Nicely Said

Writing web content is hard. Writing clear, useful, and friendly web content is much harder. Fortunately, Nicole Fenton and Kate Kiefer Lee’s Nicely Said, a concise, practical writing guide, will help you to accomplish that with ease. Whether you’re a designer or content strategist, you’ll learn finding your voice and writing how you speak. Require reading for anyone who works with content.

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Book Design

A thorough and illustrative guide to book design. Andrew Haslam starts with the origins of the book and offers his own definition: “A portable container consisting of a series of printed and bound pages that preserves, announces, expounds, and transmits knowledge to a literate readership across time and space.” Then he delves into design principles including grids and typography. He even provides technical tips such as paper engineering, printing and binding. It’s both a practical and inspirational reference for book designers.

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Designing Books: Practice and Theory

A breezy yet comprehensive reference for book design. Clear fundamental principles, brief categorization of different types of book and beautiful selection of design by Jost Hochuli make Designing Books by Hochuli and Robin Kinross worthy of any designer’s desk. The book itself is elegantly in Monotype Baskerville with strong complementary of Univers 75 Black.

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On Book Design

Drawing from three decades of experience on book design, Richard Hendel skillfully extracts principles of what goes on inside the book. Concise explanations, generous illustrations and inside information of how designers work make it a must-read not only for book design, but also for any publication design that aims at creating effortless reading experience, including the web.

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Graphic Design: A New History

Unlike Meggs’ History of Graphic Design, which begins with the invention of writing, Stephen J. Eskilson’s Graphic Design: A New History, skips right to the development of type and typography starting from Gutenberg to Bodoni. The introduction started off promising, but Eskilson doesn’t delve into typography as much as Megg in the rest of the chapters.

As far as I could tell, the only ‘new’ information on the history of graphic design is in chapter 10. Although I am glad to see Eskilson covering web design, I am disappointed to find out that only Flash and motion graphic go down as part of graphic design history. Who really care about the Flash-based promotional web site for Snakes on a Plane?

I have to read this book for my class on graphic design history, but I definitely recommend Meggs’ over it for clearer references and much more engaging reading experience.

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A Vietnamese Reference Grammar

A comprehensive guide for mastering the nuances of Vietnamese language. Thompson’s deep knowledge of Vietnamese is testified through his clear explanation of the differences in pronunciation between the north, central and south regions and his visual illustration of the complexity of the Vietnamese family relationships. The book’s rich contents and the brief history of Vietnamese writing system are just what I needed to move forward with my final graduate project, which should be done in 2015.

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CSS3 Layout Modules, Second Edition

Reading Rachel Andrew’s pocket guide is quickest way to catch up on the latest CSS layout techniques. The second edition comes with new examples to demonstrate the new CSS properties in action. Although they are still not ready for client projects, I’ll definitely use flexbox for this site in 2015.

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Type on Screen

Researched and written by graduate students at MICA and edited by Ellen Lupton, Type On Screen is a good overview of typography for the web, digital publishing and other screen-based technologies. With concise writing and compelling visual examples, you’ll learn a bit about the history of web fonts, hinting and designing for screen reading. The book is beautifully designed, but sadly set in chunky Akzidenz Grotesk as body text.

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Inside Paragraphs: Typographic Fundamentals

Miles Davis used to tell his musicians: “Don’t play what’s there. Play what’s not there.” In other word, pay attention to the space in between the notes. In similar concept, Cyrus Highsmith advises designers to look at the typographic space (such as glyph, counter, letter and line) rather than the text in a paragraph. The purpose is to understand what’s happening behind the scenes when setting body copy. It’s a great little book to have for quick reference.

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Detail in Typography

In a concise but insightful guide, Jost Hochuli exams the elements of micro-typography including letters, words, lines and their spacing. His brief explanation of saccades is easy to grasp. Hochuli designed the book himself using Adobe Minion for body text and Futura Bold for headings. Needless to say, it’s a beautiful little book.

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