The Elements of Typographic Style: An Infelicitous TitleMay 22, 2009
The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst is a superb book; I have found it indispensable to my work and my personal pursuits. But I avoided reading it for years, because of its title.
The title is an admitted tribute to William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White’s The Elements of Style. It simply adds an adjective to the title of that book, as if this work were nothing more than another application of Strunk & White’s potpourri of advice and admonishment, but on a different topic. Chicken Soup for the Typographer’s Soul. In fact, ETS is an exhaustive primer, reference, and specimen collection for anyone who works with type. It has much more in common with The Chicago Manual of Style than it does with The Elements of Style.
I came across arguments against Strunk & White at the excellent Language Log before getting around to reading my own copy. Now I am not in much of a hurry to read it; having heard arguments from both sides, I don’t suspect I’ll appreciate it very much.
This masterpiece of a book deserves a better title.