Wanting to improve my typography

Wine Label Designer's picture

I design wine labels and some are very nice but I stink at typography. I am often blown away by my competitions use of type. I am not talking about designing type or reworking it. I am talking about what fonts to select and interesting compositions. I don't understand how they consistently bang out great design. Often their type choices are clean and classic. Any tips on how I can improve so I can remain competitive. Books, web sites references. How do kick butt designers do it?

clauses's picture

There is a list of books here: http://typophile.com/node/12157

Recommended for your purpose are:

Tally of Types, A -Morison, Stanley. David R. Godine, Publisher, 1999.
Anatomy of a Typeface -Lawson, Alexander. David R. Godine Pub., 1990
Treasury of Alphabets & Lettering: A Source Book- Tschichold, Jan. W.W. Norton & Co., 1995
Letters of Credit: A View of Type Design -Tracy, Walter. David R. Godine, Publisher, 1986
Elements of Typographic Style -Bringhurst, Robert. Hartley & Marks, Vancouver, 1997.

Elements... is the more general of this selection, and the others take over where this one ends.

Are you looking for info on scripts as well, then have a look in the main list.

Enjoy the journey!

Dan Gayle's picture

Wine labels are one of the last bastions of classic typography. I myself was about to start a thread asking people to post their favorite wine labels, so the genre is one of my favorites.

Do you have an example of one of your own?

The obvious answer is to look in the books wiki entry, specifically for Bringhurst's Elements of Typographic Style.

lapiak's picture

As been mentioned by the above two posters, Robert Bringhurt's Elements of Typographic Style is the "bible" of typography. Read it from front to back, and you'll have a greater understanding (and appreciation) for typography.

Ricardo Cordoba's picture

Wine labels need not always be classic... And I do not believe in one single "bible" of typography. Read many books, take in many opinions... then form your own. Here are some other titles -- I think you need to see good typography as well as read about it:

Type and Image: The Language of Graphic Design

Typology: Type Design from the Victorian Era to the Digital Age

Meggs' History of Graphic Design

Thinking with Type

Thinking In Type

Quick Solutions for Great Type Combinations

Type Rules!

Typography Workbook

Advertising Design and Typography

dinazina's picture

I subscribe to Before & After magazine. I find it tremendously helpful in clearly explaining design and typographical principles, all with beautiful examples.

A few of their articles are available for free download, so you can view their style.


david h's picture

With great respect to Bringhurst et al..........

That's what you need (or to start with):

1. Imagery: Art for Wine — Bob L. Nugent

2. Icon: Art of the Wine Label — Jeffrey Caldewey

3. Wine Label Language — Peter Saunders

Also couple books (or several of them) about color; for example, Designer's Guide to Color — Jeanne Allen.

Dan Gayle's picture

Ooo. Didn't know there WERE books on wine label design. Saweet!

As to the color books, I prefer Leslie Cabarga's "The Designer's Guide to Global Color Combinations". The pallets presented are more natural, and are richer, than plain old static color combinations because he resources classical and natural pallets from the world around us.

david h's picture

See this site - Wine Business Monthly:


And read this:

Wine Label Design: What Makes a Successful Label

William Berkson's picture

Not, wine, but great use of type in food packaging: www.LouiseFili.com .

Also great for understanding how to modify type for logos: Fonts and Logos by Doyald Young.

Wine Label Designer's picture

I own some of those books. I bought the art of the wine label and that is pretty spendy. I wasn't blown away with it. Nothing there made me wish I had done it. Well except the writing, pretty smart, educated, approach.

I love, love, love Leslie Cabarga's type book I'll have to look at his others.

Dan Gayle's picture

Very cool. Are you involved in the choice of bottle as part of the design, or do you have to make something that works with someone else's decision?

And Leslies' book IS pretty darned cool, if you ask me.

Wine Label Designer's picture

www.LouiseFili.com has some really great stuff, love her style. Being an in-house artist I try not to have a look. I have to cover all types of looks. Trendy, Classic, retro etc. I guess I am a generalist.

Ricardo Cordoba's picture

I set my sights pretty high

Nothing wrong with that... aiming high can be a great way to achieve quality work. :-)

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