A Critical Overview of Modular and Geometric Type Design Categorization in Typographic Taxonomy Systems

  • João BrandãoEmail author
  • Jorge dos Reis DuarteEmail author
  • João GomesEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing book series (AISC, volume 1203)


This paper identifies inherent limitations of current and popular typographic taxonomy systems regarding the categorization of modular and geometric type. These taxonomy systems commonly focus on historical sources and strictly aesthetical or structurally generic factors. We believe that even ones which offer a greater degree of detail still fail to extend to the level of attention regarding the full range of idiosyncrasies of modular and geometric type design.

We thus propose a theoretical approach, making use of a non-interventionist methodology of qualitative research, through literary review and observation, and we evaluate the state of the art regarding current and historical typographic taxonomy systems and works from Childers, Griscti et al.; Kupferschmid; Baines & Haslam; Johnston; and Dixon, with a special focus on the latter’s own classification system and its potential for expansion. Our main objective is that a critical understanding of the multiple systems of typographic taxonomy, combined with our first-hand professional experience and theoretical research in modular type design may facilitate the production, categorization, promotion and commercial distribution of modular fonts and font systems, as well as the teaching of the history and techniques specific to this creative field. Modular and geometric type design production is a field of activity in its own right, with a rich and diverse history and ongoing vitality, and should thus be validated on its aesthetic, technical, commercial and pedagogic merits, regardless of its limited practical applications on our demanding modern visual communication.

We conclude by introducing the early guidelines for a revised and expanded taxonomy system, as well as some practical applications, which can include improved learning exercises both for beginners and seasoned professionals, as well as enhanced categorization and filtering tools both for online font stores and font managing software.


Typeface classification Typeface taxonomy Typography Type design Modularity Modular fonts Geometry Font distribution Teaching 


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Copyright information

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculdade de ArquiteturaUniversidade de LisboaLisbonPortugal
  2. 2.Faculdade de Belas-Artes, Largo da Academia Nacional de Belas-ArtesUniversidade de LisboaLisbonPortugal

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