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Thinking with Type

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  11,596 ratings  ·  328 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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Average rating 4.10  · 
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 ·  11,596 ratings  ·  328 reviews

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Helen (Helena/Nell)
Mar 05, 2012 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
Jul 22, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-design
This is an introductory text on typography. It covers a wide variety of subjects and it doesn't overwhelm beginners in the field with too much information. This would probably be a good place to start if you were thinking of getting into typography for the first time. After reading this, you would probably have a pretty good idea of whether you'd like to pursue it further or not. ...more
Joshua Pitzalis
May 08, 2015 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
Leo Walsh
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
THINKING WITH TYPE by Ellen Lupton is a brilliant, unpretentious introduction to typography. If you're like me, and just want to design websites and PowerPoint presentations that look good, it's a perfect introduction to what makes good typography. It's considered a classic for graphics designers, but anyone can follow it and put the teachings to use right way.

The downside is, though, that I find myself annoyed by the really, really, really BAD typography you'll find in most local TV commercial
Graham Herrli
Dec 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: design-related
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
Stephen Hiemstra
Jan 16, 2016 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
Jan 26, 2012 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?
Jason Kinn
Mar 27, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At times very deep, talking about Roland Barthes and Jacques Derrida and the idea of the text -- and at times whimsical, with full color prints of Japanese rock band posters. The author demonstrates her concepts graphically. A grown up picture book.
Jun 09, 2022 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Apr 07, 2012 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
Mar 30, 2015 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
Rob Adey
Feb 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nicely written and put together intro to type – I say intro, it's difficult to see what more you'd need to read about type (as opposed to observe and practice). Once you know the term for the curly bit on an lower-case 'e' (it's a Swiss dick), where do you go from there? (I say this from the massively insecure position of being a designer without any proper training who has only been allowed to use Helvetica Neue since 2013.) ...more
May 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Thinking with Type" is a very informative and well structured book. It provides a lot of advice on how to choose a typeface, how to combine typefaces in order to get a contrast, which typefaces look better bigger/smaller and much more. I have enjoyed every page and I think it is the best typography book I have ever read! Highly recommend! ...more
Monika Skarzauskaite
May 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
The book combines theory with interesting tidbits from the worlds of art, web design, etc. It also shows the synergies between being artistic and scientific in typeface production. Great for people who don't know a lot about typography (like me) and the way we consume text ...more
Nov 04, 2015 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.
Dec 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Digging deeper

An excellent book on the use and technical function of type. I learned quite a bit from it, both from a historical perspective as well as tips for InDesign
Ryan Shaw
Ryan Shaw
Mrs. Marlow
25 October 2017

Thinking with Type 2

This is a very informative book about typography and design all together. Ellen Lupton included many great examples to show what she was talking about. It is also a very well designed book but that is expected from a book about designing. It is aimed at editors, writers, designers, and students. I would say this isn’t a book for middle schoolers though. It gets really technical and advanced in some places. But if you are up for it, i
Andrew Tatge
Dec 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was one of the first books on typography, and by extension graphic design I’ve read. I still love it. Nine years later, it’s still a go-to recommendation for someone curious about type, or someone who should be but doesn’t know it (yet). I'd consider this an introductory text, or a good reference for someone who's already internalized most of the content, but might want a high level reference nearby. If you've been doing visual or information design for a while some of this may be old hat, ...more
Kendal Hadid
Jun 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
H James
Oct 10, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: typography
Thinking With Type is fun for the eyes and for the most part a good primer on multiple aspects of working with words, but it stumbles hard in few place, making factually incorrect assertions or offering dubious advice. The most flagrant errors are concentrated in the content new to the expanded second edition, so finding a first edition may be advisable.

Of the book’s three sections, the second (“Text”) is by far the strongest, with crisp and thought‐provoking essays like “Errors and Ownership” a
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
Nov 24, 2009 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.
Apr 14, 2014 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. ...more
May 28, 2008 marked it as to-read
Shelves: non-fiction, design
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*). ...more
Amy Rhoda  Brown
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.
Aug 23, 2007 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.
Feb 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An awesome book on type design, not too wordy with lots of examples. I can see myself referring to the book in my design work and keeping it forever as a part of design library.
Pete Meyers
Jan 29, 2011 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.
Oct 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
A great primer for someone who wants to know more about fonts. It includes some good history, and the design and graphics make it really fun and accessible to all audiences.
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