View Full Version : One designer's top 10 books

John Spragens
08-05-2010, 11:29 AM
"From the extraordinary visual dexterity of Alan Fletcher to Jan Tschichold's experiments with typography, Patrick Cramsie picks the books that have shaped our visual culture"


08-05-2010, 12:42 PM
You are a provocateur! I agree with a few of Cramsie’s choices, but cannot resist adding a few of my own choices.

Hard to argue about the value of Saul Steinberg and Paul Rand. Prefer Tschichold directly, not by description.

In fact I would put Tschichold near the top of my list — not so much for his radical period, even though it is interesting, but the more pragmatic essays from his adult life: Form of the Book and his notes in the Treasury of Alphabets and Lettering.

Oliver Simon’s Introduction to Typography is one of the best primers on type and typesetting even if it was published in mid-20th century.

Jost Hochuli’s small, pithy books that were given away by Agfa in the 1990s — Detail in Typography and Designing Books. I see they have recently been re-published by Hyphen Press so anyone can buy them. Do so.

I agree with a comment to the Guardian article — try to find a copy of Erik Spiekermann’s Rhyme and Reason: A typographic novel. This illuminating little book was another giveaway (from Berthold) that deserves more exposure. Unfortunately it has achieved antiquarian status (lots of $$$). I wish Mr. Spiekermann would re-issue it at a reasonable price.

Walter Tracy’s Letters of Credit is a sort of bible for type designers and users. He tackles tricky typographic subjects, then critiques several wonderful old typefaces.

Jan White’s Editing by Design (and several of his other books, but this one is still in print) is extremely useful. He explains the nuts and bolts of page layout — how to show a bunch of head shots, how to work with asymmetry (and symmetry), the graceful use of columns and grids, and much more. Really essential text on design and layout.

I’ll stop before I get swept away. Ten is an impossible limit!

Michael Rowley
08-05-2010, 03:14 PM
Oliver Simon’s Introduction to Typography is one of the best primers on type and typesetting even if it was published in mid-20th century.Here, here! And it's still useful: it shows the differences in x-height, colour, and alphabet length of most of the typefaces in common use about 1950 in remarkably few pages. A second (or was it the third edition) was published, slightly modernized, posthumously.

08-05-2010, 07:53 PM
Maybe it is because I am Canadian, but I cannot see a top ten list that doesn't include Bringhurst's book.

06-05-2013, 12:10 AM
Yeah no doubt, some are still useful. Any good material written on printing and graphics really inspires me. But it should be good content.