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The Elements of Typographic Style

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  8,676 ratings  ·  267 reviews
Renowned typographer and poet Robert Bringhurst brings clarity to the art of typography with this masterful style guide. Combining practical, theoretical, and historical, this book is a must for graphic artists, editors, or anyone working with the printed page using digital or traditional methods.

Having established itself as a standard in its field The Elements of Typograp
Paperback, Version 3.1 (Emended 3rd Edition), 352 pages
Published September 27th 2004 by Hartley & Marks Publishers (first published 1992)
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Average rating 4.25  · 
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 ·  8,676 ratings  ·  267 reviews

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Oct 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Ken-ichi by: Daniela
Shelves: snoot, learning, 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 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
Jul 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Phill Melton
Dec 03, 2012 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
Nov 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book a lot. I made notes of my favourite paragraphs as I read.

I liked Bringhurst's anthropomorphism of type and I found his cheekiness amusing, for example, in:

3.4.2 Don't use a font you don't need.
"The marriage of type and text requires courtesy to the in-laws, but it does not mean that all of them ought to move in, nor even that all must come to visit."

2.2.3 Don't suffocate the page.
"However empty or full it may be, the page must breathe, and in a book - that is, in a long text
Darren Goossens
Jul 19, 2014 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
Mark Jr.
Dec 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Books by passionate experts are fun.
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A perfect book about books. Astounding attention to details.
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
Daniel Riesco
Jul 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Five stars, if not out of enjoyment, than for sheer quality. I find it difficult to imagine a text of typography more brimming in style and grace than this one. The font guide at the very end is gorgeous and invaluable.

This one's for anyone with even a bit of interest in the matter. At times accessible or inaccessible, what more could you ask for?
H James
Aug 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Aside from some mystical mumbo jumbo about the pseudoscience of golden ratios in page layout, this is a brilliant, succinct, and comprehensive guide to typographical best practices. Skip Chapter 8 and this guide will serve you well.
Ben Bowler
Dec 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Although this book is from another era it’s surprisingly relevant to the modern day. If you’re building applications or even just writing, this book gives a solid guide to the standard use of typography. Also, I finally learned what an “em” unit is having used it for web design for the last decade.
Akshay Bakshi
Dec 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: design, on-deck
I didn’t finish this because it was far more technical and went deeper into the art of type than I feel I will ever need. Almost a textbook for a professional.

However, everything I did read and understand, I loved. The precision and richness of information that goes into setting text on a surface is breathtaking. Glad I know a bit more about it now.
Manux Xunam
Dec 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
5 stars are not enough...
Kane Rogers
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Allen Mueller
Sep 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art-and-design
As a typography focused designer with a couple of decades of experience, I've taken a few courses in Typography, and I've skimmed a small mountain of attractive, yet essentially worthless "design" books. The problem with books that are meant to educate about design is partially in the way subjective and objective factors are approached. Typography is helpful though, as certain aspects are more concrete than one might think, and this is where Bringhurst shines.

There's a multiverse of stylistic g
Sep 27, 2009 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
scoffs, calumnies, etc.
Oct 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book owns. I bought it at a Barnes & Noble that was going out of business and I knew nothing about typography at the time but a decade of constantly flipping through it I have extremely strong opinions about typography. This is a technical work but even as a layperson in the field I find it a total joy to read in a way I don't even know how to adequately describe. Like: Bringhurst has the deepest feeling for his craft: it will resonate with anybody who practices any sort of craft from woodw ...more
Oct 07, 2009 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
Ozan Tortop
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Best typography book I have read so far. Heaps of tips and tricks, and valuable information about typography and design history. But because it’s a typography book, that’s not a surprise, it supposed to be informative and well designed. What surprised me most was the writing style. Robert Bringhurst basically tickles your brain, shows you how horribly wrong was what you did last week for a design project in a sentence, give you a decent amount of humour without loosing the content. Couple of quo ...more
May 17, 2013 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
Michael Arntzenius
Nov 11, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a valuable book if you're diving deep into typography, but if you're just starting I'd suggest Butterick's Practical Typography ( It's much shorter while covering much of the same basic territory and has less book-layout-specific advice. Bringhurst's prose style, while enjoyable at times, can grate in large doses. Bringhurst is also not the best at explaining the justifications for particular typographic rules or choices. The chapter on page layout and g ...more
Apr 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Hands down the BEST book about typography I’ve ever read! I might be overselling it since most of the typography books I “read” have more pictures than words. In any case, I waited way too long to read this. I recall seeing it on other designer’s lists of books to read but it always looked a bit stuffy or old-fashioned for my taste. I'm an idiot, what can I tell you—I wish I had read this book 20 years ago. Not only is it a highly-informative book, but his sparse tongue-in-cheek humor really mak ...more
Luis Felipe de Oliveira
Great book for those interested in publishing and typography, which conciliates technical information, historical facts and a wonderful text. It's almost literature – good one. It's not a manual, it's a book concerned with understanding typography as an expressive and eloquent tool that gives life to any text. Really worth reading! ...more
Jennifer Fidler
May 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
little dry (very dry if you're not into typography) but absolutely stunning book. ...more
Aug 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
The best book on typography and print design I've ever read! ...more
Lokesh Krishna
May 30, 2015 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.
Oct 05, 2016 rated it did not like it
Flipped though again recently and realized the typography in this book is trash
Jan 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent. Deservedly the classic work on typography. The whole is beautifully presented, in terms of book construction and typesetting, but also in terms of literary style - Bringhurst is both a typographer and a poet.

The pages are a joy, not just for their information but also as examples of various design and typographic elements in action. There are some lovely touches - amongst its various attributes, the book is also a design specimen.

Needfully, there is a lot a of technical stuff. Maths i
Feb 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was the first text I ever read with regards to typography. Although some concepts still muddle my head (I'm mildly asleep during my morning commute), I found it was thoroughly informational, it and has given me a new appreciation to typography (and [book] design/publishing).

A curious thing, however, in my opinion, is that Bringhurst mentioned that having some white, blank pages at the end of the book was a good thing, and yet there wasn't a single one in his! His book looked so visually de
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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).

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