Just My Type: A book about fonts by Simon Garfield


This was a Christmas present from my Mum and Dad who are obviously well aware of my geeky tendencies. It's actually a lot less geeky than it sounds, though, and would appeal to anyone who has an interest in design and an eye for stylish (or ugly) type and what it says about us.

Rather than being simply a chronological rundown of the history of type design, the book takes a much more anecdotal approach making it easy to dip in and out. There are frequent 'FontBreaks' - short and fascinating discussions of particular fonts such as Gill Sans, Futura and Frutiger.

My particular highlights of the book include the chapter on the London Underground font created by Edward Johnston (obviously!); the history of the ubiquitous font Helvetica; the chapter on 'Pirates and Clones'; and the chapter on the worst fonts in the world, which includes some of the usual suspects and a few surprises.

If you didn't already know, find out what pangrams and interrobangs are as well as the difference between monotype and linotype. I also found out that there's such a thing as Type Trumps which I have promptly ordered!

The only downside to the book is that often it will describe characteristics of fonts without showing you examples. There are lots of illustrations throughout the book which help to illuminate the points, but I found it handy to have my iPhone or laptop nearby so that I could quickly look up a font that was being discussed.

Verdict: 4/5 - I would recommend this book to anyone who has even the slighted interest in fonts, branding or design. If you fondly remember your John Bull Printing Outfit, Letraset or Dymo label maker then I'm sure you'll enjoy this book. Maybe you'll even discover why you hate Comic Sans so much!

Find out more on Simon Garfield's website