Friday, September 24, 2010

Another book that caused me to redo a book

Actually, The Non-Designer's Design & Type Books is not a book. It’s two books inhabiting one body. And, although the author is Robin Williams, it’s a woman—not the man who played Mork from Ork, Mrs. Doubtfire, Peter Pan, Vladimir Ivanoff and the Blue Genie of the Lamp in Disney's Aladdin.

The Robin Williams we're concerned with now is the author of dozens of bestselling and award-winning books. Through her writing, teaching and seminars, Robin has influenced countless disciples in design, typography, desktop publishing, the Mac and the Web.

This book comes from decades of experience and combines a new edition of Robin’s The Non-Designer’s Design Book (in color for the first time) and The Non-Designer’s Type Book. Robin defines and demonstrates the principles that govern good design and type. You’ll learn what looks best—or worst—and why.

Robin’s dual-book-pack has help for anyone who has to design a print project, whether it’s a book or a poster for a tag sale or a business card. The information and wisdom applies to experts using professional software like InDesign and Quark Express, as well as to beginners like me who use MS Word.

Here’s some of what I learned:

  • Drop caps can be more than devices to break up gray pages. They can add beauty.
  • Names should not be hyphenated. (I cheat sometimes.)
  • When sans serif text is inserted into serif text, it should be reduced in size by one point.
  • Numbers with ascenders and descenders are “oldstyle figures.”
  • An ellipsis should be looser than three periods, like . . .
  • An ellipsis at the end of a sentence gets a period, like . . . .
  • The style of punctuation should match the word it follows. However, an italic period looks like a roman period.
  • Listen to your eyes. If something looks wrong, it is wrong.
The book is (books are?) a large-format (7 by 10 inches)  paperback with 244 pages. Cover price is.$45.00. Amazon is selling it today for $24.06.

This dual-book is important, informative, useful and reasonably priced; and belongs on every self-publisher's bookshelf--whether you format your own books or hire a professional designer. I've gone through it twice, and also use it as a reference. It has given me new insights that pushed me to redesign one of my books already, and I'll probably redesign two others to incorporate what Robin has taught me. Knowledge is power, and this book will empower you.

Next week is BAD BOOK WEEK.

I'll have new reviews of perfect-bound excreta, plus reruns of classic crapola. I'm sure to piss off some people. Stop by and join the fun. Wear protective goggles and a haz-mat suit, because the shit is gonna hit the fan!

(fan photo from

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