Typography design is the art and technique of arranging type. It’s at the center of a designer’s skill set and is about much more than simply making the words legible.
Good typography will establish a strong visual hierarchy, provide a graphic balance to the website, and set the product’s overall tone. Typography should guide and inform your users, optimize readability and accessibility, and ensure excellent user experience.
Each book is unique and offers a different learning perspective. Dive into history or get personal and practical with typical examples.
For that reason, Zander Whitehurst has researched for you and compiled a list of the top 8 typography books for designers.
1. The Visual History of Type
The Visual History of Type is a comprehensive, detailed survey of the major typefaces produced since the advent of printing with movable type in the mid-fifteenth century to the present day. Arranged chronologically to provide context, more than 320 typefaces are displayed in the form of their original type specimens or earliest printing. Each entry is supported by a brief history and description of the key characteristics of the typeface.
This book will be the definitive publication in its field, appealing to graphic designers, educators, historians, and design students. It will also be a significant resource for professional type designers and students of type.
2. The Complete Manual of Typography
This book is about how type should look and how to make it look that way — in other words, how to set type like a professional. It explains in practical terms how to use today’s digital tools to achieve the secret of good design: well-set type.
An essential reference for anyone who works with type: designers, print production professionals, and corporate communications managers can go straight to the index to find focused answers to specific questions, while educators and students can read it as a textbook from cover to cover.
3. Just My Type
Typefaces are now 560 years old, but we barely knew their names until about twenty years ago, when the pull-down font menus on our first computers made us all the gods of type. Beginning in the early days of Gutenberg and ending with the most adventurous digital fonts, Garfield unravels our age-old obsession with the way our words look.
Just My Type investigates a range of modern mysteries, including how Helvetica took over the world, what inspires the seemingly ubiquitous use of Trajan on bad movie posters, and what makes a font look presidential, male or female, American, British, German, or Jewish.
From the typeface of Beatlemania to the graphic vision of the Obama campaign, fonts can signal a musical revolution or the rise of an American president. This book is a must-read for the design-conscious that will forever change the way you look at the printed word.
4. The Designer’s Dictionary of Type
The Designer’s Dictionary of Type follows in the footsteps of The Designer’s Dictionary of Color, providing a vivid and highly accessible look at an even more important graphic design ingredient: typography.
From classic fonts like Garamond and Helvetica, to modern-day digital fonts like OCR-A and Keedy Sans, author and designer Sean Adams demystifies 48 major typefaces, describing their history, stylistic traits, and common application. Adams once again provides eye-catching illustrated examples, this time showcasing the beauty and expressiveness of typography, as employed by the world’s greatest designers.
Organized by serif, sans-serif, script, display, and digital typefaces, this book will be a vital guide for designers, teachers, or students looking to gain a foundational understanding of the art, practice, and history of typography.
5. Why Fonts Matter
Fonts have different personalities that can create trust or mistrust, give you confidence, make things seem easier to do or make a product taste better. Understand the science behind how fonts influence what you read.
They’re hidden in plain sight, they trigger memories, associations and multi-sensory experiences in your imagination. You may not believe it, but fonts can change the meanings of words right before your very eyes, alter the taste of your food, evoke emotional responses and reveal their users’ personalities.
This book is the legacy of Emil Ruder, one of the originators of Swiss Style, famous throughout the world for the use of asymmetric layouts, use of a grid, sans-serif typefaces and flush left ragged right text. His holistic approach is still recognized as fundamental for graphic designers and typographers all over the world.
The voume is a comprehensive masterpiece seen in its overall structure: in the themes presented, in the comparison of similarities and contrasts, in the richness of the illustrations and the harmoniously inserted types.
Behind the purely pedagogic examples of exact proportions, rich, philosophical thinking shines through. Today, fifty years after this book was first published, it is still widely used and referenced.
7. Typography Essentials
Typography Essentials: 100 Design Principles for Working with Type is a practical, hands-on resource that distills and organizes the many complex issues surrounding the effective use of typography. An essential reference for designers since 2009, Typography Essentials is now completely refreshed with updated text, new graphics and photos, and a whole new look.
Typography Essentials is for designers of every medium in which type plays a major role, and is organized and designed to make the process enjoyable and entertaining, as well as instructional.
8. A Type Primer
Designed for beginning design and typography students, this text assists students in understanding and demonstrating the basic principles of typography. Focused on intent and content, not affect or style, it makes informed distinctions between what is appropriate and what is merely show.
Filled with examples, exercises, and background information—and designed itself to reflect good typographic design—it guides students systematically to the point where they can, not only understand but, demonstrate basic principles of typography, and thereby strengthen their own typographic instincts.
I believe this list of the top 8 typography books contains options suitable for any typographer; from the beginner to the experienced artists. Having the right typography skills is an excellent investment in your career and can be a quite fulfilling hobby.
Even if you are a professional typography artist and have experience in the field, you can never really know everything there is to know.
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