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on June 1, 2004
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 typgographic study.
Read it slowly and carefully for all the nuggets he leaves in a trail for us to follow. An amazing, brilliant effort no graphic design person should omit from his or her typographic education.
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on 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. Still, I think that the number of different constructions was more a tribute to what can be done than to what serves a real need.
This is the best, most complete text I know on book design. As Bringhurst points out, there are lots of other uses for type than books, but he chose books as his subject - I have no problem with that limitation. The only problem I saw, and not really a problem with the book itself, is its subtlety. The nuances (well, most of the nuances) he discusses are important. Beginners, however, may not see the significance of small matters. Once a reader's eye it tuned to the fine detail, however, this book is the most helpful I know.
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5 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2004
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. The derivations of the names of the fonts (obscure mythological or operatic characters) is interesting but useless. Most of the book is useless to me at this point in my design career. I'm looking for something more concrete. Something that compares the legibility and usability of various fonts or gives examples of why a designer would choose one font over another for which type of job. I was looking, perhaps, for a discussion on the relative merits of slab serifs vs. other types of serifs, or x-height and usability, or think and thin strokes on serif type. I just finished reading "The Elements of Graphic Design" by Alex W. White which, for me, was much more instructive, giving me concrete reasons for using various styles. Not to say I didn't learn something. The section on analphabetic characters was enlightening as was the comparison of different fonts that really aren't what they seem to be (two entirely different fonts named Garamond). I now know that when people speak about the relative excellence of Garamond they probably don't know what they are talking about. Two stars may seem low but I think people here generally overrate things. I didn't find it very readable either. Still I'd like to have it in my library, good reference on rare occasions. If you are a font fanatic, go for it.
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on January 28, 2004
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. It has turn my typography passion all new again! Good for young/veteran designers, and whoever loves design.
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on January 27, 2004
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. The author of the book talks about type as if it were a piece of art. All the metaphors and analogies are just amazing and helpful when trying to put light on such intricate subject. Among all things typography is now the aspect of design I love the most, and I can see myself reopening this book every day of my academic and professional career as a designer.
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1 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on December 29, 2003
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. I found this book dry and boring and not at all helpful to me.
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on December 17, 2003
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 the love for the written letters... You will keep it handy either way. It is really great and up to date!
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on November 17, 2003
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. But after stumbling on this book in a college bookstore, I have become reacquainted with my love of design and type. Mr. Bringhurst has reminded me about the purpose and purity of design, and it's humble yet vital role in the world.
Imagine... a book on typography that provides clear-headed facts and lessons, yet still reads like poetry. The comparison of page sizes to musical scales is brilliant. A beautifully made and beautifully written book that is a pleasure to hold, to read, and to learn from. This book is an achievement.
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on November 17, 2003
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 typography enthusiasts - beginners and experts alike.
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on August 10, 2003
If you are into typography and care about little details when laying out a design, this book is perfect for you. The author clearly explains, down to the finest details, the use of typographic elements. The tone of the author might sound somewhat strict and commanding, but the knowledge that Bringhurst has to share is with no doubt classic, and leads to great typographic solutions.
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