Published on March 18th, 2008
I have been feeling sick for about a week and a half now. Over the weekend my immune system finally said, “You win!” Consequently, the couch became my constant companion except for my short trip to the bookstore for some new design books.
I could probably vent for an entire blog entry about how poorly designed most graphic design books are, but I will just say: yikes! I cannot be the only designer that has a hard time reading a design book that is full of clutter and has little flow.
After rejecting book after book based on poor design, I finally settled on two typography books. As a graphic designer, I can never know enough about typography. Almost every design I do includes type in some way. On Saturday, I poured through the first of the books — Designing with Type: The Essential Guide to Typography Fifth Edition.
This book stood out among the other design books because of the ease and simplicity of its design. Moreover, it has been nine years since I took a basic typography class. I firmly believe that to excel in anything you have to have a solid grip on the basics. I feel that includes periodically relearning them. As it turns out, with my experience and knowledge, reading a basic typography book now offered me a chance to better understand what they were talking about when I originally learned about type classification and what to look for when seeking a “well-designed font.” It has never been any clearer.
They wrote the book to teach the fundamentals of typography. I figure many design programs across the country use it as one of their textbooks. There is even a chapter full of projects/exercises to help you understand legibility, creativity, and design expressions through type. I am doing each exercise myself — not because the ideas are new to me, but because it stretches my thinking and may lead to fresh ideas.
I also really enjoyed Designing with Type’s take on the history of type, especially the formation of the western alphabet. It is so easy to take the symbols that we call letters for granted. It makes you look at the alphabet differently when you have a sense of why the letters have the shapes they do.
I think anyone who uses type in their designs should read this book. If this review does not convince you, stay tuned for future blog entries that will give you a bit more insight into the book and the basics of typography.
Have you read Designing with Type? Would you recommend a similar book to me?