Writings

Writings comprises commissioned articles (including those for other websites) and books.

Alphabet vol. 26, no. 1 (Fall 2000) [F.H.E. Schneidler Der Wassermann issue]

Essay by Georgiana Greenwood. Edited by Paul Shaw. 32 pages; 32 illustrations (B&W); set in Schneidler Medieval; designed by Paul Shaw.
This issue of Alphabet is a sampler of work from F.H.E. Schneidler’s rare four-volume portfolio Der Wassermann.

Alphabet vol. 26, no. 3 (Spring 2001) [the Gerrit Noordzij issue]

by Gerrit Noordzij, edited by Paul Shaw. 32 pages; 51 illustrations (B&W). Also contains an interview with Hermann Zapf by Katharina Pieper; set in Sudum and Tret; designed by Gerrit Noordzij.
This issue of Alphabet is a collection of essays by famed Dutch typography teacher Gerrit Noordzij that are unavailable elsewhere.

Werner Schneider Schriftkunstler

by Paul Shaw. 32 pages; 8.5 × 7 inches; 35 images (6 in color); set in Schneider Antiqua; paperback; designed by Michael Clark.
The only monograph on German calligrapher and type designer Werner Schneider.

Roman Capitals: Five Itineraries in Rome

by Silvano Fassina, trans. Judyth Smith and Paul Shaw. Seattle and New York Legacy of Letters, 1997 containing “Scritturea e comunicazione visiva” by Giovanni Lussu, “Memoria delle lettere romane” by James Mosley, and “Maiuscole romane. Cinque itinerari per le strade di Roma” by Silvano Fassina. First edition of a special double issue of Calligrafia (1995) edited by Kathy Frate, Giovanni Lussu, Anna Ronchi, Daniele Turchi and Mauro Zennaro. Edition of 1000 copies, 72 pages; 2 maps; 65 photographs (B&W) 9.5 × 6.25 …
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Letters from New York 2 (2006)

“Looking for Letters in New York: A Tale of Surprise and Dismay” by Paul Shaw. 80 pages; 5.25 × 8.5 inches; 83 images (B&W); paperback; designed by Christopher Calderhead.
This single essay issue of Letters from New York is the only available publication on the environmental lettering of the metropolis. A number of the signs are no longer extant.

Helvetica and the New York City Subway System: The MIT Press

by Paul Shaw. Cambridge, Massachusetts and London: The MIT Press, 2011.
This is the acclaimed account of the tortuous path that led to Helvetica becoming the typeface of the New York City subway system.

Helvetica and the New York City Subway System Poster

Poster for 2011 talk to Tulsa Art Directors Club on Helvetica and the New York City Subway System; 2 colors; heavy paper; designed by Paul Shaw.

Helvetica Subway T-Shirt

Fans of Helvetica and the New York City Subway System can now proclaim their allegiance with a specially-designed t-shirt. The black t-shirt, designed by Abby Goldstein and Paul Shaw, mimics the binding of the Blue Pencil edition of the book with the word Subway in white on both sides. On one side it is set in AG Oldface (standing in for Standard) and on the other in Helvetica. The incredibly soft 100% cotton shirts are manufactured by Next Level …
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Bibliologia 7

Bibliologia 7 (2012) is finally out—and so is my article “New Types for New Books Revisited”. The article is a survey of the typefaces used by several American and British book designers, ranging in age and in temperament. It is a tribute to the late Will Powers (1943–2009) and his essay New Types for New Books: What We Have, What We Need (2006) which argued that we should use only typefaces designed for digital production and …
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The Art Book Prize finally decided

Helvetica and the New York City Subway System came up short at the Art Book Prize ceremony this evening at the Victoria Miro Gallery in London. The winner was Architecture in Uniform: Design and Building for the Second World War by Jean-Louis Cohen (Paris: Editions Hazan, distributed by Yale University Press, 2011).

The Briem Report: Letterforms 2012

Thirty years ago Gunnlaugur SE Briem—Icelandic calligrapher, handwriting reformer, type designer and digital maven—edited a Special Calligraphy Issue of Visible Language (17.1). He has now followed it with The Briem Report: Letterforms 2012, which can be freely downloaded (as either a low- or high-resolution PDF). As before, he has gathered a wide-ranging set of contributions from colleagues throughout the overlapping worlds of calligraphy, handwriting, type design, typography and graphic design, …
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Codex 2—My Life with Menhart


For nearly a year my life has been bound up with that of Czech calligrapher and type designer Oldrich Menhart. In August 2011 I was approached by John Boardley, the mysterious genius behind I Love Typography, to be the editor of Codex, his new magazine, but it was not until January 2012 that the position was made official. At the time there was no sign of Menhart. It was sometime in March that I concocted the idea to take …
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The Art Book Prize update

The Art Book Prize in London has narrowed its field of finalists to two books: Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo by Nicholas de Monchaux and Helvetica and the New York City Subway System: The True (Maybe) Story by myself (both published by MIT Press). The winner will be announced by The Authors’ Club on Thursday, November 22nd at the Victoria Miro Gallery in London. I doubt I will be there, but if any British friends have a chance to stop in at the gallery at 16 Wharf Road, …
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Whatever Next: A Discourse on Typography

Last year I wrote a short essay entitled “Rules for Researching” for Gunnlaugur SE Briem to include in The Briem Report: Letterforms 2012. It will soon be available for free download at his website operina.com. Meanwhile, it has been published earlier this month in Whatever Next: A Discourse on Typography, a book jointly sponsored by This Is Art and the Camberwell Press, both located in London. The essay is a quick guide to doing research for those not …
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Inside Inside Paragraphs

My advance review of Inside Paragraphs, type designer Cyrus Highsmith’s new book on the fundamentals of typography, can be read at Imprint. Here are previews of several other pages from the book: “How Type Works”, “Glyph Space” and “Hierarchy of Space”.Inside Paragraphs, pp. 14–15 “How Type Works”Inside Paragraphs, p. 22 “Glyph Space”Inside Paragraphs, p. 76 “Hierarchy of Space”A reminder: Inside Paragraphs is not a complete guide to typography and the history of type. It is a …
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Typographica’s Favorite Typefaces of 2011—Cala by Dieter Hofrichter

Typographica recently announced their list of the best typefaces of 2011. Stephen Coles invited me to be one of the critics and—from the list of typefaces he offered me—I chose Cala by Dieter Hofrichter to discuss. There were a number of typefaces on the list that appealed to me, including several by Hofrichter. In the end I selected Cala because 1. it was a Venetian Oldstyle face, an historically important category of type that has been on the …
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