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recommendations for textbooks on font design

Posted: Fri Feb 08, 2019 3:00 am
by 1940LaSalle
Just what the subject says: I'm looking for recommendations on font design textbooks. Ideally such a textbook would define terms with plenty of illustrations, give general guidelines on proportions (what in engineering might be called recognized as generally accepted good practice), etc.

Then again, is font design enough of an art that an engineering approach like this may not be relevant? Thanks.

Re: recommendations for textbooks on font design

Posted: Fri Feb 08, 2019 11:01 am
by PJMiller
The classic textbook on type design is 'The Elements of Typographic Style' by Robert Bringhurst. It is used in several type design courses. I found it to be a very dry read and heavy going.

If you can get hold of a copy then 'Letters of Credit' by Walter Tracy is a good read. However it is out of print and any copy you do find will probably be expensive.

Another book which is not acclaimed as a classic but perhaps ought to be is 'Designing Type' by Karen Cheng. This is a large book with lots of illustrations. I found it to be very easy to read and very understandable. It goes into the design of each individual letter in the Latin alphabet in great detail and how they relate to each other.

If you are interested in other languages then there is an interesting book called 'Bi-Scriptual' by various authors. This book is not about type design. Instead it is about various different languages and how they relate to the latin script from a graphic design perspective. However this book is quite useful if you wish to design a typeface which has characters in one of these scripts. Some of the authors do talk about what is a good and bad design of characters for their language. Each chapter covers a different language and is written by a graphic designer who is a native speaker of that language.

The languages covered are Arabic by Lara Captan & Kristian Sarkis, Cyrillic by Eugene Yukechev, Devanagari by Vaibhav Singh, Greek by Gerry Leonaidas, Hangul (Korean) by Jeongmin Kwon, Hanzi by Keith Tam, Hebrew by Lirion Levi Turkenich & Adi Stern and Kanji/Hiragana/Katakana (Chinese and Japanese) by Mariko Takagi.

Although this last book is not about type design it does provide much useful background information when designing characters for the languages covered.

Hope this helps.

Re: recommendations for textbooks on font design

Posted: Sat Feb 09, 2019 1:58 am
by 1940LaSalle
Thanks very much: I ordered two of those mentioned. No worries about dry textbooks: I'm intimately familiar with engineering texts, which pretty much set the bar on dry reading.