In the Forward to Butterick’s Practical Typography, type designer Erik Spiekermann explains, “A few hundred years of type and typography have established rules that only a fool would ignore. (Or a graphic designer keen to impress his peers.) For all those who need to communicate clearly and even add a modicum of aesthetic value to their messages, this publication provides everything you always wanted to ask but didn’t know how to.”
I point you to it because I think it is a solid, straightforward text for learning the fundamentals of type composition and a useful introduction to Butterick’s particular, workman-like approach to design and usage.
It would be useful to anyone who has an interest in typography but particularly to those who write, edit, and compose pages for publication online or in print who want to learn or recall some of the fundamental do’s and don’ts.
Though the book is free to access, the author asks for a donation (yes I did).
Matthew Butterick, who is also a lawyer, is the author of Typography For Lawyers, Essential Tools For Polished & Persuasive Documents. Though it is clearly written for lawyers, most of the book is applicable to non-lawyers as well. As he states in its introduction, “If you ignore typography, you are ignoring an opportunity to improve both your writing and your advocacy.”
I recall the story of him writing letter to film director Brad Bird chastising him about his use of the Verdana typeface for the subtitles of the film, Mission Impossible. Bird’s response came in the form of a tweet and was dismissive: “…If you direct a big film on a tight budget & schedule, chances are fonts won’t ever be your most pressing problem.”
I can’t think of an example that better illustrates the chasm between those who specify and apply typefaces without giving it a thought and those who find significance in the many ways typefaces, properly used, are used to clarify the communication of information and make it easier to read and digest.
The image at the top shows typefaces designed by Butterick…
Thanks to Jeff Fisher for originally introducing us to it Mr. Butterick.