Sunday, November 10, 2013

Book Review: The Elements of Typographical Style

The Elements of Typographical Style by Robert Bringhurst

This was an eye-opening book and I can't think of a person I'd recommend it to. Except maybe Monika S.

Over ten long chapters, Elements basically says that typography is an art and you all are clueless. Not stupid, but unknowing. Without making you feel dumb, Bringhurst delivers what feels like a series of essays on everything from page layout to font choices to all kinds of considerations you would have never ever thought about in a million years. This is the book for someone who knows Comic Sans is evil, but wants to know why.

Ok, so it actually doesn't mention Comic Sans that I can recall, but the wealth of information in this book is really, really cool. The author matter-of-factly covers fonts, languages, history in such a way that you'll never look at that blinking cursor in Word the same way again. Now not only does the blank screen mock you, but so does the filled screen. Are my margins right? Have I calculated the right amount of leading? Are Microsoft's algorithms for kerning respecting the font? Are they good enough? Am I going to have an orphan line?

No, it's not quite that bad, but it is making me realize that I do need to redo this site again and select some better fonts and layouts to improve readability.

I really enjoyed reading this book. If you love absorbing knowledge about areas you know very little about, this is one to check out. There were a few sections that got too much into the math of page layout, or covered a lot of fonts individually, sections I did not read. Those are probably more suited for people who want to use this book as a reference guide in their jobs as typographers.

The Elements of Typographic Style (

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