Writing Arabic: from Script to Type

by Stefan F Moginet41It4zdG0EL
American University in Cairo Press, 2009
111 pages, $24.95, paperback
ISBN 978-9774162923
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Not a how-to book, but with much to inspire one to improve their handwriting. Moginet leads the reader on a long voyage from writing in antiquity to Arabic in the computer age. If your interest in Arabic is yoked to an interest in typography this will be a great book. Many illustrations of early Arabic writing, divided into sections on Kufic, Maghribi and Quadrangular styles plus classic cursive scripts. Information on Ibn Muqla and his legacy. Much information on proportions of various scripts.

The sections on movable Arabic type and Arabic fonts are very interesting, crammed with bits of hey-I-never-thought-about-that information. Arabic letters having different forms depending on their places in words, not to mention ligatures and vowel markings, made for many problems in setting Arabic type; Moginet says that while composing Latin script required about a hundred characters, Arabic required between 300 and 600. In the 1930s the Cairo Academy sent out a request for peoposals to reform Arabic script and some of the replies are illustrated here. There are illustrations of  lead types, a typographer’s case and other typographic whatnot. All fascinating. I wish for a much longer edition, but there is a bibliography and lots of further readings for the obsessed.

Originally published in French as Du calame à l’ordinateur.

S F MoginetStefan François Moginet is a graphic and type designer who worked in Morocco and Tunisia.


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