The Elements of Typographic Style

By Robert Bringhurst

The Elements of Typographic Style is a landmark text of typography. “Far more than a style guide”, it’s also a “brief history…encyclopedia…[and] richly informative tour” of this fascinating field.

Bringhurst is a highly regarded typographer, book designer, and poet. The cover indicates this is “Version 3.2”, evoking the naming schema of a software release — a constantly evolving reference.

The text starts with a visual historical synopsis of styles, then continues with an introduction by first principles to the practice of typographical design. It jumps further into practical design tactics, with in-depth treatments of principles like “rhythm and proportion”, “harmony and counterpoint”, and “structural forms and devices”.

Intriguing chapters include “Shaping the Page”, on typographical proportion and layout; a section on modern font design; and one full of “specimens”. I particularly love the chapter on “Analphabetical Symbols”; it unfurls the richness and complexity latent in tiny textual details — symbols, punctuation, diacritics.

There’s a wealth of practically useful material, for example as section on “Choosing and Combining Type”. It’s filled with a ton of interesting history, and copious illustrations of the theoretical lessons. Elucidating not only tools and skills but new dimensions of understanding typography, this book — as noted in its dedication — is really intended for all in the “world of letters”.

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