When I started teaching in 2009, I prepared a two-page list with recommended reading to distribute to my students. Updating that PDF with additional typography books eventually became a minor pain, so I moved my lists online. Even lists on the Internet require work, though: this is version 6, from October 5, 2018.
The lists on this page are not the definitive selection of books on these subjects. My lists are certainly not as good – or as complete – as the longer, better lists that I’ve seen from Gerry Leonidas and James Mosley. I can also recommend an article on a typographic canon published years ago by Christoph Koeberlin.
I teach in Germany and expect my students read both English and German at a high level. There is no preference toward one language or another on my list. If a title has been translated from English into German, I try to mention both editions. On occasion, I have students who can also read Dutch, French, Russian, or other languages. There are excellent resources available in those languages, but I cannot read them. My lists do not include a section for general graphic design texts, since most of my teaching is type-centric.
As should be expected, books that I do not consider to be particularly good are not on these lists. Nevertheless: lack of inclusion below is not per se the opposite of an endorsement.
- Carbarga, Leslie, Learn FontLab fast. Los Angeles: Iconoclassics Publishing Co. (2004)
- ––– Logo, font and lettering Bible. Cincinnati: How Design Books (2004)
- Flor, Martina, Lust auf Lettering: Ein praxiserprobter Workshop in zehn Schritten. Mainz: Verlag Hermann Schmidt (2016). Also available in English and Spanish editions, from other publishers.
- Henestrosa, Cristóbal and Laura Meseguer and José Scaglione, How to create typefaces: From sketch to screen. Madrid: Tipo e (2017). Originally published in three Spanish-language editions as Cómo crear tipografías, del boceto a la pantalla.
- Lawson, Alexander, Anatomy of a Typeface. Jaffrey, New Hampshire: David R. Goodine (1990)
- Noordzij, Gerrit, Letterletter. Vancouver: Hartley & Marks (2000)
- ––– The stroke: theory of writing. London: Hyphen Press (2006). Also available in Dutch and French editions, from other publishers.
- Osterer, Heidrun and Philipp Stamm (ed.), Adrian Frutiger Schriften. Das Gesamtwerk. Basel: Birkhäuser Verlag (2008). Also available in English and French editions.
- Smeijers, Fred, Counterpunch: Making type in the 16th century, designing typefaces now. Second edition. London: Hyphen Press (2011)
- ––– Type now. London: Hyphen Press (2004)
- Tracy, Walter, Letters of credit: a view of type design. Boston: David R. Goodine (1987)
- Unger, Gerard, Theory of Type Design. Rotterdam: Nai010 (2018)
- Blume, Julia and Pierre Pané-Farré and Fred Smeijers (ed.), Vom Buch auf die Straße. Große Schrift im öffentlichen Raum: Journal der HGB #3. Leipzig: Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst (2014). All articles published in German and English.
- Burke, Christopher, Active Literature: Jan Tschichold and New Typography. London: Hyphen Press (2008)
- ––– Paul Renner: The Art of Typography. London: Hyphen Press (2008)
- Carter, Harry, A View of Early Typography Up To About 1600. London: Hyphen Press (2002)
- Johnston, Edward, Writing and Illuminating and Lettering. London: Pitman & Sons (1906). This has reprinted many times over the past century. The book’s most-recent edition, published in 2016 by D&B Books in London, introduces a radically-different layout. Johnston’s text was translated into German by Anna Simons and published in 1910 as Schreibschrift, Zierschrift und angewandte Schrift. This is also available in multiple editions.
- Kapr, Albert, Fraktur: Form und Geschichte der gebrochenen Schriften. Mainz: Verlag Hermann Schmidt (1993)
- Kinross, Robin, Modern Typography. Second edition. London: Hyphen Press (2004)
- Malsy, Victor and Lars Müller (ed.) with contributions by Indra Kupferschmid and Axel Langer, Helvetica Forever: Geschichte einer Schrift. Baden: Lars Müller Publishers (2007). Also available in Chinese, English, and Japanese editions, from other publishers.
- Middendorp, Jan, Dutch Type. 2004 edition reprint. Berlin: Druck Editions (2018)
- Mosley, James, The Nymph and the Grot: The Revival of the Sanserif Letter. London: Friends of the St Bride Printing Library (1999)
- Tschichold, Ivan, Elementare Typografie. Mainz: Verlag Hermann Schmidt (1986)
- VanderLans, Rudy, Emigre No. 70 – The Look Back Issue. Berkeley: Gingko Press (2009)
- Bringhurst, Robert, The Elements of Typographic Style. Vancouver: Hartley & Marks (1992)
- Butterick, Matthew, Typography for Lawyers. Houston: James McClure Publishing (2010)
- Forssman, Friedrich and Ralf de Jong, Detailtypografie. Mainz: Verlag Hermann Schmidt (2004)
- Forssman, Friedrich and Hans Peter Willberg, Lesetypografie. Mainz: Verlag Hermann Schmidt (2005)
- Gill, Eric, An Essay on Typography. London: Lund Humphries (1988)
- Highsmith, Cyrus, Inside Paragraphs. Boston: The Font Bureau, Inc. (2012). Also available in Japanese, from another publisher.
- Hochuli, Jost, Das Detail in der Typografie. Sulgen, Schweiz: Niggli (2005). Also available in English, from other publishers.
- Kapr, Albert and Walter Schiller, Gestalt und Funktion in der Typografie. Leipzig: VEB Fachbuchverlag 1977.
- Kupferschmid, Indra, Buchstaben kommen selten allein. Sulgen, Schweiz: Niggli (2004)
- Lupton, Ellen, Thinking with Type. New York: Princeton Architectural Press (2004). Also published in French, German, and Portuguese editions.
- Middendorp, Jan, Shaping Text. Amsterdam: BIS Publishers (2012). Also available in a German edition.
- Spiekermann, Erik, ÜberSchrift. Mainz: Verlag Hermann Schmidt (2004). Originally published in English as Stop Stealing Sheep and Find Out How Type Works.
- Willberg, Hans Peter, Erste Hilfe in Typografie. Mainz: Verlag Hermann Schmidt (1999)
- ––– Wegweiser Schrift. Mainz: Verlag Hermann Schmidt (2001)
- Willberg, Hans Peter et al, Schriften erkennen. Mainz: Verlag Hermann Schmidt (2003)