A dangerously good book on typography

I recently left a review of The Complete Manual of Typography on Amazon.

I think typographers or designers who are really into typography have got to be a little crazy. There is just so much to learn—history, fonts, technical terms, rules, best practices, techniques, software…and so much of it is so nuanced. The differences between one font and another may be subtle but significant, or the proper spacing between letters may be achieved with minuscule adjustments. Luckily for me, a lot the adjustments recommended in this book aren’t even possible on the web, so I don’t have to worry about it until I’m working on logos, business cards, and the like. Anyhoo, here is my review, 5 stars:

“Dangerous” because there is enough well-presented information in this volume to set you on the path to typography snobbery, and in this age of Word, fast and cheap self-publishing, DIY advertising, etc., you’ll start seeing mistakes everywhere.

I disagree with a previous reviewer who said there was not enough practical advice in this book. On the contrary, it is full of useable rules of thumb, best practices, etc., regarding common typographical quandaries. For example, what are the options for setting an extract, or “blockquote” in the web design world, off from the main text? Answered on page 221.

While this book does contain valuable information for web designers, almost thankfully a lot of what Felici prescribes is not even possible on the web. I say thankfully because, while I want textual content to be legible and readable on the web, I don’t relish working out fussy “H&J” (hyphenation and justification) settings for every piece of text. No browser would agree on its implementation anyway…

This book is an excellent read and reference volume for any designer, print or web.

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