Any Good Book Recommendations on Type Design?

candela Posts: 8
edited April 2023 in Education
Just received a few Type Designing books and was very disappointed, as the books were mostly (99%) full of history, literature and explanations.

I am looking for some good Type Designing books that offer a lot of illustrations and samples, as I am a highly visual learner.

Any recommendations?

Thanks in advance!


  • James Puckett
    James Puckett Posts: 1,976

    The ABC of Custom Lettering by Castro

    Lettering for Advertising by Leach

    The Logo, Font, and Lettering Bible by Cabarga

    Fonts and Logos by Young

    Theory of Type Design by Unger

    Anatomy of a Typeface by Lawson

    The History and Technique of Lettering by Nesbitt

    How to Create Typefaces by Henestrosa, Meseguer, and Scaglione

    • Designing Fonts by Campe and Rausch

    Designing Type by Karen Cheng

    Custom Lettering of the The 20s & 30s, 40s & 50s, and 60s & 70s by Hughes

    Some of these are out of print and expensive so ask your local librarian to help you find them.

  • Cristóbal Henestrosa
    As you say you are a visual learner, try Cheng’s book. Lots of examples and comparisons. I learned many things there. If possible, go for the second edition (white cover), but the first one is very good too.

  • Thomas Phinney
    Thomas Phinney Posts: 2,769
    edited April 2023
    If you want lots of explicit hands-on advice....

    Cheng’s book is great in the second edition and has tons of visual examples.

    Henestrosa et al’s book is also great and largely complementary to Cheng, but a pain to order, mostly available only by mail from the UK. Not as strongly visual, but has a lot of practical advice still!
  • Noah Burney
    I've been reading a bunch of the above recommendations over the past few months and personally have really enjoyed learning the history and theory. But for visual reference I would definitely give another vote to Cheng's Designing Type, 2nd edition. It's certainly the one I've referenced the most while actually working on a design, because you can just flip to whichever letter/glyph you're working on and see notes and examples specific to that glyph.
  • John Butler
    John Butler Posts: 257
    If you want heavy on illustrations, regardless of explanation or text, do check out Wo der Buchstabe das Wort führt by Kurt Weidemann. Body text is German only, but it’s a yuuuge coffee table book with some well-selected illustrations, including some rare older types still not digitized and seldom seen.

    Get Fonts & Logos by Doyald Young first, but once you have it, also get his Dangerous Curves. It’s essentially Volume 2. I had forgotten it’s one of the few non-Zapf books out there whose body copy is set in Zapf Renaissance. As it happens, Zapf does write the foreword, culminating in the charmingly grumpy blurb, “I have no email address which steals time with early morning chats on an empty stomach.”

    I am about two-thirds of my way through Frank Blokland’s dissertation, which you can download for free in its entirety, and which you can then also buy in print once you very quickly conclude it’s worth owning in print. Its glossaries and appendices alone are worth the price, and it’s loaded with important illustrations.
  • candela
    candela Posts: 8
    Awesome, thanks for the input!

    I already placed an order for a few of these recommended titles.

    BTW, is learning the Grid System helpful? Does anybody recommend this book for Typeface Designers-

    Grid systems in graphic design:

  • James Puckett
    James Puckett Posts: 1,976
    Grid Systems in Graphic Design has been superseded by better books,; Samara and Elam have written excellent work on the subject. But they’re for people who need to learn layout, not type design.
  • jeremy tribby
    In case it wasn't clear, the "Henestrosa et al" book Thomas mentioned is How to create typefaces: from sketch to screen - available here

    Type Tricks by Sofie Beier is similarly practical and quite visual

    Designing Fonts (did its name get changed to Making Fonts or is that a different book?) by Campe and Rausch as well

  • Stephen Coles
    Stephen Coles Posts: 998
    edited May 2023
    In addition to Cheng’s and Henestrosa/Meseguer/Scaglione’s, I can highly recommend the newer Making Fonts by Chris Campe and Ulrike Rausch. (Edit: @jeremy tribby, same book as Designing Fonts, just a different title for the US publisher.)

    And, there’s some good info in the much briefer Type Tricks: Your Personal Guide to Type Design and Ohno Type School (PDF).

    The following are instructional books specifically on lettering, not type, but they have a ton of great illustrated content for any kind of lettermaking.
  • John Hudson
    John Hudson Posts: 3,012
    In addition to the volumes already recommended, Gerritt Noordzij’s The Stroke is useful in suggesting a way of thinking about what you’re doing. You don’t need to agree with that way of thinking, or limit yourself to it, but proceeding only by example and not by reasoning will only get you so far.
  • Dave Lawrence
    Tim Ahren's Size Specific Adjustments to Type Design taught me the most. The text and examples are well done. For looking at historical models, see my favorites from the internet archive
  • Dave Lawrence
    Sorry to be self promotional! Many of tutorial topics here are FontLab related. Also some, especially in the honing section are more general (about spatial frequencies and optical sizes, curve tension and more).

    Also FontLab re-published Gunnlaugur SE Briem's notes on type design.

    Any case, I have not read all the books on this thread, and I am excited to check these out!