Just My Type

A few weeks ago I received a copy of Just My Type, a book about fonts by Simon Garfield to review. Just My Type is true to its subtitle and covers topics from ranging from the origin of letterforms to web-based font identification software. Garfield refreshingly intermingles significant events in the history of typography with some of the most contested issues of the past few years. He provides an analysis of IKEA’s hotly debated change from Futura to Verdana, discusses the advent of the ampersand, addresses the much maligned Comic Sans and even explains how points and picas work. Garfield separates many of the chapters with font breaks in which he takes the time to give the history of select typefaces. These are some of my favorite parts of the book. Decent histories of even popular typefaces can be hard to find despite the breadth of resources available. Garfield does his part to remedy this, providing brief histories on typefaces ranging from Albertus, to Mrs. Eaves to Frutiger.

This book however, shouldn’t be compared with books like Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton or Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst. While both of those books are also about typography, they focus primarily on using type. Just My Type is not a design book in a strict sense, it’s about fonts, and the histories that surround them, not about how to use them. Similarly Just My Type shouldn’t be confused with coffee table-like design books full of large color reproductions. Instead Garfield provides a narrative on the art-form, adding color, humor and intelligence to a subject that in the wrong hands could be rendered dull and lifeless. For those that love letters and want an lively, enjoyable introduction, Just My Type is a great place to start.

Here's a lovely trailer for Just My Type designed by Pentagram.

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