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The Elements of Typographic Style Paperback – 2002
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This lovely, well-written book is concerned foremost with creating beautiful typography and is essential for professionals who regularly work with typographic designs. Author Robert Bringhurst writes about designing with the correct typeface; striving for rhythm, proportion, and harmony; choosing and combining type; designing pages; using section heads, subheads, footnotes, and tables; applying kerning and other type adjustments to improve legibility; and adding special characters, including punctuation and diacritical marks. The Elements of Typographic Style teaches the history of and the artistic and practical perspectives on a variety of type families that are available in Europe and America today.
The last section of the book classifies and displays many type families, offers a glossary of typography terms, and lists type designers and type foundries. The book briefly mentions digital typography, but otherwise ignores it, focusing instead on general typography and page- and type-design issues. Its examples include text in a variety of languages--including English, Russian, German, and Greek--which is particularly helpful if your work has a multinational focus. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
In a discussion embracing five and a half centuries, poet and designer Bringhurst covers the design of individual characters of type and entire alphabets, as well as the layout of pages, including such items as footnotes, margins, and tables. A glossary defines terms such as kern, fore-edge, and pica, and there are annotated lists of type designers, from the 1400s until now, and of type foundries, mostly contemporary. An appendix illustrates unusual typographic characters, such as the Croatian "dyet" and the German "sharp s," and a final appendix lists, without annotation, more than 100 books and periodicals for further reading. The author's prose is sometimes flowery, and some of his strongly expressed opinions are questionable. Nonetheless, there's a wealth of sound advice and instruction here. Not required for most collections, this will be useful to graphic designers and those interested in the history of printed letterforms.?Margarete Gross, Chicago P.L.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
Provided, of course, that readers take time to absorb what Bringhurst offers and skip those parts that don't work for them (which should generally be the case for any book but is especially pertinent for this title). For instance, Bringhurst goes into exhausting detail about perfect proportion, thirds, sixths, and ninths, as well as harmonics, all of which may be Greek (or choose other suitable language) to many readers, while also offering diagrams and illustrations showing the "smoothness" or "disorder" of various layouts. The latter elements should connect with readers emotionally even if the geometric discussion comes up short.
Bringhurst's approach is highly technical but also esoteric—he may comment on the tiniest details of a descender for a specific font based on mathematical proportion, then launch into a completely subjective analysis of said descender's emotional impact on readers. Because of this style, many readers may find portions of the text dull or overly abstract; the good news is that, also owing to this nonlinear style, you can just skip forward until you find something interesting, without any loss of continuity. For instance, The font section, with images and detailed descriptions of dozens of oft-used (and some not-so-oft-used) fonts, is a tremendous reference when one is searching for a font for a specific purpose such as page-count reduction or extensive glyphs.
Bringhurst is a genius, and in spots he conveys information about layout and formatting that at first appears paradoxical or at odds with conventional thinking. In other places, as noted by another reviewer, he appears to suffer from the typical inability of geniuses to convey content to a broader audience. Despite that flaw, I considered much of that content to be a bonus because of its mere presence in the book, and for that reason I gave it five stars. Nothing else out there comes even close. And yes, the book itself is laid out perfectly.
All in all, what this book lacks in readability it makes up for with the extensiveness of its content, providing information that can be used both by professionals and by those with no preexisting knowledge of typography.
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.
"Typography is the craft of endowing human language with a durable visual form, and thus with an independent existence. Its heartwood is calligraphy--the dance, on a tiny stage, of the living, speaking hand--and its roots reach into living soil, though its branches may be hung each year with new machines."
An illuminating book.