Picture of author.

Ellen Lupton

Author of Thinking with Type

44+ Works 3,556 Members 32 Reviews 1 Favorited

About the Author

Ellen Lupton is Adjunct Curator at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and Co-Chair of the Design Department of the Maryland Institute College of Art.
Image credit: Ellen Lupton at ABC American Book Center, Amsterdam, from ThnkingWithType.com

Works by Ellen Lupton

Thinking with Type (2004) 1,483 copies
Design Writing Research (1996) 166 copies
Design Is Storytelling (2017) 149 copies
Mixing Messages (1996) 64 copies
D.I.Y.: Kids (2007) 52 copies
How Posters Work (2015) 18 copies
Bauhaus Typography at 100 (2022) 16 copies
D.I.Y.: Design Deck: Cards (2007) 13 copies
Typorama (2013) 2 copies
Comfort Zone 1 copy
Tipos na Tela (2015) 1 copy

Associated Works

Feeding Desire: Design and the Tools of the Table, 1500-2005 (2006) — Contributor, some editions — 52 copies
What’s Language Got to Do with It? (2005) — Contributor — 51 copies
The Typographic Desk Reference (2016) — Foreword — 7 copies
Eye 3, Spring 1991 (1991) — Contributor — 1 copy
Eye 7, 1992 (1992) — Contributor — 1 copy


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Common Knowledge



Many situations of visual communication in practice involve written language; interaction design is no exception in that regard. Typography is important in all those situations, and the book by Lupton is a really good introduction for teaching and learning. It draws upon the history of typography, presents a broad collection of typographic concepts and well-chosen examples, and shares practical advice, all in a very accessible and enjoyable way.
jonas.lowgren | 15 other reviews | Nov 28, 2022 |
Graphic design is an important help to any venture. In the age of electronic communication, it has become only more important to capture the public’s attention. Distractions abound, but well-thought visuals stand the chance of garnering a glance. Of course, only deeper substance will sustain interest in a written work, but interest will never be piqued without visual appeal. Lupton’s work seeks to enlighten those who deal with type in some format about the graphical principles required to display those words pleasingly.

Lupton divides her book into three main sections: Letter, Text, and Grid. Letter covers typefaces and fonts; Text covers practices about forming words into sentences; and Grid covers how to lay them out on a page or screen. The book primarily examines the medium of print, but communication via computers frequently receives mention. Further, many of the concepts of graphical appeal can be translated to this increasingly common mew medium. (Some readers might also benefit from Lupton’s Type on Screen, but this work is the more important seminal work.) Like any graphical design book, frequent use of example images litter the book throughout. Every caption not only cites a source but also informs the reader of its worth.

As the subtitle suggests, multiple potential audiences exist for this classic. Pure graphic designers provide an obvious one, but writers, editors, students, and even web developers (like myself) can benefit from perusing Lupton’s pages. After reading this, I immediately changed a graphic or two in my software’s code. It’s hard not to get thinking creatively about how type is presented after reading this work, both through well-explicated ideas and copious inspirational examples. Reading it is time well spent.
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scottjpearson | 15 other reviews | Nov 8, 2022 |
Since Gutenberg, fonts have spent a lot of effort at perfecting how words appears on print. However, in the last several decades, screens have taken over. Thus, there has been a subtle shift in paradigms. For example, humans read text on screens typically further away than print; thus, designs for screens need to have a larger font size. To explore these nuances, Lupton (an established expert in typography) and her students at the Maryland Institute College of Art wrote this book, filled with graphical examples to inspire.

First, the good. This book is best considered as an anthology or collection of examples. Because these examples often come from her students, they take on a variety of forms and styles. Anyone looking for a starting point on a topic can find something useful in this book. Oftentimes, references for further research are provided with the example; this provides a treasure-trove to the engaged reader. Details are picked up in the text that can inform anyone engaged in the typography business, whether designers, writers, developers, or students.

However, because this book is a compilation, it lacks a consistent message and can vary thematically too much. Those expecting to see Lupton’s genius at work here might feel disappointed. The graphical examples and the accompanying captions are often stronger than the main text. Such an approach might not hurt this work’s affinity with designers, but other audiences like developers or writers could likely benefit from more theory. The last chapter in particular – on animated text – seemed to lose cohesion as a sequence of exciting examples instead of centrally conveying a theme.

Summary: Great with examples but lacking a strong theoretical message.
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scottjpearson | Apr 24, 2022 |


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