The ancient art of word spacing and book design.
Typesetting is an ancient art. Moveable type dates back to around 1040 AD in China, when inventors created ceramic movable type for printing Chinese characters. In the West, Johannes Gutenberg usually gets credit for the invention of the printing press in 1440, which involved building frames of types that could be operated by hand to print books.
Typesetting progressed from there into mechanical printing presses, then automated versions, and finally, the primary tool that most typesetters use today: vector graphics software. What used to take months or years can now be accomplished in a matter of minutes with digital software.
If you’re looking for firsthand knowledge about typesetting, you can take classes at local colleges and artist guilds. Art director and book designer Dylan Todd recommends it: “You set the metal type by hand and use a press to print everything. It gave me a real appreciation and understanding of type and type tools.”