Type In Use
is a celebration of ultimate communication through the use of letterforms and words
as visual tools. It's not just a training manual. Many books tell you how to do type
on your computer... none of them tell you why. Other books are like eye candy, showing
you lavish examples of beautiful type in award winners from publications and Web
sites. But none of them is able to link the pretty pictures with what really goes
on behind a finely crafted page. Many of the so-called "hot" writers and
designers on the web (you know who they are) spout this and that about fonts and
type, but their yarn quickly runs dry when you ask "how do you know?" You
find that most of the trendy type design books are really more about mechanics than
the real use of type. In fact, if you actually buy Type In Use you're in for a few
surprises. So many writers have propagated their own vague ideas about typography
that most young designers have come to actually take that information as gospel.
Thank God there are still a few like Alex around who will share the truth about where
to put a piece of type on a page.
is not in the violin. I can make an ugly document very easily. I own a computer and
layout software. The problem is, so do many others. Consequently, in the last few
years, the state of publication design has both deteriorated and improved (the hardware
and software can, after all, make magnificent documents in the right hands). The
gap between good and bad design has grown because, after investing fifteen or twenty
grand in a system, the boss puts a visually untrained person at the wheel."
From the Introduction of Type In Use.
THIS MESSAGE SETS THE MOTION of the book toward the goals of helping the reader
become a visually trained craftsperson. The entire book is stacked against succumbing
to the temptation to change sizes, mix faces and alter line spacing purely for the
sake of doing it. Alex takes us (yes, I'm his student too!) through all the steps
of getting our readers to read what we want them to -- crafting ultimately readable
body text, headlines and subheads -- right down to the diminutive details of captions,
callouts and even page numbers! In more than 284 specific visual examples Alex shows
us what really works, why it really works, and how to make the bridge between good
and bad. It's not enough to just see an excellent work. Alex shows you how it was
done and why it's an excellent work.
... I've always maintained that I would rather have
a reader send email and say: "your article really helped me a lot" rather
than "hey, I really like your graphics." Keep in mind that if a reader
says "Wow - what typeface did you use?" they're actually saying "I
didn't read the article but I'd really like to get my hands on that font!" and
therefore you've fallen short on your obligation to the message.
minted visual communicators do not understand that, as designers, we are agents for
the reader. Our job is to compose elements to make them maximally interesting and
comprehensible. 'Maximally interesting' does not mean Hey! Wow! Pop! Zoom! It means
revealing the content of the story instantly and efficiently. "
Alex then shares this quotation by Aaron Burns:
function is of major importance,
form is secondary, and
fashion almost meaningless."
Do you agree? I sure do.