How to become a typography connoisseur?
April 11, 2007 7:13 AM   Subscribe

I find myself fascinated with the intricacies of typography, punctuation, character sets etc. What books should a newbie read to become a connoisseur on these matters?

I've just spent the last couple of hours frantically browsing Wikipedia on the aforementioned topics, ranging from the proper use of dashes and hyphens (more of a style guide thing) to typography and the history of typesetting and finally to Unicode and challenges in digital typography. (Especially web typography -- I've built some web sites, but the typographical subtleties have always escaped me.)

There must be some excellent books available on the topics, and I'm hoping that fellow MeFites could point me to some of them. Good, layperson-oriented introductory texts are appropriate for now, but examples of more advanced titles would be appreciated for future reference as well. Namedropping prominent authors and experts is fine, as are links to relevant websites and blogs.

Basically, I've got the spark, so now I need some kindling.

To be more specific: I have no graphical talents or any real wish to design typefaces etc. myself, but I'd like to learn to appreciate good typography when I see it. Insight into specifics such as kerning, tracking, ligature, whitespace and other key terms would be nice. The ability to judge the quality and aesthetics of fonts would be good, too.

I'm quick to acquire new interests, so if there's something related you think I might get excited over, I'm all ears.
posted by lifeless to Writing & Language (15 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
The Mac is not a typewriter. No, it's not Macintosh specific.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:17 AM on April 11, 2007

The Elements of Typographic Style is a great book. Highly recommended.
posted by apostrophe at 7:19 AM on April 11, 2007

Stop Stealing Sheep
posted by plinth at 7:28 AM on April 11, 2007 [2 favorites]

Typophile is a great community typographic resource. It allows you to post stuff and ask questions from the community.

The site is really slow right now, I don't know why.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 7:56 AM on April 11, 2007

The Elements of Typographic Style, seconded. If you do get it, make sure you get the 3.1 edition, revised in Sep. 2004.
posted by suedehead at 8:08 AM on April 11, 2007

Typographica is a good type blog as well. But Typophile, mentioned above, is the mother lode. Also check out Anatomy of a Typeface, should scratch your itch quite a bit...
posted by lovejones at 8:12 AM on April 11, 2007

Another nod for both The Elements of Typographic Style and Typophile. Both invaluable resources!
posted by Robot Johnny at 8:16 AM on April 11, 2007

Helvetica is a documentary about the ubiquitous typeface, and type in general. It includes interviews with such luminaries as Jonathan Hoefler, Tobias Frere-Jones, Erik Spiekermann, Matthew Carter, and others. Right now it's playing the festival circuit, although there will be a DVD release in the fall.

You might also find the typography section of SpeakUp to be good reading.
posted by Dean King at 8:58 AM on April 11, 2007

Stop Stealing Sheep is a great intro to type and generally a good resource to have around. Once you've become a total type nerd, for instance, it's a good book to give to friends and loved ones who just don't understand.

Also: dang, the Frere-Joneses are a pretty rockin' family.
posted by wemayfreeze at 10:28 AM on April 11, 2007

The Elements of Typographic Style, for sure.
posted by avocet at 12:31 PM on April 11, 2007

Thinking With Type
posted by cadge at 12:50 PM on April 11, 2007

posted by roll truck roll at 2:58 PM on April 11, 2007

Bringhurst's Law: As responses to questions about typography grow in number, the probability of a reference to The Elements of Typographic Style approaches 1.

Like Tufte, he's seriously overrated, and a crashing bore.
posted by joeclark at 3:03 PM on April 11, 2007

Response by poster: joeclark: Given that opinion, what would you suggest as an alternative? Another book mentioned here, or something else entirely?
posted by lifeless at 11:27 PM on April 11, 2007

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