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Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, and Students (Design Briefs) Paperback – 16 Sep 2004

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press (16 Sept. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568984480
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568984483
  • Product Dimensions: 18 x 1.3 x 21.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 383,969 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Ellen Lupton is one of America's preeminent design educators and PAPress's all-time bestselling author. Her books include Skin, Inside Design Now, Design Culture Now, Mixing Messages, and Letters from the Avant Garde, among others. She is director of the design program at Maryland Institute of Art and Design and Curator at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I must admit that typography wasn't always my favourite field in design. Until a couple years ago fonts and texts were mere supporting actors of the design movie. My mind changed when I finally realized that typography is as important as the shapes, the colours and the styles used. One of the books that helped me get there was Thinking with Type, by Ellen Lupton.

Overall idea of the book

Always using history as a guide, the author shows how the letters and texts can influence the way we see a piece of design and how we can improve readability by following some rules. Personally, one of these tips that really caught my attention was: When using stacked letters - like the ones on spines of books - we should always use small caps with centred column. Maybe this is common sense to some people, but for me it was something that I had never realized.

The book is also very rich on examples. Fonts familiar to most designers - or anyone in the field - are presented and described throughout the pages. Futura, for example, was designed in the late 20's by Paul Renner who sought on "honest expression of technical processes". But be warned, as the author constantly says, this is not a book about fonts.

"The relationships among letters in a font are more important than the identity of individual characters."

History or Design Book?

If you are not into history and want to get straight to the technical part you might want to skip a few pages, but by doing this you'll miss the best part of the book, like when the author explains the reason of the terms uppercase and lowercase: in the old printshops, they used to store the case of the capital letter in the upper drawer).
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was recommended by a designer friend of mine as a resource for studying design principles and it has turned out to be a delightful book in and of itself. It's well-written and beautifully, thoughtfully designed. The author outlines and then explores the significant role type plays in design. There's a fascinating lexicon of select type faces and fonts. Lot's of ideas, tips and reasons why things work the way they do in design. I bought this as a way to learn about the practical deployment of type in design. I like it because it is so much more.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have long been fascinated by printing, font design and the like. This is a great book for indulging that interest.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9840e3b4) out of 5 stars 79 reviews
119 of 124 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x98c40df8) out of 5 stars A much needed book 21 May 2005
By reader and maker - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is a well-structured and well-written text with refreshing examples from a wide range of designers. These examples reinforce the concept that successful design and typography come from critical thinking and that there is no one style or approach that is "correct."

I plan to require this book in the undergraduate typography class I teach, but because it is accessible even to a novice, I'd recommend it to anyone with an interest in type. One of the strengths of the book is its succinctness, but that may be one flaw as well. When a book is so well done, you want more... (Fortunately there is a website which does have supporting materials for those who want more.) Also if you want a meaty book on the specifics of type, then you should also get Robert Bringhurst's phenomenal book "The Elements of Typographic Style." It pairs so well with the overview and examples from Lupton's book.

It is a terrific value and well-produced.
181 of 194 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9910d24c) out of 5 stars A must for the lost 8 April 2005
By Elizabeth M - Published on
Format: Paperback
Personally, this has probably been the most influental design book that I own. I felt like I was a better designer after having read half of it, without once touching my mac. i just knew that what I had absorbed was going to come out in my work, and it did. The book takes an overview look at design, and speaks in plain english about many things that I've heard or dealt with. But catagorizes stuff and explains things in a fluid manner so that the different bits of information come together and make sense. It is good for the novice and the struggling self taught. Full of great examples. It's too elementary for the serious designer. But for someone who did not go to Design School, but now works with design, its the perfect basic "education in a book".
37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9857c864) out of 5 stars A must for new designers and those who have to work with designers 29 Oct. 2006
By Shawna Forester - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book and some of the other books from the Design Briefs series, have become an integral part of my working resource library. Ellen Lupton's book has been one that I have used over and over again. I often reference it when I am faced with a blank page that I am having a hard time laying out.

The section on typography, the largest section of the book, was a very interesting read. I enjoyed learning about the history of printing and typography. Beginning designers will appreciate the categorizing of typefaces. This leads into the discussion of electronic typesetting and the limitations and challenges that has created for designers.

Lupton's book shed a lot of light on different strategies for organizing type, graphics, and pictures on my own layouts. Unlike many other books on graphic design, Lupton's book was down-to-earth and was easy for a non-designer (like myself) to understand. It used some meaningful practical examples, instead of relying on art school projects that have limited real-life applications.

The section on grids was one of the most easy to understand that I have ever come across. It also gave many examples of grids that can be incorporated for page layout. Lupton also gave a decent low-level overview on the golden section, but she did not give enough of examples of how the golden section can be used as a more flexible grid.

One of my favourite parts of her book is the section on proofreading where she has one of the best proofreader's marking charts that I have ever seen. I have used this resource on complex projects like annual reports with agency graphic designers. No more second-guessing edits, Lupton's list captures it all. In fact, a lot of the designers and account reps who have used it with me consider it to be a time (and money) saver.

This book is probably too basic for seasoned designers, but if you just bought a copy of InDesign, or you're working in a corporate communications department and expected to create some basic layouts, you will take away a lot of good ideas and principles from this book. It covers off on many of the principles of good design without leaving you feeling overwhelmed.
40 of 47 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a55a1b0) out of 5 stars More books should be this good--and price as aggressively 30 Jun. 2005
By Roger C. Parker - Published on
Format: Paperback
As the author of Looking Good in Print: A Guide to Basic Design for Desktop Publishing, I approach design and type books with high expectations.

I judge books on not only the amount of information they communicate, but also the accessibility of the information, the clarity of the visuals, the design of the pages, and--last, but not least--the price.

Ellen Luppon's Thinking With Type scores well on all standards. It's also one of the few books that has important things to say about online type.

At its remably low price, you can't buy a more useful book for learning from the past and setting computer-based type on the basis of what others have done previously.
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a55a33c) out of 5 stars Simple, Clear, and Logical 14 May 2006
By Jason Walley - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book is possibly the best design education text I've seen. Everything is kept simple, and clear. Ellen Lupton's categorizing of typeface styles, for example, is logical and all inclusive, yet still a simple breakdown of the vast variety of typefaces. She is easier to understand than Robert Bringhurst in "The Elements of Typographic Style," something crucial to any budding designer. This book will serve you well.
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