Several years ago, I had the distinct pleasure to participate in a series of workshops and seminars hosted the U.S. Department of Defense Printing and Publishing Divisions. (Did you know that each of the armed forces has at least one glossy magazine they publish all over the world!) Actually, it was a lot more than several years ago, but that's another story.
What made those conferences so pleasurable was working with Alex White, the moderator for the event. Alex conducted several of the break-out workshops on publication design and typography -- his closing session -- a critique of selected publications from the attendees, was superb. I had known Alex's father Jan through his powerful writings in the design community, like "The Graphic idea notebook" and "Editing By Design." What a thrill to work with Alex.
Thinking In Type:
The Practical Philosophy Of Typography
This could possibly be one of the best little books on typography anywhere. There are others that give a broader view of the topic, but few others do so with the brevity and insight that Alex builds in. The book is small, and only has 215 pages -- making it the perfect desk-side companion or carry-along browser. I enjoy just thumbing through it... over and over again. You'll always learn something new, each time you dig in.
Typography is not just the act of typesetting. It is the art of processing visual language to enhance its meaning. By altering size, weight, spacing, position, and typeface, all sorts of messages are sent along with the content itself. Typography cannot be faked. It must be clear to deliver its message. It also requires having a particular perspective and a gift for details.
"Typography is an information delivery system like a cigarette is a tar and nicotine delivery system and a mint is a fresh breath delivery system. Some typography -- like some cigarettes and some mints -- work better at delivering their content."
In this visually stunning primer Thinking in Type, Alex takes an in-depth look at the history of typography, provides his personal philosophy, and offers guidelines that will immediately improve anyoneís use of type. White says,
"It may well be true that rules are made to be broken, but you canít break typographic rules until you know what they are. Originality comes from knowing what has come before: an understanding of type history and current practice leads to variety and innovation."
Designed with over 1500 images from the 18th century up to the present day, Thinking in Type puts the whole field of typography in perspective. It clearly describes the process of typography and vividly illustrates how designs evolve. According to White, "for a design to work effectively, the type must be an integral part of the composition. If the type is altered or removed, the piece should fall apart."
This is the era of information overload and it is more important now than ever before that messages are designed to be clearly seen, read, understood, and, hopefully remembered. By following the examples and ideas presented in Thinking in Type, students and working designers now have the opportunity to excel in this rapidly expanding field. As White says, "Chefs who use fresh ingredients are a step ahead of chefs who use wilted or frozen ingredients. So, too, designers who use good type have an advantage of those who use whatever is handy."
Thinking In Type: The Practical Philosophy Of Typography
Allworth Press; Pages: 213; Paperback; country: us,
Suggested retail price: $24.95
* Buy it now for $11.00 and help support this web site!
Buy this one along with Alex's : Elements of Graphic Design
Who is Alexander W. White?
Alex is the author of some of the best design teaching in the industry, including Thinking in Type, The Elements of Graphic Design, Advertising Design and Typography, Type In Use and numerous articles on typography and visual communication for all the best design publications.
He is an accomplished graphic designer who has shaped the visual design of nineteen magazines and twenty identity programs and who has been a consultant to numerous publications, art directors, and editors. He was the senior faculty member in design at the Hartford Art School of the University of Hartford for fifteen years and has lectured widely on typography and design to professionals in corporations and at conferences. His credits also include adjunct faculty at Parsons, City College of NY, and Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT).
Alex serves on the boards of several arts and civic organizations and is currently the President of the New York Type Directors Club in Manhattan
Also see: Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students by Ellen Lupton who says:
"THIS IS NOT A BOOK ABOUT FONTS..."
She's right. It's more about how to use fonts and typography to deliver content to an intended audience -- and it's a tremendous value!. Here's a visual slide-show of just a few spreads that are sure to get your juices flowing.
Go to the DT&G Fall Fonts Festival
Return to the DT&G Type Department