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Customer Review

on October 8, 2017
To say this is “The Elements of Typographic Style” for the Web would be inadequate: it is more informative, less snarky, and equally timeless as Bringhurst’s book. Web Typography is the most comprehensive, understandable, and eloquent introduction to typographic design that I have ever read.

In addition to explaining the fundamentals of typographic design, Rutter’s book philosophically embraces the Web’s constraints and freedoms, explaining how to work with rather than against them. Although it is tailored to the Web as a (fluid, changeable, cross-platform) medium and describes implementation of its typographic guidance in terms of CSS syntax, the focus is primarily on teaching good design—both in terms of output and in terms of approach—rather than on the technology for implementing it. As such I expect it will be equally valuable a decade from now, even as it would have been useful a decade earlier.

Many books claim to be an “instant classic”; Rutter’s Web Typography fulfills its definition. I highly recommend it to anyone working with CSS, for this is the guidebook that the CSS3 Fonts and CSS3 Text specifications have always wanted. But I also recommend it to anyone wanting to learn about typography, for the Web is one of the primary mediums for text in the modern world, and Rutter explains not only how to set type for the Web, but how to think about typography in its context.

Note: In this first edition, the section on the `font-variant-alternates` property is completely wrong about its syntax: the functional notations accept keywords defined by `@font-feature-values` rules, not raw integers. That said, the book is otherwise so well-written and well-researched that it still deserves 5 stars. Look up the syntax for `font-variant-alternates` online before you use it, but also get this book. :)
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