Enabling Modernity: Innovation in Original Modulated Greek Typefaces, 1998–2007

In: Philological Encounters
Gerry Leonidas University of Reading

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This article discusses the associations with tradition, modernity, innovation, and revivalism contained within, and enabled by, three seminal Greek typefaces for continuous reading in a modulated style, developed from 1998 onwards outside Greece. It starts with an analysis of the historical model of types cut by Firmin Didot; this style was later adopted by the Monotype Corporation for hot-metal composition, and survived across technologies well into the digital era. It provides a reference point for subsequent work, and informed new digital typefaces, starting with Adobe Systems’ Minion Pro (1998). The article discusses Adobe’s programme of developing large typographic families with Greek complements, which explicitly pushed the design envelope with each iteration. It examines the approaches taken for features such as the first pairing of monotonic and polytonic diacritics, the pioneering of functionally correct diacritics over small capitals, and their impact on wider practice. Parallel efforts that reinforced this trend by Microsoft, as well as notable independent work, are referenced in the context of active explorations of the relationship between Latin and Greek styles by non-Greek designers. The article concludes that the period between 1998–2007 has been revolutionary for Greek typefaces for continuous text.

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