Shelley Bassett



typography books

6 Typography Books Every Designer Needs

September 9, 2019

What typography books does a budding designer need? Here are 6 essentials to any library.

Designers are well known for having a vast library of resources, but if you’re new to the field, where should you start? Here are 6 typography books that every designer needs to add to their collection.

Typography books can be super expensive, and unfortunately, this list isn’t for the budget conscience (I suggest searching for these titles second hand). However, these books are all essential to the field of typography, and will help provide both inspiration and technical design advice, making them a staple of any good designers library.

Applying this knowledge can also be a challenge, but there are several pieces of software that will help you to make beautiful typefaces easily.

Type & Typography

Type & Typography Cover
Type & Typography Cover

Type & Typography by Phil Baines and Andrew Haslam is a fantastic introduction into type design, and provides an overview of the elements of typography, as well as the history. If you’re new to design, or want to create a good foundation for your technical proficiency, this book is a must-read.

Just My Type

Just My Type Cover
Just My Type Cover

If you’re more into fonts or the practical applications of typography, Just My Type by Simon Garfield will be right up your alley. He looks at the importance of different fonts for different applications, as well as how changing the typeface can alter the feel of the page. Not sure if you should use a serif or sans-serif font? This book might just have the answer for you.

The Elements of Typographic Style

The Elements of Typographic Style Cover
The Elements of Typographic Style Cover

By far the most technical typography book I’ve ever read, The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst is densely packed with glyph design. If you’re looking to design your own typeface or font, this book is incredible. Each character must match the feel and flow of the others, and this book breaks down the how and why of functional typography.


Letterforms Cover
Letterforms Cover

Want to know more about how type design has evolved over the years? Letterforms by Timothy Samara is a kind of history, that focuses on the different styles of lettering that made up popular fonts. If you’re trying to create a period piece, or need something “inspired” by a historical era, check this book out.

Typography Sketchbooks

Typography Sketchbooks Cover
Typography Sketchbooks Cover

Typography Sketchbooks by Steven Heller and Lita Talarico is a collection of type designs from typographers and graphic designers the world over. More of an inspiration than a technical manual, Typography Sketchbooks is a sneak peek into the methods of those already working in the field. Think your sketches look like rubbish? It’s okay, you’re probably not alone, and the polished results of these designers might surprise you.

Typographic Universe

Typographic Universe Cover
Typographic Universe Cover

As a final piece of inspiration, Typographic Universe by Steven Heller and Gail Anderson showcases found typography. The images in this book are of everyday objects, positioned in such a way that they resemble typographic glyphs. Looking for ideas for an avant-garde font? This book has suggestions from nature to machinery, something is sure to spark your creativity.

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