The Story of Modern Chinese Typography

The Story of Modern Chinese Typography

by Zhou Bo

Chinese, 420pp, paperback
499,000 words count
September 2018

All rights available.

Handling territories:
world exclude China

Chinese characters are the only ideograms in the world that have been used for thousands of years and are still in use today.  It is an important symbol system of Chinese civilization, and it is also the foundation of Chinese thinking and wisdom. Since the end of the Qing Dynasty, the life movement of Chinese characters has fluctuated, and the way of information dissemination has also undergone a transformation from engraving printing to movable type printing, from "the era of lead and fire" to "the era of light and electricity During this period, the typography of Chinese characters has also undergone great changes. Unlike English and other pinyin characters, due to the large number of Chinese characters and complicated strokes, the design of Chinese character fonts can be said to be one of the most difficult and boring tasks in the world.
However, due to the visual characteristics of Chinese characters that are different from those of pinyin characters, the typography of Chinese characters presents a unique sense of beauty.
This has attracted a large number of calligraphers, typeface designers and graphic designers to join in, and many classic fonts and design works have emerged in the long river of history, which have become effective tools for knowledge dissemination and visual communication in the Chinese context.

In the past five years, the author of this book has collected a large amount of first-hand information, interviewed many old and young designers in Beijing, Shanghai and other places, and visited many collectors in the form of "graphic history", highlighting representative font designers and their design works, as well as important events affecting the development of typography, clearly sorting out the evolution path of Chinese typography in modern China and the inheritance of design spirit, also reflecting how the designer's feelings for fonts can be demonstrated under the background of the big era; at the same time, many gradually forgotten text design works can be reproduced, and nearly 500 precious text design works have been presented to font design practitioners and enthusiasts.


  • The Story of Modern Chinese Typography records a wonderful development path in the history of Chinese design. It is easy to read, worth reading, and has important academic value. It is beautiful, with rich pictures and texts, and many forgotten text design works have renewed their brilliance, bringing inspiration to designers and bring the joy of viewing! Modern Chinese character design has gone through a magnificent, ups and downs development process like Chinese society, leaving us with a rich visual cultural heritage. This book presents this valuable information to designers and scholars, especially many design students, it is very valuable! ——Wang Min, deputy director of the Academic Committee of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, professor, AGI member
  • Typography is not only the king of visual communication design, but also the source of the development of cultural traditions. It not only hides the secrets of historical speech, but also contains the secrets of Chinese life. Zhou Bo’s book shows us a magnificent picture of five thousand years of written wisdom. I think this is one of the most outstanding achievements in the study of Chinese design history so far. ——Hang Jian, Vice President and Professor of China Academy of Art
  • Modern Chinese character design is an important representation of China’s modern history and culture. This book systematically studies and organizes the history of modern Chinese character design, and examines the character design in the context of the historical process of Chinese modernization and the political, economic and cultural changes. It not only provides us with a lot of precious design literature and historical information, helps designers and students to go beyond the simple attention to the text and font form itself, but also lays a solid foundation for us to explore the methods and roads of future Chinese character design. ——Song Xiewei, Dean of the School of Design, Central Academy of Fine Arts, Professor, AGI member
  • This book presents a complete picture of the development of the history of modern Chinese character design with extremely rich image data and historical narratives with clear context and concise text. It is the latest achievement of the research on the history of Chinese character design, but its significance goes far beyond the field of text design. The study of modern Chinese culture since the Qing Dynasty also has important academic significance. Between design and concept, vision and text, tradition and radicalness, the author firmly believes that “the history, culture and aesthetics of text design will definitely provide us with more lasting value”, and contains wise thinking about history and the future and full of beauty. ——Li Gongming, Professor of Art History Department, Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts
  • Here is the mine of Chinese character design, here is the treasure house of Chinese character design, here is the password of Chinese character design, and here is the time and space tunnel of Chinese character design. ——Qiu Yin, the design director of FounderType, senior type designer

About the author
Zhou Bo, associate professor and doctor of China Central Academy of Fine Arts. His main research areas are 20th century art, design and visual culture. He has published dozens of academic papers and many review articles in magazines such as Reading, Art Research, Decoration, and published a monograph History of Modern Design Ethics (2014), translated works including Text Design (2017), Design for the Real World (2013), Vision in Motion: The Foundation of the New Bauhaus (2016), etc., He is the editor-in-chief of Design Mantra: Selected Works of Western Modern Design (2010), Font Modern 1919— 1955 (2017) and so on.
He has won the China Art Award· Theoretical Criticism Award (2014), the Fok Yingdong Education Foundation Young Teacher Award (2014) and the Beijing Philosophy and Social Science Outstanding Achievement Award (2017).







  • “圖史”有效地對應了傳統“圖書”的文脈,圖史相互關照,彼此互證。作為有拓荒之功的學術著作,《中國現代文字設計圖史》用心力極深,超越了一般圖錄的意義。使我們可以充分理解工業印刷時代的文字設計的多元格局,以及與手工印刷時代乃至數位資訊時代文字設計的聯繫和變化。一一尹吉男 中央美術學院人文學院院長,教授,中央美術學院學術委員會常務副主任
  • 2006年夏天,我在倫敦大英博物館偶遇一個豐富盛大的阿拉伯文字的設計展,深受感動,下決心也要寫一本全面反映漢字與中國文化關係的書,12年過去了,我俗事纏身,竟然只寫了片言隻語,真正的著作甚至還沒有動手,而周博卻把它寫出來了!我想向他表達內心的喜悅和至高的敬意一一他做了一件對於中國設計極為重要的事情。文字設計,不僅是視覺傳達設計之王,同時也是文化傳統的發展源泉,它不但隱藏著歷史言說的秘密,而且還包含了中國人生生不息的密碼。周博的這本著作,向我們展現了五千年文字智慧的壯闊圖景,我認為這是迄今為止,中國設計史研究的最傑出的成果之一。——杭間 中國美術學院副院長,教授
  • 中國現代文字設計圖史記載了中國設計史上一條精彩的發展路徑,易讀,值得讀,具有重要學術價值;好看,圖文並茂,很多被遺忘的文字設計作品重新煥發出光彩,為設計師帶來啟示,帶來觀賞的愉悅!近現代中國文字設計與中國社會一樣經歷了波瀾壯闊、跌宕起伏的發展歷程,留給我們的是豐富的視覺文化遺產。本書將這些寶貴資料呈現給設計師與學者,特別是眾多學設計的學生,很有價值!——王敏 中央美術學院學術委員會副主任,教授,AGI會員
  • 該書以極為豐富的圖像資料和脈絡清晰、文字簡明的歷史敘事呈現出中國現代文字設計史的發展全貌,是中國文字設計史研究的最新成果,但其意義遠超出文字設計領域,對於自晚清以來的中國近現代文化研究同樣具有重要的學術意義。在設計與觀念、視覺與文字、傳統與激進之間,作者堅信“文字設計的歷史、文化和審美一定能夠給我們提供更加持久的價值”,這裡麵包含有關於歷史與未來的睿智的思考與充盈的美感。——李公明 廣州美術學院美術史系教授
  • 世界發展到今天,文字本身的歷史與美更加值得拿出來探討,特別是中國文字。本書可以讓以數位媒介消費為主的年輕一代看到近現代中國文字的魅力,很有意義。——王為 騰訊移動互聯網用戶研究與體驗設計中心總經理
  • 這裡是漢字設計的礦藏,這裡是漢字設計的寶庫,這裡是漢字設計的密碼,這裡是漢字設計的時空隧道。——仇寅 方正字形檔設計總監,高級字體設計師