Forget the narrow title of this wonderful little volume. This is a treasure for anybody who creates documents on computer. I confess to be one of those people who have always defaulted to the banal Times New Roman fonts and 12 point type on every document that I produce. I also admit that I have placed two spaces between sentences in most of my professional documents. (This is a no no under the rules of typography. )This small and stimulating book is liberating. It belongs on everyone’s shelf who cares about the art of presentation of words on a page. It expands the knowledge of options available in the selection of fonts, white spaces, and formatting in documents produced by Apple Pages and Microsoft Word. It is both expanding and liberating. It belongs on the shelf of anyone who cares about written presentation along with Strunk and White, and their iconic Elements of Style.
Published in just October of 2010, this book practices what it preaches and provides many visual examples of the rules of good presentation on a page of text, including the selection of fonts, type point size, the use of bullets, block quotations, small caps, large caps, page margins, line length, printers and paper, letter spacing, headings, you name it. Particularly interesting is the section on the example and history of various font styles available on Pages or Word, both serif and non serif. Mr. Butterick, a former typographer and now an attorney encourages the exploration of new options in the selection of font styles.
Did you make your business cards and letterhead at your local copy shop? No, you didn’t, because you did not want them to look shoddy and cheap. If you cared enough to avoid the copy shop, then you care enough to avoid Times New Roman. Times New Roman connotes apathy. You are not apathetic.
Mr. Butterick reminds us that most of the requirements of courts and the legal profession derive from the limitations of typewriters and rejoices in the options that are available to us to improve our presentation with modern computer word processing. He provides a brief history of the development of Times New Roman fonts together with smaller sections devoted to other type faces. I have become a believer and am currently test riding Gill Sans, a sans serif, type style developed by the English artist and sculptor, Eric Gill in 1928.
I complain a lot about SYSTEM FONTS but I won’t say a bad word about Gill Sans -- its overexposed, but it hasn’t worn out its welcome. (With me, at least.). Gil Sans lit the way for other sans serif fonts that combine geometric precision with looser hand-drawn feathers, though many fail to find the right balance.
If you care about the written word, you care about typography and this engaging book is mean’t for you.