During a student’s first lesson with an Ottoman master calligrapher, he or she was traditionally handed an inscription and asked to copy it. Invariably, the text would be a prayer in Arabic: “Make it easy, Lord, make it not hard. Lord, help me bring it to an auspicious end.” In failing miserably, the student would come to appreciate the magnitude of the task he or she had just undertaken. The wealth of forms, the perfection of individual letters, the multifarious ligatures, all added to the difficulty of mastering this extraordinary art.

The challenges presented by Arabic typography have been no less arduous. Setting aside early xylographic printing, Arabic incunabula were European products that left much to be desired aesthetically. That the earliest efforts in the Muslim world were not much to look at either may be one of the reasons why early Ottoman printing failed to gain momentum. It was only in the nineteenth century that calligraphy-based Arabic types made it possible to produce printed books that could hope to rival manuscripts.

The papers presented at ISType 2022 span the discipline both geographically and chronologically. Scholars and practitioners from all over the world discuss diverse Arabic types cast in Europe as well as in the Muslim world, giving examples ranging from İbrahim Müteferrika’s pioneering efforts, through fruitless attempts to construct disconnected Arabic letters, to contemporary digital font design. These papers provide a much-needed corrective to the rather parochial viewpoint taken by certain past publications on the subject.

İrvin Cemil Schick
École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris, 2022

Onur Yazıcıgil: Conference Director (Sabancı University)
Murat Ersoy: Conference Web Design & Development (Farmazon)
İbrahim Kaçtıoğlu: Coordinator (EsadType Amiens)
Buket Eyş: Host
Alp Eren Tekin: Motion Graphics Designer
Özge Kepenek: Social Media Designer

Sakıp Sabancı Museum
Berna Özkul: General Secretary
Ayşe Aldemir: Collections Manager
Burcu Özkaçar: Events and Learning Programs Specialist
Berna Koçak: Museum Administrative Assistant

Sans: Halyard by Darden Studio
Serif: Garamond Pro by Adobe
Arabic: Markazi Text by Google Fonts


November 5, 2022

09:00 — 10:00

Morning Coffee


Welcome Remarks: Meltem Müftüler Baç

The Dean of Sabancı University Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences


Welcome Remarks: Nazan Ölçer

Director, Sakıp Sabancı Museum


Gerry Leonidas

Arabic typography: a paradigm for research-informed practice


Titus Nemeth

Building bridges: the case for a book that straddles two worlds

11:30 — 12:00

Coffee Break


Orlin Sabev

The Ottoman transition from scribal to print culture: the layout of the Müteferrika prints


Emanuela Conidi

An approach to the study of Arabic foundry type


Onur Yazıcıgil

The Ottoman printers’ 8 pt Naskh typeface and its Turkish type maker Mehmed Emin Efendi

13:30 — 14:30

Lunch Break


Borna Izadpanah

Naskh types from Europe, Ottoman Empire, and Russia in nineteenth-century Iran and their legacy


Özlem Özkal

A curious case of Ottoman Typography: detached Arabic Letters

15:30 — 16:00

Coffee Break


Thomas Milo

Script grammar: a linguistic approach to digitising Islamic script


Ayşe Aldemir

Members of the Ottoman dynasty who were calligraphers


November 6 — 7, 2022

10:00 — 17:00

Borna Izadpanah & Rainer Erich Scheichelbauer

Arabic-script type design workshop: considering the past, designing for the present

Institutional Partners


Bold Sponsor

Medium Sponsors