ABC of books about typography, typographers & typophiles

Typography article image

Typography is the art of arranging type and that includes the selection of typefaces, the point size and the leading. A typographer is someone who designs typefaces. Claude Garamond, John Baskerville, Eric Gill, Giambattista Bodoni, Christophe Plantin, Adrian Frutiger and Hermann Zapf might sound like a random selection of names but these men are legends of typography and gave their names to typefaces that you probably encounter daily. Their influence in the design, publishing and printing industries has been vast and it continues into the digital age.

There is an entire industry devoted to the design of type. Another legend of typography called Stanley Morison invented Times New Roman for the Times of London after the newspaper had been criticized for its poor printing quality. Vincent Connare, a one-time font designer at Microsoft, created Comic Sans and Trebuchet MS. A Swiss designer called Max Miedinger invented Helvetica in 1957. An American called Herb Lubalin designed ITC Avant Garde. There are families of fonts such as the serifs (eg Times New Roman and Baskerville) and the sans-serifs (eg Helvetica).

We are exposed to type whenever we read and we are reading constantly – books, magazines and newspapers, the Internet, our computers, labels on products in the supermarket, advertising billboards, roadside signs, and the list goes on and on.

If you love type, typography and typographers then you are almost certainly a typophile. A typophile will study typefaces and have strong opinions about particular fonts and how they are implemented. For instance, there is a legion of designers who campaign against the use of Comic Sans. For a typophile, a font conveys a feeling or a message beyond the words it is forming. This is not really a matter of reading between the lines or even the words themselves but a matter of reading the font. There is even a New York-based not-for-profit association called the Typophiles that encourages the appreciation and production of fine typography and bookmaking.

And by the way, you are reading this feature in verdana – a font designed by Mathew Carter for Microsoft to be readable at small sizes on computers.


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