Book review: Thinking with type

by kath_red on 09/05/2007

in Books

Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students (Design Briefs)

Written by Ellen Lupton, Published by Princeton Architectural Press.

As a print magazine designer, this book is of particular interest to me. However I also think that typography is important in areas not traditionally thought to relate to design or that need to worry about type, such as visual journalists, scrap bookers, collage artists, screen printers, fabric designers, zine writers, in fact anyone who incorporates words, text, type in their work, would benefit from this book. As Ellen says ‘thinking with type’ is about using ‘visual and verbal language to develop and deliver ideas’ she says it is ‘the bridge connecting written language to visual art.’

This book is a combination of critical essays and practical information. It is a compact, well organised and beautifully presented compendium filled with history, theory and practical ideas in a neat well designed easy to read and understand format. One thing this book is not however, is a compendium of fonts.

For designers using type frequently, I would think that this is an excellent addition to their (no doubt already large) typographic library collection, and for newbies this is a good beginning to the world of typography. With an interesting overview, extended informative resources and plenty of visual stimulus, it is a good instructional read. All the history and theory is accompanied by visual examples as well as an anatomy of the font – typography dissected if you will. Fascinating and essential reading for students of design and for others who use type as a tool without having formal design training.

Another aspect of this book of great interest to readers is the designing for web areas, how the use of typography can change / help how the website is read, a favourite bit for me were the little side snippets ‘type crimes’ – I am afraid I have committed a few of these…

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ellen Lupton May 9, 2007 at 11:26 pm

I’m thrilled to see the crafting community embrace typography. It’s especially relevant, as you point, out for scrapbookers and anyone interested in book arts. Graphic design provides an amazing set of outlets for that crafting impulse. Your readers might also like my book D.I.Y.: Design It Yourself, written and designed with grad students at Maryland Institute College of Art. Every crafter needs her own business card, at the very least!
PS: Thanks for the lovely photos of Thinking with Type.

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2 Leigh-Ann May 10, 2007 at 12:49 am

So intrigued- Definately going to pick this up! Thanks!!

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3 Lorie May 10, 2007 at 3:24 am

This is facinating, isn’t it? Almost a lost art, like penmanship. Looks very interesting, thanks for the recomendation.

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4 artesprit May 10, 2007 at 7:08 am

ah the type crimes… my husband spots those everywhere, now i am starting to see them in places too. … looks like a good book!

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