Preparation for incoming MATD students

There are many good book and article lists on typography and graphic design that are worth checking out. This is not one of those: it does not replace, but adds to the standard reference lists for design. It is a very selective, short list specifically geared to students preparing for the MA Typeface Design.




books and monographs

William Addison Dwiggins, WAD to RR: a letter about designing type. Cambridge, Mass., Harvard College Library, 1940 (this is ex-copyright, PDFs are floating online)

Jost Hochuli, Detail in typography. London, Hyphen Press, 2008

Robin Kinross, Modern typography. 2nd ed. London, Hyphen Press, 2005

Gerritt Noordzij, The stroke: theory of writing of the pen. London, Hyphen Press, 2005

Fred Smeijers, Counterpunch: making type in the sixteenth century; designing typefaces now. London, Hyphen Press, 1996

Walter Tracy, Letters of credit: a view of type design. London, Gordon Fraser, 1986

Michael Twyman, The British Library guide to printing: history and techniques. London, British Library, 1998



Steven Heller & Philip B Meggs (eds), Texts on type: critical writings on typography. New York, Alworth Press, 2001

Rosemary Sassoon (ed.), Computers and typographyOxford, Intellect, 1993 and Computers and typography 2, Bristol, Intellect, 2002


magazines and journals

Try to locate out-of-print issues of Typography Papers, the journal edited by the Department of Typography (and now published by Hyphen Press), and aim to own any issues that are in stock. The level of writing and editing, as well as the objects themselves, are generally exemplary. (See, for example, the ‘type rich’ issue 7)

Visible Language has occasionally relevant issues. One of the most important for typeface design was 19.1 (1985) with the title The computer and the hand in type design, which is still available. That issue included Matthew Carter’s ‘Galliard: a modern revival of the types of Robert Granjon’ (pp 77–97) and Jack Stauffacher’s ‘The Transylvanian Phoenix: the Kis-Janson types in the digital era’ (pp 61–76).

Quarterly Eye magazine occasionally publishes relevant articles. Most back issues are available. ‘Typography Special’ issues are particularly relevant. Eye manages to be British in its approach, and international in its scope and response. Regardless of the typography-special issues, you should consider subscribing.

Some articles are available to read online, such as Emily King’s ‘Digital type decade’ (vol 10, no 40, 2001, pp 40–47 | full text, no images). For others, you will need to obtain a hardcopy. (E.g. Phil Baines’s ‘Face lift: new cuts at the Times’ (vol 10, no 40, 2001, pp 52–59) and Robin Kinross’ ‘The digital wave’ (vol 2, no 7, 1992, pp 26–39) –- a reference text for a period of major experimentation.)

At the time of writing this note, Codex magazine has  published three issues , and a fourth his being worked on. It offers a very promising middle ground between Typography Papers and titles that are more graphic design orientated. John Boardley (publisher and editor of the first volume) and Paul Shaw (editor of the second and third volumes) have struck a good balance between longer articles and lighter entries, and the quarterly schedule is spot on from the readers’ perspective. The series is well worth subscribing to.


blogs (n.b. heavily edited list)

Eye blog Type Tuesdays (but also other categories; explore the online archive or posts and articles).

James Mosley’s Typefoundry is the definitive example of online writing on type history.

Mark Jamra’s Type Culture includes a lot of good student work. There is a range: try to filter by your reading list.

Edited blogs such as John Boardley’s I Love Typography and Stephen Coles’ Typographica offer some degree of quality control, and can reveal editorial choices. On ILT pay more attention to the ‘Type history’ series, and the designer interviews; start with Sebastian Lester’s.

Peter Bil’ak and Johanna Bil’ak-Balusíková’s Typotheque Articles section makes available many relevant articles. The site has now far too many entries for its structure (authors, titles, etc.), so some discretion is needed when making choices.



online archives

Depending on where you are accessing online repositories from, you may be granted access to PDFs of older articles that are still good to read. In some cases whole articles are free to view, such as:

Ladislas Mandel, ‘Developing an awareness of typographic letterforms.’ Electronic Publishing, vol 6, no 1, 1993, pp 3–22 (available as a PDF)

Once you are on campus you will be automatically granted access to the databases and repositories we subscribe to.