By Ruari McLean
This book appears regularly in the Top Ten list of typography manuals—and rightly so. Although it began life as one in a series of general introductions to arts and crafts, it has established its reputation on the strength of its scholarship, clarity, and beautiful presentation.

McLean covers all the basics: a brief historical survey; the issue of legibility; practical considerations of paper types and composition methods; book design; and what he modestly calls ‘jobbing typography.’ There are notes, a list of material suppliers, a brief index, and an excellent list of further reading.

The design of the book is based on a simple three-column grid, with a subtle rhythm of graphic illustration. This varies from full page blow-ups of a single letter design to marginal examples of icons, logos and glyphs accompanied by explanations of a scholarly density.

Yet despite craft origins, it’s a text which unites a profoundly sophisticated sense of taste with the practical aspects of typography. McLean ranges from the balance of page layout in art-books, to the nuances of letterspacing in railway timetables. From the analysis of six versions of the same font, to recommendations for clear systems of book illustration captions. It stops short of the computer age—but the range of reference and the elegance of the illustrations make this a must for anyone in visual presentation.

Almost every page of this book is a visual delight. Do yourself a favor: if you want to discover the delight, the subtelty, and the craft of typographical presentation—this is the place to start.

—Roy Johnson

Cover, Thames and Hudson Manual of Typography © 1996 Thames and Hudson
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This review originally appeared at the Clifton Press website © 1998 R. Johnson.
Related Publications:
Jan Tschichold: Typographer by Ruari McLean

Typographers on Type by Ruari McLean

Jan Tschichold: A Life in Typography by Ruari McLean
Dr. Roy Johnson is the author of a number of books on writing, study skills and computer technology. He’s the director of Clifton Press and the editor of “Writing & Computers”.

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Thames and Hudson Manual of Typography
Author: Ruari McLean
Publisher: Thames and Hudson [1992]
ISBN: 0-500-68022-1
Binding: Hardcover, 216pp, 9 1/2" x 6 1/4"

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