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The Elements of Typographic Style Paperback – October 9, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0881792065 ISBN-10: 0881792063 Edition: 3rd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Hartley and Marks Publishers; 3rd edition (October 9, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0881792063
  • ISBN-13: 978-0881792065
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #200,291 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

If you are into typography this book is a must.
Ömer Burak Polat
A beautifully structured and clearly written book about high-level concepts of typography and the finest nuances as well.
reader and maker
My friends give me a hard time becuase they have found me on more than one occasion reading this book at weird times.
Jason Walley

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

194 of 210 people found the following review helpful By Erik Fleischer on December 6, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Elements of Typographic Style (version 3.1) is certainly a very well written book that contains not only a great deal of useful information but also interesting insights of a more subjective nature. However, it is not as perfect as practically every other review posted here suggests, and I would like to point out a few aspects in which it could be improved.

Little more than half of the 382-page book is filled with what I would call the actual "core" of the work. The other half is dedicated to analyses of the author's favourite typefaces (about 80 pages) and several appendices. There is nothing inherently bad about this distribution, but unfortunately some of the core parts were only given a cursory mention, when in my opinion they deserved more in-depth discussions.

So, for example:

(a) In chapter 8, Shaping the Page, the author lists countless page and textblock proportions and provides a large number of geometric figures representing page formats, but does little more than give each proportion a name ("Full Cross Octagon page", "Turned Hexagon" etc). He then gives a few examples, but not nearly enough, and leaves the reader wanting for more details on which proportions or formats would, in the author's analysis, be more appropriate for this or that type of text. And most of the numbers and diagrams merely take up space in the book, since just knowing about their existence does not help much.

(b) Two diagrams on page 6 (just before the table of contents) are supposed to show the reader how the author came up with the proportions for the book's pages and textblocks.
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42 of 47 people found the following review helpful By James Cho on October 24, 2010
Format: Paperback
The book is excellent, but Amazon is selling an old edition; v 3.0, 2004. The latest edition is v 3.2 published in 2008. I was only able to order it by contacting the publisher directly.
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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Aaron Shepard on November 5, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is the Ferrari of typography books. Anyone seriously into typography should read it.

It is less useful, however, for beginners and self publishers, to whom it is often recommended. They will be less conscious that some of Bringhurst's advice is simply his opinion -- not an absolute rule or even standard practice.

Certainly read Bringhurst for advanced study. But if you're just learning about typography, there are better introductions. (My own favorite is James Felici's The Complete Manual of Typography).
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40 of 47 people found the following review helpful By B. Williams on July 19, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In his Foreword Bringhurst declares his admiration for Strunk and White's
rightly acclaimed guide to good writing, whose title differs by just one
word from this book's. But a considerable distance separates the contents
of these two works: Elements of Style is clear, no-nonsense guide full of
wise advice, plainly expressed; the book embodies its principles perfectly.
Bringhurst says he set himself "to compile simple list of working principles"
but that idea seems to have been completely submerged in the book he wrote.
What principles are in play in Chapter 11, Prowling the Specimen Book, where
he explores more than 100 typefaces with historical asides? His answer (p 211):
"Call the type by its honest name if you can." Practical advice.

Self-indulgent excess is the rule here, not disciplined, focused writing.
In a book about essentials (Elements), what is the purpose of a complete
catalog of every possible accent and decoration of the roman alphabet,
some used only in languages like Sahaptin, Lillooet and Arika?

And while I described Strunk and White as no-nonsense, there is plenty of
nonsense to be found in Bringhurst. Chapter 8, Shaping the Page, concerns an
important practical matter. But the author gives us musical metaphors and a
collection of fanciful geometrical constructions with no logical or esthetic
foundation that I could fathom. Page layouts based on pairs of circles,
pentagons, hexagons with diagonals and some that look like illustrations
of Desargues' Theorem. The truth is that any proportion can be derived
from a geometrical construction.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By moi surtout on May 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
So much has been said about this excellent book, but I wanted to comment on the difference between the hardback and paperback versions. As some other reviewers have noted, this is a narrow book with a slim inner margin. With the paperback version, you can't lay the book open without cracking the binding. I think it was obvious the design was made with the hardback version in mind; the paperback seems an afterthought. The hardback also has a ribbon for bookmarking your page, which is very handy in a book like this. This is the sort of book you'll use as a reference for years, and it only costs a few dollars more for a much sturdier version.

Don't buy this book if you don't like to read. It isn't a quick guide that will cram the basics of typography into your skull before tomorrow's midterm exam. This is the sort of book you curl up with when you have a long rainy afternoon to yourself. It is long-winded, goes off on tangents, and the author, while immensely knowledgeable, is set in opinions that will not be shared by everyone. An opinionated typographer (and aren't we all?) will read some passages in twitchy annoyance, wishing one could call up that Mr. Bringhurst and tell him a thing or two. But whether you agree or disagree, you will be thinking of your reasons, evaluating your conceptions and becoming better for it. Reading this book is like having a deep conversation with your favorite friend who is keen to discuss the nuances of typography with you hour after hour. Except probably your friends are like mine and wouldn't recognize a ligature if it bit them on the serif, which is why this book inspires so much devotion. It's personal, poetic, and speaks to your heart - if your heart happens to be full of glyphs.
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