These 3 Typography Websites Will Change How You Look at Type

by Joel Friedlander on September 22, 2011 · 16 comments

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In recent articles I’ve been talking about how important typography is to good book design. When looking at the submissions to the first e-Book Cover Design Awards, no area stood out so clearly as a challenge for amateur designers.

Combined with this is the widespread belief among anyone with a drop-down menu of fonts that creating good typography is just a matter of picking the right name from the list.

Cover design failures, in general, are often traceable to typography deficit disorder.

So I’m always on the lookout for resources you can use to make your covers look a whole lot better. Here are three that will teach you a lot, or just give you an excuse to spend a few minutes admiring the wizardry of type designers and the graphic artists who use those typefaces.

Letterhead Fonts

The motto here is

“Uncommonly Good Letters for Your Ocular Amusement.”

Although this site from an amazing digital type foundry is focused more on typefaces that are useful in signage, logos and other types of graphic design, there are also examples of book covers.

But just taking in the typefaces and the massive gallery of samples that show real-world uses of their type will amaze you.

Don’t miss the tutorials that show exactly how some of the effects are created. And try out any fonts you like with the typetester

Here are just a few of the more than 700 sample files in the Gallery:

Letterhead Typography

I Love Typography

Probably the premier typography website that I know of. John Boardley has gathered a community of type designers and graphic artists and many of them contribute articles. Just reading the list of recent articles is enough to make you want to call in sick.

I Love Typography

The aim of the site, in Boardley’s words, is

“to make the subject more accessible, to bring the study of typography to the masses.”

With over 80,000 followers on Twitter and an avid community of type nerds, I Love Typography is the place to hang out if you want to learn from professionals.

Boardley is also behind the very popular iPhone and iPad app, The Font Game, as well as a new magazine, Codex, The Journal of Typography.

But the third site I have for you today is another effort by John Boardley:

We Love Typography

I don’t know if Boardley also has the domains HeLovesTypgraphy.com or TheyLoveTypography.com but there does seem to be a lot of room for expansion.

In this case, it’s brilliant. We Love Typography is

“an image, video, & text ‘bookmarking’ site that is wholly dedicated to type-related content.”

What this means: You go to the site and you’re presented with a somewhat whimsical search bar that says, “Please find ______ quickly!”

You can put anything you want in the search bar, and the site will return search results of images that are somehow typographic. There are over 18,000 images so far, although that seems likely to increase.

Here are the first six hits I got when I searched on the word “ribbon.” Watch out you don’t lose the afternoon searching through the images, they are fascinating.

We Love Typography

More Resources and Goodies

Also check out Typenuts for free iPhone and iPad wallpaper files from many great graphic designers.

For another bonus, see this video about the typesetting machine that changed the world, the Linotype. This is an excerpt from a feature film scheduled to be released in 2012.

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    { 15 comments… read them below or add one }

    Austin Briggs September 22, 2011 at 3:17 am

    Fascinating material. My level of typographic nerdiness grew a few notches. And this is always a good thing.

    Loved your recommendations.

    Reply

    christopger wills September 22, 2011 at 8:36 am

    Great post. I probably don’t love typography quite as much as you but I found it a fascinating topic here and on my technical communication course. Can I suggest you look (or is it “took”?) at spelling in a future post? (see your post title :) sorry but it had to be said).

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander September 22, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    Well, will you took at that? And I even have someone who proofreads these for me every day. Thanks, christopger.

    Reply

    christopher wills September 22, 2011 at 8:37 am

    Aaagh! I can’t even spell my own name now…. :(

    Reply

    Victoria Mixon September 24, 2011 at 10:53 am

    You guys are hilarious!

    Typos are like mice in the house–they’re going to get in, you can’t stop them, and once they’re in it’s almost impossible to get rid of every last one.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander September 24, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    I like that one about mice Victoria, so true! Drives new authors nuts, but I just tell them to keep a proof copy of the book near their desk because people will be writing in about the typos for months to come.

    Reply

    Deborah Taylor-French November 9, 2012 at 6:45 am

    I agree. Typos are like mice, they chew into everything I write. Being dyslexic makes it 10 times worse. After paying a copy editor, my recent column in a local magazine still had typos!

    After changing editors, I feel happy and hopeful to get those mice into a live trap full of peanut butter and cheese.

    Reply

    paula hendricks September 22, 2011 at 9:45 am

    i love all these posts about type. now i have more places to spend time drooling… thanks joel

    you have probably already mentioned it, but i loved the movie helvetica even tho i actually dislike the typeface helvetica, but it was a fascinating look at how pervasive and yet hidden type is in our daily lives.

    as always, helpful and fun.

    ph

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander September 22, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    Hi Paula. I’m looking forward to Helvetica, I haven’t managed to see it yet, thanks for the recommendation. See you at the library.

    Reply

    Bob Merlin September 22, 2011 at 10:17 am

    I love type faces/fonts! I’m a graphic artist and I love it when the client doesn’t have a fixed logo and I can fly with my fonts.
    There are so many great fonts on the web; a lot of them are free.
    X-Fonter is a great free font manager. It shows all your fonts, installed, uninstalled and you can swith them around.

    Reply

    brendan stallard September 22, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    “These 3 Typography Websites Will Change How You Took at Type.”

    Joel,

    Eh? how you took at type?

    brendan

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander September 22, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Yes, but you take second place to christopher (see above). Thanks!

    Reply

    Ros September 22, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    Love that last one particularly. And I definitely agree – typography is the biggest issue by far in self-published book covers.

    Reply

    Abbs September 27, 2011 at 12:43 am

    The American taste in typography and book cover design is different to UK taste, but the passion for fonts is what matters. For me, it’s not just the cover, but the inside of a book that counts. Gutters, leading, margins, x-sections, serifs/non, colour, drop caps, folios, headers – all these factors can make a book easy and delightful to read, or aggravating and hard work. Most readers don’t know why, but from my experience as a publisher, they appreciate it very much when we get it right.

    Reply

    Alexander von Ness November 10, 2012 at 5:38 am

    Joel you are the BEST!!!
    Thank you for your posts, advice and encourage.
    Thank you again…

    Reply

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