The writer ox

Typography, writing and play.

Our handwriting speaks volumes about the various aspects of our identity (size, inclination of the letters, shape, pressure, speed, direction, loose character or not). Mine is utterly illegible, which is, according to The American Journal of Psychology, a sign of creativity 😊.

The same goes for typography. It sublimates a brand personality. Typography, or the art of assembling characters, indeed gives a tone, an essence to a brand. Typography conveys emotions, values and a very specific point of view. Basically, typography is a creative demiurge which gives birth to real identities.

Beyond the meaning of the words, the way of writing them represents an ecosystem and an economy in its own right. Think about it. You’ve spent hours with your design team selecting or even creating from scratch a typeface that does you justice. Goldsmith’s work! No need to draw a picture. You already realize how much writing, in its formal aspect, constitute a major element of your communication:

  • For its ability to leave a memory.
  • For its propensity to facilitate navigation in our worlds.
  • For its magic story-telling skills.

Hats off to all the typographers in the world!

But where do these characters come from?

Sumerian pictograms, Meroitic and hieroglyphic writing in Africa (Sudan, Egypt), Phoenician cuneiform writing, Greek & Roman alphabets, Caroline lower case in the 8th century, Romans of the king under Louis XIV up to today’s hybrid typographies mixing print and web, their story has nothing to envy to the most breathtaking sagas. These characters translate the vision of the world and the aesthetic (sometimes very political) of various peoples and cultures over time.

Did you know that writing has long hesitated between right and left in part of the East and the West? I present to you, if you do not know it yet, “the ox that turns” or boustrophedon.


Boustrophedon writing? an archaic writing that alternates the direction of reading from one line to another, without interruption/punctuation. From left to right for one line, then from right to left for another . Like an ox (yes, you heard that right): βοῦς boũs “ox” that turns στροφή strophế “action of turning” in a field.

Picture the comings and goings of a generous bovid crossing vast fields far and wide and you will  get a vision of Phoenician and Greek writing.

These writings were articulated in boustrophedon. (5th century BC). It was in the 4th century BC that Greek writing finally found its definitive direction from left to right, which would be fixed by an official decree! But the boustrophedon continued to dig its furrow in many areas. In robotics, mathematics, computer science…In poetry.

Let’s try!

You can also scan the image below to read the boustrophedon from left to right😊

What do you think?

Are you going to start writing in boustrophedon too? Send us your creations here: and we will share them on our social networks, to celebrate words and typography!

#boustrophedon #typography #writing #boeufecrivain #2ruesaintgeorges #happywords #fontsforlife #writerox

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