Since its first publication in 1969, Pioneers of Modern Typography has been the standard guide to the avant-garde origins of modern graphic design and typography. In this essential reference, Herbert Spencer shows how new concepts in graphic design in the early decades of the twentieth century had their roots in the artistic movements of the time in painting, poetry, and architecture. Spencer examines the "heroic" period of modern design and typography, the beginning of which he traces to the publication in Le Figaro of the Italian artist Manetti's Futurist manifesto. He discusses the work of such "pioneers" as El Lissitzky, Alexander Rodchenko, and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. He examines the artistic background of the new concepts in graphic design, and traces the influences of futurism, Dadaism, de Stijl, suprematism, constructivism, and the Bauhaus. His text is profusely illustrated with examples of the new typography, shown in genres that range from posters and magazine covers to Apollinaire's "figurative poetry."

Spencer was the editor of Typographica and a premiere type historian. This book is considered the best volume on Modern typography, and is now sadly out-of-print. Copies of this book are getting scarce: highly recommended.