9 helpful books for budding typographers

Helpful resources for budding typographers

Last week I was asked by a friend at work if I could recommend any good books on type. I don’t tend to read a lot about design, so I took to Twitter to see what you the readers would suggest. So I decided to compile the suggestions into one larger list along with links (the red title) in case you wanted to buy a copy for yourself. The descriptions below are taken from the Amazon pages I link to, in case you were wondering. I’ve personally only read Jan Tischold’s The New Typography, which I would definitely suggest checking out.

I hope some of you find this list helpful!

Just My Type: A Book About Fonts by Simon Garfield

Beginning in the early days of Gutenberg and ending with the most adventurous digital fonts, Simon Garfield explores the rich history and subtle powers of type. He goes on to investigate a range of modern mysteries, including how Helvetica took over the world, what inspires the seeming ubiquitous use of Trajan on bad movie posters, and exactly why the all-type cover of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus was so effective. It also examines why the “T” in the Beatles logo is longer than the other letters and how Gotham helped Barack Obama into the White House.

Detail in Typography by Jost Hochuli

How is it that text can be set perfectly and yet look insufferably dull? How do you achieve perfect congruence between the type itself and its meaning? In Detail in Typography Jost Hochuli, master book designer and author of the seminal Designing Books, addresses the finer points of setting text. Hochuli begins with a consideration of how human beings read, moving on incrementally to considerations of letter, word, and line as well as word-space and line-space. Hochuli concludes by examining whole paragraphs and how they carry meaning. Produced in Switzerland to the highest standards, Detail in Typography embodies critical thinking and articulate design in its own physical form.

The New Typography by Jan Tschichold

First published in 1928 in Germany and out of print for many years, this text has been recognized as one of the most important statements of modern typographical design. This curious and fascinating work ranges through theories of social criticism, art history, architecture, and the emerging importance of photography as it sets forth very definite guidelines regarding the design of printed materials. The final sections are indeed practical guidelines, down to sheet sizes and appropriate mixes of type, for the day-to-day use of working designers and printers.

Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton

Thinking with Type is divided into three sections: letter, text, and grid. Each section begins with an easy-to-grasp essay that reviews historical, technological, and theoretical concepts, and is then followed by a set of practical exercises that bring the material covered to life. Sections conclude with examples of work by leading practitioners that demonstrate creative possibilities (along with some classic no-no’s to avoid).

A Type Primer by John Kane

Practical and hands-on in approach, this book/exercise manual speaks clearly to beginning graphic designers and others involved with type about the complex meeting of message, image, and history surrounding typography. Focused on intent and content, not affect or style, it makes informed distinctions between what is appropriate and what is merely show (especially in terms of the “junk” often generated unenlightened by computer users). Filled with examples, exercises, and background information–and designed itself to reflect good typographic design–it guides readers systematically to the point where they can not only understand but demonstrate basic principles of typography, and thereby strengthen their own typographic instincts.

Typographie: A Manual of Design by Emil Ruder

Emil Ruder’s Typography is the timeless textbook from which generations of typographer and graphic designers have learned their fundamentals. Ruder, one of the great twentieth-century typographers was a pioneer who abandoned the conventional rules of his discipline and replaced them with new rules that satisfied the requirements of his new typography. Now in its sixth printing, this book has a hallowed place on the bookshelves of both students and accomplished designers.

The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst

Renowned typographer and poet Robert Bringhurst brings clarity to the art of typography with this masterful style guide. Combining the practical, theoretical, and historical, this edition is completely updated, with a thorough exploration of the newest innovations in intelligent font technology, and is a must-have for graphic artists, editors, or anyone working with the printed page using digital or traditional methods.

Basics Design: Typography by Paul Harris and Gavin Ambrose

Effective use of typography can produce a neutral effect or rouse the passions, symbolise artistic, political or philosophical movements, or express the personality of a person or organisation. Typefaces vary from clear and distinguishable letterforms that are suitable for extended blocks of text, to more dramatic and eye-catching typefaces that grab attention and are used in newspaper headlines and advertisements. Basics Design: Typography aims to impart a comprehensive understanding of typography, to explore its history, theory and practice. Aimed at both students and practising designers, it provides a thorough examination of how typography informs other aspects of creative design.

Bobby Solomon

August 3, 2012 / By

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