The Visual History of Type – Paul McNeil


Seven years in the making, The Visual History of Type by Paul McNeil, and published by Laurence King, is a definitive resource to the history of type communication. Meticulously researched and arranged chronologically, it forms a comprehensive survey of the major typefaces produced since the advent of printing in the 1450s through to the present day.

The Visual History of Type is a beautifully produced volume of 672 pages featuring 350 original type specimens hand-picked by the author. The high-quality illustrations are direct and faithful representations of key type designs. Hard back and linen bound this important book is a visual and informative feast for graphic designers, educators, historians and design students.

Paul McNeil is a graphic designer and co-founder of MuirMcNeil, specializing in typography, systems and information design. He is also a Senior Lecturer in Typography at the London College of Communication.


The 320 typefaces are chronologically displayed on spreads, systematically arranged throughout, supported by a short summary of the development, appearance and application of each design, with tables locating it firmly within its context.

‘I wanted to fill that gap, not solely because of its usefulness in helping designers understand how and why type works but also because of the exceptional richness of its historical connections to technologies, to the aesthetic milieu of different eras and to social and ideological evolution. Type is a microcosmic representation of culture’ – Paul McNeil

‘The most comprehensive book on typography in the last 60 years – The Visual History of Type sets a new standard‘ – St Bride Library


‘What distinguishes this volume from other typeface histories is the extraordinary inclusion of original printing and type specimen artifacts generously reproduced large and beautifully printed as though these objects are jumping off the page’ – Steven Heller


‘A consistent theme running through the book is the mutual influences of technology and ideology, from the medieval through to the modern and to today, wherever we are now. The evolution of type seems to represent these cultural shifts remarkably well in visual form’ – Paul McNeil

The Visual History of Type provoked the following accolade from surely one of McNeil’s most respected design heroes:
‘Amazing, overwhelming, stunning, wonderful: these are words that express my admiration on seeing and reading this complete book about the development of type’ – Wim Crouwel HonFISTD

This is a must-read book for every graphic designer or type geek... and Laurence King has made a very special offer for ISTD members – to take advantage of this ISTD members discount just login to your ISTD account and click on Discounts.