As I noted previously, rillian sent me a copy of The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst. It’s an absolutely beautiful book. When I opened it up the other day to look something up, I could hear the Brandenburg Concertos, some of my favorite music, in my mind’s ear. That’s how beautiful this book is.

What I’ve realized since reading it is that publishing documents on the Web, no less than preparing them for publication as a book, is typography and deserves the same care as that noble craft. There are some differences, to be sure, but the core it’s about making the meaning of the text shine through the words, a craft that has been practiced for ages.

Bringhurst has a style of writing that’s a joy to read, and I’ve taken the liberty of quoting some of my favorite portions. I highly recommend that anyone with an interest in writing for the Web reads them, and perhaps the book too.

My only complaint is that for all the care Bringhurst put into the visual design of the book, the functional design is lacking. (This is a pattern I see elsewhere as well: even the most beautiful web pages can be a pain to use. Of course, this too is something I hope to fix.) Partly because of the books unique (and attractive) shape, it does not lie flat at all. Holding it open was such a strain that my hand begun to ache. Furthermore, the flaps on the side, presumably for bookmarking a page, ended up crushing it instead. But that aside, the content and form of the book is superb, some of the best I’ve ever seen.

posted December 05, 2002 12:40 PM (Books) #


bandwidth and open spectrum
the rss rebellion
Total Information Awareness Demo
Creative Commons Launch!
the next eldred
web publishing is also typography (The Elements of Typographic Style)
Santa Switch
Copyright is Unconstitutional!
How to Run a Good Conference
How Total Information Awareness Works: A Simple Guide
piracy, bits, and meatspace

Aaron Swartz (