The art of typography has historically been a form led by specially trained professionals, well-versed in the workings of setting and design. With the technological revolution the population at large holds the reins to the world of type, often muddling the more specific aspects of design. For the less informed, Jim Williams provides Type Matters!, an introduction to the finer points of type. Designed to offer basic instructions to amateurs, the book succeeds in conveying esoteric typesetting knowledge by way of example.
While the details of letter placement and typeface design are typically left to professionals, nearly everyone is affected by type’s subtle messaging, consciously or not. “Typefaces are like clothes for language: they come in thousands of different styles, and all say something different about the wearer,” writes Williams. “It is therefore important to select the most appropriate typeface for the message.”
The book’s soft leather cover opens to a series of well-designed pages, the knowledge of type embedded in lines of examples. Introductory concepts like weight and letter spacing are paired with lesser-known bits to demonstrate what ultimately constitutes an elegantly executed page, as well as what gets in the way. The world of type also offers a delightfully strange lexicon, so you’ll be armed with intimate knowledge of jittles, picas, nuts, ligatures, ink traps, muttons and kerning.
The beginner’s reference ultimately aims to improve the appearance of the documents that represent us. Whether it be a carefully executed resume or a quickly jotted email, the appearance of words on a page is a subliminal indicator of the person who wrote them.