(e)books about designing typefaces?

W-M's picture

Hello there. I am a designer and web developer. However, lately I found myself oddly attracted to typefaces, and I would like to create my own. I already know quite a bit about vector images and other tools needed to create fonts, but I would like to learn more about the actual designing process of a typeface:

  • How to maintain consistency between letters in a typeface?
  • What features make certain letters easier or harder to read?
  • What are 'standard' metrics and ratios used for different kinds of typefaces, and what are the pros and cons of each?
  • What design choices were made in famous fonts like, for instance, Helvetica, and why?
  • What features are important for a text font, and what features are important for a headline font?

I am sure that there must be quite a few books or ebooks about these subjects. However, I have not been able to find anything myself yet only finding books about 'typesetting books' than books about typesetting.


charles ellertson's picture

I am sure that there must be quite a few books or ebooks about these subjects. However, I have not been able to find anything myself

Jeez, I seem to be in a sarcastic mode. Am I missing your question here? I entered

"designing typefaces for the web" in


The third listing was actually about typeface design,


many of those links might interest you, esp.


Took about 3 minutes, with the first-try topic I searched for... (While I only bill $60/hr, I do have a 4-hour minimum. Where do I send the bill? I do charge when the asker is too lazy to make a simple, kindergarten effort)

The only tip here you possibly haven't seen is to use DuckDuckGo to cut down the incessant adds on Google when the topic being searched returns so many possibilities to sell you something...

W-M's picture

Hello mister Ellertson.

I am familiar with DuckDuckGo, and I love it for its trackinglessness and its zero-click tools.
I am very sorry to have wasted your time. I thought I was asking a valid question; in hindsight it looks like my initial search-queries were badly formulated.

The main reason that I created this topic was not to let other people search for me, but to ask designers who have been making typefaces for a long time on their opinions of must-read books about creating typefaces. I would rather have the opinion of a professional instead of '8 must-read tips about typefaces', if you know what I mean.

The article you link to is very interesting. Thank you very much.

I also happened to come across this page on the Typophile wiki earlier today, which was hidden quite deeply. It seems like a great list to pick some books from.

But if anyone else would like to share their professional opinion to offer on this subject, I'm all ears.

Thank you for your time and effort,


charles ellertson's picture

Good for you, the Typophile wiki you cite is a very good place to start. Much better than internet musings.

The only thing I'd add, that shows up all too rarely, is the fit of letters, esp. in running text (rather than in a few letters or words, as found in headlines or advertisements).

The letterforms themselves, and how to draw them for various implementations (many ways to put ink on paper or pixels on a screen), are one thing. The fit of them in all their possible combinations, and the inevitable compromises that occasions, is something that just doesn't make it into print. Probably this is because because compromise is always involved, and compromise always means more than one solution is possible. As best I can tell, this is a skill you have to develop yourself, and for most of us, it does not come quickly.

hrant's picture

You've come to the right place (even though so far you've only received advice from somebody who has never designed a font). It's only recently that Typophile has become sufficiently usable again, so hopefully you'll get some real help soon.

The thing is, a really good book on type design has yet to be written. But Cheng's "Designing Type"* does a good job of opening eyes. As does what we around here call The Triumvirate: http://typophile.com/node/15349

* http://www.amazon.com/Designing-Type-Karen-Cheng/dp/0300111509

Mostly learning to design type seems to involve a great deal of observation, and a necessarily personal development of style. Just be prepared to invest a lot of time, with only a small likelihood of substantial material reward.


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