My favourite typography books
It may not be completely obvious to everybody, but years ago I used to work a lot with graphic design and typography. I designed books, software manuals, brochures, things like that. What I enjoyed most about that was working with type.
When you’re working a lot with typography it’s natural to look somewhere for guidance and inspiration. As I often do, I turned to books for that, and I thought I’d mention some of my favourite books on typography.
Even though web designers can only use a very limited number of fonts, there is a lot to learn from traditional typography. None of these books cover web typography to any extent, but many of the rules and guidelines of print typography can be used within the technical constraints of the web.
I should mention that these aren’t very new books. They’ve all been available for years, and some are out of print. The good thing about typography as opposed to almost anything related to web technology is that the rules don’t change a lot, so typography books don’t really become outdated unless they are very contemporary.
Here’s the list then:
- Emotional Digital: A Sourcebook of Contemporary Typographics
- The first book on my list is, as is revealed by its name, tied to a certain period of time. It was released in 1999, at the height of the dotcom era. The examples of web typography that are included in the book obviously look very outdated. Despite that, this book feels remarkably fresh and current, with many beautiful illustrations and examples of type usage.
- 20th Century Type Remix
- In this book, Lewis Blackwell shows how typography and the use of type in graphic design evolved throughout the 20th century. Every decade has a chapter of its own, complete with examples of typography associated with that era.
- The Elements of Typographic Style
- This is the best book on typography that I have read. I know there are those who do not agree with me, but, well I just love this book for the historical facts, typeface examples, and the guidelines for typographical details and page layout it contains.
- Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works, Second Edition
- Stop Stealing Sheep is a small and thin book, which is probably a good thing considering its purpose - to explain type to a broader audience than just graphic designers. While this book is an excellent introduction to typography and its related terms, it is also very useful as a guidebook for more experienced type users.
- Typografisk handbok
- This one is in Swedish and is, if I remember correctly, the first typography book I laid my hands on while I was in college back in the early 90’s. It’s become something of the standard reference for typography in Sweden, and it is an excellent book. Use it as a reference or read it from start to finish.
Ok, your turn. What are your favourite books on typography, and why?