on 19 September 2008
This is a very useful book, but sometimes rather opinionated. For instance, Bringhurst passionately detests 'titling figures' that is, numbers of even height set on the line, 01234... He wants us to always use 'text figures', numerals that I can't show here, where the tails of 4 and 9 hang below the line, and 8 is taller than the rest. He scorns titling figures as 'middle-class' and 'illiterate', fit only for classified ads.
He is also inconsistent in his prejudices. Italic faces were first made in the middle ages only in lower case, so had to be used with upright capitals and brackets etc. Bringhurst tells us that because of this history, we must today always use upright, not sloped, brackets with italics. But he quietly accepts and uses sloped capitals with italics in his own book.
Despite these oddities, this is an enlightening and helpful book.
on 3 July 2004
This book seriously deserves the five stars. It is both beautifully written and very thought provoking. I am now having problems reading some books as my mind strays off to how a book has been designed - or sometimes not...
An awesome introduction to a fascinating subject. Bringhurst is both authoritative and humble. I couldn't put the book down once I started reading it.
on 23 December 2001
This book searches for the deep and hidden reasons of typographical choices.
The mixing of type, the size and layout of a page, the matching between type and text are explained in terms of conceptual reasons which go far beyond the more down-to-earth perceptive approach typographers usually take.
For instance, the size of pages is linked to the intervals of music (octave, fourth, and so on) and to the Fibonacci series and, of course, to the golden section.
It is, therefore, a pythagoric vision of typography.
I think practical people will dislike it and consider it unnecessarily affected and, speaking for myself, I considered it too far fetched.
But because the author is very clear and writes well, you are never left in doubt about what he means, and, therefore, you can make up your mind as to accept or rejects his views.
Even if I found the arguments artificial, the fact remains that it is plenty of good advice on all the finer points of typography and, more than that, it is one of the really beautifull recent books I have read.
So, if you choose to judge the author by the results he achieves and not for the reasons he claims are the cause of that achievement, you can only respect and admire the author and his principles.
Certainly a must.
on 30 June 2005
I've got dozens of books about type and typography. This is by far the best. It is clear, intelligent, scholarly and practical. It is also beautifully written, well designed and often downright funny.
If you know a designer or typophile who doesn't own this yet, buy it for them.
on 13 November 2007
I bought this book when I became (briefly) the editor of a corporate newsletter some years ago. It was the only useful purchase I made, and served to open up whole new typographic vistas that I didn't even know existed. But be warned it deals exclusively in subtlety and artifice - there is no post-modernist digital age brashness here - but learn the lessons and you will become very, very good, without anyone else ever knowing how. The book is both witty and enjoyably informative, a combination that means it's an easy read from cover to cover. And it's own typography is beyond reproach, quite beautiful.
on 26 April 2005
This is a superb book covering all aspects of type design in an almost lyrical prose style. It doesn't use endless pages of typeface specimens as filler but is endlessly informative. Covers such things as the effects of historical movements in typography. Highly reccomended to anyone at all interested in the subject.
on 29 September 2004
Robert Bringhurst's book is utterly beautiful on various levels. Although the prose is framed from a very personal (and poetic) perspective, there is a wealth of pragmatic detail to satisfy the intellect. The book is absorbing to read, revealing useful details at every page turn. His reflections on the nature of typography allow the technical details to transcend up into the realm of creative typographic art.
The layout is beautiful (as expected), and actual decisions made in designing the layout are woven into the text; this quality is also evident in the choice of paper used.
on 19 January 2010
This is a remarkable book. First of all, it is beautiful: beautifully typeset and laid out in a beautiful format on beautiful paper. Prof. Bringhurst's love of his subject, clearly witnessed by the level of detail of his exposition, makes this book a delight to read both as a narrative, binding together the historic and modern arts of typography and booksetting, and as a reference source from well before mutton to well after pilcrow.
Why, then, do I say it is dangerous? Simply this: I makes me completely dissatisfied with every piece of electronic publishing I have ever done. Books, manuals, papers, letters, business cards: all mediocre scratchings.
Prof. Bringhurst is, in this book, a master of the art of damnation through faint praise. His analysis of the broken kerning of Times New Roman, while quite reserved and polite, show by clear example just how badly broken it is -- it needs no other condemnation -- and should make all those users of MS Word's default font family squirm at their keyboards.
Notable, too, by their complete absence, are a number of font families that many of us take for granted, but I won't name them here, except for Comic Sans. The author is not writing for web users, though he does mention, briefly and adequately, the problems of showing a decent text on a computer screen. I suspect his silence is to draw a veil over what for him must be some of the most depressing items of typographic experience.
Finally, this book is not for everyone. It needs a little persistence to read; and you will need a degree of curiosity about at least one aspect of fonts and typesetting to enjoy it. But given these pre-requisites, enjoyment is guaranteed.
on 8 April 1998
Robert Bringhurst's book must be the first word on typography and deserves to be the last. He writes with a humanist's sensitivity to history, a mathematician's devotion to order and number, and an artist's love of beauty. I cannot imagine a better book.
on 13 January 2001
»The Elements Of Typographic Style« is a very very interesting book. Robert Bringhurst is a very good writer, with an unusually wide knowledge of not only typograpy, and therefore the book becomes extremely very relevant and not at all overspecialized.
Mr Bringhurst's writing skills and knowledge have also succeeded in creating what is rare among reference books: A reference book that you can actually read from one end to the other, which is what I did myself. Without getting bored, no, in fact it was hard for me to put »The Elements Of Typographic Style« down!
The only drawback is that, sometimes, Mr Bringhurst tends to make statements which he makes look like the only truth, despite his amazing knowledge of the subject. His solutions are often, but not always, discussed - and especially when they are not, it seems annoying to read about what is his personal taste and preferences.
But »The Elements Of Typographic Style« seems to me like a Bible of typography! An extremely relevant book that will open not only typographers', printers' and authors' eyes and make them at the very least a little more aware of what makes a written medium inviting and worth reading. Of course, this book itself is a beautiful example of well-taken care of typography and layout!