Typography

The Typographic Desk Reference coverThe Typographic Desk Reference
by Theodore Rosendorf

Just as the title suggests, this is a must to have sitting on your desk at all times. It may be thin, but it’s a densely packed visual glossary of type terms and design knowhow. Basically, a typographer’s manual of style.

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The Form of the Book coverThe Form of the Book
by Jan Tschichold

A collection of 23 essays compiled over 40 years on Tschichold’s thoughts on layout and design, primarily with type. While this work focuses mostly on concerns specific to book design, its presentation of topics is wonderfully approachable, and many of the guidelines are applicable to any medium. A true treasure from one of the father’s of modern book and system design.

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The Art of Looking Sideways coverThe Art of Looking Sideways
by Alan Fletcher

A seriously massive work from the late Alan Fletcher compiling tons of quotes, work, and nuggets of wisdom from designers, artists, writers, and more, all categorized by topic. One of the most diverse and densely packed sources of inspiration you can have on your shelf.

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Fonts & Logos coverFonts & Logos
by Doyald Young

A master course from one of the greatest typographers. This book provides a groundwork in type and logo design, as well as insights on choosing the right typefaces, spacing for legibility, and common pitfalls to watch out for, all played out using examples from Young’s own work and rejected concepts.

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Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works coverStop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works
by Erik Spiekermann

An entertaining and educational look from one of the world’s most outspoken designers, covering all the basics of designing with type, but also many topics with less discourse devoted to them like choosing appropriate typefaces to evoke the right connotation, and understanding the smaller details of typefaces and how they affect the communication (or miscommunication) through their use.

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Art Direction Explained, At Last! coverArt Direction Explained, At Last!
by Steven Heller and Veronique Vienne

Defining “art direction” is a hard enough nut to crack on its own, but teaching it to someone can be a daunting task. It combines so many unknowns, so many gut feelings, and so much intuition, that it’s best learned from seasoned practitioners. Steve Heller and Veronique Vienne, two battle-hardened art directors in their own right, define and discuss just what art direction is and how to capture the best thoughts in your designs. This book compiles their take on the topic, and polls many of the world’s best art directors through case studies and interviews.

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The ABC’s of Bauhaus coverThe ABC’s of Bauhaus
by Ellen Lupton and Abbott Miller

A thin but powerful book collecting essays of type and design based on the Bauhaus principles and theories edited by (and with contributions from) the indomitable husband and wife team of Ellen Lupton and Abbott Miller. A perfect primer for learning all about The Bauhaus.

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Thinking with Type coverThinking with Type
by Ellen Lupton

Building on her years of experience both as a designer and an educator, Lupton presents a sturdy primer on type and its use, charting a course through early forms of type and anatomy, to modern usage and common pitfalls (including some wonderful bits about crimes against typography). This is a great place for newcomers to typography to start, and a strong resource for experienced designers to brush up with. And it’s beautifully designed to boot.

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Eats, Shoots & Leaves coverEats, Shoots & Leaves
by Lynne Truss

Truss has got funny and insightful in spades as she takes us on a whirlwind journey through proper punctuation, which for us type nerds also means proper typography. You won’t find a more approachable manual for style and usage.

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Letter By Letter coverLetter By Letter
by Laurent Pflughaupt

Pflughaupt surveys the history of letterforms and their significance as marks and communication. Most of the book is made up of the history of individual letters of the Roman alphabet, taking each letter in turn to survey its roots, unique properties, and influence on language.

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While You’re Reading coverWhile You’re Reading
by Gerard Unger

A long look at the way we read, interact with, interpret, and digest text. It’s particularly fascinating to understand the process by how our mind takes in text, building from the humble glyph to words and sentences, in fits and starts of comprehension and repetition.

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Type & Typography coverType & Typography
by Phil Baines and Andrew Haslam

Notable for its breadth of coverage in just about all aspects of typography. This book can serve as a great overview of topics, and makes a good reference for matters of type anatomy, type layout, grids and related terminology.

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Detail in Typography coverDetail in Typography
by Jost Hochuli

A brief but sturdy look at the finer points of typography, including readability and line length, type selection, optimal sizing and spacing, and the magic of well considered type. Serves as a great desktop reference for typographic guidelines.

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Visual Literacy: A Conceptual Approach to Graphic Problem Solving coverVisual Literacy: A Conceptual Approach to Graphic Problem Solving
by Judith Wilde, Richard Wilde

A ground-level course in basic design principles like rhythm, pattern, focal point, and contrast presented as assignments from a design class complete with creative thinking exercises and real solutions from the authors’ students. Solid advice and examples to help you walk before you can run. These practices are so fundamental, yet are so easily overlooked daily.

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About Face: Reviving the Rules of Typography coverAbout Face: Reviving the Rules of Typography
by David Jury

A great intermediate book on type design. It takes a much more textbook style approach primarily focused on individual fonts for identification, time period and usage, but you will also find some great layout and typographic methodologies.

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The Elements of Typographic Style coverThe Elements of Typographic Style
by Robert Bringhurst

An essential book for anyone who uses type in design. Yeah, that’s right, I mean you. As a graphic designer, you owe it to yourself to read more books like this. Inside, you will find some hardcore principles of design, like The Golden Section, a thorough disection of type forms, type usage and layout, type identification, and ever so much more. Mostly focused on page design and print material (skewed towards type layout) but contains ridiculously useful information which is easily applied to all forms of design. For a more basic, but equally worthwhile starter course, try Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works by Erik Spiekermann and E.M. Ginger.

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Type: The Secret History of Letters coverType: The Secret History of Letters
by Simon Loxley

History of Type! Wow, this is serious Typographic nerdery, and I loved every word of it. Don’t take your fonts for granted. Find out why they were made, who made them, what significance they had to the greater picture. Chock full of interesting history and type related trivia.

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Logo & Font Lettering Bible coverLogo & Font Lettering Bible
by Leslie Cabarga

The subtitle of this book is: A Comprehensive Guide to the Design, Construction and Usage of Alphabets and Symbols, and it is all that and more. This is a very good place to start learning more about the particulars of logo design right down to nitpicking kerning, leading, individual character shapes.

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On the Subject of Me

Jason Santa Maria is a graphic designer living and working in sunny Brooklyn, NY. More »


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The Design of Everyday Things coverThe Design of Everyday Things
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Oddities & Diversions

Design Is History

Design Is History, created as a teaching tool for young designers just beginning to explore graphic design and as a reference tool for all designers. Chock full of great info.

Education at FontShop

Education at FontShop, a great resource for tips, tricks, and type knowledge.

A List Apart: Issue 311

A List Apart: Issue 311, Start web design projects the right way. Learn when and how to say no. Articles by Whitney Hess and Kevin M. Hoffman.

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