Type from the Desktop. (book reviews)
by David English
With literally thousands of typefaces to choose from, it's hard to get a handle on what makes one typeface different from another. As with fine wines, the subtleties of tone and color are lost on those of use outside the discipline.
If we think of the creation of typefaces at all, we think of it as an arcane science performed by cloistered academics with bad eyesight.
Yet with the growing popularity of desktop publishing and Windows-based applications, understanding type is becoming as basic as knowing how to copy a file.
Fortunately for those of us who are new to this area, Clifford Burke has written an excellent introduction to the use to type on the PC. Type from the Desktop balances both art and science for a fascinating look at why typeface matters. Burke livens up what is usually a dry subject with bits of historical trivia, many practical tips, and examples of this own favorite typefaces.
He begins by describing the basics of setting text on a page--margins, white space, line length, line spacing, type size, tracking, kerning, and alignment. Much of this material will be familiar to readers involved in desktop publishing, but the author explains it well and always brings it back to the elements that aid the reader.
Burke progresses to a short history of the major trends in typefaces, a lively discussion of the different type-face categories, and a quick tour of some of the great typefaces (which I found to be the most interesting part of the book).
He concludes with a down-to-earth look at various design considerations, the steps you can take to determine the best layout for you material, and advice on how to work--and communicate--with service bureaus.
If you're confused about type-faces or just want to learn more about how to use them on a page, pick up a copy of Type from the Desktop. It clearly stands out from the other books on type--like a 72-point Poster Bodoni headline set against a full page of 12-point Times.