One hundred typographic pages are exhibited in this book, consisting of alphabets and quotations printed in various type styles. The quotations selected by the author concern types and printing, are from the past and the present, and are in 16 languages. Hermann Zapf is a noted type designer and he himself originally devised many of the type faces used here. Other faces were taken from the fonts of the Stempel foundry in Frankfurt/Main and historic faces came from that foundry's archives. The author has also designed the page layouts, choosing for this manual a horizontal format. The purpose of the manual is "to show the myriad possibilities of the expressiveness and beauty of type, whether individually or in massed text, by the use of purely typographic means." The original English edition of this work was limited to 1000 copies. In making it available to a larger audience, Paul Standard's comment, printed in the original, becomes more pertinent still: "In a world grown noisy and clamorous, reading remains among the very few quiet pleasures left to man. The present work hopes to be considered an attempt to bring a body of critical and expository comment to the widest circle of readers-comment upon every contributory element in bookmaking and printing generally, upon the design of letter forms and their disposition on the page. The very sight of so many different languages on these successive pages is itself a humanizing experience, suggesting as it does a striving for unity while preserving linguistic diversity by means of the printer's art." This "critical and expository comment" has been culled from a wide international range of writers, including both masters of literature and masters of the art of printing.
Hermann Zapf is recognised as one of the world’s leading type designers and typographers, having designed Roman, Greek and Arabic faces. He has been made an Honorary Designer for Industry by the Royal Society of Arts and has won innumerable awards. He is an honorary member of over twenty-four societies across the globe and is also Honorary President of the Edward Johnston Foundation.