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The Elements of Typographic Style

4.26  ·  Rating Details ·  5,861 Ratings  ·  213 Reviews
French flaps. 382pp. Beautifully produced. Comprehensive discussion of five and a half centuries of type, alphabets, design, etc. Glossary. appendix that illustrates typographic characters. Renowned typographer and poet Robert Bringhurst brings clarity to the art of typography with this masterful style guide.
Paperback, Version 3.1 (Emended 3rd Edition), 352 pages
Published October 9th 2004 by Hartley and Marks Publishers (first published 1992)
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Mar 22, 2008 Jacob added it
I am in the process of transforming myself into a book. In order to do that, I am having my spine surgically removed and removed and replaced with a smyth sewn binding. My skin is being stripped off in large patches and replaced with 12 pt cardstock with a four color cover and scuffless matte film lamination. I have hired a designer to come up with a treatment for my textual body. I can't take it anymore. Someone please take me off of the shelf and put me in your lap. I know it doesn't really ma ...more
Oct 21, 2008 Ken-ichi rated it really liked it
Recommended to Ken-ichi by: Daniela
Shelves: learning, snoot, design
Yes, I seriously read a typographic style manual, but believe me, it was worth it. Not only is this a detailed, informative, and surpassingly witty survey of typography, but it's simply a beautiful book to hold and to read. It's a bit like taking an introductory lesson from a friendly architecture professor, learning about intricacies and critical minutia you had never before considered, and slowly realizing your teacher designed the room, the building, perhaps even the chair you're sitting in, ...more
Carlos Scheidegger
Nov 07, 2011 Carlos Scheidegger rated it liked it
This book convinced me that there is a lot of art in typography. It convinced me that good typography can make a big difference in how good text looks in a page. And it definitely convinced me that Robert Bringhurst is a stellar typographer. But it hasn't convinced me that he can convey this knowledge effectively.

Bringhurst has deep knowledge of typography, and the historical chapter on typefaces alone makes it worth your read. However, in many instances he falls into the trap of confusing trad
Phill Melton
Dec 03, 2012 Phill Melton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: publishing
Sure, it's simply the best book on print typography out there. That's nice, I suppose, but the content of this book pales in comparison to its form. It's a book on book design that serves as its own case study in effective design. There's not a thing about this book as a book I don't love—the design incorporates so many little touches (marginal notes, a lay-flat spine on a paperback, proper paragraph layout, dead-on perfect justification) that it's a joy just to look at it.

Which is good, because
Jul 21, 2012 Morgane rated it it was amazing
Shelves: design
What a beautiful book! It almost doesn't matter what this book was about, because it was so thoughtfully laid out and lovely to read, which is in itself a testament to great typography. But the content was equally good. I learned so much about type, from the mundane technical details to the influence of language and politics. Bringhurst's little jokes and anecdotes are the cherry on top.

Anyone who is interested in type, words, history, design, art, and all that is good in the world should read t
Darren Editing
Jul 19, 2014 Darren Editing rated it it was amazing
Shelves: typography
This review appeared at a blog. Here.

There's a certain incongruity in writing about The Elements of Typographic Style, a book about how to design books, using my Alphasmart Neo, which gives me five narrow rows of heavily pixelated characters. Except this is not true; it is in fact completely in keeping, because one of Bringhurst's messages is, I think, learn about your tools (where a tool might be a typeface or a page design, as well as a piece of software), use the right ones for the job, and
Sep 27, 2009 Abrahamus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Within a short time after completing my formal education and entering my profession, I became rather painfully aware that my training in the art and craft of typography had been sorely lacking in many respects. There is an incredibly rich history and a fascinating set of accepted principles and rules which govern typography, the skillful use of letterforms and typeset matter which is a very important sub-discipline of graphic design. These were practically occult to me early in my career. I had ...more
Oct 07, 2009 Matt rated it really liked it
As the title clearly indicates, Bringhurst sets out to do for Typography what Strunk and White’s Elements of Style did for writing: condense the vast array of typographic rules into one thorough reference manual. Of course, the role of typography has vastly expanded over the past century, and the typographic rules for billboards are entirely different from those for websites. Wisely, Bringhurst restricts himself primarily to one form: the book.

Within that field, the Elements does a wonderful job
The Elements of Typographic Style is pretty much the bible for its field. I read it some time ago (it was first published in 1992) and decided to revisit it recently. Bringhurst writes with clarity, passion and humour. He loves the printed word and celebrates when it is presented with grace and beauty. So do I. The printing museums in Antwerp and Lyon have both enthralled me.

Bringhurst's aim for typographers is to "induce a state of energetic repose which is the ideal condition for reading." He
May 17, 2013 Jesse rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-tech-skills
Part Tufte design book, part Chicago Manual of Style, part encyclopedia of fonts. Wonderful book for anyone interested in design.

The book can be read in one of two ways:

1) This book is pretentious! When the author describes a poor choice of margins as abuse of your publication's readers, he is clearly exaggerating the importance of his field.

2) Typography is an old field that, unlike modern UX, which continues to abuse software users with poor application design, has already figured out the rule
Mar 13, 2010 Hinch rated it really liked it
An incredibly comprehensive journey through the art and science of typography. Written with a poetic edge, the book is a romantic embrace of the world of type. The text often borders on grandiloquence, sometimes resulting in a loss of clarity, but the practical applications, and the author's overriding passion for the subject, justify this book's reputation as a classic of the field.
Lokesh Krishna
May 30, 2015 Lokesh Krishna rated it really liked it
A testament to the very craft that it talks about. Makes you appreciate what goes into making a book so much and proves that every craft can be art.
Aug 15, 2010 Thomas rated it it was amazing
The best book on typography and print design I've ever read!
Oct 05, 2016 Desmond rated it did not like it
Flipped though again recently and realized the typography in this book is trash
Alfredo Sherman
Este libro fue mi introducción formal al mundo de la tipografía y creo que acierta en lo fundamental, establecer los elementos básicos que forman la composición tipográfica en todos y cada uno de sus aspectos. Se vuelve en una auténtica obra de referencia que comprende definiciones y sugerencias básicas para cualquier persona que trabaje con tipografías, ya sean diseñadores, editores, impresores, estudiantes, aficionados, etc.
Que si bien uno puede no estar de acuerdo en algunas sugerencias, es i
Fritz Carmichael
Mar 14, 2017 Fritz Carmichael rated it it was amazing
Probably the best book on typography and layout ever written. It should be noted that this book, although it spends significant space discussing fonts and spacing, also has in-depth analyses of formatting issues that are central to the creation of nearly every book.

Bringhurst is a genius, and in spots he conveys information about layout and formatting that at first appears paradoxical or at odds with conventional thinking. In other places, as noted by another reviewer, he appears to suffer from
Misha Kuzemski
Jan 09, 2017 Misha Kuzemski rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Це, звісно, не для світського ознайомлення праця, але якщо б Вас часом, леді і джентельмени, зацікавила історія шрифтів, їх створення, їх змісту та власне, ким бачать себе (натхненні, відданні і свідомі типографи), то це ідеальне поєдання цих аспектів. Автор дуже тонко подає типографію, стиль шрифту у роботі, через аналогічні змістовно сенси у музиці, до того ж скурпульозно розкриває найтонші грані філософії функціонування усього різноманіття шрифтів.
Nicole Gomez
Feb 14, 2017 Nicole Gomez rated it it was amazing
Great book
Andrew Galbraith
Dec 28, 2016 Andrew Galbraith rated it it was amazing
So much more than a style manual, this is a poetic tribute to the history and power of beautiful typography
Chad Warner
Dec 23, 2012 Chad Warner rated it liked it
Recommended to Chad by: Jason Santa Maria
This book contains more than I’ve ever wanted to know about typography. It describes not only how to use fonts, but also how to create them, explaining the math and science involved in font design. It also describes techniques for laying out text on pages. It reveals the history of typography from the days of clay and early paper, to the invention of the printing press, to modern digital typography. Bringhurst has a relaxing, elegant writing style that’s a pleasure to read.

I wanted to read a typ
Erik Carter
Oct 03, 2016 Erik Carter rated it liked it
bailed once he started talking about greek typography
Jun 14, 2013 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is about the craft of designing beautiful books. It was written by a bibliophile for bibliophiles and is the most beautiful book that I have ever held. It is an exemplar of the typographers art.

On first sight a book about typography should be dry and dull - the author himself describes typography as the most conservative of arts. However, Mr Bringhurst writes with brevity, clarity and wit, and uses the most evocative of imagery in his writing. As an example:

Typography, like other arts
Dec 01, 2013 Jeff rated it it was amazing
This book deserves its reputation as a classic. It’s probably not the best place to start for beginners (try Ellen Lupton's concise and witty Thinking with Type), and readers with a general interest in typography will probably end up skimming a lot. If you regularly design using type, however, this book is an invaluable resource.

If you’re looking for a nuts-and-bolts style guide about the do’s and dont’s of line, paragraph, and page composition, this is the book for you. If you’re looking for a
Mar 31, 2013 Colin rated it it was amazing
I have been, for a long time, a bit weird about fonts. I have also been interested in the tremendous power that software tools give us to create output to a professional finish (and in the various ways people abuse those same tools to create monstrosities). This finally lead to my asking for the The Elements of Typographic Style for my Birthday, which I have finally got round to reading.

Obviously the first thing a book on typography must be is beautifully typeset, and Elements certainly is. The
Nov 20, 2011 Steve rated it it was amazing
If you care about typography, or about design, or about words and writing, this is essential reading. It's also delightful and captivating; Bringhurst is an accomplished poet and his prose radiates warmth, wit, and charm. Basically, this book is every bit as essential as you've heard and far more delightful than you can imagine.

The foreword is a good hint of what's to come. I particularly love this ’graph, towards the end, "Typography is the craft of endowing human language with a durable visual
Mar 14, 2012 Lindsay rated it it was amazing
Shelves: design
Every now and then I need a reminder that every craft demands excellence; that good art requires attention to detail; that ignorance of fundamental principles is inexcusable. This book is one of those reminders.

As a not-even amateur typographer, I borrowed a copy to get a crash course on typography before formatting a friend’s book. Now I can’t imagine formatting an internal memo without it. It’s a thorough, beautiful, and surprisingly enjoyable introduction to the art of the printed word, to t
Jul 03, 2013 Joshua rated it really liked it
The author attempted to create a book on typography similar to Strunk and White’s, “The Elements of Style”, and succeeded, except perhaps for brevity. But, at the same time, there is quite a lot of nuance and detail required in typography, especially in that the author is covering – or at least touching on – rules for more than one language. Though dry, there was much useful information included. I also learned some things I have been doing wrong wrong wrong that are now bad habits I need to fix ...more
Ioana Frigura
Apr 24, 2013 Ioana Frigura rated it really liked it
Bringhhurst presents a compilation of the big hits, as far as book fonts go, while giving his reader the skills to classify fonts in his categories. To me, his writing style is a lot like Dale Carniege's. He is mindful of his audience and he writes as if he is trying to explain something to a friend. The book as a whole is a little like a textbook. There's a lot of important information that I can't retain from just one reading. It warrants revisiting when the topics it covers come up in what so ...more
Jan 09, 2013 Whitney rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, owned
I read this book for a class I was taking, called Book Design and Production. Having never paid any attention to typography before this class, The Elements of Typographic Style was probably not the best way for me to go about introducing myself to the topic.

I understand that this is pretty much the typography bible, and it is certainly a beautifully designed book. However, I retained very little of what I read due to the stereotypical, highly academic Oxford lecture style that the information wa
Ryan Boone
Oct 08, 2013 Ryan Boone rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book should be required reading for anyone interested in any design involving type, especially web design. Bringhurst's passion for type is exuded in his poetic diatribes on how boldface screams impolitely at the reader and why the English single quote quotation is far superior to the double mark quotes that liter American literature. It's entertaining and educational all at once.

The fourth revision of this book (4.0) touches, albeit briefly, on the internet and how to present type on a for
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Robert Bringhurst is a Canadian poet, typographer and author. He is the author of The Elements of Typographic Style – a reference book of typefaces, glyphs and the visual and geometric arrangement of type. He has also translated works of epic poetry from Haida mythology into English.

He lives on Quadra Island, near Campbell River, British Columbia (approximately 170 km northwest of Vancouver).
More about Robert Bringhurst...

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“Typography is the craft of endowing human language with a durable visual form.” 35 likes
“By all means break the rules, and break them beautifully, deliberately and well.” 24 likes
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