European Commission logo
English English
CORDIS - EU research results

Towards historically informed practice in contemporary Arabic typography

Project description

Best practices in Arabic typography

The period between 1840 and 1910 is considered an apogee in Arabic typography as Middle Eastern printers successfully adopted Western typesetting technology. This initiated the Arabic print culture. The EU-funded TypoArabic project will perform multidisciplinary research to unveil best practices in Arabic typography. The project will apply high-resolution imaging tools and digital reconstruction techniques to analyse Arabic design for reading, conventions of diverse textual styles, and micro-typographic considerations of legibility and craft conserved in archival sources of major research libraries. TypoArabic will engage professionals, higher education and the IT industry, involve end users in the research results, and publish a guide to Arabic typography with information on historical precedents.


The proposed, multi-disciplinary research will reveal best practice in Arabic typography, filling a current knowledge gap, and will culminate in publication of a guide to Arabic typography which draws on historical precedent. The researcher will investigate best practice from the 1840s to the 1910s, an era which represents a high point in Arabic typography, which was subsequently obscured by mechanisation. In this key period, Middle Eastern printers, versed in the customs of a sophisticated manuscript culture successfully adopted Western typesetting technology to give birth to Arabic print culture. Using archival sources, found in major research libraries and collections, the researcher will investigate printed items for their materiality, strategies in the structuring of information, and patterns of typographic design. High-resolution imaging tools and digital reconstruction techniques will be used to analyse specificities of Arabic design for reading, conventions of different textual genres, and micro-typographic considerations relating to legibility and craft. From this basis of historical research, and scientific excellence, the researcher will apply a practitioner’s lens, extending new knowledge beyond academic discourse. Through the engagement of professional peers, higher education, and the IT industry, he will involve potential end users of the research findings, and initiate a two-way exchange of knowledge. The project will contribute substantially to: an evolving typographic practice that currently lacks a discursive component; design course curricula worldwide; and to advancing Arabic text composition on digital devices. It will use diverse communication channels – the guide directed at peers and students; journal articles that contribute to academic discourse; conference presentations targeting industry; a blog and social media activities that reach out to the wider public – to engage a multitude of potential users and maximise this project’s reach.


Net EU contribution
€ 337 400,64
RG6 6AH Reading
United Kingdom

See on map

South East (England) Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Berkshire
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 337 400,64