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Thames & Hudson Manual of Typography (The Thames & Hudson Manuals) Paperback – November 1, 1980

2.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

McLean, a Scottish typographer and scholar.
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Product Details

  • Series: Thames & Hudson Manuals
  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Thames and Hudson (November 1, 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0500680221
  • ISBN-13: 978-0500680223
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,370,134 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The book was written in 1980 before the onset of desktop publishing, and even with the additions in 1992 is in some respects a little outdated in some places. However there is a lot of practical information that is still very relevant today. Furthermore the book is well written in an easy to read style and nicely designed with wide margins that have lovely illustrations and examples of typefaces. It also makes it easy to hold the book and not have your thumb cover the text. The book starts with an historical overview of printing, then explains equipment that would have been used in a typographers studio, much of which is probably superceded by computers now. The book then examines what makes a legible publication, taking account of typefaces (serif is better for long articles), good line lengths, use of space and cultural background. Caligraphy and classification of typefaces are looked at, followed by different methods of typesetting such as hot and cold metal and filmsetting (again this is now more of a historical section). An interesting chapter on paper explains how it is made and different types that are available, the good advice to talk to your printer rather than make a choice yourself is typical of the practical information the book provides. Two chapters cover book design ranging from the parts of a book and the merits of asymmetrical or centred typography and proofers marks. McLean translated a couple of Jan Tschichold's books so is well informed on this subject and that of the golden section for determining the margins in a book. Practical considerations such as libraries often re-binding books twice and guides on margins to allow this are given here. Short chapters on jobbing typography, such as business cards, and newspaper design close the book. McLean redesigned the Observer's weekend review section in 1960 and has useful insights on design considerations.
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Format: Paperback
This is a curious book, part tutorial, part cookbook, part personal war stories, including the author's pet tools and techniques. It was obviously designed before computers were commonplace and many sections dealing with hot metal type or phototypesetting are completely obsolete nowadays.
The beginning has a decent introduction to the history of typography and typefaces.
The middle part concerns itself with working around the constraints of metal or copyediting before word processing systems became commonplace. If nothing else, it should give us a renewed appreciation of how much tedious labor computers save us, such as not having to count characters to find out how many pages will be required.
The final part on layout for stationery, books and magazines is pretty good, but not very systematic, and carries the same war story flavor as the section on recommended tools.
All in all, this book has some interesting information, but I would not recommend it to anyone who wants to learn how to produce beautiful documents out of his desktop publishing setup. Robin Williams's "The PC is not a typewriter", Robert Bringhurst's "The Elements of Typographical Style" or even Donald Knuth's books on computers and typography are better choices in this respect.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is quite a disappointment. Instead of leading the reader logically through a primer on orthography (good typography) or providing a comprehensive reference book, this is a collection of idiosyncratic observations. (A high point is the day McLean dared to set poetry in sans serif type!) It has some illustrations of good and bad layout, but not enough for a layperson to be able to generalize useful rules. The book itself isn't very attractive, and it cannot be recommended as a modern introduction. Laser printers have made "everyman" (and everywoman) a typesetter, but this is not the book to lead you to better layout and design.
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