«1 Introduction Information about Hebrew type and typesetting is available, but hard to find. Information about the design and use of typefaces and ...»
An Anotated Bibliography
of Hebrew Typesetting
September 23, 2001
Information about Hebrew type and typesetting is available, but hard to find. Information about the design and use of typefaces and about the design of books
and other publications is useful for fine typesetting and printing. Publications
about type and typesetting in the Latin script are widely available in bookstores,
libraries, and online, but similar publications concerning other scripts are hard to find. This annotated bibliography is an attempt to make information about Hebrew typefaces and typesetting easier to find.
The focus of this bibliography is on how Hebrew is printed, and not on what is printed, where, or by whom. Thus, the main areas that are covered are Hebrew typefaces and typesetting of Hebrew. The contents of the publications listed here also apply to other languages that are printed using the Hebrew alphabet, mainly Yiddish and Ladino. Publications about non-graphic aspects of Hebrew printing, about Hebrew typography before the 19th century, and about Hebrew calligraphy are excluded. These subjects are less relevant to modern Hebrew typesetting, and I exclude them in order to keep the scope of this bibliography reasonable.
Hebrew typefaces are covered in Sections 2, 3, and 4. Section 2 lists articles and books that describe the design of Hebrew typefaces. Section 3 lists old typeface specimen books that display Hebrew typefaces. Section 4 lists articles that focus on readability and legibility in Hebrew.
I refer to Hebrew typefaces by name and assume that the reader is familiar with the main Hebrew typefaces. The papers by Friedlaender and Spitzer cited Figure 1: A typeface designed by Marcus Behmer for the Soncino society, reproduced from .
in Section 2 provide good introductions to modern Hebrew typefaces for readers who are not already familiar with them. The figures in this bibliography are meant to serve as visual annotations. Their purpose is to give the reader a general idea of what are the typefaces that the sources discuss, not to illustrate any specific point. Many of the figures are portions of larger type samples in the original sources. Most of samples have been scanned at a medium resolution (600 dpi), so the quality of the typefaces cannot, of coarse, be fully judged from the figures.
Three sections discuss Hebrew typesetting. Section 5 lists publications that discuss typographical conventions in Hebrew, Hebrew book design, and so on.
Section 6 lists books and articles that describe technical aspects of computer typesetting of Hebrew. Section 7 lists catalogs of exhibitions of Hebrew books that can point readers to examples of well-printed Hebrew.
Section 8 lists biographies of Hebrew type and book designers. As such, these publications touch issues relating to both typefaces and typesetting. Many of the other publications listed in this bibliography also address more than one issue, so the classification into sections should not be taken too seriously.
Finally, this bibliography is probably incomplete, and I would appreciate comments and additions. There are little or no annotations to publications that I could not obtain or to publications in languages that I cannot read, most notable German and Yiddish.
2 Hebrew Typefaces
This section includes papers and books that describe Hebrew typefaces. Hebrew typefaces are also describes and shown in , . Specimen of Hebrew type are shown in all the references in Section 3. The design of HADASSAH is also discussed in .
I should point out that the articles cited below give a fairly complete overview of Hebrew text faces. They do not provide, however, a complete or nearly complete picture of Hebrew display faces. Browsing through an Israeli newspaper or magazine usually reveals more than a dozen display faces that are not described in any of the citations below.
 Leila Avrin. The art of the Hebrew book in the twentieth century. In , pages 125–139.
Avrin briefly describes the typefaces that were available at the turn of the 20th century, then turns to 20th century typography. She describes the design and manufecture of many Hebrew typefaces, including FRANK-RÜHL, MIRYAM, HADASSAH, SCHOCKEN, DAVID, KOREN, NARKISS BLOCK, ORON, and HATZVI. Avrin conjectures that MIRYAM was designed by Rafael Frank (the conjecture is proved as correct in ), and points that Henri Friedlaender designed AVIV, HADAR, and SHALOM for IBM. She also briefly describes the careers of some of the designers. She also lists and describes particularly finely printed Hebrew books, calligraphers, and significant publishers and printers.
 Charles Bigelow and Kris Holmes. The design of a Unicode font. Electronic Publishing, 6(3):289–305, 1993.
The paper describes the design of LUCIDA UNICODE, a Unicode  sans serif face that implements the Hebrew block of Unicode. The paper uses Hebrew to illustrate several issues in the design of multi-script typefaces. These issues include letter heights, readability studies, and typeface designs by readers versus non-readers of the script. The paper displays a specimen of the font.
 Frank, Rafael. Über hebräische Typen und Schriftarten; mit einem Nachwort von Jacques Adler; herausgegeben von der Schriftgieÿerei H. Berthold. H. Berthold, Berlin,
1926. Reprinted from Archiv fur buchgewerbe, 48. jg., hft. 11.
Frank describes the design of his typeface FRANK-RÜHL.
 Henri Friedlaender. Toward a modern Hebrew. Printing & Graphic Arts 7:43-56, 1959.
I have not seen this article. Cited by Fontaine .
 Henri Friedlaender. Modern Hebrew lettering. Ariel: A Quarterly Review of the Arts and Sciences in Israel, 4:6–15, 1962.
The paper discusses several Hebrew typefaces: SCHOCKEN, DAVID, KOREN, HA
Figure 2: A sample of HADASSAH (left) reproduced from .
TZVI, and his own HADASSAH. Samples of all except KOREN are shown. The paper also displays examples of Hebrew lettering from the early 1960’s from book jackets, outdoor inscriptions and signs, ads, and decorative artifacts.
 Henri Friedlaender. Modern Hebrew type faces. Typographica, 16:4–9, 1967.
This paper is superseded by , except for some of the figures that show Hebrew lettering. The paper describes and displays many Hebrew typefaces: A 19th century high-contrast typeface, FRANK-RÜHL, STAM, CHAYIM, AHARONI, GENOOZOT, HATZVI, SCHOCKEN, DAVID, KOREN, GILL, and his own HADASSAH.
Friedlaender’s viewpoints on individual typefaces are substantiated by current use with a few exceptions. The high contrast 19th century faces that he characterizes as being ugly and illegible are not used in Israel as text faces, but they are still used as display faces. CHAYIM and AHARONI, two sans serif faces that Friedlaender severely criticizes, are still used extensively as display faces in Israel.
The positive qualities of these two faces are explained by Tamari .
 Henri Friedlaender. The making of Hadassah Hebrew. In Hebrew. in , pages 67–84.
Æ¢‰Ò„‰¢ ˙Â‡‰ ˙‡ È˙¯ˆÈ ÍÈ‡ Æ¯„ Ï„È¯Ù È¯ ‰ Friedlaender describes the design process of his Hebrew typeface HADASSAH.
He states that his objectives were to design an unobtrusive book face, to base the shapes on traditional letter forms but to simplify them when possible, and to create a design that is influenced by printing technology and not by calligraphy. He describes and displays several typefaces and manuscripts that influenced him and helped him understand the development of the letters. Among them are two typefaces from Haag-Drugulin, one square and the other halfcursive (HEBRÄISCH IV and RABINISCH CICERO respectively, see ), three typefaces from H. Berthold AG (MERUBA, FRANK-RÜHL, and STAM), a typeface designed by Marcus Behmer and letters drawn by Berthold Wolpe (the designer of Figure 3: A sample of KOREN, reproduced from .
the Latin typeface ALBERTUS), as well as several older typefaces. (Behmer’s typeface was commissioned by the “Soncino Gesellschaft der Freunde des Juedischen Buches” society, which used it to print the Pentateuch in the Officina Serpentis printing press in Berlin in the 1930’s.) He describes the Hadassah design process and displays several preliminary designs. Several examples of the final 1958 design and an example of a 1964 typewriter face are also shown.
This is a translation of an article that has been published in German in 1967
and later translated into English and published in 1972 and 1975:
• Die Entstehung meiner Hadaesah-Hebraisch. In German. Kurt Christians and Richard von Sichowsky, Hamburg, 1967.
• The making of Hadassah Hebrew. In English. Israel-Forum, 1972.
• The making of Hadassah Hebrew. In English. Special edition of 500 copies for The Typophiles. Central Press, Jerusalem, 1975.
 Eliyahu Koren. [The letter as an element in the design of sacred books]. In Hebrew.
In , pages 85–90.
Æ˘„Â˜ È¯ÙÒ ·ÂˆÈÚ· „ÂÒÈÎ ˙Â‡‰ ÆÔ¯Â˜ Â‰ÈÏ‡ Koren describes the design of his typeface KOREN. He describes his objectives, which were mostly legibility, beauty, and maintaining the traditional characteristics of the letters. He describes three problems in Hebrew typography that he attempted to fix: the correct placement of vowel and cantillation marks, the interaction of the shin-dot or sin-dot with a holam, and the ascender of the lamed.
He describes a solution to the shin/holam problem (see  for a different solution). The article shows a few examples of poor typesetting and typefaces with Figure 4: Samples of ARIAL HEBREW with ARIAL (top left), LUCIDA UNICODE (bottom left), ORON with UNIVERS (top right) and NARKISSBLOCK with FOLIO (bottom right). The samples on the right are reproduced from .
Figure 5: Zvi Narkiss’s NARKISSIM (two top lines) and NARKISS TAM (two bottom lines) in regular and bold weights.
a poor legibility (MERUBA, CHAYIM, and AHARONI), a table comparing letters from 16 manuscripts and typefaces, and a sample page from the bible typeset in KOREN.
 Asher Oron. [Designing a new Hebrew typeface]. In Hebrew. In , pages 91–95.
Æ˘„Á È¯·Ú ·˙Î ·ÂˆÈÚ ÆÔÂ¯Â‡ ¯˘‡ Oron describes the design of his sans serif typeface ORON. He designed the typeface to match the latin UNIVERS, and chose the height of the letters so that the Hebrew aligns with the lowercase latin letters. He shows a preliminary design as well as the final design. Some vertical strokes in the original design were given a slight curve to the left to indicate the right-to-left directionality of the text. The article also displays Zvi Narkiss’s NARKISS BLOCK together with FOLIO capitals. (Oron writes, incorrectly, that NARKISS BLOCK to designed to align with the FOLIO capitals.) The paper also shows short samples of many modern hebrew typefaces: FRANK-RÜHL, MERUBA, MIRYAM, STAM, SCHOCKEN, HADASSAH, DAVID, NARKISS, AHARONI, NARKISS BLOCK, ORON, and a typeface designed by Yerachmiel Shechter for exclusive use by El-Al Airlines.
 Zvi Narkiss. [Narkiss, Narkissim, and the rest]. In Hebrew. In , pages 103–108.
Æ¯‡˘‰ ÏÎÂ ¨ÌÈÒÈ˜¯ ¨ÒÈ˜¯ ÆÒÈ˜¯ È·ˆ Narkiss describes the design of his sans serif NARKISS BLOCK and of his text face NARKISS and shows preliminary drawings for NARKISS. He also mentions several other typefaces that he designed: NARKISS TAM, NARKISS CHADASH, NARKISS CHEN, VILNA, and rashi typeface, and a typeface for printing Bibles (it is used in a forthcoming Bible published by Horev, Jerusalem). The article shows blocks of text set in NARKISS and NARKISS CHADASH, and short samples
of NARKISS, NARKISS BLOCK, SHOOLAMIT, NARKISS TAM, SHIMSHON, NARKISSIM,and NARKISS CHADASH.
 Moshe Spitzer, editor. [A Letter is Forever: A Collection of Papers on the Design of the Hebrew Letter].In Hebrew. Second edition, Israel Ministry of Education and Culture, 1989 or 1990.
ÍÂ ÈÁ‰ „¯˘Ó Æ˙È¯·Ú‰ ˙Â‡‰ ·ÂˆÈÚÏ ˘„˜ÂÓ ÌÈ¯Ó‡Ó ı·Â˜ ∫ÌÏÂÚÏ ‡È‰ ˙Â‡ ÆÍ¯ÂÚ ¨¯ˆÈÙ˘ ‰˘Ó ÆÔ¢˘˙ ¨ÌÈÏ˘Â¯È ¨È ¯Â˙ ÍÂ ÈÁÏ Û‚‡‰ ¨˙Â·¯˙‰Â This collection contains eight papers on Hebrew letters. Besides the articles that are listed in this bibliography, the collection also includes articles on literacy in ancient Israel, on decorated medieval Hebrew letters, and on lettering issues in the Jewish tradition and law. The article by Zvi Narkiss  is the only addition to the second addition; the rest also appear in the first edition dated 1980 or 1981.
 Moshe Spitzer. [The development of the square letter.] In Hebrew. In , pages 23–46.
Æ‰˙ÂÁ˙Ù˙‰· ˙Ú·Â¯Ó‰ ˙Â‡‰ Æ¯ˆÈÙ˘ ‰˘Ó This is the definitive paper on the development of the Hebrew letter. Variations of this paper were published several times and in several languages, and as far as I can tell, this version is the most recent and most complete.
The paper surveys the development of Hebrew letters from the earliest known uses of the alphabet in the Second Temple Era to the 1960’s. The paper displays numerous examples of Hebrew lettering from inscriptions, manuscripts, and printed works. Spitzer discusses and displays several modern Hebrew typefaces: FRANK-RÜHL, CHAYIM, AHARONI, STAM, SCHOCKEN, GILL, KOREN, HADASSAH, DAVID, and HATZVI. He also displays and describes partial typefaces cut by Harry Carter and by Frederic Goudy. His opinions on the typefaces that he describes are mostly substantiated by current use.
Other versions of this paper have been published several times:
• In Alei Ayin, the Zalman Schocken jubilee volume. In Hebrew. Tel Aviv, 1952.
Figure 6: From left to right, top to bottom: NARKISS, KOREN, AHARONI, CHAYIM, SCHOCKEN, and GILL. Reproduced (and rearranged) from .
• In , pages 71–85. In Hebrew. This version displays and mentions a few more typefaces than other versions, including MIRYAM, ROMEMA (not shown, a ligher version of FRANK-RÜHL), RACHEL (a handtooled version of STAM), RAMBAM (not shown, a narrow version of STAM), MEIR-BARUCH, and RAHAT, a handwriting font. (Tamari  cites a Berthold specimen showing STAM, RACHEL, and RAMBAM.)