200px, Metal type sorts arranged on a composing stick In
typesetting on a composing stick on a type case. , letter founder, from the 1728 edition of '' Cyclopaedia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, Cyclopaedia''. . Typesetting is the composition of Written language, text by means of arranging ph ...
, a sort or type is a piece of moveable type representing a particular character. They are cast from a matrix mold and assembled by hand with other sorts bearing additional characters into lines of type to make up a ''form'', from which a page is printed.


From the invention of
movable type Movable Type is a blog software, weblog publishing system developed by the company Six Apart. It was publicly announced on September 3, 2001; version 1.0 was publicly released on October 8, 2001. The current version is 7.0. Movable Type is proprie ...
up to the invention of hot metal typesetting essentially all printed text was created by selecting sorts from a type case and assembling them line by line into a form used to print a page. When the form was no longer needed all of the type had to be sorted back into the correct slots in the type case in a very time-consuming process called "distributing". This sorting process led to the individual pieces being called sorts. It is often claimed to be the root of expressions such as "out of sorts" and "wrong sort", although this connection is disputed. During the hot metal typesetting era, printing equipment used matrices to cast type as needed during the typesetting process. The popular Linotype cast entire lines of text at once rather than individual sorts, while the less popular competitor Monotype still cast the sorts individually. Later, when phototypesetting replaced hot metal typesetting, sorts disappeared entirely from the mainstream printing process.

See also

* History of western typography *
Letterform A letterform, letter-form or letter form, is a term used especially in typography, paleography, calligraphy and epigraphy to mean a letter's shape. A letterform is a type of glyph, which is a specific, concrete way of writing an abstract char ...
Matrix (printing) Matrices created by Jean Jannon around 1640. The Garamond typeface installed with most Microsoft">Garamond.html" ;"title="Jean Jannon around 1640. The Garamond">Jean Jannon around 1640. The Garamond typeface installed with most Microsoft software ...
Typeface A typeface is the design of lettering that can include variations, such as extra bold, bold, regular, light, italic, condensed, extended, etc. Each of these variations of the typeface is a font. There are thousands of different typefaces in ex ...
* Typography * Typeface anatomy


* Nesbitt, Alexander ''The History and Technique of Lettering'' (c) 1957, Dover Publications, Dover Publications, Inc. , Library of Congress Catalogue Card Number: 57-13116. The Dover edition is an abridged and corrected republication of the work originally published in 1950 by Prentice-Hall, Inc. under the title ''Lettering: The History and Technique of Lettering as Design''.

External links

a type wiki a
typophile.comMetal Type - For Those who Remember Hot Metal Typesetting
Typography Typesetting {{typ-stub