John-Paul 10 March, 2009 10:26:AM
The Elements of Typographic Style
Buy a secondhand hardback copy of V 3.0+ if you can…
Robert Bringhurst is not merely a designer and historian: He is a poet, widely published and highly regarded, who describes typography as ‘the craft of endowing human language with a durable visual form’. That stopped me in my tracks too when I read it for the first time.
Do you know or have you ever had that ‘power-book’ feeling? And no, I’m not referring to laptop computing. I mean when you’re holding a book in your hands and you think: ‘this is special, this will be with me for a long time’. Or have you ever had something new or unexpected thrust into your life and bizarrely from then on you notice copies of it, or references to it everywhere? This is Bringhurst territory.
Think of the Elements of Typographic Style as a compact encyclopedia; inspired in-part by The Elements of Style (featured elsewhere on the reading list)… It’s a rule-book for the ‘the most conservative of all the crafts’ whist also encouraging the reader to break those rules ‘beautifully, deliberately and well’.
It includes histories of Western (Latin) and Non Western alphabets, descriptions of font rendering technology, conventions of measurement, anatomy and annotation, a thorough run through of diacritics, the mathematics of proportion, a taxonomy of the major font families, a glossary of terms… I told you it was encyclopedic.
The expressive ’sounding’ of words and the visual representation of letterforms can work together to create layers of meaning. It has always been this way and the digital medium is no different. At LBi The Elements of Typographic Style has inspired a project called Lyric Type where song lyrics are typeset and animated in the pursuit of meaning and feeling… I hope to share our progress soon.