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The Typographic Desk Reference
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The Typographic Desk Reference [Hardcover]

Theodore Rosendorf , Ellen Lupton
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

February 2009 1584562315 978-1584562313 1st
First edition. The Typographic Desk Reference (aka TDR) is comprised of a thousand facts on the form of Latin-based writing systems. The book includes the following four main sections: Terms - Definitions of format, measurements, practice, standards, tools, and industry lingo; Glyphs -The list of standard ISO and extended Latin characters, symbols, diacritics, marks, and various forms of typographic furniture; Anatomy & Form - Letter stroke parts and the variations of impression and space used in Latin-based writing systems; and Classification & Specimens - An historical line with examples of form from blackletter to contemporary sans serif types. Designed for quick consultation, entries are concise and factual, making it handy for the desk. Its foreword is written by Ellen Lupton.

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Theodore Rosendorf began a career in graphic design with a set of pencils and a drawing pad. His first project was the identity for the Downwind restaurant at Atlanta's PDK Airport. Leaving the airport, Theodore's career has taken him to clients in the US and abroad for some of the world's most well known brands. He lives and works in Decatur, GA.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Oak Knoll Press; 1st edition (February 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1584562315
  • ISBN-13: 978-1584562313
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,477,939 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A nicely typeset book, but short on the substance September 26, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Imagine a tasteful and nice entrance to a building. You open the
door---only to find there a rather mediocre dwelling with haphazardly
arranged nondescript furniture.

Then you may understand my feelings when I've bought and read this

First, about the positive side. The book is really well designed. It
is organized as a dictionary of typographic terms. The entries are
illustrated by nice marginal sketches. The diagrams, especially the
one on p. 97 (it is reproduced on the book Web site), are succinct and
to the point. The book is well typeset in Adobe Caslon. One might
find the ct and st ligatures a little bit upsetting, but a book about
typography has a certain artistic license. The book uses high quality
paper and nice boards; it even has a silk bookmark band sewn. The
author definitely wanted to create a beautiful book, and he was
successful in this ambition.

However, if the aim of the book is to convey some information to the
reader, then the author is much less fortunate.

The name ("Desk Reference"), and the alphabetical ordering of the
entries suppose at least some effort to provide a comprehensive
dictionary of typography. The book is far from this. Not only it is
really thin (152 pages of pocket book dimensions!), it contains too
much repetitive entries and does NOT contain some really important
ones. Let me give just some examples.

The book has three separate entries for European A, B and C standard
paper dimensions with basically the same diagram repeated three times.
Surely one entry with cross-references would be sufficient.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
In the introductory chapter of the Typographic Desk Reference, Theodore Rosendorf, the author, says his goal was to satisfy a need of the industry: a book that is "solely devoted to quick reference across the entire craft." In my opinion, it fails to do so because of three factors.

Firstly, his use of the word, solely, is not without a reason. That's because the celebrated Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst has 147 pages of reference -- I'm not even including the sections on page and text block proportions. Bringhurst's coverage of specimen is both broader, including cyrillic and greek, and deeper, as it sometimes delves into the story and development of type. Since the TDR is meant to be quick, its terseness can be excused.

Secondly, there are misstatements, conscious or not, in many places. I enumerate a few: Helvetica's original name is spelled "Neue Hass Grotesk" instead of "Neue Haas Grotesk." Quadratic splines are said to be more complex than cubic splines -- actually, type created with quadratic splines tends to have more points than the type constructed with the cubic counterpart exactly because the former is a simpler, less expressive tool. The umlaut/diaeresis entry says that it is employed in Portuguese. No longer.

Finally, some editorial choices are quirky and have unsettled me. In the meatier chapter, for example, the author enumerates almost every possible latin diacritic letter (e.g. e-acute, e-circumflex, e-circumflex-tilde, &c.) and gives them all the exact same perfunctory description: "inflected latin letter e used in such and such language." It reads like a table, only it's not. The sole bit of information besides the appearance of the accented letter is the list of languages that employ it, which generally is too short.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite books on my desk November 16, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
TDR is exactly what it claims to be - a reference book. It isn't something you read from cover to cover, and if you aren't working in Typography you may not pick it up for days. However I find myself flipping through it periodically because I enjoy the information and the way it is written. The book itself is gorgeous; I like to keep it where I can see it easily.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Typography Dictionary January 8, 2013
By Julia P
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I understand those who claim to feel disappointed on this book but they are not judging it for what is intended for. They are right in some observations: it doesn't go into detail about history or how to determinate text block proportions but that is because it's a reference book. It's suppose to be like that. It's a dictionary, a compendium of typographic terms, of descriptions of glyphs and type anatomy. I believe it's clear the intention of the author wasn't to cover exhaustively every typography-related topic, there is even a Further Reading section.

The Typographic Desk Reference it's indeed a short book and that is why I consider it a little gem; in less than 150 pages it provides a lot of information I'd typically have to consult in 2 or 3 different typography books and/or on the web. The TDR contains 4 main sections: Terms, Glyphs, Anatomy & Form and Classification & Specimens. As it has been pointed out in other reviews, the binding is simply beautiful so that justifies the price. I'm giving it 4 out of 5 stars just because I do agree it's a little too brief in the Classification section.
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