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A Typographic Workbook: A Primer to History, Techniques, and Artistry

3.7 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0471292371
ISBN-10: 0471292370
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From the Back Cover

Quickly master the concepts and skills you need to successfully design with type

a typographic WORKBOOK

To help you gain a deeper understanding of the effects produced by various fonts and typographic techniques, designer Kate Clair takes you on a fascinating tour of the innovative potential of type. Extensive visual examples illustrate the use of type as an expressive communication tool. From selecting the right font, to spacing it, to the creative integration of fonts, she explains the decisions made by successful designers. At the same time, she provides step-by-step guidance and numerous practice exercises that help you develop the confidence and skills needed to put that knowledge to work in your own designs. In addition, a detailed history of type is included.

A valuable professional resource for working designers and an indispensable training tool for graphic design students, A Typographic Workbook features:
* A historical overview of type and typographic technologies
* In-depth explanations of the formal qualities of different typefaces
* Skill-building exercises and projects to sharpen your skills
* Quizzes and review questions that help you gauge your progress
* An overview of computer terms and principles

About the Author

KATE CLAIR is a general partner in Hats-Off Impressions, a design firm based in Binghamton, New York, and a faculty member in the Communication Design Department at Kutztown University in Kutztown, Pennsylvania.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley (January 4, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471292370
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471292371
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 0.7 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,513,173 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on November 12, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book is an excellent starting place for any newbie designer/typographer (despite the shortcomings of occasional poor typography as mentioned in other reviews). It's very difficult to find a book that covers the breadth and depth of this one, yet still manages to deal with fundamental issues in a very readable and accessible way. You won't find another book as comprehensive and practical as this one!
The beauty of the book lies in its ability to reveal ALL the tools and skills you require, in a no-nonsense style, to create legible and artistic type. Your work won't win awards after reading it, but you will be armed with all the practical concepts you need to work with type in a competent and creative manner. I get the impression from the tone of the text that it's written for a young audience, maybe first-year college students, so the writing can sometimes belabor seemingly straight-forward concepts.
The numerous exercises are designed to impart the nuts-and-bolts techniques of how to use type in a practical yet expressive way. Most of the projects are concerned with the mechanics of legibility and information hierarchy, as well as kerning, tracking, leading and ligatures etc. The history sections are also very informative and outline the expansion of writing systems and technologies throughout human social development.
After reading this and completing the exercises, the reader could comfortably move onto a more advanced treatises on type like "The Elements of Typographic Style" by Bringhurst or "Type in Use" by White, equipped with a well-grounded foundation to absorb more technical/conceptual information.
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Format: Paperback
This is a 370-page college-level textbook about the use of printed letterforms, or what is more widely and commonly known as Òtypography.Ó It is surprisingly ambitious, in the sense that it makes an attempt to discuss an enormous range of issues, large and small, related to the history, theory, and practice of typographic design. The result, which interweaves an astonishing amount of text with hundreds (maybe thousands) of black-and-white illustrations (of mixed quality), is easily enough to fill two or three volumes. The first 270 pages consist of 20 chapters with such general headings as ÒReadability and Legibility,Ó ÒTypographic Hierarchy,Ó and ÒThe Grid Structure.Ó Within each chapter, there are a dozen or more subsections on such topics as ÒDesigning with Two Families of Type,Ó ÒLetterspacing and Its Effect on Readability,Ó and ÒColor Symbolism Through Time.Ó Intended to function also as a type specimen book, it ends with 75 pages of type samples, while, throughout the volume, the texts on the pages are purposely set in varying type styles, with annotations about typeface, size, and leading. How admirable to have put all this information under one cover. Yet, sadly, it suffers the critical flaw that, too often, the typography and layout of the book contradict its own principles. For example, nearly all the text is set in 8.5 point type with 12 point leading, regardless of typeface. While convenient for type comparisons, the effect of this is devastating for the reader, since some type styles can survive dense paragraphs at that setting, while others cannot.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
I agree with many of the previous reviewers who have remarked on the poor writing style throughout this book! The historical sections are particularly awkward, as though the author did some research and simply tried to rephrase the content (usually unsuccessfully!). Though I was quite put-off by the writing style (or lack thereof), I did press on. What I found was a plethora of good information, useful side bar examples, and creative exercises. There is good content here, but it can be a lot of work to find and absorb it.

I would love to see a new edition of this book, where the author could work more closely with an editor to develop a clear, stronger voice, resulting in a useable teaching tool. If such an edition were to be written, I would suggest a few improvements:

1. Reorganize the sections. The book doesn't flow well from chapter to chapter, and the reader feels directionless while proceeding through the book. Although the history is fascinating, it opens the book and goes on for quite some time. I found myself wanting to skip ahead. Also, it would make more sense to me to discuss the Five Historic Families of Type immediately after the Parts of a Character, rather than throwing the topics of 20th c. Typography and Changes in Printing Technology in the middle.

2. Consider eliminating the technique of switching typefaces every few pages. Yes, the reader does get a sense of which typefaces are more easily read than others at that size/leading, but is it really a good idea to tire and frustrate the reader while attempting to instruct?

3. Eliminate or re-work the introductions. If it is neccesary to give an outline of upcoming topics, perhaps present it as a list rather than writing it out in as a paragraph?
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