This page considers typography.
It covers -
Morison, father of Times New Roman, commented that
may be defined as the craft of rightly disposing printed
material in accordance with specific purpose; of so
arranging the letters, distributing the space and controlling
the type as to aid the maximum the reader's comprehension
of the text.
Typography is the efficient means to an essentially
utilitarian and only accidentally aesthetic end, for
the enjoyment of pattern is rarely the reader's chief
aim. It follows that in the printing of books meant
to be read there is little room for 'bright' typography.
... The good type designer knows that, for a new font
to be successful, it has to be so good that only a few
recognise its novelty.
the best guides are Robert Bringhurst's The Elements
of Typographical Style (Vancouver: Hartley & Marx
1996) and The Thames & Hudson Manual of Typography
(London: Thames & Hudson 2000) by Ruari McLean. Bringhurst
coauthored A Short History of the Printed Word
(Vancouver: Hartley & Marx 1998).
Geoffrey Dowding's Introduction to the History of Printing
Types (New Castle: Oak Knoll Press 1997), John Maxwell's
on The Survival Of Roman Types in the Face of Technological
Change and Fred Smeijers' Counterpunch: Making
Type in the Sixteenth Century, Designing Typefaces Now
(London: Hyphen Press 1996) are serviceable. Maxwell is
also responsible for Finer Points in the Spacing &
Arrangement of Type (Vancouver: Hartley & Marks 1995).
Anthony Cahalan's brief paper Design & Consumption:
The Proliferation of Typefaces (PDF)
offers intelligent comments on the late 20th century explosion
in font design - tripling in the nineties? Papers
in Illuminating Letters: Typography & Literary
Interpretation (Amherst: Uni of Massachusetts Press
2001) edited by Paul Gutjahr & Megan Benton consider
how typography affects meaning from the Bible to comic
Typography: Who, When, How (Cologne: Konemann 1998)
edited by Friedrich Friedl, Nicolaus Ott & Bernard
Stein is a comprehensive guide to typographers, printers
and 'dead tree-flake' technology. Rookledge's International
Handbook of Type Designers (Carshalton Beeches: Sarema
Press 1991) by Ron Eason & Sarah Rookledge is shorter
but more analytical. Simon Loxley's Type: The Secret
History of Letters (London: Tauris 2003) and Letter
by Letter: An Alphabetical Miscellany (New York:
Princeton Architectural Press 2008) by Laurent Pflughaupt
are engaging accounts for non-specialists.
For a more in depth study consult Robin Kinross' Modern
Typography: An Essay in Critical History (New York:
Princeton Architectural Press 1996) and Sebastian Carter's
masterly 20th Century Type Designers (New York:
Norton 1995). Walter Tracy's Letters of Credit
(Boston: Godine 1989) profiles major designers and design
considerations. Nicolas Barker's Aldus Manutius and
the Development of Greek Script & Type in the Fifteenth
Century (Bronx: Fordham Uni Press 1992) and Harry
Carter's A View of Early Typography: up to about 1600
(London: Hyphen Press 2002) are warmly recommended.
Carter is profiled in Harry Carter, Typographer: A
tribute to an unsung English typographer (Hinton
Charterhouse: The Old School Press 2005) by Martyn Thomas,
John Lane & Anne Rogers. Daniel Updike's Printing
Types (Cambridge: Harvard Uni Press 1922) is online.
Ken Garland's A Word in Your Eye (Reading: Uni
of Reading Dept of Typography 1996) and Design Writing
Research: Writing on Graphic Design (London: Phaidon
1996) by Ellen Lupton & Abbott Miller incisively question
Jan Tschichold's The New Typography: A Handbook for
Modern Designers (Berkeley: Uni of California Press
1995), Ruari McLean's How Typography Happens (New
Castle: Oak Knoll Press 2000) and The Form of the Book:
Essays on the Morality of Good Design (Vancouver:
Hartley & Marks 1995) are better value than the characteristically
wacky rant by Eric Gill in An Essay On Typography
(Boston: Godine 1993).
Gill fans may enjoy The Art of Lettering: The History,
Anatomy & Aesthetics of the Roman Letterforms (London:
KG Saur 1983) by Albert Kapr, Letter Forms: Typographic
& Scriptorial (Vancouver: Hartley & Marks 1999) by
Stanley Morison or Helvetica: Homage to a Typeface
(New York: Princeton Architectural Press 2000) edited
by Lars Müller. FW Goudy's 1940 Typologia (Berkeley:
Uni of California Press 1977) remains of significance.
James Moran's Stanley Morison: His Typographic Achievement
(London: Lund Humphries 1971), Christopher Burke's Active
Literature: Jan Tschichold and New Typography (New
York: Hyphen Press 2008) and Paul Renner: The Art of
Typography (New York: Princeton Architectural Press
1998) are major studies of the UK and German designers.
Tschichold's Treasury of Alphabets & Lettering:
A Source Book (New York: Norton 1995) while less analytical
is a major resource. Alexander Lawson's Anatomy Of
A Typeface (Boston: Godine 1996) intelligently profiles
a face rather than the man. Lawson and Dwight Agner collaborated
on the crisp Printing Types: An Introduction (Boston:
Hermann Zapf's About Alphabets: Some Marginal Notes
on Type Design (Cambridge: MIT Press 1970) complements
archival studies such as Alphabets to Order: The Literature
of Nineteenth-Century Typefounders’ Specimens (New
Castle: Oak Knoll Press 2000) by Alastair Johnston and
John Man's entertaining but less substantial The Gutenberg
Revolution (London: Review 2002).
For Ottmar Mergenthaler (1854-1899) see in particular
his The Biography of Ottmar Mergenthaler, Inventor
of the Linotype (New Castle: Oak Knoll Press 1989)
edited by Carl Schlesinger and the more revealing Ottmar
Mergenthaler: The Man and His Machine: A Biographical
Appreciation of the Inventor on His Centennial (New
Castle: Oak Knoll Press 1999) by Basil Kahan.
Typology: Type Design from the Victorian Era to the
Digital Age (San Francisco: Chronicle 1999) by Louise
Fili & Steven Heller and Letterforms: Bawdy, Bad
& Beautiful: The Evolution of Hand-Drawn, Humorous, Vernacular,
and Experimental Type (New York: Watson-Guptill 2000)
by Steven Heller & Christine Thompson are further
examples of eye-candy, somewhat overindulgent to the bizarre
As aids for recognition consult Benjamin Bauermeister's
A Manual of Comparative Typography (New York: Van
Nostrand Reinhold 1988) and An Atlas of Typeforms
(London: Lund Humphries 1968) by James Sutton & Alan
Fleuron Anthology (Toronto: Uni of Toronto Press 1973)
edited by Francis Meynell & Herbert Simon comprises
essays on printing from the seminal journal Fleuron,
founded by Stanley Morison. The Typographic Book:
1450-1935 (Chicago: Uni of Chicago Press 1963) by
Morison & Kenneth Day is an intelligent survey which should
be read in conjunction with James Bartram's 500 Years
of Book Design (New Haven: Yale Uni Press 2001).
Joseph Blumenthal's Art of the Printed Book, 1455-1955:
Masterpieces of Typography through Five Centuries from
the Collections of the Pierpont Morgan Library (Boston:
Godine 1973) is, simply, a beautiful book.
Karl-Erik Tallmo's essay
Where It's @ discusses the history of the 'at'
symbol, complemented by a note
elsewhere on this site. In contrast, Johanna Drucker's
The Visible Word: Experimental Typography & Modern
Art 1909-23 (Chicago: Uni of Chicago Press 1996) is
a rigorous academic study. A Psychological Study of
Typography (Cambridge: Cambridge Uni Press 1959) by
noted scientific fraudster Sir Cyril Burt has a curiosity
For usability and perception studies see our Design
guides; there is a more detailed discussion
of the 'font wars' in the supplementary Readability profile.
ethics and aficionados
TypeRight seeks to promote typefaces as creative works
and encourage their protection as intellectual property,
discussed in our Intellectual Property guide.
One of the crispest introductions is Stop Stealing
Sheep (& Find Out How Type Works) (Mountain View:
Adobe 1993) by Erik Spiekermann & EM Ginger. We enjoyed
Type & Typographers (London: Architectural
Design & Technology Press 1991), an eclectic and intelligent
set of essays by Manfred Klein, Yvonne Schwemer-Scheddin
& Erik Spiekermann.
The ABC Typography Virtual Museum
is one of the more effective online exhibitions of fonts.
The Linesandsplines blogg
will appeal to typophiles, as will the Association Typographique
and the Society of Typographic Aficianados (SoTA)
- international organisations concerned with type and
next page (the printing