This is one of the very best books on type design. In recent years digital techniques have made the design of fonts more widespread - no more engraving of punches and making of matrices - and there is a much wider awareness of the nuances of letter design. Stephen Coles covers the ground very fully, from the designs that emerged in the infancy of printing to the latest digital productions. But this is not an historical book: it divides typefaces up into different groups and families and with clear examples and explanations points to the similarities and the differences - and these fonts are available to designers now. Mr Coles, with his clear text large and colourful illustrations makes font design tremendously exciting.
"When we enlarge a word or phrase that contains a typeface's most distinctive glyphs, we unearth all sorts of information about what makes that typeface tick." (from the Introduction)
I don't know of another book that celebrates the beauty and intricacy of good type design so successfully. On one level this is simply a book to sit back and enjoy from an aesthetic point of view. The typeface samples are large enough to really see the subtleties of each letterform (there is a generous large size sample word, and complete alphabet in smaller font) and appreciate the harmony of design between glyphs. The book is designed and set beautifully too.
On another level, it is a useful aid to choosing typefaces, and comparing alternatives from a similar genre. The author helpfully dispenses with the usual categories for a more nuanced and useful system of collating typefaces in families. So, rather than Sans Serif only, there are Grotesque Sans, Neo-Grotesque Sans, Gothic Sans, Geometric Sans, Humanist Sans, Neo-Humanist Sans. Choice is always going to be personal, and this shouldn't be looked to as a comprehensive reference; rather, a selection "made with an emphasis on versatility and practical use". Amongst the usual suspects are some gems which I at least wasn't familiar with e.g. Baskerville Original by Frantisek Storm and Nitti by Pieter van Rosmalen. At times in the later sections there seems to be a skew towards H&FJ, but that shouldn't be surprising given the quality of their output, and there are plenty of examples from smaller foundries and individual designers.
All in all, if you love type you will love this book.
Great book. wanted it for ages, was finally given it as a gift for my birthday, and also another book called 'The Anatomy of Type' as they seemed to be a good pair. They are the exact same book, page for page. with different titles and Amazon even lists this as:
"The Geometry of Type: The Anatomy of 100 Essential Typefaces by Erik Spiekermann and Stephen Coles"
...BY Erik Spiekerman... and Stephen Coles
where as "The Anatomy of Type: A Graphic Guide to 100 Typefaces by Stephen Coles"
Even the Cover art is different.
So although very similar books, very easy to think of them as different books. they are not. They are the exact same book
This is a brilliant book for typographic novice and veteran both, and I would especially recommend this to anyone studying an Art or Design degree. A must for the graphic designer, its got an in depth analysis of the character's forms for a range of typefaces, some classic and some more exotic, but all gorgeous.
I appreciate the clarity of this book very much. When designing and looking at type you're working in a visual medium. The author understands this. No filler here, just facts.
The first few pages summarise the different families of type. These will help you identify a style very quickly. However the bulk of the book, some 200+ pages, is given to well organised examples of typefaces with two pages for each face.
Every double page spread shows you clearly the key features of the typeface. The illustrations are large enough that every detail can be seen, with each key detail noted and explained. A brief summary of the face and its relation to others is given, but most of the page is quite rightly dedicated to showing you the detail rather than just telling you.
To Sum Up: It's become my preferred reference book on Typefaces. I'd suggest it as an essential buy for students and for anyone who loves type.