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The 8 best typography books of 2014 so far

There's nothing quite as satisfying as opening a new book about your favourite discipline. And this is especially true of typography as the medium itself can be as inspiring as the message itself.

There are some brilliant typography-themed blogs (opens in new tab) on the web, of course. But nothing quite beats having a beautifully produced, physical book in your hand. And each year there are a surprising number of published on the theme of typography. Some are instruction manuals, while others are essays on principles and best-practices, and others still act as a spur for creativity and play.

We've had a snoop around the latest offerings, and have rounded up our favourites so far. There are some real crackers lined up for publication too, so be sure to check back as we'll update this list as new tomes are released!

01. On Web Typography (opens in new tab)

On Web Typography

  • Author: Jason Santa Maria
  • ISBN: 978-1-9375570-7-2
  • Publisher: A Book Apart (opens in new tab)

Featuring a foreward by renowned typography author Ellen Lupton (who also has a book in our list!), this primer for web typography is published by A List Apart spinoff, A Book Apart. Designed to offer a quick-start guide for web designers and developers, this book offers a whistle-stop tour of the basics of typography in general, carefully applied to the web environment. If you work on the web and don't know anything about typography, this is a great place to start your education!

02. The Typographic Universe: Letterforms Found in Nature, the Built World and Human Imagination (opens in new tab)

The Typographic Universe cover

  • Author: Steven Heller & Gail Anderson
  • ISBN: 978-0-5002414-5-5
  • Publisher: Thames and Hudson Ltd (opens in new tab)

This is unashamedly a coffee-table-bound sourcebook, designed to provide inspiration in the form of type and typography formed from a whole world of non-traditional materials including food, nature and architecture. While it wont teach you any new tricks, it does offer an interesting look at how type can be found and forged from everything around us. Perfect as a gift for the typophile in your life!

03. Type on Screen: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Developers, & Students (opens in new tab)

Type on Screen cover

The use of type on screen is a specialised discipline in itself, and this book aims to focus on the specific challenges and requirements screen-based applications have. Building on established, classic typographical concepts and approaches, this book provides a useful repertoire of skills and techniques, including a section on how to animate type procedurally.

04. Shadow Type: Classic Three-Dimensional Lettering (opens in new tab)

Shadow Type cover

This is perfect coffee-table matter for typography lovers. Drawn from work gathered across Europe and the United States, Shadow Type focusses on 19th and 20th century examples of 3D-shadow type that have been carefully and lovingly illustrated for signs, packaging, shopfronts and movies. There are over 300 different examples featured in the book, and the book itself is nicely produced using high quality stock, making it feel archival and specimen-like.

05. Drawing Type: An Introduction to Illustrating Letterforms (opens in new tab)

Drawing type cover

  • Author: Alex Fowkes
  • ISBN: 978-15925389-8-0
  • Publisher: Rockport (opens in new tab)

This handy entry-level book provides a combination of inspiration material, and some technique instruction, including a nice-to-have pull out section at the back offering type sheets for tracing and experimentation. If you're a seasoned typography pro, this probably isn't the book for you as it's pitched at a fundamental level, but if you're just starting to explore the possibilities of type and typography it's an ideal first step.

06. Adventures in Letterpress (opens in new tab)

Adventures in Letterpress cover

  • Author: Brandon Mise
  • ISBN: 978-1-7806733-3-2
  • Publisher: Laurence King (opens in new tab)

The resurgence of letterpress continues apace, and this book celebrates the fact by illustrating the work of artists and designers who have saved old presses from skips and scrap yards across the US. Featuring over 200 examples of finished work, the book also explores the process and practitioners behind the projects, and is an excellent source of inspiration as well as education!

07. An Essay on Typography (opens in new tab)

An Essay on Typography cover

This repackaged version of Gill's 1931 manifesto on type offers a glimpse at the pre-digital era where handmade really represented craftsmanship. Famously opinionated, the essay isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea in a political sense, but it's nonetheless a useful bit of history that helps to illustrate the man behind the famous typeface.

08. 100 Greatest Typefaces Ever (opens in new tab)

(opens in new tab)

We couldn't end this list without including The 100 Best Typefaces Ever – the definitive guide to the greatest fonts ever created, in association with FontShop AG. Over 180 premium pages, the book dissects the world's greatest typefaces, bringing you some insightful background on each and interviews with their creators.

You can pick up the book at all good newsagents today or order it online (opens in new tab). Or you can download a digital edition directly to your iPad from the Computer Arts app on iTunes (opens in new tab).

Words: Sam Hampton-Smith (opens in new tab)

Have we missed your favourite typography book of 2014? Let us know in the comments!

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