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?

  • 3
    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
    Commented Mar 19, 2011 at 14:05
  • 6
    Should this be a community wiki? There will be lots of recommendations and I doubt that we can determine one best answer. Commented Mar 19, 2011 at 14:12
  • 3
    @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
    Commented Mar 19, 2011 at 14:21
  • @Stefan: I like the idea to treat online resources and books separately. Commented Mar 19, 2011 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. Commented Mar 19, 2011 at 16:40

5 Answers 5


Book Recommendations

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

  • Is there a reason that the Bringhurst link goes to the second edition (rather than the third that Amazon is still selling)?
    – Caramdir
    Commented Mar 19, 2011 at 16:30
  • @Caramdir: sorry, no specific reason. I actually read the first edition ;-) Will fix it. Commented Mar 19, 2011 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! Commented Mar 19, 2011 at 17:03
  • @Philip Likewise, this discussion made me to order The Complete Manual of Typography. Commented May 2, 2011 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:


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.


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.


  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},
  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}},
  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},
  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},
  author    = {Hochuli, Jost},
  title     = {Details in Typography},
  year      = {2009},
  comment   = {With minor corrections},
  publisher = {Hyphen Press},
  isbn      = {978-0-907259-34-3},
  author    = {Cheng, Karen},
  title     = {Desiging Type},
  year      = {2005},
  publisher = {Yale University Press},
  isbn      = {978-0-300-11150-7},
  • +1 for Tufte. I'd add all the rest of his books, but the first is clearly the most important.
    – RBerteig
    Commented Apr 4, 2012 at 21:35

I like Matthew Butterick's Practical Typography. It is concise and easy to read and gives adequate technical details without going overboard. The author has created the book as an online book, and he allows readers to read the book before paying for it.

Matthew Butterick's Typography for Lawyers has much of the content of Practical Typopraphy, but is available in print form.

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