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Type Matters!

A new guide to using typography hits all right notes
Type Matters!

Type Matters! designed and written by Jim Williams.

Jim Williams, foreword by Ben Casey
Type Matters!
www.merrellpublishers.com/?9781858945675

‘Typefaces are like clothes for language. They come in thousands of different styles, and all say something different about the wearer.’

How perfect is that as a way of defining the job of a typeface? Jim Williams’s new typography guide, subtitled Simple tips for everyday typography and developed from a series of talks and a booklet devised by Williams, a part-time graphics university lecturer, for his students, is filled with such pithy, concise descriptions and explanations, and it’s a total pleasure to read. There are of course numerous type guides available, and on first hearing of this new addition to the genre, you have to ask what it offers that existing ones don’t. The answer is simplicity. Having struggled with weighty type tomes at college, poring over the minutiae of the craft and its history in overly detailed guides written by authors whose love of the subject blinded them to the boredom threshold of most mere mortals, Type Matters! comes as a blessed relief. In a beautiful little softback book that apes a large Moleskin notebook and uses two placemarker ribbons in black and red, echoing the book’s red instruction and black illustration texts, Williams runs through everything we need to know in order to make text use better – all done in just three chapters, beginning with an introduction and background to type before getting into the nitty gritty of how to use it in the following two chapters, one dealing with headline and display type, the other with setting text.

Across these two sections of the book, the importance of not just accepting what the computer gives you, and knowing how to refine and improve a setting and text, are beautifully illustrated through ‘before’ and ‘after’ spreads showing how tittles, hanging punctuation and shape can all make headings and displace text look much better if you understand how type behaves at different sizes and in different layouts. In the chapter on text setting, Wiliams demystifies kerning, tracking, leading and the like, again offering tips on how to improve on technology’s default settings for all of these.

It’s accessible, simple and transparent, thanks to Williams’s pithy, concise explanations, and the book’s careful design, and ultimately, it can’t fail in its intended aim of making the user’s use of text in everything from letters and documents to posters and boosk look as good – and be as readable – as possible.



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