Can you suggest a great first day?

classen's picture

I am not a typographer, though I've always admired type use from afar. Next week I am going to take one long day to devote to exploring the world of fonts and typography. So, I'm looking for help in making this day a well-spent one. Can anyone offer some essential content, websites, old/new ideas to focus on? (other than this one, or

If you had one day to explore and discover as much great stuff as possible....


riccard0's picture

Go to a library. Possibly St Bride.

hrant's picture

Great idea Carol.

If I were you I'd start from the ground up: hit the streets. The weather in your parts is looking decent for next week. Get to the largest city within a short drive or train ride (maybe even Buffalo, which once hosted a TypeCon, for a reason) and just roam around (maybe even getting lost for a while) in sponge mode (plus camera). And pick some small local newspapers while you're at it.


Ryan Maelhorn's picture

This needs to be upgraded to one extended weekend, at least. I would spend it all on the internet, personally, but I guess there is always the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum.

classen's picture

Well, this may be the first day of many spent appreciating type, but this first one is a single-day project I'm doing for work. (We each have been given a mission to take a day, do/learn/experience something we've always wanted to, and then report back on it the next day to our colleagues.) Yes, very good employer.

@hrant, I think I may wander around the city (Toronto area) in the next couple of days, just as a primer, but for the project day I'd like more substance – some essential basics, what's happening in the field, big ideas right now, maybe some lunatic fringe activity, that sort of thing.

russellm's picture

There's barely more than 550 years of Western type history to be considered, so - Seriously, are you sure you need a whole day?



Chris Dean's picture

Read a book.

Bringhurst, R. (2004). The Elements of Typographic Style. Point Roberts,WA: Hartley & Marks.

Wandering the streets will probably just bombard you with crappy (and trendy) vernacular typography. Typographers are notorious for taking “ooo, look at the rough type I just saw” pictures. Myself included: (they came from a lecture in Chicago, and my friend’s farm in Nova Scotia).

You might find some other readings of interest in the Literature section of my “website,” but it has a scientific slant:

Karl Stange's picture

If wondering around you might also consider looking at wayfinding systems and typography, often overlooked or not really seen at all, either because they are successfully implemented or terribly. It would be worth checking out Ralf Herrmann's site:

Andreas Stötzner's picture

I used to crawl around the back doors and into the bins of shops and stalls, in market areas especially: for exploiting the wild stocks of brand design on packaging. But this may be rather “lettering” or “design” than typography.
Yet another option would be to linger in a good and not so small antiquarian book store. *There* is letterpress, there is actual type!

I think we all would enjoy to read your report here …

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

I think you found the lunatic fringe right here.

quadibloc's picture

To make your day well spent, you need to prepare. So take an hour beforehand in the library to read a good book or two on the topic. No advice we could give you would be as good as you could give yourself once you combined knowledge of the subject with knowledge of your own interests.

classen's picture

Great ideas! As suggested, I think I'll spend part of my day in a library poring over good books (thanks Christopher) and then online. I'll definitely get outside once I feel like I have some new info/perspectives to work with.

Wow, it's a bit of a kid-in-a-candy-store kind of anticipation. After reading through this site, I see it's a complex and passionate discipline. I'll keep reading.

Thanks for the input. Any other recommendations welcome...

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Nah, I'm in it strictly for the Benjamins.

Chris Dean's picture

@classen: The search engine here is undergoing maintenance so finding things is a bit difficult. Luckily, I have been tracking certain threads on my site. You may find some interesting discussions there.

etahchen's picture

If you know nothing about type, you're going to have to start by reading some kind of type primer, or else you won't know what you're looking for or even looking at.

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