Conference: The song of the sans serif

Call for papers

The song of the sans serif

Conference to be held at the
Centre for printing history & culture (CPHC)
Birmingham City University / University of Birmingham

30 September 2016


From printing types to digital typography the sans serif resonates across both page and screen; and from the advent of Caslon IV’s Two Line English Egyptian in 1816* to the present day the voice of the sans serif has greatly influenced communication. In the nineteenth-century the sans serif sang out from billboards competing for attention through the smog of industrialised cities; with the advent of the railways it forged an unique relationship with transport and it became the face of the information age the indispensable choice for tabular matter. In the twenty-first century, with the emergence of new vernacular types, the sans serif continues to speak within contemporary advertising and user-experience design.

In October 2016, the Centre for printing history & culture is celebrating 200 years of the sans serif through a one-day symposium and accompanying exhibition. Speakers are invited to address aspects of the world-wide development, use and impact of the sans serif from the nineteenth century and beyond. The symposium organisers are inviting contributions from academics, research students, independent scholars and practitioners working in the realms of printing history and culture, typography and type design, social and industrial history and other related topics.

The event will include an exhibition of sans serif material from collections in the Cadbury Research Library.

Submission guidelines

Abstracts of no longer than 250 words should be submitted along with a brief biography to: and

by 29 February 2016.

Invitees will be allocated 20 minutes in which to present their papers.

Event organisers

Professor Caroline Archer (BCU), David Osbaldestin (BCU), Martin Killeen (University of Birmingham)


The conference is supported by the Centre for printing history & culture, Birmingham City University, Cadbury Research Library and the University of Birmingham.

More information

* first dated sans serif specimen


Professor Caroline Archer-Parré

The Typographic Hub part of the 

Centre for Printing History & Culture
Faculty of Art, Design and Media, Birmingham City University
Parkside Building, 5 Cardigan Street, Birmingham B4 7BD
0121 331 5871  @typetweet  @cphc_15

Co-Director, Centre for Printing History & Culture
Chairman, Baskerville Society
Honorary Senior Research Fellow, University of Birmingham