A Grammar of Typography:

Classical Design in the Digital Age

Books attempting to instruct the novice (and expert) on the challenges and intricacies of book design have been issued at regular intervals for hundreds of years, but none in recent times has had the reach, depth, and level of detail of this magnum opus by Mark Argetsinger, himself a distinguished designer who started, as most of the best have, with roots in hot metal. He has born witness to an industry that has gone from small sorts of lead type to photographic film to digital binaries in just a little over fifty years — a total transformation. How, he asks in this historical and practical study, do we absorb the lessons of the past, lessons that dictated (or at least suggested) the proper typeface, margins, paper and binding, and bring them from (almost literally) the age and practices of Gutenberg to the era of the computer screen and Internet. How does a typographer who holds dear the traditions that have governed the craft for over five centuries deal with the complexities of the digital age?

Argetsinger answers these questions in a series of chapters that deal, sequentially and comprehensively, with every aspect of modern book design and production — from the choice of typefaces, to spacing and leading, from the choice of paper to the specifications for stamping and binding. He delves deeply into the minutiae that often go unseen and unappreciated — how, in short, the traditions of the past can best be utilized by the tools of the present.

Mark Argetsinger is a celebrated designer who has won awards in publication design competitions hosted by the Association of University Presses (AUP), the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), and the American Alliance of Museums (AAM). Argetsinger is also the recipient of the Carl Hertzog Award for Excellence in Book Design (1998).