The Elements of Typographic Style

The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst has been acclaimed as the "bible" of typography - truly this is a beautifully written masterpiece on the history and considerations of type, and with its copious diagrams, tables, and examples, and lyrical prose, it deserves to be kept as a desk reference for the serious designer.

At summary, I would keep the following in mind:


  • Typography exists to honor content
  • Letters have a life and dignity of their own
  • Read the text before designing it
  • Make the visible relationship between the text and other elements (photographs, captions, tables, diagrams, notes) a reflection of their real relationship
  • Choose a typeface or a group of faces that will honor and elucidate the character of the text"
  • Give full typographic attention even to incidental details
  • The function of type is legibility - it should not vex the reader with its own originality in a self-conscious search for praise.  It should:
    • invite the reader into the text
    • reveal the tenor and meaning of the text
    • clarify the structure and the order of the text
    • link the text with other existing elements
    • induce a state of energetic repose, which is the ideal condition for reading
  • Don’t compose without a scale
  • Change one parameter at a time
  • Don’t clutter the foreground