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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.

"Music 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.

Alex says:

"Newly 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:

"In typography,

function is of major importance,
form is secondary, and
fashion almost meaningless.

Do you agree? I sure do.

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