Monday, September 14, 2009

Thinking with type

I usually use my brain to think, so the book 'thinking with type' from Ellen Lupton caught my eye. After having finished the 'Smithsonian Book of Books' (Michael Olmert, Smithsonian) I was looking to deepen my knowledge on typography. My research soon pointed to this little treasure, and some Amazon reading list helped a great deal as well. This 2004 book has the subtitle 'A critical Guide for designers, writers, editors and students' and gives a brief, concise introduction into the fields of 'Letter', 'Text' and 'Grid' as the main design areas related to typography. As Lupton states it: "This is not a book about fonts. It is a book about how to use them."

'Letter' explains what makes a distinct font, talks about font families and print and screen fonts. 'Text' delves into kerning, tracking, spacing for print and web.
'Grid' talks about the relation from typo and text to the surface of pages or displays. The 'appendix' is a little compendium on what to do as designer, some common mistakes and traps editors and designers can fall into and 'Free Advice'.

The book includes graphics and examples on nearly every page, sometimes two, three pages in a row. They are always commented upon, exceptionally explained and put into context. Short explanations on the text pages are examplified with text showing various densities, spacing, grids, fonts, layouts.

There are several things about this books I find especially remarkable:
1. It is short and concise, being used to read on the web this is the way to address me.
2. This is the book that has the best connection from illustrations to copy (and I've seen a lot).
3. It is one of the very few books ranging from ancient rolls to modern screen typo and design, and I can support everything she says about web from my experience, spanning many webs in many countries.

This is an easy to read, fun and educational book. I highly recommend it.

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