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The Elements of Typographic Style [Paperback]

4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jan. 31 1997
Robert Bringhurst explains clearly and concisely what good typographers should do and why they should do it. This thorough guide to the etiquette, grammar, and style of type is both a concise introduction and an authoritative desktop reference for the professional. Enlarged and revised, this edition includes technological and historical updates, making it the most up-to-date book on typography available.

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From Amazon

This lovely, well-written book is concerned foremost with creating beautiful typography and is essential for professionals who regularly work with typographic designs. Author Robert Bringhurst writes about designing with the correct typeface; striving for rhythm, proportion, and harmony; choosing and combining type; designing pages; using section heads, subheads, footnotes, and tables; applying kerning and other type adjustments to improve legibility; and adding special characters, including punctuation and diacritical marks. The Elements of Typographic Style teaches the history of and the artistic and practical perspectives on a variety of type families that are available in Europe and America today.

The last section of the book classifies and displays many type families, offers a glossary of typography terms, and lists type designers and type foundries. The book briefly mentions digital typography, but otherwise ignores it, focusing instead on general typography and page- and type-design issues. Its examples include text in a variety of languages--including English, Russian, German, and Greek--which is particularly helpful if your work has a multinational focus. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In a discussion embracing five and a half centuries, poet and designer Bringhurst covers the design of individual characters of type and entire alphabets, as well as the layout of pages, including such items as footnotes, margins, and tables. A glossary defines terms such as kern, fore-edge, and pica, and there are annotated lists of type designers, from the 1400s until now, and of type foundries, mostly contemporary. An appendix illustrates unusual typographic characters, such as the Croatian "dyet" and the German "sharp s," and a final appendix lists, without annotation, more than 100 books and periodicals for further reading. The author's prose is sometimes flowery, and some of his strongly expressed opinions are questionable. Nonetheless, there's a wealth of sound advice and instruction here. Not required for most collections, this will be useful to graphic designers and those interested in the history of printed letterforms.?Margarete Gross, Chicago P.L.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The book to own May 31 2004
If you were allowed only one book on typography, it should be this one. Bringhurst is a poet. He loves language, written language, and all its parts. That love comes through in the text and the visual presentation of every page.
Bringhurst advocates a subdued typographic style. This makes good sense in the vast majority of cases, since typography is the servant of the text that it carries. Like any good servant, it should be unobtrusive, well dressed, and competent to handle every task it is given, quietly and promptly. Bringhurst demonstrates nearly everything he says, starting first with this book itself.
The book is a beautiful artifact, with an elegant and informative page layout. Body text, side- and foot-notes, references, running titles, and more - they all fit together well on the page. Each kind of information is set off only slightly, but clearly and predictably. The content is well organized: prose in the early chapters, reference material in the later chapters and appendices, and all the intermediates in the middle of the book. Diagrams and tables are minimalist and communicative.
The text spans centuries, from ancient Egyptian page layouts to the rationale behind Unicode. Bringhurst is passionate about typography's history, and insists that it inform every modern decision about print and printing. He embraces the new just as much, and is careful to note the strengths and weaknesses of each typographic technology.
Bringhurst discusses far too many topics to touch on here. In every case, though, he brings his poet's sense to all of the writing, using witty, descriptive language for even the most mundane of technical issues. The one weakness I saw was in the geometry of page layouts. I like his mathematical rigor and esthetic practicality.
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By byrner
This book seems to be recommended by every graphic designer in the world as THE book on typography. After buying it, I found it to be not exactly what was promised. As previous reviewers have noted, the layout is a bit eccentric--elegant but hard to use (maybe). Those in love with the possibilities of book design will no doubt like it, but those readers more concerned with readability may find the layout distracting. For me, the book's strongest feature was the listing and descriptions of Bingham's favorite fonts. I found that section very illuminating and inspirational. As for the remainder of the book, the so called "rules" of typography are considered but not exhaustively so by any means. Bingham is more interested in writing about his own perspectives. Beginners will probably be bored by this material. For them, better books on the rules of type exist. For the more advanced user and for those studying graphic design, this book is a must read. However, be aware this is not a "how to" kind of book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Where Serious Designers Learn Typography Oct. 31 2002
Serious designers who are beginning their trade, or old hats who might need to be refreshed in typography can benefit from Robert Bringhurst's "The Elements of Typographic Style."
Bringhurst has brought us a thrifty tome of typography. Succinct, he isn't bound to entertain the reader, but educate him.
His glossary of typographic terms will bring you into the know about apertures, dot leaders, nuts and muttons.
Just as useful is his thorough appendix of sorts and characters. With an image of the characters, he explains in a few sentences what characters is when it is to be used properly. He distinguishes acutes from graves from primes from hois from apostrophes. Adjacent to this lexicon is a quick visual index of alphabetic character. This section alone was worth the price for me.
The real science of "The Elements of Typographic Style" is in Bringhurst's bulk of explanations of letter construction, page composition, defining and given shorts histories of classic fonts as seen in specimen books, a great chapter on analphabetic symbols.
I fully recommend this book. Artists, designers, illustrators all should have a copy of this. It reads easier than you might suspect, and would serve as a fine textbook. Writers should read it for no other reason than it is interesting, but to also have pity on our poor designers who must make our words look nice.
Anthony Trendl
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5.0 out of 5 stars why this book doesn't bug me: June 11 2002
I can see that there are plenty of reviews telling why this book is essential to any typographer or typographic designer, so I won't bother repeating. however, I also noticed one particular person who gave rather misleading criticism, so I will offer a rebuttal of his points.
Lamberti-Mershon from Evanston, Illinois USA, pointed out that Bringhurst's book "bugged" him for the following reasons:
1) i hate books that are organized like, 3.2.1, 3.4.6, for points. It totally breaks up a narrative flow, and it looks ugly.
the section numbering system, in this case, makes the book an amazingly simple thing to navigate. this is one of the finest points of Mr. Bringhurst's structure.
2) the type is small, my wife saw that right away.
certainly this is a subjective matter, but I can think of no more readable book. if I remember correctly, the text (Minion) is set 10/12. are there any typographers out there who wish to question the functionality of those numbers?
3) he uses a wide border from text to page, so that I have to yank and pull and stretch the book wide open in order to see the text towards the binding. [...] My point is, the book is hard to read! Go figure.
like I said before, this is subjective, but this really is quite a readable book. the borders this reviewer speaks of are of the Renaissance sort, large outer borders for the placement of the thumbs. I don't remember a time when I felt the need to "strech" the book, the spine of my copy is in beautiful conidtion. carrying his thought one further, the overall proportions of text area to page are historically well established. to me, the structure of such a system is unquestionably comfortable.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Few Really Fine Works on Classic Typography
Along with the later book by James Felici, called "The Complete Manual of Typography" from Adobe Press, Bringhurst's book is a landmark work in English for any level of... Read more
Published on June 1 2004 by Bernard Klem
2.0 out of 5 stars An anal examination of type.
If you are into fonts in a big way you'll like this book. If you design fine books you'll enjoy it. Much on history. The section equating musical scales seemed insane to me. Read more
Published on Feb. 10 2004 by D. Garcia
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
I read the reviews here, so I decided to buy it. It is a GREAT investment. Not only it is instructive, a serious reference book, but it is also a pleasure to read. Read more
Published on Jan. 28 2004 by MiloMilo
5.0 out of 5 stars INCREDIBLE
I am a graphic design student and this book has been so inspiring to me. It has showed me a side of tipography that I had never seen. Read more
Published on Jan. 27 2004 by Valentina Miosuro
1.0 out of 5 stars Not for Web Designers!!!
I was hoping for a guide that would help me get more creative using and combining different fonts, instead I got this long history of where certain types came from. Read more
Published on Dec 29 2003 by Read
5.0 out of 5 stars A pleasure to read!
This book has shaken my passion for type and design. It is inspiring, simple and educational. Either if you have a long life experience in design, or if you are just discovering... Read more
Published on Dec 17 2003 by MiloMilo
5.0 out of 5 stars This poetic little book has renewed my love of design
I've been a designer from a long time, and lately, have been rather burned out, finding a design world full of too much ego, hype and style without substance. Read more
Published on Nov. 17 2003 by Daniel Sroka
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful
This was the recommended book for my typography class and I must say it was well worth it. Leading by example, it's a beautiful piece, and it's truly invaluble as a guide to... Read more
Published on Nov. 17 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Great source of information
If you are into typography and care about little details when laying out a design, this book is perfect for you. Read more
Published on Aug. 10 2003 by Valon Sopaj
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book on Typography
Nothing more to say. Simply, the best book on typography.
Published on July 11 2003 by Meir Sadan
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