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A handbook for designing beautiful and effective typography in modern websites.
A handbook for designing beautiful and effective responsive typography.
A handbook for designing beautiful and effective responsive typography.
714 backers pledged £24,591 to help bring this project to life.

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Web Typography – a handbook

£24,591

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Why this book?

We’re told that web design is 95% typography*, and it’s true that most of what we browse on the web is either text itself or surrounded by text. We’re also told – by actual science* – that good typography puts you in a good mood.

With your help, I want to enable designers, developers, authors, publishers, everyone, to create websites with engaging, appropriate, distinctive, readable typography, and make our world that little bit happier.

I’ve wanted to write this book for almost ten years, since I launched webtypography.net in 2005. The aim of that website was – and is – to show how the guidelines in Robert Bringhurst’s revered Elements of Typographic Style could be applied to the web. I have an aspiration for my book to achieve the same status among web designers as Bringhurst’s does among traditional graphic designers. It’s an admittedly grandiose ambition, but one I hope gives you a sense of the level I’m aiming at.

* References in future updates

A book for your shelf (and your tablet)

This book will be practical. I want it to sit on people’s desks for reference. It will also be a really good read. If you want to read it cover to cover, you could do, and you’d enjoy it. It will be beautiful. Immaculately typeset – obviously – but also elegantly illustrated.

My main aim is to create a physical book that you can own, and carry around, and grab quickly, and flick through. And smell: I love the smell of books. But I’m also fully aware about the convenience of ebooks, so I’ll be making those available too. In fact everyone who is rewarded with a physical book will get the ebook bundle too.

Sometime after the release of the books, I hope to also put an HTML version online so that anyone can get access to the content.

What the book will cover

Put simply, I’ll explain typographic principles and show how to apply them in a modern web context, by which I mostly mean screens of all shapes, sizes and capabilities. I’ll cover aesthetics, readability, usability and how to achieve those from a technical perspective.

An early sketch of an illustration for the book
An early sketch of an illustration for the book

The book will blend theory and technique, with the emphasis always on the practical. I intend the book to stand the test of time, so all code samples will look towards existing standards, with an eye on the future, and not get bogged down with browser support and workarounds (that’s what the wider web is for).

An early sketch of an illustration for the book
An early sketch of an illustration for the book

The scope of the book is scarily vast, although I’ll work very hard (with my editor) to keep it as short as possible. Here’s a provisional table of contents:

    Setting Type to be Read
  • The amazing em unit
  • How we read
  • Designing paragraphs: line length
  • Designing paragraphs: line height
  • Designing paragraphs: font size
  • Alignment, hyphenation and justification
  • Vertical rhythm
  • Responsive paragraphs

Typographic Detail

  • Micro typography
  • Hierarchies and meaning
  • Using colour
  • Tracking, kerning and optical alignment
  • Tables and numerals
  • Footnotes, etc
  • Expressive type: billboards and impact
  • Navigation and information design

Layout and Composition

  • Think mobile first
  • Staging the ‘page’
  • Rational and divine proportions
  • Grid systems
  • Printing web pages

Choosing and Using Fonts 

  • How fonts render on screens
  • Practical considerations
  • Using webfonts
  • Webfont performance
  • Typeface anatomy
  • Typeface history
  • Typeface classifications
  • Selecting typefaces for body text
  • Selecting typefaces for display text
  • Selecting typefaces for informational text
  • Combining fonts
  • Building a library

Rewards

I’ve tried very hard to offer beautiful things unique to the book. In summary you’ll be able to get:

  • Ebooks
  • Paperback
  • Special limited edition hardback
  • Exclusive goodies including letterpressed postcards and posters
  • Entry to Ampersand conference 2015
  • Have me come and speak!

More details and photos to come soon.

What a successful campaign will fund

First, a book like this needs careful, professional editing and proofreading, and that quite rightly costs money. Second, I’m a web designer, not a book designer: I will need help with the technical aspects of typesetting and proofing the physical book and ebooks. Finally, to keep the price down, I will need a bulk print run. The campaign target will fund these three aspects in roughly equal measure.

Risks and challenges

I’ve already put a lot of time into planning and gathering content for the book. The structure is well defined (pending review and revision by my editor, whom I have in place already) and I’ve made copious notes around the content that I’ll be shaping into prose and code. So the risk of the book remaining unwritten is very small – I’m fully committed to this.

The main risk is one of timescale. I’m hoping to get the book ready for release at the Ampersand web conference in November 2015. That’s do-able but ambitious so it could slip, although I’ll try my very best to make it on time.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £1 or more About $1.59

    THANK YOU
    Exclusive project updates and a big thank you from me next time we meet.

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    Pledge £5 or more About $8

    LETTERPRESSED POSTCARD
    A letterpressed typographic postcard with a personal thank you, and a thank you on the website. (Outside UK add £1 shipping)

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    Pledge £15 or more About $24

    EBOOKS
    All 3 digital editions of the book (iPad, Kindle and web-based) plus a thank you in the book.

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    Pledge £25 or more About $40

    EBOOKS + 5 POSTCARD PACK
    All 3 digital editions of the book (iPad, Kindle and web-based), a pack of 5 unique letterpressed typographic postcards, plus a thank you in the book. (Outside UK add £2 shipping)

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    Pledge £30 or more About $48

    PAPERBACK + EBOOKS
    A paperback edition of the book, all 3 digital versions of the book (iPad, Kindle and web-based), plus a thank you in the book.

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge £55 or more About $87

    PAPERBACK MEGABUNDLE
    A signed paperback edition of the book, all 3 digital versions of the book, 5 postcard pack, an A4 letterpressed typographic poster, plus a thank you in the book. (Outside UK add £9 shipping)

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    Pledge £80 or more About $127

    SPECIAL HARDBACK MEGABUNDLE
    Limited Kickstarter-only signed hardback with ribbon and unique embossed cover, all 3 digital versions of the book, 5 postcard pack, an A4 letterpressed typographic poster, plus a thank you in the book. (Outside UK add £9 shipping)

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge £225 or more About $357

    HARDBACK MEGABUNDLE + AMPERSAND CONFERENCE
    Limited Kickstarter-only signed hardback with ribbon and unique embossed cover, all 3 digital versions of the book, letterpressed postcards, A4 letterpressed typographic poster, entry to Ampersand web typography conference in Brighton, UK on 13th November 2015 (excluding travel), plus a thank you in the book.

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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge £1,200 or more About $1,906

    TALK + HARDBACK MEGABUNDLE
    I’ll come to wherever you are in the world and do a 1 hour Web Typography talk tailored to your organisation (in English only, plus travel expenses). You’ll also get the Special Hardback Megabundle and a bonus paperback.

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Funding period

- (30 days)