The Story of Modern Chinese Typography

Original Title

Zhou Bo

Chinese (Simplified)


Words Count

Peking University Press
Sept. 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

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)











  • “图史”有效地对应了传统“图书”的文脉,图史相互关照,彼此互证。作为有拓荒之功的学术著作,《中国现代文字设计图史》用心力极深,超越了一般图录的意义。使我们可以充分理解工业印刷时代的文字设计的多元格局,以及与手工印刷时代乃至数位资讯时代文字设计的联系和变化。一一尹吉男 中央美术学院人文学院院长,教授,中央美术学院学术委员会常务副主任
  • 2006年夏天,我在伦敦大英博物馆偶遇一个丰富盛大的阿拉伯文字的设计展,深受感动,下决心也要写一本全面反映汉字与中国文化关系的书,12年过去了,我俗事缠身,竟然只写了片言只语,真正的著作甚至还没有动手,而周博却把它写出来了!我想向他表达内心的喜悦和至高的敬意一一他做了一件对于中国设计极为重要的事情。文字设计,不仅是视觉传达设计之王,同时也是文化传统的发展源泉,它不但隐藏着历史言说的秘密,而且还包含了中国人生生不息的密码。周博的这本著作,向我们展现了五千年文字智慧的壮阔图景,我认为这是迄今为止,中国设计史研究的最杰出的成果之一。——杭间 中国美术学院副院长,教授
  • 中国现代文字设计图史记载了中国设计史上一条精彩的发展路径,易读,值得读,具有重要学术价值;好看,图文并茂,很多被遗忘的文字设计作品重新焕发出光彩,为设计师带来启示,带来观赏的愉悦!近现代中国文字设计与中国社会一样经历了波澜壮阔、跌宕起伏的发展历程,留给我们的是丰富的视觉文化遗产。本书将这些宝贵资料呈现给设计师与学者,特别是众多学设计的学生,很有价值!——王敏 中央美术学院学术委员会副主任,教授,AGI会员
  • 该书以极为丰富的图像资料和脉络清晰、文字简明的历史叙事呈现出中国现代文字设计史的发展全貌,是中国文字设计史研究的最新成果,但其意义远超出文字设计领域,对于自晚清以来的中国近现代文化研究同样具有重要的学术意义。在设计与观念、视觉与文字、传统与激进之间,作者坚信“文字设计的历史、文化和审美一定能够给我们提供更加持久的价值”,这里面包含有关于历史与未来的睿智的思考与充盈的美感。——李公明 广州美术学院美术史系教授
  • 世界发展到今天,文字本身的历史与美更加值得拿出来探讨,特别是中国文字。本书可以让以数位媒介消费为主的年轻一代看到近现代中国文字的魅力,很有意义。——王为 腾讯移动互联网用户研究与体验设计中心总经理
  • 这里是汉字设计的矿藏,这里是汉字设计的宝库,这里是汉字设计的密码,这里是汉字设计的时空隧道。——仇寅 方正字形档设计总监,高级字体设计师