Course reading lists

Posted on 13 October 2011 in:

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.

Type Design

  1. Carbarga, Leslie, Learn FontLab fast. Los Angeles: Iconoclassics Publishing Co. (2004)
  2. ––– Logo, font and lettering Bible. Cincinnati: How Design Books (2004)
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Lawson, Alexander, Anatomy of a Typeface. Jaffrey, New Hampshire: David R. Goodine (1990)
  6. Noordzij, Gerrit, Letterletter. Vancouver: Hartley & Marks (2000)
  7. ––– The stroke: theory of writing. London: Hyphen Press (2006). Also available in Dutch and French editions, from other publishers.
  8. Osterer, Heidrun and Philipp Stamm (ed.), Adrian Frutiger Schriften. Das Gesamtwerk. Basel: Birkhäuser Verlag (2008). Also available in English and French editions.
  9. Smeijers, Fred, Counterpunch: Making type in the 16th century, designing typefaces now. Second edition. London: Hyphen Press (2011)
  10. ––– Type now. London: Hyphen Press (2004)
  11. Tracy, Walter, Letters of credit: a view of type design. Boston: David R. Goodine (1987)
  12. Unger, Gerard, Theory of Type Design. Rotterdam: Nai010 (2018)

Type History

  1. 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.
  2. Burke, Christopher, Active Literature: Jan Tschichold and New Typography. London: Hyphen Press (2008)
  3. ––– Paul Renner: The Art of Typography. London: Hyphen Press (2008)
  4. Carter, Harry, A View of Early Typography Up To About 1600. London: Hyphen Press (2002)
  5. 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.
  6. Kapr, Albert, Fraktur: Form und Geschichte der gebrochenen Schriften. Mainz: Verlag Hermann Schmidt (1993)
  7. Kinross, Robin, Modern Typography. Second edition. London: Hyphen Press (2004)
  8. 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.
  9. Middendorp, Jan, Dutch Type. 2004 edition reprint. Berlin: Druck Editions (2018)
  10. Mosley, James, The Nymph and the Grot: The Revival of the Sanserif Letter. London: Friends of the St Bride Printing Library (1999)
  11. Tschichold, Ivan, Elementare Typografie. Mainz: Verlag Hermann Schmidt (1986)
  12. VanderLans, Rudy, Emigre No. 70 – The Look Back Issue. Berkeley: Gingko Press (2009)


  1. Bringhurst, Robert, The Elements of Typographic Style. Vancouver: Hartley & Marks (1992)
  2. Butterick, Matthew, Typography for Lawyers. Houston: James McClure Publishing (2010)
  3. Forssman, Friedrich and Ralf de Jong, Detailtypografie. Mainz: Verlag Hermann Schmidt (2004)
  4. Forssman, Friedrich and Hans Peter Willberg, Lesetypografie. Mainz: Verlag Hermann Schmidt (2005)
  5. Gill, Eric, An Essay on Typography. London: Lund Humphries (1988)
  6. Highsmith, Cyrus, Inside Paragraphs. Boston: The Font Bureau, Inc. (2012). Also available in Japanese, from another publisher.
  7. Hochuli, Jost, Das Detail in der Typografie. Sulgen, Schweiz: Niggli (2005). Also available in English, from other publishers.
  8. Kapr, Albert and Walter Schiller, Gestalt und Funktion in der Typografie. Leipzig: VEB Fachbuchverlag 1977.
  9. Kupferschmid, Indra, Buchstaben kommen selten allein. Sulgen, Schweiz: Niggli (2004)
  10. Lupton, Ellen, Thinking with Type. New York: Princeton Architectural Press (2004). Also published in French, German, and Portuguese editions.
  11. Middendorp, Jan, Shaping Text. Amsterdam: BIS Publishers (2012). Also available in a German edition.
  12. Spiekermann, Erik, ÜberSchrift. Mainz: Verlag Hermann Schmidt (2004). Originally published in English as Stop Stealing Sheep and Find Out How Type Works.
  13. Willberg, Hans Peter, Erste Hilfe in Typografie. Mainz: Verlag Hermann Schmidt (1999)
  14. ––– Wegweiser Schrift. Mainz: Verlag Hermann Schmidt (2001)
  15. Willberg, Hans Peter et al, Schriften erkennen. Mainz: Verlag Hermann Schmidt (2003)