Why would I care about a book like Type Matters? Back at the beginning of the PC era; Apple sought to differentiate itself through its understanding of design. Steve Jobs had the Macintosh team apply the knowledge he’d gained dropping into a college course on typography. Fonts and kerning became important.
Jobs also drove his team to distraction. The original Macintosh operating system had a 2D graphics library called QuickDraw that was a core part of the system. It could create primitive objects such as lines, rectangles, polygons and arcs. Jobs berated his developers. They didn’t have an oval or a rounded rectangle in its capabilities. He took them outside looked around the real world and pointed these shapes out to them.
Decades later, we care about the principles of UX; but don’t pay quite the same attention to typography. Books are often designed to be to be read on screen and then a paper version is printed from the same layout. Often the sole consideration that will be given to typography will be by the digital designer who will be wondering what web font will be used. Spacing and kerning won’t have that much attention paid to it. Instead we accept ‘good enough’ in the way that the word appears on the web or in an app.
Which is where I think Type Matters comes in. Jim Williams brings decades of experience of graphic design to the book. The book is a thin Moleskine sized volume that provides a good guide to fonts and their use. It’s a book that is easy to read cover-to-cover, or dip in and out of as you feel like it.
It combines good design practice with a history lesson on the elements and consideration of putting words on a page: whether its made of velum, paper or pixels. Williams’ writing is accessible for the non-designer. It provides a better understanding about readability and legibility considerations. More design related posts here.