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Thinking with Type

4.05  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,307 Ratings  ·  193 Reviews
The organization of letters on a blank sheet—or screen—is the most basic challenge facing anyone who practices design. What type of font to use? How big? How should those letters, words, and paragraphs be aligned, spaced, ordered, shaped, and otherwise manipulated? In this groundbreaking new primer, leading design educator and historian Ellen Lupton provides clear and conc ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published September 9th 2004 by Princeton Architectural Press
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Helen (Helena/Nell)
Dec 04, 2013 Helen (Helena/Nell) rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Novices typesetting books
I liked this book a LOT. It had loads of interesting details in it for me, my kind of detail, and it had a sense of humour. Lots of funny bits, and lots of bits that made me think long and hard.

I know there are things in it that will be old hat to experienced visual communications folk, but I'm not one of them. I'm learning, and I know some of this stuff, but a lot I either don't know at all or need to read it again anyway to try to get it into my head.

I liked the presentation on the page, I lik
I am not a designer, nor am I aspiring to be one. I read this as someone who appreciates art, talent and beauty, and someone who knows the importance of presentation when conveying a message.
I read this in small bits, enjoyed the info and illustrations, and then went out into the world to appreciate what I had just learned. It helped me notice the art in books, magazines, signs, business cards, web pages and so much more. My eyes fell on the subtleties of the good versus the ordinary graphic des
Feb 09, 2010 Michelle rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010
My first response to this book was that it was a little on the technical side for me. Then I saw in other readers' reviews that it was good but a little too simplistic. Huh. Well I guess I'm just a type neophyte, then.

I think I was hoping to be more inspired by the book. I was inspired, but in more subtle ways than I expected. I did learn things that I didn't know about typefaces, and I enjoyed seeing visual representations of the type in text.

My favorite sections were on grids and hierarchy.
Amy Brown
Mar 09, 2012 Amy Brown rated it liked it
I actually really liked this and found it very useful- I will probably buy a copy.

I gave it three stars instead of four because there were times when I got lost and felt things weren't fully explained, like in the discussion of grids and baselines. I'm hoping it will start to make sense after a reread and some experimentation, or else I guess I'll have to take a course or something.
Dec 29, 2015 Vaso rated it it was amazing
This is the perfect book for graphic design dummies. Really helpful and witty. I feel ready to embark on a design adventure.
Graham Herrli
This is one of those beautiful books that conveys meaning as much through its form as through its content. It contains many images of type designed in various ways, integrated with descriptive text to demonstrate various principles of typography.

In additional to explaining how to do things right, Lupton provides many helpful examples of what not to do.

This book is organized into three sections: letter, text, and grid. Each section begins with an overview of that category, including its definitio
Apr 09, 2012 Mikal rated it really liked it
Do you know what a pica is? Can you explain a typeface's x-height? If you answer yes to either of these questions you'll probably rate this book no more than 3 stars.
This book is a brief read filled with lots of examples of different type styles. The book breaks typography into three sections: the letter (typefaces); text (paragraphs and spacing); and the grid (page layouts). The book seemed to spend far too little time on the letter, too little time on text and too much time on the grid for my
Joshua Pitzalis
May 08, 2015 Joshua Pitzalis rated it it was ok
This book was an incredible waste of time.

I learned absolutely nothing. Apart from maybe that the best way to match fonts in to make sure their x-heights are the same. The x-height is the middle bit of a letter. Now that you know this, you don't need to read the book.

The author just waffles on about completely useless history and backstory that has zero practical application.

It's also has a terrible layout. Ironic. The layout makes the book really difficult to read. There are loads of little b
Apr 18, 2014 Celena rated it it was amazing
Out of all the graphic design-related books that I've read (and I really have not read a lot) this one is the best, so far. This is the perfect introduction to the field because it delivers the information in a way that is easy to digest. The guide for proofreaders and copy editors in the last part is a delightful surprise. My favorite part, though, is when the author provided a brief history of type. It puts everything I've learned in context.
May 12, 2012 James rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent overview. There won’t be much new information for someone who has taken classes or studied typography...but it’s still a great resource. The writing is witty (captions throughout the book include TYPE CRIMES and NERD ALERTS, which list common mistakes and some nice details.) It is also gorgeously designed.

She is kind enough to format her explanations with the problem included (e.g. b ad kemin g). I also was turned on to some nice typefaces that I was previously unaware of. This als
Oct 18, 2015 Artem rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: design students
The book itself is written masterfully, whitfully, and with boundless insight into what type means to design and culture. However, for someone looking for direction and pointers on how to tackle a project this is not the book which will hold all the answers. There are a number of instances I made a note on the pdf saying "THIS!" or "Idea for project so-and-so," so I leave with fresh ideas. After leaving this book I feel that I am more connected to the discipline of graphic design and typography, ...more
Stephen Hiemstra
Jan 16, 2016 Stephen Hiemstra rated it it was amazing
Often when I talk to friends about my publishing, conversations are short. People get the idea of writing and authorship; they generally draw a blank when it comes to publishing. In particular, the idea that a book needs to be designed seems almost mystical [1]. So my delight in finding a new title focused on identifying and using type (or fonts) has been hard to explain…

Ellen Lupton, author of Thinking with Type, has clearly traveled this route. She searched for a suitable textbook on using typ
Jacqueline O.
Apr 30, 2015 Jacqueline O. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Graphic Design Students, Web Design Students
This book wasn't what I was expecting - but I enjoyed it anyway. The first section was about the history of typography, which was very interesting but not necessary what I wanted to know. Although to me, with no formal graphic design training, I had always assumed that Graphic Design was like Architecture, a field where the emphasis was always on "the hot new thing" with little knowledge or care for the past (other than the "opposite" effect - that is, new trends tend to rebel against the previo ...more
Apr 02, 2014 Avie rated it it was amazing
When I'm not slumped by lab reports, buried deep in textbooks, or being extremely introvert locked up with novels and my fave TV series, I am doodling or creating "calligraphy".

I was always interested in the arts and I guess having attended a school that implements a certain handwriting for everyone made me really OC in penmanship. I've long since tossed the habit of the light and heavy strokes but my cursive remained pretty much the same, if not better, throughout the years.

I:m no expert in adv
Jan 26, 2012 Alex rated it liked it
I read somewhere that Steve Jobs had an early interest in typography and that it helped engender an attention to detail in his approach to good design. Also, my brother has a healthy appreciation for typography. So, I thought I'd try to learn a little of what it was all about.

This book was a great primer on the principles of typography. I'm glad I read it. I now pay more attention to typography everywhere around me.

Now, how do I change the font of this review to Gotham?
Lee-Shing Chang
Aug 28, 2015 Lee-Shing Chang rated it liked it
I pulled this off my brother's bookshelf to read for fun (yes, reading a design handbook for fun). It's a fair introduction into the effective use of typefaces. Perks: Layout is beautiful, content is accessible. She tries to show as much as possible (as opposed to just telling you about things). Downsides: I feel like in trying to do to many things at once, Lupton doesn't do a great job at any one area. She dabbles in expounding on history and throws out a handful of exercises for practi
May 28, 2008 Tedb0t marked it as to-read
Shelves: design, non-fiction
I bought this while drunk. See what happens when you wander around in bookstores, wasted, after just getting a paycheck? Now I feel pretty embarrassed; it's not a bad book but it still has that aura of things uncreative people buy to make themselves think they're creative (*cough* art directors *cough*).
Apr 29, 2015 Arensb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Lupton's book gives an overview of the field of typography and page design. It's a quick read, but is enough to let the reader get an idea of what's out there, how different fonts interact, what sorts of things to consider when laying out a page, and so on.

The main structure of the book is a zoom-out: it starts with fonts--showing what a serif, a slab, or a descender are--to paragraphs, to pages and books.

It's reminiscent of Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art in that it uses
Pete Meyers
Feb 02, 2011 Pete Meyers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lovely book. Lupton gives you lots on the history of typography, but in this new edition also really ties past to present with loads of practical advice for print and digital designers alike.
Aug 23, 2007 lydia rated it really liked it
oh so fascinating! the evolution of type, a basic history, and practical applications. very useful for those not formally trained in typography and/or design.
Aug 16, 2015 Nirawit rated it liked it
Heralded as the definitive book on typography, I went in expecting a lot from this book. Needless to say, I was disappointed.

The book focuses too much on the history of typography, which ended up just being brief biographies on old typeface designers (1-2 sentences). This was a continuous European name-dropping, none of which I managed to remember.

However, I found the section on how to use type very interesting and helpful. Perhaps this book is the wrong book for my needs. but all in all, the bo
Evelin Lang
Nov 10, 2014 Evelin Lang rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic book for beginners to work up the appetite in the field of typography. Although I was hoping for some nerdy detailed typeface design nitty-gritty, this book is more about the breadth rather than the depth of knowledge in the field. And it is a field with wider scope than I thought. The book does however give you very practical guidance of (and sometimes on rather detailed level) how to implement different principles in order to get a good result (and not commit any serious type crimes) ...more
Princeton Architectural
Mar 31, 2009 Princeton Architectural rated it it was amazing
The organization of letters on a blank sheet—or screen—is the most basic challenge facing anyone who practices design. What type of font to use? How big? How should those letters, words, and paragraphs be aligned, spaced, ordered, shaped, and otherwise manipulated? In this groundbreaking new primer, leading design educator and historian Ellen Lupton provides clear and concise guidance for anyone learning or brushing up on their typographic skills.

Thinking with Type is divided into three sections
Sep 05, 2015 tout rated it liked it
Shelves: design
It's hard for me to rate a design book. I wanted to mark it only as read, but I couldn't figure out how to. Though it isn't a new subject for me this is still the first design book I have read and it still contains a lot of useful information, even if it is fairly shallow. This seems like it could be a good introduction, pretty, but a stupid little book in other respects. Politically it's odd. The book quotes a lot of philosophy and theory to talk about text and culture, but does so in a general ...more
Mar 18, 2013 Mila rated it it was amazing
I was pleased to see has many parts of the book available at my fingertips so I bookmarked it of course. I like the section on type classification: "Humanist, Transition and Modern which correspond roughly to Renaissance, Baroque, and Enlightment periods in art and literature" and the examples shown. The proofreading page was a trip down memory lane. I wonder if editing on paper is still being done but the inclusion of this page would have one believe that it is, unless it's ...more
Nov 27, 2012 Loren rated it really liked it
Shelves: web-design
“Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students” by Ellen Lupton is a great book not only for designers, writers, editors and students as the title suggests, but also general readers. Without being dry, the author provides enough interesting information about the history of type to make this book a worthwhile read for anyone interested in understanding how the text they read everyday came to look the way it does. Anyone who does any kind of word processing, ...more
The 3 stars reflects my experience with the book, my level of interest and ability to put it to use. As a reference for typography, I'd give it a 4.

I got the most from the last sections of the book, from the section "Grid" on.

Loads of interesting type and formatting examples throughout the book with lots of reproduced pages from European texts.
Dec 07, 2015 Stephanie rated it it was amazing
Thinking with Type was one of my textbooks at Parsons the New School for Design. As students, our professors would pair this book and a lot of thoughtful typography exercises. Now, I am reading it again as a refresher and it is nice to read the basics again. Definitely recommend this book to beginners in any industry.
Mar 05, 2015 Matthew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is what happens when you have a graphic designer for an office-mate for two years (of course, I've always been the person reading the colophon at the end of books, so it's not really a new thing). A ton of truly nerdy fun, and I'll be thinking about it every time I create a handout or score from this point forward.
Jul 16, 2012 Anita rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction-read
I am not artistic, don't have a good eye for color, nor can I design anything. Though I am still all of those things, I now have a great appreciation for the look of books, magazines, and web pages thanks to this book. I think back to the good old days before computers when we counted letters to justify our lines for the yearbook. Now you just click a button. But clicking buttons doesn't compensate for bad design. I enjoyed this textbook and will never look at a page the same way again. It has e ...more
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type book 4 25 Dec 23, 2012 01:52PM  
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“Readers usually ignore the typographic interface, gliding comfortably along literacy’s habitual groove. Sometimes, however, the interface should be allowed to fail. By making itself evident, typography can illuminate the construction and identity of a page, screen, place, or product.” 3 likes
“Universal design systems can no longer be dismissed as the irrelevant musings of a small, localized design community. A second modernism has emerged, reinvigorating the utopian search for universal forms that marked the birth of design as a discourse and a discipline nearly a century earlier.” 3 likes
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