Thinking with Type Book Review

Designers: Are you looking for an authoritarian doctrine on typography?

Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, and Students (Princeton Architectural Press, 2nd ed., 2010) is not that book. It is, though, an entertaining and educational book written in a unique and humorous style:

•“Do I look fat in this paragraph?”

•“Fonts need to do more than sit on their ass.”

•“Don’t get caught with your fonts down.”

In Thinking with Type, author Ellen Lupton creates a serene book on typography where design and text collaborate to enhance understanding: a book with a tone of equanimity, humor, and usefulness. Adopted as a design partner by universities all over the world, it is peppered with fascinating facts throughout:

•Did you know that a typeface is not a font? A typeface is the design of letters, and a font is the delivery mechanism.

•Did you know that every typeface style has a role to play, and every letter … [is] a character in the theater of design?

•How charming is the love story of Mrs. Eaves serif font? She was invented in the 1990s, inspired by the historical typeface Baskerville. A hardworking woman seeking a reliable mate, she was joined in 2009 by Mr. Eaves, a masculine sans serif.

Thinking with Type is a brand expressionist’s fine wine and burning-the-midnight-oil creative partner. While the rules and technique of eloquent design undergird the book, it is also a profound nod to a future that captures the power of our roots and history’s language of economy. Not only is it informative and funny, but the nerd details are relaxing in times of chaos. It is the one design book that has survived the years on my shelf.

Author, Niya C Sisk. Originally published for Book Corner with Publishing Professionals Network