• Mr Pascal FulacherDirector of the Atelier
    du Livre d’art & de l’Estampe
  • Tel: (+33)
  • Tel2.: (+33)

Courses, Workshops

The concentration of skills in Atelier du Livre d’art & de l’Estampe, is, of course, well known in France, and in other countries too.

It is for this reason that it attracts considerable interest in both its heritage and skills, whose unique nature prompts numerous requests for introductory visits, tours of discovery to learn about our trades and, even more, for training courses.

The Imprimerie Nationale is now in a position to meet these needs and can accommodate groups at its new Atelier premises, in a space of over 2,500 square metres supplemented by an educational area.

These expressions of interest and other requests for courses have convinced us of the necessity to become a training provider in order to respond to such requests that are all part of the effort to revitalise typography as a printing process, whether this relates to the knowledge and skills associated with this technique or to its use. This resurgence of interest is occurring, oddly, at a time when digital is becoming omnipresent.

Three broad categories:

  • Visits and introductory tours: These courses are for those working in book related occupations: curators, librarians, archivists and students who have studied on courses related to these occupations.
    These short (one day) courses offer the opportunity to discover the listed heritage of the Imprimerie Nationale (historic library and cabinet des Poinçons, the room where the punches are stored), a discovery that helps to develop an understanding of the techniques employed in making a book.
  • Specialist courses: These courses concern the practical skills and cover the creation of types, punchcutting, type casting, copperplate engraving and printing, typesetting and proof reading. At the Imprimerie Nationale these trades are served by master craftsmen and artisans who are often the last possessors of these skills and who hand them on. These courses are primarily designed for designers, artists and typographers in France and abroad.
  • Workshops: In this arrangement, the Atelier makes its tools, knowledge and skills and its technical facilities available to groups of students who work on a project in collaboration with their teacher. The project includes an introduction to the different trades and techniques. It takes place over a period of 5 days. These workshops are designed for all schools of graphic arts and applied arts and cater for groups of 10 to 15 students.
    They may also be organised for individuals, professional artists or amateurs, who would like to make a small edition of their creative work.
    In our view, this whole scheme is such as to make the Atelier of the Imprimerie Nationale a reference organisation for training courses designed to preserve standards of excellence in knowledge and skills that can only be passed on by those who still possess them today. In the course of 2016 it will be supplemented by a museum space open to the public where the Imprimerie Nationale collections will be put on display through temporary exhibitions.
    So in the space of two years the Imprimerie Nationale will have created the place of reference for typography, incorporating its history, the Imprimerie Nationale’s collections and a production workshop based on living and transmissible knowledge and expertise.


The already mentioned workshops can be arranged on request, staffed by teachers from schools of art or the graphic arts. Around fifteen students, divided into groups, spend a week at the Imprimerie Nationale, and, in collaboration with the artisans and master craftsmen working there, will be able to learn about each skill in the traditional graphic production chain, skills that have long survived, the drawing and design of letters, punchcutting, striking of matrices, type casting, Latin and Oriental typesetting, manual and mechanical printing (Monotype), typographic printing and copperplate engraving. Students also have the opportunity to visit the Cabinet des Poinçons and the only one of its kind in the world, its collection of punches, matrices, wood blocks, copper plates, vignettes and lettering tools, a total of almost 700,000 items, the oldest of which date from the reign of François I, and see some historic books typeset using the type exclusive to the Imprimerie nationale; masterpieces of publishing like the Description de l’Égypte or the Dictionnaire chinois, français & latin.

Students will be able to immerse themselves in the Atelier, handle the IN’s historic type characters, Latin and Oriental, cast new type, compose in lead type, from the cases and packets of type characters, assemble them in whatever way they feel inspired, create in complete freedom, invent their own language, and so on; and give rise to original, romantic, fantasy or futuristic projects that will be printed on a typographic press. An experience between the traditional and the modern, between the real and the imaginary, a return to printing’s roots essential for any course relating to the art of the written word and the world of forms.

Training workshops

Type design & drawing

The Imprimerie Nationale designs distinctive fonts for cities and companies; which is how Franck Jalleau came to create an exclusive set of types for the city of Brive-la-Gaillarde, the Brive. A programme of adaptation of typographical resources for digital typesetting has been undertaken, for both Latin types and some Oriental types, such as Grecs du Roi, engraved by Claude Garamont, for an edition of Pindar’s Odes olympiques at the time of the Athens Olympic Games, or Tifinagh, at the request of the Moroccan government.

From the act of writing to the act of drawing

This course is intended for designers or anyone wishing to increase their knowledge in the field of typography. It offers a practical introduction to the tools of calligraphy and practice in the act of drawing.


Design experience and a feeling for art and design in the history of writing.


To acquire, through the practice of calligraphy and drawing of letters, a mastery of the formal languages that constitute our alphabetic system.
To acquire the specific vocabulary of the world of typography.


- To learn to master the tools of calligraphy with the aim of developing a sensitive and personal formal vocabulary. Study of the structures and rhythms from historic examples, Humanistic script and Chancery script.
- To learn the three main structures of our alphabetic system: capitals, Roman, italic.
- To acquire a mastery of the methodologies inherent in drawing letters.
- To learn to identify the constituent éléments of a typographical writing.
- All learning will take place through practical exercises.

Teaching resources

Heritage collections of the Cabinet des Poinçons (Punch Room) and the Imprimerie Nationale library.

Restoration of a reading font

This course is designed for designers and typesetters wishing to extend their knowledge in the field of type design. It offers a specific approach from methods of typographic design to training in the specialist software.


Practical experience of designing letters and using computer tools.


To benefit, through the practice of typographic design, from a mastery of the formal challenges inherent in the constraints and demands that the production of a reading font requires.


- Learning to observe and analyse the forms of types of the 16th or 17th centuries.
- Study of the typographic colour with a view to recreating the essential character of the original type.
- Study of the legibility and visibility factors in the body of the text.
- Study of the methodologies specific to the development of a typographical set.
- Learning to master digitisation software: vectorisation, development and organisation of a character set.

Teaching resources

Heritage collections of the Cabinet des Poinçons (Punch Room) and the Imprimerie Nationale library.

Cutting punches

Since Gutenberg’s invention movable type has been manufactured in three stages: cutting a punch, striking a matrix and, in this matrix, casting typographic characters made from a an alloy of lead, antimony and tin. The punch is a steel bar.

On its tip the punch cutter draws and cuts the letter, sign or vignette in relief and in reverse. When the punchcutter is satisfied that the work is as good as it can be, the punch is hardened and is then ready for striking the matrix

The Cabinet des Poinçons is one of the last permanent refuges of the knowledge and skill of typographic punchcutting. This practical course, with Annie Bocel, punch cutter and maître d’art, includes working with steel by producing a punch with tools like gravers and files, as the illustrious cutters of the Imprimerie Nationale have done.

The letter to be cut will be chosen from the Latin or Oriental collection of the Cabinet des Poinçons or will be the trainee’s own design.


- Stages in the making of a punch: the making of a “smoke proof”, drawing the outline, the use of the file at the vice and the peg, chasing and pricking with a chisel, using gauges and smoke proofs to check weights, hardening and tempering the punch, etc.
- Striking the matrix in copper. Private courses in typographic punchcuting, of one or several months, estimate on request, admission after interview.

Casting type

Once the punch has been hardened by heat treatment, it is cold sunk under pressure into a block of copper. After this operation, called “striking the matrix”, it is justified then cast, formerly, in a hand mould, but since the 19th century in a mechanical casting machine.

Introduction to hand mould casting

-Familiarisation with the Atelier and the Cabinet des Poinçons. Introduction to hand type casting, preceded by a history of type casting and a presentation of the different systems of type production over the centuries. Manual casting, mechanical casting, mechanical typesetting.
- Demonstration and practical type casting in different types of moulds.
- Giving the type the correct height to paper.
- Printing on the proof press.

Introduction to monotype


- Monotype is a typesetting system comprising two elements, the keyboard used to enter the text and record it on a strip of perforated paper and the caster that automatically produces text in justified types, ready to print on the press.
- Familiarisation with the Atelier and the Cabinet des Poinçons.
- Production of a text with the Monotype, preceded by a history of type casting and a presentation of the different systems of type production over the centuries. Manual casting, mechanical casting, mechanical typesetting.
- Selection of a text, font, size and justification.
- Inputting the text on a Monotype keyboard on to a perforated strip.
- Casting the type composed.
- Printing on the proof press.

Teaching resources

Cabinet des Poinçons heritage collections.

Setting type

The assembly of type by the compositor, letter by letter, in the compositing stick. The lines are put together and placed in a forme which is then locked on press.

The compositors use the 7 Latin types exclusive to the Imprimerie Nationale.

Monotype is a typesetting system comprising two elements, the keyboard used to enter the text and record it on a strip of perforated paper and the caster that automatically produces text in separate lead type, ready to print on the press.


To learn about manual and mechanical typesetting and to set a four-page text in one of the Imprimerie Nationale’s exclusive types.


- Familiarisation with the Atelier and learning about the different skills used there, from punchcutting to copperplate engraving.
- Visit to the Cabinet des Poinçons.
- Typographic cases.
- Typesetting tools and equipment.
- Proofreading marks.
- Blocks.
- Familiarisation with the foundry workshop.
- Monotype and Linotype casting machines.
- Mechanical typesetting.


Manual method of typesetting: justification of the compositor, galleys, proofreading marks and imposition.

Manual typesetting:

Manual typesetting a 4 page notebook, production of proofs, typographical correction and imposition on a typographic press for printing.

Mechanical typesetting:

Typesetting a text on a monotype keyboard and mechanical typesetting.


Setting-imposing a four-page text by and mechanically, and printing it, assembly of the text.

Copperplate engraving

Copperplate engraving consists of engraving lines on a metal plate with the aid of a tool (direct cutting) or an acid (etching with acid). The cuts are filled with ink and the surface of the plate is wiped. The print is obtained by placing a sheet of damp paper on the plate and then passing it through a press under strong pressure.


To acquire the basics necessary to produce an engraving.


- Familiarisation with the Atelier and learning about the different skills used there. Presentation of the different engraving techniques in copperplate engraving. Etching two plates from a model, line engraving and aquatint.
- The different results achieved by the participants with the help of the instructor.
- Printing.
- Possibility of continuing the training with other techniques and based on participants’own work.
- Teaching resources
- Aubert press, Delattre press..

Introduction to typographic proofreading

Proofreading is still done in the most simple way, with a pen and a proof on paper. In the traditional typographic production process the proofreader is involved at every stage: first and second galley prints, make-up, ready for printing, checking print ready after imposition, final proof before printing. Note that what we are talking about here is the job at the printing works (i.e. where books are manufactured), which is distinct from the job of press proofreaders.


- Learning or revision of proofreading marks. Brief history of an occupation (have proofreaders disappeared or metamorphosed today?)
- A few of the most frequent writing problems:
- Use of capitals (frequency, emphasis, etc.);
- Use and spacing of punctuation marks;
- Presentation of bibliographies and references;
- Common spelling mistakes, etc.
- Response to the particular concerns of the listeners.
- Practical exercise: proofreading a short text: identification of misprints, detailed reading of the form or in-depth intellectual reading, qualities required for the job of proofreader (patience, effort of simplification and consistency from the beginning to end of a text, etc.), freedom or reserve in relation to the author of a manuscript…
- Reading advice: Presentation and examination of specialist books on typographical rules and/or grammar
- Linguistic recommendations (French and IT, anglicisms, automatisms of language etc.)
- Technical supplement (depending on the time available): examples of the specific job of the proofreader at the Atelier du Livre as a function of traditional techniques (monitoring the condition of the lead at each reading stage, placement of text on a press sheet, page layout problems, search for a “typographic grey” as a result of pleasing spacing in each line and each paragraph, etc.).