How do I use this handbook?

I would first like to clarify that this is not a textbook, encyclopedia, or manual. You do not have to move through it from beginning to end, it does not contain all typographic knowledge, and it won’t solve all your typographic problems. It is a handbook; a resource to help explain typographic concepts and reference for when you’ve forgotten something. If you’re in my typography course, this handbook should improve your understanding of typography fundamentals and will be required (or at least helpful) for activities, quizzes (open book!), and assessments. If you’re not in my typography course, my hope is that by exploring this resource you will grow in your understanding of typography and that you can use what you learn to become a better designer.

Handbook structure

The handbook is broken up into six parts: the basics, classifications, using type, going a bit deeper, other resources, and a glossary.

  1. The basics. Covers terms, definitions, and foundational typography concepts that are helpful whether you’re a graphic designer or not.
  2. Classifications. Provides details on how different styles of typefaces are organized to make finding the right typeface just that much easier (sort of).
  3. Using type. Gets more technical and includes how to select and pair type, along with guidelines on designing with type.
  4. Going a bit deeper. Explains different numerals, capitalization, optical sizes (typefaces designed to be used at certain sizes), grids and more.
  5. Other resources. Offers links to websites and books that are referenced within this handbook or may help you go further into your typographic studies.
  6. Glossary. Great for when you could swear you’ve heard a term before but can’t quite remember what it means.

Interact with it

Each of the first four sections contain terminology, concepts, and explanations along with visuals, videos, and other elements to help make the ideas more clear. By interacting with the visuals you can compare alternatives and build on your understanding of the concepts. In addition to these visuals, there are quizzes to help you self-assess what you’ve learned. They aren’t for grades, so if you get something wrong you can keep trying until you get it right. You can also find links to online resources that will help you understand a concept better than I can do in this handbook.

Contribute to the handbook

While I have experience and a passion for typography, I don’t consider myself an expert. Your opinion is incredibly meaningful since it allows me to be of some help on this topic. Because of this, I welcome contribution to this handbook through conversations, critiques, clarifications, or questions (it was almost an alliteration). You can do this through the toolbar on the right-hand side of most pages (it isn’t present in the introduction or glossary) or by highlighting a piece of text. My responses may not be immediate, but I will do my best to reply to questions and improve content based on the needs brought forward. For more details on how to use you can visit their Annotation Basics page. Please note that you will need to create an account with to add markup to this resource.

Whether you are in my typography course, taking a different typography course, or simply stumbled upon this resource, I hope you enjoy exploring the nuance and beauty of typography. Don’t forget to use the interactive elements, take the self-assessments, and practice what you’ve learned. My hope is that this resource will improve the effectiveness of your designs whether you are developing a brand, laying out a brochure, or typing up a Word document. This resource is a living document that will change and grow with time so, if you find this resource useful, bookmark it for later reference.


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Typography Handbook Copyright © by David Piechnik is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.