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I would like to learn more about typesetting, the accepted best practices, rules and tricks used in books, letters, resumes etc. For example, what are the usual left and right margins? Line spacing? When to use what type of justification?

Any good books or links?

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It is an art-form; according to Robert Bringhurst's The Elements of Typographic Style (IIRC), "The only rule is that there are no rules". Also, I don't think there can be one true, correct answer. –  morbusg Mar 19 '11 at 14:05
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Should this be a community wiki? There will be lots of recommendations and I doubt that we can determine one best answer. –  Christian Lindig Mar 19 '11 at 14:12
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@Christian: I agree with making community wiki. How about two summary wiki posts, one for online resources and one for books? Some votes to the comment, supporting the CW suggestion, and I'll convert it. –  Stefan Kottwitz Mar 19 '11 at 14:21
    
@Stefan: I like the idea to treat online resources and books separately. –  Christian Lindig Mar 19 '11 at 14:30
    
If anybody has read Formulare gestalten: Das Handbuch für Gestalter und Anwender zu Hürden, Chancen und Gestaltungsfragen about form design I would be glad to see a recommendation if it is good. Reviews are great on Amazon but it's quite expensive. –  Christian Lindig Mar 19 '11 at 16:40

4 Answers 4

up vote 33 down vote accepted

Book Recommendations

  • The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst. (Christian Lindig: This is a classic and if you only read one book I'd say it should be this one.) (lockstep: Emphasis on book design, plus a chapter about well-designed fonts.)
  • The Complete Manual of Typography by James Felici, 2nd ed 2011.
  • Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton, 2nd ed 2010.
  • Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works by Erik Spiekermann. (Christian Lindig: A small and useful book, less about technicalities and more about good taste and providing an overview.) (lockstep: I wouldn't recommend this one -- it does provide an overview, but is completely lacking with regard to technical details.)
  • Règles typographiques et normes : Mise en pratique avec LaTeX by David Carella; french book. Note: may be out of print as of Sept 2011.
  • Detail in Typography by Jost Hochuli, 2008. (German language edition 2005.) Very concise, yet chockful of great points.

All links go to Amazon where you can find in-depth reviews.

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Is there a reason that the Bringhurst link goes to the second edition (rather than the third that Amazon is still selling)? –  Caramdir Mar 19 '11 at 16:30
    
@Caramdir: sorry, no specific reason. I actually read the first edition ;-) Will fix it. –  Christian Lindig Mar 19 '11 at 16:32
    
I've heard about The Elements of Typographic Style in the past but never got around to actually reading it. I think it's about time - just ordered it on Amazon. Thanks! –  Philip Kamenarsky Mar 19 '11 at 17:03
    
@Philip Likewise, this discussion made me to order The Complete Manual of Typography. –  Christian Lindig May 2 '11 at 14:38

Online resources

As a LaTeX user, I'm also interested in typesetting practices. Here are some links, I listed on my blog earlier:

Edit: in German, perhaps useful though, directly connected to LaTeX:

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Some very interesting links, thanks! –  Philip Kamenarsky Mar 19 '11 at 17:04

My recommendations are similar to Christian Lindig's recommendations but I didn't find Stop Stealing Sheep and Thinking with Type that useful (there's a lot of overlap in many typography books). My recommendations are as follows:

  • The Elements of Typographic Style, by Robert Bringhurst. Considered by many as the Bible of typography. It has lots of detail but I find it a bit difficult to read---perhaps this is because I'm not a native English speaker. Do not expect you can understand everything in this book without reading some other typography books.
  • The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, by Edward Tufte. Though it really covers presenting quantitative information, it's crucial you know about presenting tables and graphs before you start presenting them with LaTeX.
  • The Complete Manual of Typography, by James Felici. In my opinion a great introduction to typography with good tips about macro and micro typography.
  • The Complete Typographer, A Foundations Course for Graphic Designers, by Will Hill. This is also an introduction but I found much material covered here that wasn't covered in other books. Unfortunately, the book has [many] typographic errors, which will be fixed in the next version (private communication with Will Hill). I still would recommend this book.
  • Details in Typography, by Jost Hochuli. This very thin book has much precious advice about micro-typography. It's not about page layout but more about how to use the low-level typographic tools, such as adding the right amount of spacing, emphasis, typesetting numerals, and so on.
  • Desiging Type, by Karen Cheng. This is really about typeface design but it provides much information about what makes letters tick.

I am currently reading some books about grid layout systems. I'll provide some more information about this when I've fully digested them.

Bibliography

@book{Bringhurst,
  author    = {Bringhurst, Robert},
  title     = {The Elements of Typographic Style},
  shorttitle = {Elements of Typographic Style},
  version   = {3.2},
  publisher = {Hartley \&\ Marks},
  year      = {2008},
  isbn      = {0-988179-206-3},
}
@Book{Tufte:2001,
  author    = {Tufte, Edward~R.},
  title     = {The Visual Display of Quantitative Information},
  year      = {2001},
  edition   = {Second Edition},
  isbn      = {978-0-9613921-4-7},
  publisher = {Graphics Press \textsc{llc}},
}
@Book{Felici,
  title     = {The Complete Manual of Typography
                \emph{A Guide to Setting Complete Type}},
  author    = {Felici, James W.},
  year      = {2012},
  isbn      = {978-0-321-77326-5},
  edition   = {Second Edition},
  publisher = {Adobe Press},
}
@Book{Hill:2010,
  author    = {Hill, Will},
  title     = {The Complete Typographer
               \emph{A Foundation Course for Graphic Designers
                     Working With Type}},
  year      = {2010},
  edition   = {Third Edition},
  publisher = {Thames and Hudson},
  isbn      = {978-0-500-28894-8},
}
@Book{Hochuli:2009,
  author    = {Hochuli, Jost},
  title     = {Details in Typography},
  year      = {2009},
  comment   = {With minor corrections},
  publisher = {Hyphen Press},
  isbn      = {978-0-907259-34-3},
}
@Book{Cheng:2005,
  author    = {Cheng, Karen},
  title     = {Desiging Type},
  year      = {2005},
  publisher = {Yale University Press},
  isbn      = {978-0-300-11150-7},
}
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+1 for Tufte. I'd add all the rest of his books, but the first is clearly the most important. –  RBerteig Apr 4 '12 at 21:35

The memdesign package used to be part of the memoir class but has been spun off. It has a lot of notes about book design.

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