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The Elements of Typographic Style: Version 4.0: 20th Anniversary Edition 4th -20th Anniversary ed. Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0881792126
ISBN-10: 0881792128
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  • The Elements of Typographic Style: Version 4.0: 20th Anniversary Edition
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  • Thinking with Type, 2nd revised and expanded edition: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students
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  • Making and Breaking the Grid: A Graphic Design Layout Workshop
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A classic in the field." — Library Journal

About the Author

Robert Bringhurst is a poet, typographer, linguist, critic, designer, translator, teacher, and cultural historian. He has published more than thirty books, eighteen of them books of poetry. His book, The Black Canoe, a study of Bill Reid’s sculpture, is a classic of Native American art history and his book The Elements of Typographic Style is considered the “bible” for typographers the world over. In Canada, Bringhurst is best known for his groundbreaking study of Native Canadian oral literature, A Story As Sharp as a Knife: The Classical Haida Mythtellers and Their World (1999), a work that startled many readers and sparked intense academic and public debate. Two volumes of translation from classical Haida complete the trilogy: Nine Visits to the Mythworld and Being In Being. In 2004, the trilogy earned Bringhurst the Edward Sapir Prize, awarded by the Society for Linguistic Anthropology. Among his more recent books of poetry is Ursa Major (2003), a multilingual work in which characters tell simultaneous stories in English, Latin, Greek, and Cree.

Born in Los Angeles in 1946, Robert Bringhurst was brought to Canada at the age of five, raised largely in Alberta, and has lived and worked in British Columbia since 1973. He currently lives near Heriot Bay on Quadra Island.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 382 pages
  • Publisher: Hartley and Marks Publishers; 4th -20th Anniversary ed. edition (January 15, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0881792128
  • ISBN-13: 978-0881792126
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,061 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Dream Beast VINE VOICE on October 17, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One would expect a book on typography to be beautiful, but The Elements of Typographic Style exceeds those expectations. I love leafing through this book as much as reading it. Every page is elegant. The paper feels good. And the author truly is a poet whose prose makes the technical aspects of typography approachable. He writes:

"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.
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Format: Paperback
Serious designers who are beginning their trade, or old hats who might need to be refreshed in typography can benefit from Robert Bringhurst's "The Elements of Typographic Style."

Bringhurst has brought us a thrifty tome of typography. Succinct, he isn't bound to entertain the reader, but educate him. He looks at typography philosophically and functionally, knowing well how each perspective intertwines in type.

His glossary of typographic terms will bring you into the know about apertures, dot leaders, nuts and muttons.

Just as useful is his thorough appendix of sorts and characters. With an image of the characters, he explains in a few sentences what characters is when it is to be used properly. He distinguishes acutes from graves from primes from hois from apostrophes. Adjacent to this lexicon is a quick visual index of alphabetic character. This section alone was worth the price for me.

The real science of "The Elements of Typographic Style" is in Bringhurst's bulk of explanations of letter construction, page composition, defining and given shorts histories of classic fonts as seen in specimen books, a great chapter on analphabetic symbols.

I fully recommend "The Elements of Typographic Style" by Robert Bringhurst. Artists, designers, illustrators all should have a copy of this. It reads easier than you might suspect, and would serve as a fine textbook. Writers should read it for no other reason than it is interesting, but to also have pity on our poor designers who must make our words look nice.

Anthony Trendl
anthonytrendl.com
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Far and away the most intelligent, knowledgeable, well-written, and beautifully designed guide for anyone interested in the history of type and the design of books with extensive text. (Not a guide to graphic design. No splashy color pages with text in 8 point sans.) A great reference book on page design, layout, and type choices. Excellent glossary of characters and terms.
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New edition contains more extensive coverage of fonts. Excellent resource for anyone in love with a well-printed and formatted page.
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I've seen reviews that trumpet this book as a "classic in its field." Well, as Han Solo says, "It's all true."

This book is dense, in the sense that it packs a lot of good info into a small size. It is sort of like eating a rich, delicious meal; you love it, but you can only digest it in smaller portions. But everything you eat is delicious and you want to come back for more over and over again.

I have read this book four times now. I get it off the shelf about once a year and read through it. I usually read four or five pages a night and then let my mind ruminate over what I've read.

Part history, part poetry, part social studies, and part style manual; this book is at its heart a very practical how-to on typographic layout, but doesn't get mired down in technical details. And that description doesn't do it justice. I simply cannot recommend this book enough! Go buy it! It's amazing!
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Commits brand dilution against "The Elements of Style", a tight, 105 page book where every page has something you could reference while writing. In contrast, this book is a bloated 382 pages of flowery prose you have to slog through to find useful info in.

The very layout of the book is written like more like prose than a reference manual. The author uses the outside margin to denote the current section title, sans chapter/section numbers or use of position to denote which chapter you're on. If that wasn't bad enough, he also uses that space for footnotes and examples, and they take precedence. You can flip through several pages, scanning the margin to get your bearings, but be met with footnotes and examples instead.

So you could scan the content of the pages for navigation instead. However section headers use the same size and font style as body text, and have equal white space above and below them. Try flipping through the book and you'll find a lack of an immediate indicator to where you are. You'll soon realize you have to effectively read body text for navigation rather than scan. Awful.

The table on pg. 28 really sums up the book's inability to lead by example. Go on and try using it instinctively. Try not resorting to the 21-word explanation. Whenever Tufte kicks the bucket, he's going to immediately start rolling in his grave due to that abomination being in a book that's so highly rated.

This book does have some nice points, like the history of typography. But that would have been better reserved for its own book, especially if you're going to have the audacity to name yourself after The Elements of Style and name drop it in your Foreword and promotional materials. I'm giving this book a 1/5 because it should really be an average of 3.
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