This article is about the Letraset company. For the rub-on lettering sheets closely associated with them, see Dry transfer. For rub-on halftone screens, see Screentone.
Dry-transfer lettering sheet made by Letraset (left) alongside similar product made by a rival

Letraset is a company based in Le Mans, France, having previously been based in Ashford, Kent.[1] It is known mainly for manufacturing sheets of typefaces and other artwork elements that can be transferred to artwork being prepared.

Corporate history

The Letraset business was founded in London in 1959, introducing innovative media for commercial artists and designers.

Their original product was the Letraset Type Lettering System.[2] By 1961 Letraset's dry rub-down Instant Lettering[3] was perfected. This was to be their core product for many years to come.

Starting in 1964, Letraset also applied the dry rub-down transfer technique to create a children's game called Action Transfers, which would later develop into Kalkitos (marketed by Gillette) and many other series of transferable figures that were very popular up to the 1980s.

Letraset saw a decline in the sales of their materials in the early 1990s so moved into the desktop publishing industry, releasing software packages for the Macintosh such as ImageStudio and ColorStudio. These never saw widespread success. However, as Letraset held the rights to their fonts that had been popular on the dry transfer sheets, it made sense to enter the digital font market (see, for example, Charlotte Sans). Letraset thus began releasing many fonts in formats such as PostScript.

Fonts from designers such as Alan Meeks, Martin Wait, Tim Donaldson and David Quay were released, and many can be found on online retailers such as Fontshop. Some fonts retain 'Letraset' in their title whereas others have been renamed by their new vendors such as ITC.

A selection of fonts is still sold from their web site, separated into fonts from Fontek and Red Rooster. Software include Manga Studio EX and Envelopes, a plug-in for Adobe Illustrator.

Letraset is the maker of the refillable Pantone Tria markers (which formerly had the Pantone prefix), whose 3-nib design and 200 colors makes them an ideal illustrative solution. Additionally, Letraset offers 3 lines of dual-tipped markers, the alcohol based ProMarker and FlexMarker lines, each with 148 mostly different colors, and the water based AquaMarkers with 60 colors, all of which have gained wide acceptance in the hobby and crafting communities.

In June 2012, Letraset was acquired by the ColArt group.[4]


An example use of Letraset in modern art: labelling a photograph by Israeli artist Michal Na'aman

In common usage, the name Letraset originally referred to sheets of transfer lettering which was originally manufactured as a wet process in 1959, with each character selected and cut from a sheet, placed face-down on a small silk screen frame and wetted with a paint brush to soften and release the gum arabic adhesive which held it. The frame was then turned over and the letter located over the artwork, and the character pressed into contact with the page, with the mounting base slid away as with model aircraft transfers.

Later, in 1961, the process was much simplified and a dry transferable lettering system was developed, and it was this that made Letraset a household name. The range of available typefaces became extensive, incorporating both classic and contemporary type designs of the period, and each style was usually available in a wide range of type weights and sizes. Letraset sheets were used extensively by professional and amateur graphic designers, architects and artists in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. For the first time amateurs could produce affordable and attractive artwork of professional appearance. As a result, and because of its ease of use, it also came to be used by printers, design studios and advertising agencies. In the late 1980s Letraset started to be replaced by desktop publishing. Today Letraset sheets are traded on Ebay and elsewhere, and sometimes used so that a designer can avoid a digital look.

The name is also often used to refer generically to sheets of dry transfer lettering of any brand. This technique was very widespread for lettering and other elements before the advent of the phototypesetting and laser computer techniques of word processing and desktop publishing. Currently, Letraset's line of print patterns and textures are more commonly used than its lettering.

Lorem Ipsum

Lorem Ipsum filler text has been featured on Letraset advertisements for decades. There are some indications its use predates Letraset, but nothing concrete has surfaced prior to Letraset's popularizing it.[5]

See also


  1. "About Us". Rocksalt International Pty Ltd. Retrieved April 7, 2011. Registered Office: Letraset Limited, Kingsnorth Industrial Estate, Wotton Road, Ashford, Kent, TN23 6FL, United Kingdom.
  2. "Letraset Type Lettering System". Action Transfers. Retrieved 16 August 2014.
  3. "Letraset Instant lettering". Action Transfers. Retrieved 16 August 2014.
  4. Monk, Zoe. "ColArt Group Acquires Letraset". Craft Business. Retrieved 11 July 2012.
  5. Adams, Cecil (February 2001), What does the filler text "lorem ipsum" mean?, The Straight Dope

External links

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