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The Anatomy of Type: A Graphic Guide to 100 Typefaces Hardcover – November 13, 2012


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The Anatomy of Type: A Graphic Guide to 100 Typefaces + Thinking with Type, 2nd revised and expanded edition: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Design (November 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062203126
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062203120
  • Product Dimensions: 9.9 x 7.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,897 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Coles does a wonderful job of initiating the layman to the field of modern typography. -- Michael Stasiak, Print Magazine


The Anatomy of Type provides a glorious opportunity to taxonimize another everyday visual encounter. As your knowledge accumulates, and your vocabulary grows, you, too, will begin to appraise these fonts with a critical eye. You will gaze at them alongside Coles, nodding at his insights. -- Slate


The Anatomy of Type is a surprisingly accessible book that will appeal to anyone with even a passing interest in typography. An easy-to-use guide that rewards both light browsing and intensive study. -- John Peck, Diesel's "Beautiful Gift Books 2012"

... a down-to-earth but playful and helpful tool for users in search of a distinctive typographic tone - a cautiously plotted but worthwhile attempt to shake type classifications to the core. -- Sébastien Morlighem, Eye Magazine

The Anatomy of Type does for type users what Gray's Anatomy does for pre-med students: it explains characteristic differences in body language -- in this case the Western alphabet's most muscular typefaces. -- Steven Heller, The New York Times

From the Author

Students and professionals in any creative field can benefit from a good typographic eye. The Anatomy of Type (The Geometry of Type in the UK) is all about looking more closely at letters. Through visual diagrams and practical descriptions, you'll learn how to distinguish between related typefaces and see how the attributes of letterforms (such as contrast, detail, and proportion) affect the mood, readability, and use of each typeface. Nutritional value aside, the spreads full of big type are nice eye candy, too.

The 100 typefaces featured in the book are hand-picked by the author for their functionality and stylistic relevance in today's design landscape. Along with several familiar faces (Garamond, Bodoni, Gill Sans, Helvetica), you'll also discover contemporary fonts that are less common -- and often more useful -- than the overused classics.

More About the Author

Stephen Coles is a writer and typographer living in Oakland and Berlin. After six years at FontShop San Francisco as a creative director, he now publishes the websites Typographica, Fonts In Use, and The Mid-Century Modernist.

Stephen was raised in Salt Lake City, Utah by a saintly Swedish immigrant and a magazine publisher of local renown. After an idyllic upbringing he outgrew the quiet Mormon enclave and escaped to a dark, but beautiful Stockholm where he pushed pixels remotely for his brother's graphic design concern. Just as he was about to see his first weeks of Scandinavian sun he was scooped up by a Berlin-based font supplier who found value in what to others was only a mildly amusing curiosity: his ability to identify and recommend typefaces. The company installed him in their San Francisco office where he labored joyfully as a creative director, copywriter, and evangelist.

Stephen now works independently out of his cat's home in Oakland where he writes about typography and consults with designers and various organizations on typeface selection. He is also a regular contributor to Print and Codex magazines, a member of the FontFont TypeBoard, a Type Camp instructor, and a judge for the 2011 Communication Arts Typography Annual.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Highly recommended for student typographers.
Aarati Rachel Chacko
Despite nowadays there are several enemies of type classifications it is very illustrative to see the different and punctuated classifications proposed.
S. Llamas
It's a beautifully designed book and very thorough in its specific content.
LKW

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By R. Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on January 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover
It used to be that people who used machines for written communication were using typewriters, and the letters that came out on the page all looked the same. There was some variation when IBM introduced the "Selectric" typewriter in 1961, with a "golf ball" full of letters that struck the ribbon and printed on the page. You could change your golf ball from a "Courier" typeface, which looked just like typing, to a "Letter Gothic" face which was straighter and without serifs for decoration. With computers, we get a lot more choices; unless you leave everything to default, you get to select, for instance, what letters you want used when you are reading e-mail. This has made typefaces more interesting to a lot of people, the type of people who were happy to read Simon Garfield's fine book of typeface stories, _Just My Type_, a couple of years ago. If you liked that, and you want to dig a little deeper, and also want a good-looking book for your coffee table, I strongly recommend _The Anatomy of Type: A Graphic Guide to 100 Typefaces_ (Harper Design) by Stephen Coles. It is enormous fun to look at the variation of the strange shapes of letters here, most of which are not exuberant show faces, but are working letters meant to be read. For any job, you want to get the right worker, and this book will help get a typeface that will do a particular job, but the book is also simply an enjoyable display of useful and attractive design.

As befits a book about typefaces, the displays here are clear, with a happy use of color and a two-page spread for each typeface. In his introduction, Coles says the hundred typefaces have been chosen because of their versatility and practical use.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy on December 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This material is covered in practically every type book, but this one stands out in how deeply it dives into the subject. There also seems to be some innovation in how typefaces are described. I like the idea of a "rational serif" which seems to be a very adequate description that I had not run across until this book.

The book goes into 5 examples from each classification, highlighting characteristics of each font, so in that way it is a glorified marketing piece, but still very useful.

The price is right, so it is recommended.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jim Parkinson on December 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I was in Portland last weekend and went to Powell's (the world's largest bookstore). I bought a stack of lettering and type books including The Anatomy of Type by Stephen Coles. It's a very good book. I was sucked right in. It's packed with wonderful typographic insights. I think it will be around in designers bookshelves for a long time to come.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michael K. Smith TOP 500 REVIEWER on July 1, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I'm not and never could be a designer, whether of typography or anything else, but I'm enough of a book-junky to appreciate the differences between the way type looks on the page (both in blocks of text and as headings), or on road signs, or on billboards. Most people pay no attention to the type that forms the words they're reading, and that's usually a good thing. The best, most readable body type -- Garamond, Goudy, Caslon, Georgia -- is unobtrusive. It doesn't call attention to itself. Helvetica, on the other hand, while terrible in text, is extremely legible from three feet away, at any angle and in a variety of sizes. That's why it's the most ubiquitous typeface in any part of the world that uses Roman letters.

Coles is very much a designer and he's extremely familiar with the telling details of a huge number of faces. He can identify almost any typeface at a glance, and he knows what each one is good for. And in this very nicely composed volume, he passes the most important part of that information on to the reader. He divides the faces (not "fonts") into the traditional families and gives a two-page spread to each, with details on the original designer and foundry and date of release. There's a word or phrase at large size with the distinguishing characteristics noted, a brief description of its place in the scheme of things, a full character set, and a short list of comparable faces, just in case you're looking for an alternative. His comments are historical, biographical, artistic, and commercial, and no matter how much you think you already know, you'll learn something knew on nearly every page.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. Llamas on September 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What I like:
Every time I open this book I learn and see something new about the fonts. This book definetively helped me to see typeface design in a closer and more detailed way.

Despite nowadays there are several enemies of type classifications it is very illustrative to see the different and punctuated classifications proposed. The book doesn't aim to enclose families in pigeonholes as it acknowledges that limits between styles may be very diffuse and one single typeface can gather features from very different places of the type universe and distant moments of history. As type designer it's important to understand how consistent or varied can be an alphabet, what matters is to know where and why every applied feature comes from.

What I think could improve:
The description about the fonts could be deeper and more objective in some cases. However suggesting in wich contexts they work better is a very good idea.

It would be great to have a deeper view to italic variants of the choosen fonts and how their anatomies change across the proposed classificaton as well. Also, I would like that script fonts were analyzed in the wide way they did with romans, but I guess that's material for a different book.

My conclusion:
A great and useful book for typeface and graphic designers. I'm very happy for purchasing it. Despite what I mentioned it deserves 5 stars as it shows the author did an awesome job researching, selecting and comparing the fonts.

(Sorry if my English is not clear or inaccurate, I did my best)
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