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The Elements of Typographic Style [Paperback]

by Robert Bringhurst
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 9, 2004 0881792063 978-0881792065 3rd
Renowned typographer and poet Robert Bringhurst brings clarity to the art of typography with this masterful style guide. Combining practical, theoretical, and historical, this book is a must for graphic artists, editors, or anyone working with the printed page using digital or traditional methods.

Having established itself as a standard in its field The Elements of Typographic Style is house manual at most American university presses, a standard university text, and a reference work in studios of designers around the world. It has been translated into italian and greek, and dutch.

Frequently Bought Together

The Elements of Typographic Style + Thinking with Type, 2nd revised and expanded edition: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students + Making and Breaking the Grid: A Graphic Design Layout Workshop
Price for all three: $50.91

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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 (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,085 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
193 of 209 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not perfect, but probably the best 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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41 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not the latest edition October 24, 2010
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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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Ferrari 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 46 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Poet's Typography 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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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy the hardback version 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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard bound edition lays flat when open
Buy the hard bound edition. Not the most current edition but what a beautiful book. Lays flat when open for easy reading
Published 18 days ago by Randall Garcia
5.0 out of 5 stars Fonts
This book allows the reader to capture different fonts elements and styles. This provides a reference point to allow new designers to learn and create their style
Published 1 month ago by Anthony Goodings
1.0 out of 5 stars It's just a boringly written.
Which one would I do: watch paint dry or grass grow or read this book. I'll take the first two any time.
Published 3 months ago by Noel Rodrigues
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read for Type Designers
In case the title doesn't make it clear, this book is to typography design what Strunk and White's Elements of Style is to writing. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Jesse Gardner
5.0 out of 5 stars exerllent
The shipping speed is really fast, and the book is as good as it described.
I really enjoy reading this book, it helps me understand the history and terms of typography. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Yi Jiang
5.0 out of 5 stars I would buy one for everyone I know, and keep two cases in storage.
I have not enjoyed the benefit of a proper course in typography, and so I found this book a delight to read & reread. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Sam Wainwright
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece. Must have for all Typography Fans.
Most of typography books are just lots of illustration with no substance. This book gives you all the theoretical concepts to get started with the craft of typography. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Javier Olaechea
5.0 out of 5 stars The Book of Typography
It is an amazing book, both for reference and learning purposes. If you are into typography this book is a must.
Published 11 months ago by Ömer Burak Polat
5.0 out of 5 stars great book to learn about your typography and design skills
If you're into learning and knowing about typography, this book is great.. Got this book way back when i was in college studying graphic design, and it came out very useful. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Tim
5.0 out of 5 stars Straightforward and informative
It has so many details about typography covered, that you will be amazed finding out about the things you didn't know.
Published 13 months ago by Victor
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