Good Books on Typography a Wish List, two
In this second post, I continue my answer to the question on every young designer’s lips, what are some good books on typography?
5) Grid Systems in Graphic Design, Josef Müller-Brockmann
I thought I would begin with a book that is not strictly speaking about typography at all. Why? Firstly, this is a true classic text of graphic design by one of the greatest European designers of the 20th century. Secondly, for typographic design to work properly, most projects require some sort of a framework—to wit, a grid—for the type to ‘hang from’. And if you want to understand how grids work, what better place to start than with the Swiss or International Style? Müller-Brockmann is a key figure in that movement, and this book is his discussion of it. So, into your library it should go.
6) Typography: Formation + Transformation & Typography: Macro + Micro Aesthetics, Willi Kunz
For anyone who says that typography is unnecessary in this digital and screen-based age, that learning typographic principles for print is pointless because no-one reads—shocking statements, I know! but I have had students say this to me—well, this pair of books is the rebuttal. American born and Swiss educated, Kunz argues that the new technologies has further opened typography as a powerful medium for visual experimentation and personal expression, but to do this successfully the typographic design must understand the theories and aesthetic principles that have informed visual communication from the beginning.
7) Shaping Text, Jan Middendorp
Australian designers, being English speaking, tend to look first towards the UK and the USA for inspirational books on design and typography. We might look towards the Swiss, because of their immense impact on post war design, and then perhaps on to Germany… But we also need to look further afield—and one of the best places to look is the Netherlands. Designer and researcher, Jan Middendorp is most definitely a Dutch designer to study and read. His book ‘Shaping Text’ is a truly useful text and reference, not only for students but for all designers. He has set out his guide clearly, concisely breaking information down into a series of double page chunks, making for a handy and accessible reference guide.
Middendorp is the only designer in this list who has worked with font houses (LucasFonts, MyFonts, Fontshop among others), which gives him a unique understanding of the essence of typeface construction.
8) The Triumph of Typography: Culture, Communication, New Media, various contributors
Listing this book is a little bit of a cheat, as it allows me to include the writing of about two dozen more writers and typographers. This series of illustrated essays elegantly presents typography as more than just type and layout. An important argument is put forward, that typography touches on one of the key values of our society—the printed free word. The writers also consider the impact of new technologies and how typography can manage and adapt in the future. That’s my kind of people!
You will notice that there are no books from Australia or New Zealand on this list. That’s because, as far as I know, there are none that deal specifically with typography. If they do exist please let me know. The one book that comes close is Graphic Design: Australian Style Manual, co-authored by Astred Hicks, Suzie Haddock, Andrew Barnum and myself. In it you will find one chapter on typography, illustrated with numerous local examples. While this was written primarily as a text for tertiary students, we also intended it to have a life as a reference beyond study. You will find the books I’ve posted here are recommended reading in this book too!
Part one of my list of good books on typography can be found here.
Felix is a designer with over 20 year’s experience, he has created and taught courses in typeface design, typography, typographic systems, identity development, brand management, data visualisation, wayfinding, design studio management, design research, and pre-press at a tertiary level. He is a co-author of a text book on Graphic Design in Australia. He is co-owner of Tiliqua Press and publisher and co-editor of Ligature Journal