Universal Principles of Typography: 100 Key Concepts for Choosing and Using Type (Rockport Universal)
Explore 100 key concepts, theories, and guidelines that are critical for choosing and using type.
We communicate with text every single day, but what does it mean to really understand type—to use it with clear intent and purpose? The art and science of typography combines subtle tweaks to line lengths with harmonious combinations of weights and styles; considered typeface pairings with a robust set of alternate characters; exciting technological advances with the realities of font licensing. There are so many ways designers can optimize how text is read and influence the way its message is understood—and yet so many designers miscommunicate without even realizing it.
Richly illustrated and easy to navigate, Universal Principles of Typographypairs clear explanations of each principle with visual examples of it applied in practice. By considering these concepts and examples, you can learn to make more informed, and ultimately better, typography decisions.
Building upon tried-and-tested principles from the world of print through to the very latest advances in browser technology, this book will equip you with everything you need to make the most informed typographic decisions in your design work today.
Featured principles are as diverse as:
- Characters & Glyphs
- Font v. Typeface
- Pairing type
- Web fonts
Each principle is presented in a two-page format. The left-hand page contains a succinct definition, a full description of the principle, examples of its use, and guidelines for use. Sidenotes appear to the right of the text, and provide elaborations and references. The right-hand page contains visual examples and related graphics to support a deeper understanding of the principle.
With Universal Principles of Typography, gain a deep understanding of the universal principles of typography and learn how to apply them across any work you do with type, from the simplest of documents to the most complex of cross-platform design systems.
The titles in the Rockport Universal series offer comprehensive and authoritative information and edifying and inspiring visual examples on multidisciplinary subjects for designers, architects, engineers, students, and anyone who is interested in expanding and enriching their design knowledge.
Elliot Jay Stocks is a designer and musician, based just outside Bristol, UK. After founding the typography magazine 8 Faces in 2010, Elliot joined Typekit (now known as Adobe Fonts) as Creative Director, and helped lead the service’s transition into desktop fonts and the Creative Cloud ecosystem. He then went on to take several Creative Director roles, all while co-running the lifestyle magazine Lagom with his wife. In 2021, Elliot collaborated with Google to launch the typography education resource Google Fonts Knowledge. He is the author of Universal Principles of Typography (Rockport Publishers, 2024).
Over his nearly two-decade career as a designer, Elliot’s work has been profiled in publications such as Communication Arts, Creative Review, Computer Arts, and Page, and he has long been a familiar face at design and tech conferences around the world. Past highlights include TYPO, An Event Apart, South by Southwest, and The Type Directors Club NYC.
Today, Elliot focuses exclusively on typographic projects, as well as publishing the newsletter Typographic & Sporadic, and hosting the podcast Hello, Type Friends! He also makes electronic music as Other Form, and releases on several independent labels across Europe.
Ellen Lupton is a writer, curator, educator, and designer. She is Senior Curator of Contemporary Design at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City. New projects include the books Health Design Thinking and Extra Bold, a feminist career guide for designers. Lupton is founding director of the Graphic Design MFA Program at MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art) in Baltimore, where she has authored numerous books on design processes, including Thinking with Type, Graphic Design Thinking, Graphic Design: The New Basics, and Type on Screen. Her book Design Is Storytelling was published by Cooper Hewitt in 2017. She received the AIGA Gold Medal for Lifetime Achievement in 2007. Recent exhibitions include Face Values: Understanding Artificial Intelligence and Herbert Bayer: Bauhaus Master. The Senses: Design Beyond Vision, Beauty—Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial, How Posters Work, and Beautiful Users. She was named a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2019.