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Typesetting is the process of composing a text with typographic elements (letters, numbers, punctuation, spaces) in order to form a typographic form that will be printed to form a printed page.

From the invention of typography in the 15th century until the beginning of the 20th century, the way to typeset a text was to compose it by hand. Typographic elements were placed in the composing stick one by one with a pair of tweezers, one next to the other. When a line of text was completed, it was transferred to the typesetter until a typographic form was created, in order to be tied and printed. Manual typesetting was a slow process and required the work of many skilled individuals, without the ability to produce a large number of texts.

From the beginning of the 19th century, many attempts were made to mechanize typesetting. These efforts opened the way for the invention of two methods that marked the end of the age for manual printing practices. The first invention was that of linotype in 1884 which was the first method of mechanical typesetting that allowed more copies to be produced in a short time and did not require the labour of several people to operate efficiently. Three years later, in 1887, another method of mechanical typesetting, the Monotype, was invented. The two inventions contributed to the mass production of printed material and led the world to the beginning of a new era of modernisation and easier access to information.

Updated: 29-03-2023
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