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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Did you learn this in design school?
Ok, you slugged it through design school where you learned about typefaces like serif, sans serif, ornamental...the works. While you now know the difference between Bauhaus and Arial, you still don't know how to design a typeface. Designing Type can rescue you, especially if you need to design a typeface in a hurry for a client who demands something to go with his product...
Published on June 26, 2006 by Linda A. Goin

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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Forced to buy it
I had to buy this for a class, but honestly you can find most of this info online. There's tons of resources out there that you can get for free. If you're learning on your own don't buy this. Way too expensive for what you get.
Published 20 months ago by SebastiAn


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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Did you learn this in design school?, June 26, 2006
This review is from: Designing Type (Paperback)
Ok, you slugged it through design school where you learned about typefaces like serif, sans serif, ornamental...the works. While you now know the difference between Bauhaus and Arial, you still don't know how to design a typeface. Designing Type can rescue you, especially if you need to design a typeface in a hurry for a client who demands something to go with his product line...

Author Karen Cheng, associate professor at the University of Washington's Visual Communication Design Program in Seattle, teaches type design and typography. The lessons that she includes in her book are so simple that you can understand the type designer's process almost overnight. Cheng states, "There is no single, `correct' process for creating a typeface. The methodologies of individual designers are as unique and varied as the designs themselves."

From this starting point, Cheng proceeds to explain how a typeface is developed, and then provides examples and diagrams that demonstrate visual principles, type construction, and optical illusions that affect typeface uniformity. She creates a step-by-step process through letters, numbers, and punctuation and accents, all developed through a variety of methods from sketching to vector graphics.

While Cheng does include history of type and foundries in her narratives, the emphasis is on type development. The only problem that you might face is that Cheng focuses only on serif and sans serif faces, and these choices are generic. However, after reading the book, I discovered that her lessons applied to all serifs and sans serif typefaces and families, and that it was just another step of imagination - buoyed by a new understanding of type - to begin to create ornamental type.

For the price, this book is worth its weight in gold for anyone who wants to learn more about how type works as a stand-alone design or as a design element within a larger format. Highly recommended for students and for the working designer.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic Text on Type Design, October 2, 2007
By 
Richard Bigus (Kailua, HI United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Designing Type (Paperback)
Absolutely a must have for aspiring and junior typeface or logo designers. However, the book is not an easy read; it should be read cover to cover with patience before being used as a workbook reference. Its text requires a sound prior knowledge of typography and related technologies. And it must be read in tandem with close observation of the numerous illustrations and diagrams to be fully understood and appreciated. The information shared by the author is not available elsewhere unless one attends graduate school in type design or apprentices to a type designer. I had completed my first roman & small cap font before I acquired this book and hadn't started my companion italic yet. And though the author doesn't cover italic type design her thoroughness in her analytical and comparative approach is such that I have the book open like a workbook for every italic character and am redrawing some of my romans. I've been teaching graphic design for 30 years and though so much has changed the fundamental and essential have not though they have evolved. This book will become a classic for serious professionals because of the level of insight that it gives into the essentials of type design.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one of a kind?, September 15, 2006
By 
Dan Bergevin (danbergevin dot com) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Designing Type (Paperback)
Most typography books I've seen are showcases of designers and their client projects. These books may have their place for readers who are seeking inspiration and brief but helpful tips for project management. However, none of these books discuss the actual nuts and bolts of creating fonts. Cheng's book fills this gap by focusing only on typographic design, and does so in such a highly informative way that anyone who designs fonts cannot afford to be without it. Not only are all the individual aspects of type examined, but different fonts are compared and contrasted to reveal their sometimes very subtle differences. Cheng showcases many examples of her own students' work as well so the reader can see creative applications of typographical principles. A brief but highly valuable section on punctuation is also included. The only caveat I have to offer potential readers is that this book does not cover cursive fonts, which makes sense and isn't worth deducting a star for. In all, this book is the one you need if you want to make your own fonts. Amazon currently only has it available through third party sellers so get it while you still can!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Visual construction of letters..., April 16, 2009
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This review is from: Designing Type (Paperback)
This book is indispensible for anyone who designs type. Clear illustrations show the visual construction of letters. For instance, on pages 100-101, an outline of the letter "v" placed directly over a shaded "y" in nine serif typeface examples make it clear that the "y" is not just a "v" with a descending tail. Is the sans serif "u" just an upside-down "n"? Pages 146-147 show with several examples that it's not quite that simple. Many visual details on every letter (including numbers and diacritical marks etc...) will help fine tune your type designs no matter your level of expertise. An extremely useful section is the simplified guidelines on designing sidebearings of letters. You will not regret adding this book to your typographic library.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful obsessive minutia, February 26, 2008
This review is from: Designing Type (Paperback)
For either those that have been loving typography for many years, or those that just recently have fallen infatuated. This exhaustive documentation of type-crafting minutiae is a MUST-have for reference and obsessive appreciation of classic forms and details.

Karen's careful eye will help you dissect all the classics... Perhaps even discover missed aspects of a much-visited serif, perhaps finally understanding the commonality of a specific "m" proportion, perhaps understand the evolution of "g"...

Many hours of delight await for you within its pages. Get it.
You posted this review 5 days ago.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A unique book with a bit too much detail, July 8, 2009
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This review is from: Designing Type (Paperback)
This stands out as something unique: I know of no other book that describes the construction of Roman type in such detail as this one. It puts each letterform under a microscope and examines the stylistic differences between Venetian, old style, transitional, modern and sans-serif forms. It's large and comfortable to hold, and you can lose yourself for hours in its beautifully-set pages, engrossed in its minutiae.

That said, this detail is also the book's major weakness. It does not spend enough time covering "designing" and spends too much time reviewing "design". That is to say, it spends more time showing what others have done than explaining how you might do the same. It also omits italics altogether, which feels like a gaping hole in the subject matter. I would have appreciated a little less detail and coverage of a lot more ground.

Despite the drawbacks, this unique book is one I recommend you have on your bookshelf if you are interested in typography or type design.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Lesson in What Makes a Classic., November 26, 2011
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This review is from: Designing Type (Paperback)
I have learned from this book that every letter matters in type design. Every decision made on the capital "O" for example affects decisions that have to be made for every other letter. You will learn about fonts yes. But what I have discovered is that the classics are pure, solid, tested, and true. And new type needs to be judged based tested rules and the question must be asked... do we need another font? that does not rule out new type styles. Bring them on. Just know that having a font building program and a computer does not guarantee a type that will last.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is THE book for type design, July 2, 2011
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This review is from: Designing Type (Paperback)
In case you haven't figured this out on your own, type design is very difficult. All kinds of odd optical illusion type things happen when you reduce a large monitor-screen-sized character to 10 points, especially when the letter is rasterized for your monitor screen at that small size.

This is THE book (perhaps the only book) that teaches you about the issues on a letter-by-letter basis. If you're going to design type you absolutely must get this book. If you don't then you should be locked up for your insanity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Want to begin designing type? This is your book., December 4, 2010
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This review is from: Designing Type (Paperback)
As an avid type junkie, I've been looking for a book to provide some insight in to type development. This was exactly the book I'd been searching for. As someone who has not had any formal training on type design, this book has been a massive help. It has been on my desk as a constant resource since I received it months ago. Ms. Cheng gives great guidance and I recommend this as the best starting place for anyone interested in learning type design.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST HAVE letter-by-letter start, February 16, 2014
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This review is from: Designing Type (Paperback)
Designing Type is a MUST HAVE for any beginner or as a excellent reference for those who have a face or two under their belt.

I own many books on typography, and they have all been collecting dust since I got my hands on Karen Cheng's Designing Type. If you are designing your first typeface, get it now. I cant tell you how many times I find a difficult letter and turn to Designing Type. Any typeface designer has dissected fonts revealing the system and subtle variations with awe, Designing Type is a fantastic collection of comparisons, deconstructions, and letterform evolutions. Designing letterforms is extremely difficult and tedious and I can admit I never would have finished my first typeface or designed a second without Designing Type at my side. What I love about this book is how well it teaches you letter-by-letter, this format not only works for instruction but reference.

The book provides the essentials and foundation of type design, which, don't get me wrong, is a lot. Designing Type does not really cover the creative side of type design, rather it puts classics under a microscope shedding light on systems; but, as they say in typeface design, creativity is in the system. Get it!
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Designing Type
Designing Type by Karen Cheng (Paperback - April 3, 2006)
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