I've read through the below books in the first list here and enjoyed them all, with The Elements of Typographic Style
possibly my favorite. Are there any in the second list that would be considered essential? I'm trying to narrow these down, although I may acquire all of them at some point. Any recommendations are welcome.
- Detail In Typography by Jost Hochuli
- Inside Paragraphs: Typographic Fundamentals by Cyrus Highsmith
- Wim Crouwel Alphabets by Kees Broos
- Size-specific Adjustments to Type Designs by Tim Ahrens and Shoko Mugikura
- Counterpunch by Fred Smeijers
- The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst
- Thinking With Type by Ellen Lupton
- Shaping Text: Type, Typography and the Reader by Jan Middendorp
- Typographie: A Manual of Design by Emil Ruder
- The Eternal Letter: Two Millennia of the Classical Roman Capital (Codex Studies in Letterforms) by Paul Shaw
- Designing Type by Karen Cheng
- Typographic Design: Form and Communication by Rob Carter, Ben Day, Philip B. Meggs
- Manuale Typographicum by Hermann Zapf
- The Form of the Book: Essays on the Morality of Good Design by Jan Tschichold
- French Renaissance Printing Types: A Conspectus by Hendrik D.L. Vervliet
- The modification of letterforms by Stanley Hess
- Type Now: A Manifesto by Fred Smeijers
- Anatomy of a Typeface by Alexander S. Lawson
- Adrian Frutiger Typefaces by Heidrun Osterer
- American Metal Typefaces of the Twentieth Century by Mac McGrew
- Just My Type: A Book About Fonts by Simon Garfield
- The New Typography by Jan Tschichold
- Modern Typography by Robin Kinross
But I would probably say one could get most out of the Frutiger catalogue. Which is a way does all of the above.
That’s a reference work comprised of facsimiles of photocopies of Renaissance books and some modern prints from period type. Useful, but not much of a read.
You can skip Just My Type—it’s a pedestrian entertainment for the NPR crowd. Manuale Typographicum is a collection of specimens, so there’s nothing to read there (but it is pretty).
Here are a few of my favorites:
Good list BTW, I need to fill out my collection a bit more too.
It was a waste of time and effort for me - just goes to show how different books work for different people!
I recommend Letterletter by Gerrit Noordzij
Anything Emigre and Fuse. Plus the aforementioned Frutiger book and his own - 'Signs and Symbols - their meaning and design'.
There is almost nothing in there about the process of designing type, and nothing at all about families of type; it focuses almost exclusively on letterforms, and what should be considered these days as a very restricted repertoire of letterforms at that: a-z, A-Z, numbers, and good luck.
The Frutiger Complete Works is invaluable.
Seconding all the Letters of Credit recommendations.
Wouldn't recommend Just My Type. Chatty magazine writing by a non-expert, and not that useful.
The Art of Letter - Doyald Young
The Art of Hand Lettering - Helm Wotzkow
Fonts & Logos - Doyald Young (mentioned above, but worth mentioning again)
Modern Lettering Simplified - Joseph R La Violette
These are mostly lettering focused, but it's been they've been super helpful in helping me learn letterform structure.
Also, get all of the ones you mentioned in the second list! There can never be too many books
My personal favorite is Smerijer’s Counterpunch. It’s firstly typographic history properly done, and then Smeijers adds in his own arguments that are very inspiring for the learner. Finally, the prose itself is incisive, clear, amiable, and best of all, no flourish (showy ten-letter words, etc). I suggest you can read Unger’s While You’re Reading afterwards.
Finally, a shameless plug for Designing Type, simply because Karen Cheng is now my professor.
Four history books I would recommend, for the quality of their reproductions:
The Art & History of Books, Norma Levarie, Heineman, 1968
Anatomy of Printing, John Lewis, Watson-Gupthill, 1970
Art of the Printed Book 1455-1955, Pierpoint-Morgan Library, 1973, 1978.
One Hundred Title Pages, A.F. Johnson, The Bodley Head, 1928
Mortimer Leach’s Letter Design, Reinhold, 1960, is very good on hand lettering. (Not a “how-to” book.)
It’s a great book about the elements of design and how they relate to typography from a mid-20th Century Swiss perspective. It’s not really a how-to or reference book. Is it worth reading as part of a effort to gain a broader appreciation of good typography? Yes.
I’d like to second the recommendations specifically for Updike and Tracy. Tracy (Letters of Credit) has a historical aspect but also includes an (albeit very basic) methodology for spacing, which for me was a really useful starting point.
The secret history of letters, by simon loxley
Is it chronological, with Vol. 2 covering more recent types?
I haven't heard of this book and can find little online.