Texts for designers of Greek typefaces

These are the minimum of things to read before starting to design Greek typefaces, and in conjunction with the “typefaces of note” can prepare any designer for attempting their first Greek typeface.
Keep in mind this list includes many old texts: a lot has happened in the last two decades! (The first item on the list is a good summary of one important chapter. )
Items below in reverse chronological order, so expect more errors and omissions the further down you go.

Enabling modernity: innovation in modulated Greek typefaces, 1998-2007 (2018)
Published in Philological Encounters, 3 (4). pp. 412–440. ISSN 2451-9197. Available to download from the link above.

Greek type anatomy. By Irene Vlachou
Non-Greek designers may skip the discussion of translated terms, but this is overall very useful information, especially with regard to character sets.

Greek type and typography (2017)
Keynote presentation at Granshan. Mediocre audio capture.

Greek handwriting models (2007)
Originally published on Typophile.com, on a thread on Greek script styles.

Greek type design standards (2005)
Originally published on Typophile.com, on a thread on Greek character design standards.

History of the Greek [typographic] script (2005)
Originally published on Typophile.com, on a thread on Adobe Garamond Premiere Pro, then extracted for a page on the Greek script.

There are also some useful comments on parallel script development in the booklet produced by Microsoft to document the development of the ClearType typefaces, John D. Berry (Ed.) Now read this, (2003). It is available as a PDF here.

A primer for Greek type design (2002)
In Language, Culture, Type. John D Berry (Ed.), ATypI & Graphis
The pre-publication version of the text published here has some images replaced for copyright purposes, but otherwise is at a near-final draft state.


Manuscripts, writing, and historical development

Books with manuscripts and images of rare books might be good; there are some truly comprehensive editions of Greek manuscripts (like Greek literary hands by C H Roberts, in two volumes, and Repertorium der griechishen Kopisten, in three volumes. It is important to get a feeling for Greek writing, as it is (and was) done on entirely different models than western writing. In short, the the arm rotates freely, and the nibs (when not round) are cut with an opposite bias. If the titles above are not available, look up sources on Byzantine scribes. (But note: if you do general searches online, you must focus on secular or less formal documents, rather than the very ornate manuscripts of the Empire.)

Victor Scholderer’s Greek printing types 1465–1927 catalogue is a good historical introduction. It stops in 1927, and has a specific bias. Scholderer outlines helpfully the three early strands of Greek typeface “design”: the upright joined style of Zacharias Kalliergis, the eventually dominant Aldine style, and the short-lived Complutensian. (I put “design” in quotes since “typemaking” would be more appropriate term. Our current interpretation of “design” implies a level of deliberation an reflection that did not apply at the time.) There is a somewhat rare original (500 copies only, grab one if you find it on sale) and a reprint from 2004 or so, with new essays by John Bowman and Martin Davies added. (Oak Knoll sells it in the US, and independent booksellers elsewhere.) The original has some exceptional reproductions in collotype, worth the price of purchase alone.

If you read this you can safely skip Robert Proctor’s The printing of Greek in the fifteenth century (1900), the other key text for early Greek printing, which is also more limited in coverage. (If interested, you can get a free PDF of Proctor’s book.)

H. D. L. Vervliet had published significant texts on the history of Greek typefaces. The Journal of the Printing Historical Society has two relevant articles: “Greek printing types of the French Renaissance: the ‘grecs du roy’ and their successors” (in new series no 2, 2000) and “The Greek typefaces of the early French Renaissance” (in New Series no 4, 2002).

John Bowman’s Greek printing types in Britain: from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth century is based on his PhD (Reading, 1988). It is interesting in its totality, but has an invaluable second chapter where forms from different typefaces are compared. It is published by Typofilia, and should be available to order via independent booksellers.

Michael Macrakis’s Greek Letters: from tablets to pixels has some articles that are very useful, and a few that are not very helpful, or under-researched. Some are out of date. But John Bowman and John Lane’s are essential reading.