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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; 01 edition (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: 341,143 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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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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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) 4.3 out of 5 stars 83 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read, not a comprehensive guide 28 Nov. 2009
By Nora Brown - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you're looking for an instructional guide to typography, check out The Elements of Typographic Style or The Complete Manual of Typography. After revisiting this book, I've upped it to 4 stars, realizing that while it doesn't serve as a typographical reference, it is thought-provoking.

This book, while it does contain some practical dos and don'ts, is more useful for: seeing good examples of interesting typography; learning a bit of history about typefaces, layout, and grid; and for learning about how typographical grids and other techniques apply to web design.

I agree with some other reviewers that the design and layout of the book at times is overwrought, and distracts from the content. This is most evident in the first chapter, Letters, which I found very difficult to get through. However, the second (Text) and third (Grid) chapters aren't laid out so busily, and are much stronger.

I wouldn't recommend this as a first or only book on typography, but is worth reading after more complete, nuts-and-bolts volumes.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book for introducing typeography 14 Feb. 2009
By Brent G. - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a great book that introduces typography in a simple, easy to understand way.
Beginning with the history of typography, and going through pre-digital type, then going on into contemporary typography, this book offers a good resource for graphic designers and English majors alike.

For the beginning graphic designer reading this review, I would definitely suggest this book before tackling some of the more in-depth typography books so that one can have a basis for understanding some of the more complicated concepts that will be presented in alot of the other books.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Introduction to type 30 Jun. 2007
By Ilya Grigorik - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
To quote Ellen Lupton: "There is no playbook that assigns fixed meaning or function every typeface; each designer must confront the library of possibilities in light of a project's unique circumstance." Unfortunately, this seem to be true, and this book is no such playbook. The author provides a brief history of the trade, and a nice overview of some of the basics of type, but I was left wanting for more. The book is nicely illustrated, and still remains among one of the better ones on the subject, but there is room for improvement.
4.0 out of 5 stars Typography Taught Terrifically 5 April 2008
By Stuart Murdoch - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Simple and elegant this book has engaged me even further in my exploration of good use of typography. Anne's fresh and encompassing approach makes it easy to get involved in using type well. The book has several exercises and a wealth of information that helps appreciate type, and use typography. The advice is not software specific making it useful for many years to come, and encompasses the printed page and web/screen use of type. A great grounding book in Type and Typography.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good read, but more of a companion than all inclusive 6 Feb. 2007
By mmezo - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
this is a great little book with some good insights and interesting view points written in an easy to understand manner. i would call this more of a brief history of design/printed type than really a stand-alone piece, its more of a gloss-over to give you a good starting point to look into other more in-depth books.

i definitely recommend it, but dont expect it to answer much on its own.
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