Book Review: Just My Type


I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book by Simon Garfield. But Just My Type, which looks at the world of font typesetting (yep – you read that right), is a fascinating look at how the way our letters and words look impact what they mean. There’s a history of typesetting and font creation here — from Gutenberg on to the present — and Garfield takes a number of side exits to look specifically at some styles of type and their founders. This book makes clear just how much artistry and work goes into the things most of us take for granted and how the aim of designers to make their work invisible to the average reader.

I’m developing a resource over at the National Writing Project’s Digital is site around font and writing — inspired by reading Garfield’s book — so I won’t get too much into the ways this topic might have us think about writing and design in new ways. Still, for what could be an arcane topic, Garfield’s lively writing and ability to explain font architecture to the layperson (me) made for a thoroughly enjoyable read.

And I know longer look at public signs on display and other kinds of writing the same way, either. Now, I think: what is the writing itself trying to convey? That’s the power of fonts.

Peace (in the font),


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