” (p. 186).

The sign in fig. 13 is set in Times New Roman letters, but those in fig. 1 are something else. The letters in all of the other stages look as if they are Times New Roman. There should be better details of letters to show serifs and hairlines. The gallery (p. 188) is not sufficient.

• “A baseline is drawn on the pattern block and the characters are arranged by eye. Groups of letters are reviewed three at a time with the negative space between them.” (p. 186).

The “rule of three” for testing letter spacing is a good one, but it is an odd one for laying out a text. Is the text constantly revised? Differing traditions of spacing (see 1.7 Canal boat painting) are of nearly as much interest as differing methods of making letters.
• The village signs (p. 188) are not shown large enough to make the differences between cast aluminium and cast polyurethane visible and the caption is not sure which ones are which.

6.1 Embroidery ***
Hand-embroidered letters p. 190 ***

• This is a good sequence. It shows a single design carried through each stage.

• fig. 1 “Embroidery frames stretch the fabric evenly and are made in many different sizes and shapes. (p. 190).

The frame is not visible in the photograph.

• fig. 3 “…[for the initials on men’s shirts] clients choose the colour of thread and the lettering from two sample sheets (sans and fish tails).” (p. 190).

How did this limited convention of only sans and “fishtails” come about? What are fishtails? (The sequence shows sans.) A sample alphabet should have been included in the spread.

Creating a monogram p. 191 **

• The sequence does not show the same design from start to finish; there seem to be three different designs in figs. 1–3, then a new one in figs. 4–9, and yet another one in fig. 10.

• fig. 7 “A tailor’s weight holds the pattern in place…” (p. 192).

The weight is more visible in fig. 6 where it goes unremarked.

Raised embroidery letters pp. 192–193 ***

• This spread does a good job of clearly showing details, but there is no sequence for the process.

• “To produce more three-dimensional lettering and crests the embroiderer must use thicker metallic threads, beads, purls (small coils of gold threaded on to bullion thread)… and blades (short strips of metal with a hole at either end which are stitched into a pattern to lift the surface).” (p. 192).

Purls are shown but not the other items; and the process of using blades is not shown.
• The gallery (p. 193) shows only purls; one image has no lettering.

6.2 Flagmaking **
• “Flags can now be produced using five main processes: printing, painting, appliqué, and machine and hand embroidery.” (p. 194).

Although Haslam explains that painting flags is a disappearing profession and that printing flags is considered cheap, the only process that is shown in this section is appliqué. There are no samples of painted and printed flags for comparison to those appliquéd and embroidered.

Ceremonial flags p. 197 *
• “Examples of European ceremonial flags show the historical use of combinations of appliqué an embroidery with gold thread….” (p. 195).

These aspects of each flag are not pointed out.

Flag quality p. 197 ***

• The three images are of appliqué, machine embroidery and hand embroidery. All three have the same content which is excellent for seeing the difference between mechanical and manual techniques. This is what Lettering needs to include for every process. The only complaint is that the images are shown at an oblique angle and that letters are a minor part of the design.

Flagmaking pp. 196–197 ***

• The sequence has some good details, but it does not show a single design from start to finish. Figs. 1–3 (top) belong together while figs. 3 (bottom) and 5 (top)–8 are a different set of letters, and figs. 4 and 5 (bottom) are difficult to decipher since they are poorly cropped and sized.
• fig. 1 shows the artwork at too much of an angle. The final product is not depicted.

Ceremonial two-sided flags combining appliqué and embroidery p. 197 *

• This gallery makes the one on p. 195 redundant. Here the captions describe each flag. “The complex designs of each flag are not embroidered directly on the flag cloth but are made on separate pieces of the same coloured fabric and couched down in layers.” (p. 197). Why is this process—involving both embroidery and appliqué—not shown instead of the simple appliqué one?

6.3 Machine embroidery **

• This process is presented solely as the experimental work of a graphic designer using an embroidery machine linked to a personal computer. There is no mention of the history or process of commercial machine embroidery.

• fig. 1 “The lettering is sized digitally on screen, printed on to paper, then traced on to fabric using a pencil and put on the sewing machine.” (p. 198).

None of this is visible in the two photographs that make up fig. 1.
• The sequence does not show original artwork or the finished product and the two photographs (fig. 3) that show key aspects of the process are too small.

• fig. 6 “An example of appliqué—felt lettering… with minimal embroidery that consists of white tacking stitches.” (p. 199).

The technique of tacking should be explained.

6.4 Cross stitch ****
• “Cross stitch is an ancient craft and has developed independently within different cultures and folk traditions.” (p. 200).

There is no showing of traditional cross stitch, either as a process or as examples. This section is devoted entirely to a graphic designer developing “lettering that is a hybrid of print and embroidery”.

Hand-stitched lettering p. 201 ****

• This sequence includes original artwork and a finished product but it is only the letter a. This is shown in myriad variations which is fascinating, but it would have been interesting to see something more complex. Otherwise, the photographs of this process are excellent. The gallery (p. 202) has more elaborate experiments with the letter a.
Needlepoint, which historically has embraced lettering, is not included in this section. lists 32 books devoted to alphabets for needlepointing.

6.5 Hand knitting *
“A lettering pattern for hand knitting is plotted out on graph paper. Each square represents a stitch. The type of stitch or a change of colour are [sic] indicated by marks, dots and crosses.” (p. 203).

• Why not show this? What do the marks, dots and crosses indicate? There is no process here.

• “Lettering can be produced using two principal techniques: changing the colour (Fair Isle or intarsia) or changing the texture of the letters by using a different stitch…. The back of the knitting [in Fair Isle] has floats (lengths of unlooped yarn stretching between the stitches). Intarsia has the second colour twisted into the knit….” (p. 203).

Why not show both techniques? The three images are not identified as being either Fair Isle or intarsia.

6.6 Machine knitting *
Machine-knitted lettering p. 205 **

• “A detail of the carriage shows the dials that read the number of rows and the fabric tension.” (p. 204).

The photograph is too small to see the details of the dials themselves.
• The sequence is good overall, but the finished image is nothing more than a News Gothic a. At least it provides a point of reference to the cross stitch section.
• The image (another screen) in fig. 6 is hard to see.

6.7 Rugmaking ***

• Despite the title there are no rugs in this section. Instead, the work of a graphic designer using a tufting gun is shown. The sequence and details are excellent however. The only things missing are original artwork and a final product.
• Tufting should be explained. It is not in the glossary.

6.8 Woven letters *

• There is no process, only the front and back of a woven football (soccer?) scarf.

• “Lettering can only be produced on a jacquard loom, which produces a double thickness of fabric.” (p. 208).

Why not show a jacquard loom and how it works?
• This chapter on fabric lettering leaves out sewing, batik, iron-on (and velcro) embroidery, needlepoint and quilting.


• Why not include skywriting in this chapter?

7.1 Fireworks **
• “Lettering or fire-writing signs are generally constructed by hand. The lettering display or logo is designed as an artwork, often on screen….” (p. 211).

Haslam describes the process verbally but not visually. An exception is the stage called arming the lettering.
• There is no sample of original artwork. The final product (p. 211) looks like it has letters based on Arial.

• “Spectacular large-scale lettering using armed lances on a softwood trellis raised above the ground on poles” (p. 211).

The trellis and poles are obscured by the fireworks and sparks.

Arming the lettering p. 211 **

• The assembly of lances is shown in two photographs but it is not entirely clear where the letters are. Maybe the left photo shows a sans serif monoline H and O?

• “A very simple alphabet created by drawing with light.” (p. 211 re: upper right image).

A detail of this process would have been useful. Other means of creating letters with light are left out of Chapter 7: light bulb lettering (as in old theatre marquees), photograms, and holographic projections.

7.2 Illuminated metal and Perspex lettering **

• There is no original artwork nor a finished design.

Hand-routed lettering p. 212 **

• The cutting step is not shown in fig. 1; the white material makes the letters hard to see.
• Different letters appear in different stages of the process: figs. 1 and 2 &; fig. 3 N; fig. 5 V(?); fig. 6 S.

Spray painting and heat drying p. 213 **

• Different letters appear in different stages of the process: fig. 2 S and E; fig. 3 A and others; fig. 5 R; fig. 6 M and &. What is shown in figs. 1 and 4 is unclear.

7.3 Light boxes ****
Hot-moulded light boxes p. 215 ****

• There is no original art; the final product is shown at an oblique angle.

• fig. 4 “The waste is cut away with a bandsaw….” (p. 215).

There is no bandsaw in the photograph.

Routed Perspex light box lettering p. 216 ***

• In this sequence the sign seems to be the same one as in the hot-moulded light box sequence. That this is a different sign is not spelled out until the caption to the image at the bottom of p. 216: “A pair of illuminated signs… produced through hot moulding [sic] Perspex and routed Perspex lettering.”

Metal illuminated light box p. 217 ****

• This is a good sequence. The same sign is shown clearly at each step in the process. Only the original artwork is missing.

7.4 Neon signs ****
Letters made from glass tubes p. 219 ****

• The process is clearly explained, though the original artwork is missing.

• “…Claude developed an illuminated sign in 1902 by bending a neon-filled glass tube into letterforms.” (p. 218).

Claude did not make a sign in 1902, but was the first person to apply an electrical discharge to a sealed tube of neon gas. The first publicly displayed neon sign was 1910.

• “As the 1920s drew to a close, however, the American economy stalled and then collapsed. Thousands of unemployed farm labourers fled to the slums of the big cities where their distractions were the newly illuminated bars, risqué theatres and illegal strip joints. As a consequence neon, most visible at night, gained a salacious reputation.” (p. 218).

What is the source of this odd history of neon signs? This is what the American Sign Museum says, “Because advertising always directly relates to the economy, the 1929 business collapse impacted the neon business. After Claude’s patent expired on Jan. 19, 1932, the neon business began to surge as secrets of the electrode — and the activated electrode — became widely available. But, as expected, such conditions led to cutthroat competition at its worst. Also during this time, techniques from radio-tube and incandescent manufacturing were adapted to neon. Further, Ben Kresge developed the machine-made tubulated electrode and introduced it to the market in the late 1930s. At the same time, filament hot-cathodes for gas-discharge lamps were introduced, leading to the low-voltage, T-12 lamps widely used for lighting today.”

• “Illuminated bulb signs were popular on fairgrounds before the uptake of neon signs in the 1920s.” (p. 218).

Bulb signs were not limited to fairgrounds but were common in urban areas, especially for theatres and cinemas.

• “Coloured neon is produced by varying the amount of gas and the electrical charge.” (p. 219).

The specifics of this are not explained (i.e. which amounts of gas and electrical charges create blue).
• The examples of neon signs are surprisingly dull given the liveliness of the medium historically. See The Neon Museum or Thom Rinaldi’s New York Neon. Rinaldi is completing a book based on his site.

Cole’s French Dipped Sandwiches neon sign (Los Angeles). Photograph by Paul Shaw (2010).

7.5 Variable message space **

• There is no process shown, only four examples of VMS signs (one of which is a detail).

• “Here the single colour numerals are 14 modules high and the strokes two modules wide.”; “The large numerals… are 34 modules tall with a stroke width of four modules, while the smaller numerals are 22 modules tall with a stroke width of three units.”; “A detail from a railway train information sign that uss simple illuminated discs with a coarse grid pattern only eight modules tall.” (p. 220).

Why not show the same letter(s) as designed to fit different modules for comparative purposes? As it is, the first and second signs consist of numerals while the third only says “out”. Since many LED signs attempt to mimic existing typefaces, it would have been good to include an example of this (e.g. Helvetica).

• “The movement is most easily read when the text moves in opposition to the reading direction, from right to left.” (p. 220).

Why is this?
• The multicolored VMS sign on p. 221 is shown at three viewing distance. This is an excellent idea since it demonstrates how the eye assembles the individual diodes into letters.

7. 6 Hand-drawn animation ***

• Other forms of animation are missing from Lettering: stop-action, claymation, 3D motion capture.
• The sequence is fine except that the photographs need to be bigger. Too many of the steps involve thin letters on a white background that are difficult to see. The sample lettering should have been more interesting.

• “The initial drawing for the lettering is made on an animation light box, an opaque, circular Perspex sheet, backlit and housed in a wooden frame.” (p. 222).

Why is the box circular? Is this crucial?

7.7 Motion graphics: title sequences **

• Despite the lengthy historical discussion of title sequences there are no examples from the past.

Creating a title sequence p. 225 **

• This is a very murky sequence. The images are small and only in fig. 7 is any lettering visible. There is no sense of graphics in motion—even as a series of stills.

• fig. 8 “The Photoshop stills are recreated in Smoke software in the editing suite, which consists of three screens and a graphics tablet.” (p. 225).

The photograph only shows two screens and the caption only identifies center and right-hand screens. Where is the left-hand one and what is it for?

7.8 Motion graphics: bumpers and stings **

• Why is this a separate section from 7.7 Motion graphics: title sequences rather than both being subsections of a generic motion graphics section?

“Channel idents, stings, bumpers, promos, title sequences, credits, subtitles, in-programme graphics and advertising….” (p. 226).

What are idents, stings and bumpers? They are not defined nor are they included in the glossary. A sting is described as a “bumper sequence used to head and tail a commercial break”. An indent is not identified at all.
• There is no process, only two motion graphics sequences.

Further reading pp. 230—231 **

Some general comments on the bibliography:
• This is a very short bibliography for a book of such breadth and potential depth. A number of the titles are odd choices.
• For the most part the suggestions for further reading are limited to books. There are a few articles but no manuals, videos, films or websites. For many of the processes included in Lettering it is likely that the best information on them is found be found outside of books.
• Key magazines are missing such as Letter Arts Review for calligraphy, Signs of the Times for signwriting and signmaking, Inland Printer or Penrose Annual for printing and typemaking processes.
• Although some images in the book are taken from it, Signs: Lettering in the Environment by Phil Baines and Catherine Dixon (London and New York: HarperCollins, 2003) is not listed.
• There are no sources for a number of subjects in Lettering: graffiti, mosaic lettering, typewriters, vinyl lettering, inkjet printing, direct-to-media printing, letter cutting stone by machine, machine-routed letters, water-cut letters, hot-wire cutting, laser cutting and etching, pop-up and paper lettering, acid-etching glass, photographic etching, polystyrene moulding, vacuum-forming and thermoforming, coins and medals, sand casting metal, cast-aluminium and polyurethane signs, lettering with food, lettering with plants, flagmaking, woven lettering, lettering with fireworks, variable message space, illuminated metal and Perspex lettering, light boxes, and hand-drawn animation.


• Two titles by Banksy are listed here—out of a total of ten titles. Three of the others are by or about Edward Johnston. Although he is a key figure this is unbalanced. Only one title is by a non-English author.
• The entry for “David Harris, The Calligrapher’s Bible” should include co-author Janet Mehigan.
• “Edward Johnston, Writing and Illuminating and Lettering, London, Hogg, later Pitman, A&C Black, 1994” is a garbled citation. It should list the edition that Haslam consulted: either the original 1906 edition from John Hogg or a later one from Pitman or A&C Black. All three publishers should not be conflated with a single date.
• “John R. Nash, English Brush Lettering, the Workshop of William Sharpington, London, “The Scribe” no. 45, spring 1989” is not in proper bibliographical style: the journal The Scribe be italicized and the article by Nash should be in quotation marks. The entire bibliography fails to conform to the practice recommended by The Chicago Manual of Style: authors are listed first names first, and the different parts of an entry are separated solely by commas.

• Some notable books missing from this section—many of which are more important than those included—are, in alphabetical order: Symbols, Signs and Letters (New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies, 1989) by Martin Andersch, The Elements of Lettering by John H. Benson and Graham Carey (New York: McGraw-Hill Company, 1950), The Calligraphic Line: Thoughts on the Art of Writing (2nd ed.) by Hans-Joachim Burgert (translated by Brody Neuenschwander) (2002), Rudolf Koch: Letterer, Type Designer, Teacher by Gerald Cinamon (New Castle, Delaware: Oak Knoll Press, 2000), The English Writing Masters and Their Copybooks by Ambrose Heal (Oxford: At the University Press, 1931), The Story of Writing by Donald Jackson (New York: Taplinger Publishing Co., Inc., 1981), Rhythm and Proportion in Lettering [Rhythmus und Proportion in Der Schrift] by Walter Kaech (Olten und Freiburg im Breisgau: Walter-Verlag, 1956), Historical Scripts by Stan Knight (New Castle, Delaware: Oak Knoll Press, 1998), ABC of Lettering and Printing Types (3 vols.) by Erik Lindegren (New York: Museum Books, 1964), Calligraphie by Claude Mediavilla (Paris: FNAC, 1993), The Mystic Art of Written Forms by Friedrich Neugebauer (Bad Goisern, Austria: Neugebauer Press, 1980), Textasy by Brody Neuenschwander (TOOHCSMI Publishers, Ghent, 2006), Luminario by A.S. Osley (Miland: Nieuwkoop Publishers, 1972), “Demystifying the Ruling Pen” by Paul Shaw (Letter Arts Review 13.2, 1996), The Foundations of Calligraphy by Sheila Waters (Greensboro, North Carolina: John Neal Bookseller, 2006), Pen and Graver [Feder und Stichel] by Hermann Zapf (New York: Museum Books, 1952), Hermann Zapf and His Design Philosophy by the Society of Typographic Arts (Chicago: Society of Typographic Arts, 1987) and Creative Calligraphy by Hermann Zapf (Hamburg: Rotring, 1985).


• There is no section for graffiti. Missing are such key books as The Faith of Graffiti by Norman Mailer (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1974), Getting Up by Craig Castleman (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 1984) Subway Artby Henry Chalfant and Martha Cooper (New York: Holt Rinehart & Winston, 1984), Tag Town by Tobias Barenthin Lindblad (Oslo: Dokument Forlag, 2008), The Birth of Graffiti by Jon Naar (Munich: Prestel Publishing, 2007), and Graffiti Kings by Jack Stewart (New York: Abrams, 2009)
Blackbook: Graffiti Sketchbook (New York: Sterling Publishing Co., 2009). Also missing isGraff: The Art and Technique of Graffiti by Scape Martinez (Cincinnati: F+W Media, Inc., 2007) and its sequel. See Bombing Science for more on this burgeoning genre. This is also the one section where the absence of websites is most acute.

Tattooed lettering

• This section consists of one title: a survey of contemporary practice, Body Type by Ina Saltz (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2006). There is no book covering the history or technique of tattooing. Among the missing are: The Total Tattoo Book by Amy Krakow (New York: Warner Books, 1994) and The Word of Tattoo by Maarten Hesselt van Dinter (Amsterdam: KIT Publishers, 2005). See for tattoo lettering books, tattoo sketchbooks and much much more.


• This is a very odd section. It includes several books that have no connection (or only a fleeting one) with signwriting: The English Writing Masters & Their Copybooks 1570–1800 by Sir Ambrose Heal (1931; though a 1938 edition is cited); A View of Early Typography Up to About 1600 by Harry Carter (1969); Roman Lettering by L.C. Evetts (1938); and Art U Need, My Part in the Public Art Revolution by Bob & Roberta Smith (2007).
• There is no book listed on the techniques of signwriting such as Atkinson’s Sign Painting by Frank Atkinson (Chicago: Frederick J. Drake & Company, 1909), Modern Signwriting by W.G. Sutherland (London: Sutherland Publishing Co., 1947)—an update of The Art and Craft of Sign Writing (1889)—or Signwritten Art by A.J. Lewery (London: David & Charles, 1989). The publications of ST Media, including their lead magazine, e Signs of the Times, are an essential resource.


• Only two titles are included here. Many significant books are absent. Some of them are: Printing with the Handpress by Lewis and Dorothy Allen (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1969), Typorama by Fritz Antenen and Fritz Jaggi (Basel: Kirschgarten-Druckerei AG, 1964), Letterpress by David Jury (Mies, Switzerland: RotoVision SA, 2006), American Wood Type, 1828–1900 by Rob Roy Kelly (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1969), Letterpress Printing by Paul Maravelas (New Castle, Delaware: Oak Knoll Press, 2006), Printing Presses by James Moran (Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 1978), and Nineteenth-Century Printing Practices and the Iron Handpress (2 vols.) by Richard-Gabriel Rummonds (New Castle, Delaware: Oak Knoll Press and London: The British Library, 2004).

Detail of comparative printing chart. From Typorama (1964), p. 10

Hand-casting metal type and Hot metal composition

• There is no book about the Linotype included here. Some books that should have been cited are: The Typefoundry in Silhouette by Rudolf Koch (San Francisco: Arion Press, 1982) [originally Schriftgiesserei in Schattenbild, 1918], Nineteenth-century American designers & engravers of type by William E. Loy (New Castle, Delaware: Oak Knoll Press, 2009), Machine Writing and Typesetting: The Story of Sholes and Mergenthaler and the Invention of the Typewriter and the Linotype by Frank J. Romano (Salem, New Hampshire: GAMA, 1986), Printer’s Type in the Twentieth Century by Richard Southall (New Castle, Delaware: Oak Knoll Press and London: The British Library, 2005), and Letters of Credit by Walter Tracy (Boston: David R. Godine, Publisher, 1986) and Das Schriftgiessen, von Stempelschnitt, Matrizenfertigung und Letternguss by Walter Wilkes (Darmstadt: Technische Hochschule Darmstadt, 1990). Both The Monotype Recorder and The Linotype Bulletin are essential sources for detailed explanations of the workings of the Monotype and Linotype respectively.

Stencil Lettering

• The only text cited is a book about stencilled graffiti which is not what the section covers. There is nothing from Eric Kindel, the foremost researcher on stencilling today (e.g. “Recollecting Stencil Letters” Typography Papers 5 (2003)), nor any books on the history of stencilling (with information on its use by Le Corbusier, Fernand Léger, Jasper Johns and other artists). For example, see The Art of Stencil by Norman Laliberté and Alex Mogelon (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1971) or Julie L. Mellby’s blog on Reese’s New Patent Adjustable Stencil Letters.


• Only one source is listed, a guide to designing with low vision in mind. There is nothing explicitly about the history and use of Braille. A Google search reveals two texts on the subject: Foundations of Braille Literacy by Evelyn J. Rex (New York: American Foundation for the Blind, 1994) and All about Braille: Reading by Touch by Laura S. Jeffrey (Berkeley Heights, New Jersey: Enslow Publishers, Inc., 2004).

Transfer lettering

• The sole item listed here is Letraset and Stencil Cuttingby Dave Farey and Colin Brignall about making letters for Letraset, not using them which is the subject of the section.

Designing Type

• Most of the books listed here are either tangential or irrelevant while important sources are missing. Lettering Design (1975) by Michael Harvey is included but not Harvey’s Creative Lettering Today (New York: Design Books, 1996) which includes a section on designing digital type. Gerrit Noordzij’s collection of essays Letter Letter (2001) is here but not his theoretical treatise The Stroke (London: Hyphen Press, 2005) [Der Streek (1985)], possibly the most influential text on type designers of the past twenty-five years. Other missing texts are: “Digital Typography” by Charles Bigelow in Scientific American 249:2 (August 1983), Logo, Font and Lettering Bible by Leslie Cabarga (Cincinnati: How Design Books, 2004), Designing Type by Karen Cheng (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2005), Type Sign Symbol by Adrian Frutiger (Zurich: ABC Verlag, 1980, The METAFONT Book by Donald Knuth (Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley, 1986), Adrian Frutiger Typefaces by Heidrun Osterer and Philipp Stamm (Basel: Birkhäuser Verlag, 2008), Calligraphic Type Design in the Digital Age edited by John Prestianni (Corte Madera, California: Gingko Press, 2002), The Art of Matthew Carter by Margaret Re (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2002), Printer’s Type in the Twentieth Century by Richard Southall (New Castle, Delaware: Oak Knoll Press and London: The British Library, 2005), On Stone by Sumner Stone (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1991), and Letters of Credit by Walter Tracy (Boston: David R. Godine, Publisher, 1986).

Woodblock printing

• Essential books on a variety of printmaking processes, including woodcuts, are missing: The Art of the Print by Fritz Eichenberg (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1976), Printmaking: Methods Old and New by Gabor Peterdi (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1980) (revised and expanded edition; first printed 1959), and The Complete Printmaker by John Ross and Claire Romano (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1990) (revised edition; first printed 1972).

Letterpress composition

• Why is Rookledge’s International Typefinder, a book about identifying typefaces, included here? Among the missing texts are these listed above under Letterpress: Lewis and Dorothy Allen, Paul Maravelas, and Richard-Gabriel Rummonds. Also absent are Correct Composition, volume two of The Practice of Printing by Theodore Low De Vinne (New York: The Century Company, 1901) and the well-known historic manuals by Joseph Moxon and Charles Timperley. However, John Southward’s manual is included.

Thermography and hot foil blocking

• The only item listed for these processes is Into Print by John Dreyfus, former typographic advisor to the Monotype Corporation and a man who, despite his wide knowledge about type, had little to do with either thermography or hot-foil blocking. (Entries like this feed the suspicion that books are included to bulk out categories.) A Google search reveals no books dedicated to thermography but several books on graphic design production cover the subject: Getting It Printed by Eric Kenly and Mark Beach (Cincinnati: How Books, 2004) and Exploring Digital Prepress by Reid Anderson (Florence, Kentucky: Cengage Learning, 2006).

Lithographic printing

• This section is missing The Tamarind Book of Lithography by Garo Z. Antreasian and Clinton Adams (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1971) on the process of stone lithography; and Bookmaking (3rd ed.) by Marshall Lee (New York: W.W. Norton, 2004), Graphic Arts Encyclopedia by George A. Stevenson and William A. Pakan (New York: Design Press, 1992), the International Paper Pocket Pal (20th ed.) edited by Frank Romano (New York: International Paper Company, 2008), Graphics Master 8 by Dean Phillip Lem (Kihei, Hawaii: Dean Lem Associates, 2004) as resources on offset lithography.

Vitreous enamel signs

• Of the four books cited, one is about a typeface and three are about badges, including Biography of a Chairman Mao Badge by Melissa Schrift. There are none about the history of this process or manuals detailing it. Missing is the industry “Bible” Porcelain (Vitreous) Enamels and Industrial Enamelling Processes by A.I. Andrews (Champaign, Illinois: The Garrard Press, 1961) which has been recently revised by Silvano Pagliuca and William D. Faust (September 2011) for the National Enamellers Associations (who also publish a journal called The Vitreous Enameller).

Rubber stamps

• The lone entry for this process is an odd one: The History and Techniques of Lettering by Alexander Nesbitt (1957). The Rubber Stamp Album by Joni K. Miller and Lowry Thompson (New York: Workman Publishing, 1978), which inaugurated a craft rubberstamping trend in the 1980s, is absent as is Rubber Stamps and How to Make Them by George L. Thomson (New York: Pantheon Books, 1982). Both books include information on letter rubber stamps. There are many books listed online about rubberstamping, the best of which appears to be The Ultimate Rubber Stamping Technique Book by Gail Green (1999).

Banknotes and security printing

• The only entry is The Art of Money by David Standish (2004). W.A. Dwiggins’ Towards a Reform of the Paper Currency (New York: The Limited Editions Club, 1932), which discusses lettering on banknotes, is ignored as is any mention of R.D.E. Oxenaar, the most celebrated modern currency designer. R.D.E. (Ootje) Oxenaar: ontwerper + opdrachtgever by Els Kuijpers, R D E Oxenaar, Ole Eshuis et al (Rotterdam: Uitgeverij 010, 2011) obviously came out too late for use by Haslam.

Letter-cutting in wood

• For some reason The Elements of Lettering by John Howard Benson and Arthur Graham Carey is listed here. Benson was a stone lettercutter and calligrapher, not a wood lettercutter. He did woodcuts (like those of Ilse Buchert Nesbitt which Haslam has categorized separately as woodblocks). But this is a reminder that Richard Benson, Benson’s son, has written The Printed Picture (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2008), a book that belongs somewhere in the bibliography of Lettering even though it focuses on images not letters. Martin Wenham, the foremost wood lettercarver (his term) in England today, has not written a book on the subject but has contributed articles on it to The Scribe, Letter Arts Review and other calligraphic journals. The work of his student Roger Hall is viewable online.

Lettercutting [sic] stone

• This section is missing two of the three leading modern books on the subject: Lettercutting in Stone by Richard Grasby (Dorchester, England: Richard Grasby, 1989) (rev. ed. 2002) and The Art of Letter Carving in Stone by Tom Perkins (Ramsbury, Wiltshire, England: The Crowood Press, Ltd., 2007). The work of Father E.M. Catich is not included here. The Origins of the Serif has been placed under Calligraphy and Letters Redrawn from the Trajan Inscription in Rome (Davenport, Iowa: The Catfish Press, 1960) is not mentioned at all.
• Instead “The Shapes of Roman Letters”, a 1919 essay by W.A. Dwiggins is included, even though it has nothing to do with cutting letters in stone.

Sandblasting lettering in glass

• The only source listed is Signs of the Times (1996) by Klaus Schmidt, a personal photographic survey of signs which contains nothing about the technique of sandblasting glass. How Much Do You Know About Glass? by Harlan Logan (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1951) touches upon sandblasting in glass. The Design of Lettering by Egon Weiss (New York: The Pencil Points Press, 1932) and Architectural Signing and Graphics by John Follis and Dave Hammer (New York: Whitney Library of Design, 1979) include information on sandblasting in stone. Making Wood Signs by Patrick Spielman (Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., ) contains information on sandblasting in wood which is not covered by Haslam. (It also has much other material—with clear illustrations—that makes it a book that should have been included in the Lettering bibliography.)

Lettering in paper

• This section is missing Watermarks in Handmade Paper by Dorothy F. Beardshaw (New York: Coalition of Publishers for Employment, 1979). Also, it does not include any books by the preeminent paper historian Dard Hunter, nor Japanese Papermaking: Traditions, Tools, and Techniques by Timothy Barrett (Tokyo: Floating World, 2005).

Lettering in textiles

Lettering for Embroidery by Pat Russell (London: B.T. Batsford and New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1971), a book often credited with the rediscovery of this technique by calligraphers and lettering artists is not included.

Neon signs

Let There Be Neon by Rudi Stern (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1979), the book often credited with the revival of modern neon, is not included. Signs of the Times magazine is also relevant for neon as well as signpainting.

GLOSSARY pp. 232–233***

• Given the number of processes showcased in Lettering this is a short list of terms. Furthermore, several definitions display surprising ignorance for someone who has co-authored a book on typography.

Bowl is here but is not included in the diagram of letter terminology (pp. 8–9).

Broken script—“Calligraphic letterforms drawn with a broad-edged, square pen.”

This is wrong. Broken script refers to letters in which curved strokes have been reduced to a series of straight strokes. It is a German term (gebrocheneschriften) for blackletter or gothic scripts.

Calligrapher—“A person who has been trained to make hand-drawn lettering.”

This is wrong. Calligraphy is about writing letters, not drawing them.

Cap height—“An invisible line that determines the height above the baseline in a font. The term is also used in calligraphy, though here greater freedom allows some capitals to be terminated above or below the line.”

The cap height is the height of a capital letter and it does not matter whether it is type, a drawn letter or calligraphy. Variation in the height of capitals is not endemic to calligraphy; it can occur in typefaces.

Case (type case)—“A wooden case with small compartments for storing letterpress characters. Each case holds letters of the same font and point size, and each compartment within the case is dedicated to a separate character, e.g. all Bembo 14pt characters are stored together. Cases of the same font and size are often stored in pairs, e.g. the upper case for majuscules, the lower case for minuscules.”

Majuscule and minuscule are paleographic and calligraphic terms. They are not used in typography. Since the in the 20th century most typecases have been California job cases or similar ones that store both capitals and lowercase letters in the same drawer.

Character—“An individual letterform.”

This is insufficient. Character includes accented letters, figures, punctuation and dingbats.

Connectives—“Forms that link letters in a word, derived from calligraphy, but found in engraving, eg. copperplate.”

The common term in calligraphic circles and texts is joins. Joins occur in letters that are cursive, whether drawn, written, engraved, or cast as type. They are an essential feature of most forms of penmanship.


The definition of does not include its abbreviation DTM which is used in the text.

Foundry type—“Metal type which is cast in a harder lead alloy so as to be more durable.”

Harder than what? Harder than lead on its own or some other metal? A proper definition would indicate the other elements (tin and antimony) in the alloy.

Italic—“Calligraphic term for lettering inclined at an angle, adopted to describe similar typographic forms which were originally developed to fit more words on to a line.”

This is not entirely accurate. Italic is the common name for cancellaresca corsiva, a Renaissance cursive hand which existed in both formal and informal versions. The informal ones were inclined and more likely to be joined while the formal ones were often upright and unjoined. Though many refer to all inclined typographic letterforms as italic, there is a distinction between italic and oblique. Oblique letters are roman ones that lean while italic letters have some different forms as well as proportions and, originally, the presence of exit and entry strokes instead of serifs. The notion that italic was adopted for type in order to save space is a myth. Francesco Griffo’s italic typeface, the first to be designed (1500), is as wide as his roman typeface.

Justified—“A column of text where the left- and right-hand edges are even; each line is the same length and the spacing between words is not identical.”

This is poorly explained. Here is a simpler and more accurate definition: “A series of lines of text that are aligned at both the left and right. This is achieved by varying the letter and word spacing within each line.”

Lower case—“Small, typographic letters, of uneven height derived from hand-written miniscules [sic].”

Lower case letters are typographic equivalents of minuscules. Unlike capitals they are four-line letters (ascender, waist, baseline and descender). Their name derives from being placed in a separate drawer of type from that of capitals. They are often called small letters.

Minuscule—“Calligraphic term for small or lower-case letters.”

A calligraphic term, adopted from paleography, to describe four-line letters (ascender line, waist line, baseline and descender line).

Majuscule—“Calligraphic term for capital letters.”

A calligraphic term, adopted from paleography, to describe two-line letters (cap line and baseline).

Roman—“Upright letterforms, not italic; the ‘normal’ weight of a font not bold or condensed; or a serifed font as opposed to a sanserif [sic] font.”

This is one of the most complex terms in lettermaking. Roman refers to 1. the letters that the Romans used (today supplemented by a few Greek letters and some Anglo-Saxon ones: J, K, U, W, Y, Z). Also known as Latin letters. 2. the inscriptional capital letters used by the Romans. 3. letters derived from those of the Romans that are neither blackletter nor script. 4. letters with serifs in contrast to letters without serifs (sans serif). 5. the regular or normal weight of a typeface. 6. upright letters in contrast to inclined (italic or oblique) ones.

Sanserif [sic]— “A typeface without serifs.”

Sans serif can refer to letters that are not typographic. This British spelling has often been used by British writers to refer specifically to 19th c.-style grotesque letters with even stroke thickness (e.g. Monotype Grotesque) rather than to letters without serifs in general (e.g. Optima is not a sanserif in this view).

Serif—“The small, tapering stroke at the terminal of the broader vertical stroke, derived from Roman capital forms.”

This is a very limited definition of serif. Serifs are not necessarily small nor are they always tapered nor are they only found at the ends of vertical strokes. Serifs may also be bracketed, cupped, wedge-shaped, slab, bifurcated, or hairline.

Uncial—“Inch-high calligraphic letters which are rounded with a vertical axis, and have short ascenders and descenders.”

Uncial letters were never an inch high. The name is a misnomer. Uncials are technically considered majuscules since the ascenders and descenders are very short. Uncials are more rounded than Roman Imperial capitals but not all letters are rounded (of those used by the Romans, A, F, I, L, N, T, X, Z). In Roman uncials the axis is not vertical but slightly tilted. It is more upright in Celtic uncials (insular majuscules) such as those found in the Book of Kells.

• The glossary includes too few terms relating to techniques, materials, and tools. Some that are in the book but not in the glossary are: Bézier curve, bomb, bradawl, Braille, bumper, burin, chase, copperplate, cross stitch, DOD, DWI, embroidery,, Fair Isle knitting, fish tails, free lettering, form [forme], frits, gouge work, Heidelberg book press, imposition, intaglio, intarsia knitting, lance, laser, LED, light box, male and female dies, MDF, mosaic, mould, neon, nib, pattern, Perkins Brailler, Perspex, Plasticine, polysterene, polyurethane, pop-up, Pragnant, profile etching, punnet, purls, quoin, resist, routing, Rubylith, ruling pen, security printing, sticks of rock, sting, strike, topiary, transfer type, tattoo, tufting gun, V-cut, vacuum-forming, vitreous enamel, vulcanized rubber stamps, waltzer, watermark, woodcarving (which needs to be distinguished from woodcutting), x-height, zinco. Some of these terms are defined in the body of the book.
• The graffiti term Tag is included but not its counterpart Piece.



p. 7 “Jock Kinnear“ should be “Jock Kinneir”
p. 7 “Michael Twymann” should be “Michael Twyman”
p. 20 “Rotoring” should be “Rotring”.
p. 26 fig. 4 “san serif” should be “sans serif” [or possibly “sanserif”].
p. 27 fig. 4 “…with san serif type forms…”. “san” should be “sans”.
p. 39 “A walzer [sic] top board”. “walzer” should be “waltzer”.
p. 40 “Moore”; “Moore uses a set of card strips….”; “Moore prefers tapering….”.

Moore is not fully identified as David Moore until the Acknowledgements (p. 238).

p. 52 “…his [Gutenberg’s] Forty-two Bible…” should be “Forty-two line Bible”.
p. 58 “form” is usually spelled “forme“. See Mechanick Exercises by Joseph Moxon (1683) and James Moran, author of Printing Presses: History and Development from the Fifteenth Century to Modern Times (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1973), p. 22 and elsewhere. However, “form” is used by Thomas MacKellar in The American Printer (1868).

p. 64 “Character sizes are specified in either points or didots, here 18pt York.”

Need to explain what didots are. The Didot point system is not used in England or the United States.

p. 66 “pragnant machine”

What is this? An online search found PräGnant as a commercial machine for blocking titles on books. Is this a trade name that became generic?

p. 68 “paired down” should be “pared down”.
p. 83 “The protonamolous observer does not detect the red within violet and violet appears as blue.”

Protonamolous, the defective perception of red, should be defined in the text.

p. 86 and p. 237 “Reynold Stone” should be “Reynolds Stone”.
p. 90 “…who began carving plains (areas of wood cut to two depths) and inking them with separate colours…” “plains” should be “planes”.
p. 91 fig. 3 “…are cut with a slight avit, which means the base of the letter is wider where it meets the newly cut surface of the block than at the letterface.”

Fortunately, Haslam defines “avit” since it does not appear in Webster’s New International Dictionary of the English Language (2nd ed., unabridged) (1939). Nor was I able to find a definition online other than “to celebrate a victory or small achievement”. Later, Haslam uses “return” (p. 176) and “rebate” (p. 184) for something similar. Return is accurate but rebate (more commonly rabbet) is not. (In French, avit is a term used in tinplate fabrication.)

p. 104 “Here the plate (blue sheet) is placed in a tray before being slid into [the] Computer To Plate (CTP) [machine]”.
p. 106 “Coral Draw” should be “Corel Draw”.
p. 115 “The clear polymer sheet is detacked using a powder….”

Is this supposed to be “detacked” or “detached”?

p. 116 “The block or die was traditionally hand-engraved… in copper or brass but today is made of magnesium or zinc—often referred to as a Zinco.”

Previously (p. 68), zinco was not capitalized. It is not a trademark.

p. 136 “After conducting an extensive survey of historical roman [sic] forms, the lettering expert Edward Cattich [sic] concluded that the letters were first painted on the stone with a brush.” “Cattich” should be “Catich”.

Catich’s theory applies to Imperial Roman capitals, such as those on the inscription at the base of the Trajan Column, not necessarily to all Roman inscriptions.

p. 153 “pantone” should be capitalized since it is a tradename.
p. 156 paragraph 2, second to last line, has a hyphen instead of an en dash.
p. 164 “Acid etching [sic] is used to create several different effects…”

Acid-etching is hyphenated in the chapter title but not in the text.

p. 184 “The Perspex letters are cut with a 7-degree rebate…”

Haslam is using rebate (more commonly called a rabbet) incorrectly. “Long rectangular piece removed from the edge of wood, stone, etc., to receive the edge or end of another element.” Oxford Dictionary of Architecture (1999), p. 532. The term he probably wanted to use was return (or maybe avit).

p. 186 “Base plates for a sign are shaped out of MDF.”; also see reference on p. 215.

MDF should be defined. It is medium-density fiberboard.

p. 218 “George Claude” should be “Georges Claude”.
p. 225 “…senior designer Roisin began by creating…”; also see p. 226.

There is no first name here and Roisin is not in the book’s credits.

p. 230 “Edward Catich, The Origin of the Serif, Davenport [sic] Iowa, St. Ambrose University, 1968”: “St. Ambrose University” should be “St. Ambrose College”.
p. 230 “K. G. Saner” should be “K.G. Sauer”.
p. 230 “Michael Twyan” should be “Michael Twyman”.
p. 230 “S. Harvard” should be “Stephen Harvard”.
p. 231 “Ruth Crib” should be “Ruth Cribb” and “Joe Crib” should be “Joe Cribb”.
p. 231 “W.A.D. Wiggins, The Shapes of Roman Letters, New York, The Typofiles, 1947”: “W. A. D. Wiggins” should be “W.A. Dwiggins”; “Typofiles” should be “Typophiles”.

The title is an article and should be in quotation marks. The date of the article was 1921; it was reprinted in 1947 in MSS by WAD, a collection of writings by Dwiggins.

p. 231 “Klans Schmidt” should be “Klaus Schmidt”.
p. 231 “Charmian Mocatta, Lettering on Glass, London, 2001” is missing the publisher A&C Black.
p. 231 “Goodey’s Lady’s Book” should be “Godey’s Lady’s Book”.
p. 234 “Cattich, Edward” should be “Catich, Edward”.
p. 234 “Claude, George” should be “Claude, Georges”.
p. 234 “Coral Draw” should be “Corel Draw”.
p. 235 “‘form’”

Why is this in quotation marks?

p. 236 “Roache, Nigel” should be “Roche, Nigel”.
p. 238 “David Ottley, graphic design, art direction and Typography”; “typography” should not be capitalized.
p. 238 “Baines, P. and Dixon, C. Signs: Lettering in the Environment, Laurance King, 2008.”; the authors should be Baines, Phil and Dixon, Catherine.

Why is Haslam’s bibliographic style different in the Acknowledgements than in the Further reading section?

Lettering is, not surprisingly, full of British spellings and Britishisms. Some, like “colour” and “aluminium” are easily understood, but others aren’t and American English equivalents should have been provided. Here is a list of some of the British words and commercial products that occur in the book and their American equivalents:

Blu-tack (p. 186) = “a versatile, reusable putty-like pressure-sensitive adhesive produced by Bostik, commonly used to attach papers to walls or other surfaces”. Elmer’s tack is supposed to be a similar American product.
chinagraph pencil = China marker or grease pencil
domestic laserwriter (p. 12) = personal laserwriter
gentleman binder (p. 64) and gentleman finisher (p. 67) = ? Does “gentleman” indicate social status? quality of clientele? or is it an emphasis on custom work?
imposition stone (p. 58) = imposing stone or imposing table
Perspex = Plexiglass
punnet (p. 174) = small basket for fruit or flowers
ranged left [or right] (p. 10) = flush left [or right]
spirit level (p. 185) = bubble level
stand proud of = in relief


Although Haslam is the author of a book on book design and the co-author of another on typography, the design and typography of Lettering are sometimes part of the book’s problems.


Haslam has set the main text of the book in Bembo and the captions in two different widths of Trade Gothic, though which cuts are unclear. Bembo Expert has nine basic fractions as does Bembo Pro while Trade Gothic has three and Trade Gothic Next Pro has fifteen. Yet, the fractions in the book are all light, implying that they have been cobbled together using superscripts and subscripts. This is often necessary for unusual fractions such as 15/32 but most of those in Lettering are common ones. This is more than a type nerd issue since light fractions are hard to read and there are many of them in the book as Haslam has kindly translated metric measurements into imperial ones. Here is a list of the pages in which one or more fractions appear: In the main text, pp. 42, 74, 90, 129, 152 and 169; and in the captions: pp. 36, 40, 43, 46, 68, 71, 108, 118, 130, 141, 145, 147, 148, 149, 150, 151, 154, 155, 163, 168, 184, 187, 190, 191, 201 and 221.

Identifying letters within text
Books on lettering or typography are always plagued by the problem of separating letters as the subject of a text from the letters that make up the text itself. The solution I use in Blue Pencil is to put the former in bold type. Depending on the typeface italic would work as well. Haslam puts letters into quotation marks for much of Lettering but sometimes he simply leaves them unmarked. The former is fine when there is only a few letters but not when, as happens in Lettering, there is a long string of letters. The latter is never a good idea. Here is a list of the instances where letters appear as content in the text of the book: In the main text: pp. 22 (without quotation marks; a long list not in parentheses), 72, 74, 136 (individual letters have quotation marks but strings of letters within parentheses do not), 142 (without quotation marks), and 182 (several letters in a row with quotation marks); and in captions (with quotation marks except as indicated): pp. 17 (up to 14 letters in a row), 18, 21, 30 (not in quotation marks), 33, 34, 37, 41, 84, 85, 86 (not in quotation marks), 87, 88 (several letters in a row), 96, 97 (not in quotation marks), 98, 111, 135, 137, 148, 149, 166, 172, 183, and 208. Even though they are single, the quotation marks are visually distracting; but what is worse is Haslam’s inconsistency of style.

Small caps and oldstyle figures
Although both Bembo (with its Expert Set) and Bembo Book Pro both have small capitals and oldstyle figures, these typographic niceties are missing from the main text of Lettering. Neither Trade Gothic nor Trade Gothic Next Pro have small capitals or oldstyle figures so their absence is understandable. Furthermore, a case can be made in the captions for using lining figures rather than oldstyle ones since they are more visible, a key concern with small type studded with numbers of all kinds (measurements, dimensions, temperatures, quantities and dates). There is a surprising number of abbreviations in the captions that would have been better set in small caps (e.g. ABS, BSI, CAD, CAM, CMYK, CTP, DOD, DTM, DWI, EPS, LED, MDF, PC, PE, PETG, PMMA, PS, PVC, QWERTY and VMS). (Oddly, Haslam uses fake small caps for BCE in the main text; see pp. 132 and 180.) A more contemporary sans serif would have had the necessary fractions, small caps, oldstyle figures and more needed for a book like Lettering. Trade Gothic (whatever the version) was a poor choice.

There are several instances of extra word spaces in the text (e.g. p. 233, the entry for “Measure”) and others where it looks as if there is, but it is difficult to be sure given the loose setting of the Trade Gothic. There is one definite instance of a missing word space: p. 43 “becomemore”. These are minor complaints.

Column breaks
In both Further reading (pp. 230–231), Glossary (pp. 232–233), Index (pp. 234–237) and Acknowledgements (pp. 238–240) there are thirteen (out of thirty-two) column breaks in which the top of a column is an orphan.

Bibliographic style
Further reading does not follow the style of The Chicago Manual of Style. The different parts of an entry are separated solely by commas. There are missing commas between the authors and book titles in the entries for James Hornell, John Berry, Graziella Buccellati, and Jeff Bellantoni and Matt Woolman.

Haslam butts abbreviations such as mm (millimeter), in (inch) and pt (point) up against preceding numbers (e.g. 5in or 14pt). This is not American practice as exemplified by the Chicago Manual of Style.

The deficiencies of some of the process sequences in Lettering can be attributed directly to the design of the book. Haslam has laid out the images in the middle of each page in two adjacent rows with captions either sticking up from the top row (like stalagmites) or down from the bottom row (like stalactites). In one quarter of the processes the sequence of images runs across a spread. It is a handsome design but not one that works to the reader’s benefit. It is not immediately clear whether a group of images should be read as a sequence across a spread or down a single page. The irregular heights of the captions to the upper row of images make it difficult to quickly find the numbers that identify each image. That, coupled with the tight horizontal gutter between the rows of images, leads the eye to read down a page in the traditional manner rather than across the wider book gutter. This is because our eyes are trained to read pages rather than spreads. Such a reading mistake tends to be discovered only when a process sequence seems to have a gap in it.

The simplest way to prevent this gaffe would have been to hang the captions to the upper row of images at a consistent height. This would have necessitated uncoupling it from the lower row, however. But that would have allowed the captions to the lower row to be placed above the images where they would have effectively acted as a buffer to the eye eager to see the picture below. Of course, these changes would have radically altered the look of Lettering. A less invasive way of fixing the problem would have been to make the numbers identifying each step more visible and to increase the gutter between the rows of images.