Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Letters of Credit: A View of Type Design Hardcover – April 1, 1987
See the Best Books of 2018 So Far
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for the best books of the year so far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Customers who bought this item also bought
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
There's a lot of good technical content here, almost all of it regarding nuances of letterforms and design of type faces. He offers some interesting history, as well, from the turn of the century up to about the 1950s.
Among other type designers, he describes Rudolf Koch, best known for Kabel. As presented here, Koch was the first type designer to bridge the gap between the blackletter German alphabets and the Latin letters used elsewhere in Europe, to the advantage of both traditions. Tracy also spends a fair bit of time on Frederick Goudy. Goudy is certainly worth study, for both his succcesses and his less graceful work. Tracy seems to focus on the latter - his description of Goudy reads like a left-handed compliment in essay form.
Tracy was active from the hot-lead days, through photo typesetting, and into the early electronic era. He notes the advantages and weaknesses in each technology, as of when the book was written. Digital technology has progressed since then. Scanning has almost granted his wish that ".. vectorising is an automatic process ... [so] designers' work can be reproduced directly and with complete fidelity." Electronic design has also somewhat invalidated his claim that "the method of manufacture has [little] influence on the design of type." Frere-Jones' Reactor font is one among those that could never have appeared in metal. Also, the punchcutter's craft acted as an engraved metal barrier to entry into type design. With that barrier gone, amateur type design has come into its own (for better or worse).
The personality, the history, and the commentary on type design all make this a worthwhile book. It won't help the beginner much, and deals only with typographic issues at the level of letterforms and letter spacing. Still, it's a view worth seeing.
Letters of Credit is at once a history of modern typeface design and an introduction to the principles of good design. The book centers primarily on what is called the "body typeface," i.e. typefaces used for book/newspaper/magazine printing. As with any art, the student needs to learn the rules before he or she goes about breaking them. Conscious breaking of the rules is a sign of mastery, while breaking them out of ignorance is the sign of a poor artist.
Tracy takes us through what makes up a good typeface. The text is never so technical that the beginning student becomes lost. What makes up a good italic? What about numbers? What makes a good letter S? Which bar should be longer in the letter E? It is all here. The book is well illustrated with many black and white illustrations of the many typefaces he critiques. Tracy not only gives us what makes up a good typeface but shows us the pitfalls that can drag a good typeface down to a mediocre one. One of the most interesting aspects of the first half of the book is a system of letter fitting that Tracy devised in order to find the proper fitting for each glyph of the font that the designer is working on. For that alone, the book is well worth the price.
The second part of the book is a survey of some of the great names in modern typeface design and a critique of some of their greatest creations. Such typographic luminaries as Jan van Krimpen, Fredric Goudy, Rudolf Koch, W. A. Dwiggins and Stanley Morrison are included. Tracy speaks with the authority that only experience brings as he talks about these great typographers and their creations. His critiques in this section of the book are an education unto themselves on what makes up good typeface design. Bottom line, if you are interested in typeface design, even if your interest lies more in display typefaces, this book belongs on your shelf. You cannot help but come away from this book without taking with you a better idea of what makes up good typeface design.