James Felici has worked in the publishing industry—in both editorial and production—for more than 30 years. A veteran journalist and former managing editor of Publish magazine, he has set type by hand as well as on systems from IBM, Linotype, Compugraphic, CCI, and Magna. His books include The Complete Manual of Typography (Peachpit Press), The Desktop Style Guide (Bantam/ITC), How to Get Great Type Out of Your Computer (North Light), and contributions to The Macintosh Bible (Peachpit Press). He has written for numerous publications, including PC World, Macworld, and The Seybold Report, and has been a featured speaker at Seybold Seminars, Macworld Expo, and other events worldwide.
- Features: Written by James Felici on July 21, 2010Finding typefaces that work well together can be tricky. There are no mix-and-match rules, and even attempts at thoughtful guidelines tend to be too general. In a new intermittent series, I'll look at specific design examples—typeface marriages—and tease out insights into why they work (or don't). For a summary of the conclusions I draw from each case study, skip down to the subhead "Lessons Learned."
- Features: Written by James Felici on July 7, 2010By and large, fractions are a hassle to typeset, so work-arounds have become the norm. However, there are some occasions that demand fractions. Maybe we've gotten used to referring to business-sized paper as "8.5 by 11 inches," but a hat size of "6.875"? It just won't do. Fractions come in three basic forms, as shown here:
- Features: Written by James Felici on June 23, 2010The characters in the fonts we use have very distinct shapes, finely and painstaking delineated. When printed in solid colors—typically black—the shapes and subtleties of these characters can be reproduced with great fidelity. But when printed using screened colors—especially when using several inks—the edges of the characters are defined by a haze of dots rather than a crisp edge between color and background. It's a formula for fuzziness.
- Features: Written by James Felici on June 9, 2010In the best of all possible worlds, we’d have type-savvy proofreaders or copy editors to check every project before it goes out the door. More often than not, though, quality assurance falls to the designer, page-layout artist, or compositor. Having spent years as a proofreader in a commercial type shop, I’ve created the following checklist of typographic details to make that final once-over easier. I’ve divided this list into two halves: problems that can be located using electronic tools and problems that require human eyes and judgments.
- Features: Written by James Felici on May 13, 2010In our digital world, things rarely get better without getting more complicated. That's certainly the case for fonts, where the latest and greatest model is OpenType. This column is all about what OpenType is, and isn't. First of all, OpenType is a font format, a programming structure that allows you to create type in a given typeface. As such, it varies only in the particulars from the other two popular font formats you've probably used: TrueType and PostScript Type 1. Those particulars, though, are pretty substantial.
- Features: Written by James Felici on April 28, 2010Once upon a time -- that is, before the industrial and electronic revolutions permitted a host of shortcuts -- typefaces were designed one point size at a time. From the small to the large, each iteration of a typeface was designed for optimal legibility and beauty at a particular size. Fine details that would be lost in small sizes could be elaborated in larger ones. Consequently, it took many size-specific fonts to set a job in a single typeface. Titling faces, designed for use in large sizes, are a vestige of that tradition, and they're one that you should take advantage of.
- Features: Written by James Felici on April 15, 2010I’m in one of my bossy moods today, so this column is about what not to do when it comes to type. This week’s no-no is making visible changes to the character widths of the type you set. The key word here is visible. I was provoked to write on this subject by an election flyer handed to me in the local market ahead of the recent French elections for regional governments. When I saw the text, I had one of those “What’s wrong with this picture?” moments. The type looked weird, but why?
- Features: Written by James Felici on April 1, 2010Like most people, I come back from vacations with photos of monuments, natural wonders, cute kids, and colorful events. But I also bring back many pictures of type, and I’d like to share some of these with you. Not only are they cool to look at, but they have interesting stories to tell and lessons to teach. Many of these typographic wonders are hand-painted. If you’re interested in vernacular style and personal expression, you’d better look quick because these things are disappearing.
- Features: Written by James Felici on March 17, 2010Even among those who obsess about the text we set -- tweaking kerning, tracking, alignments -- numbers tend to get short shrift. It's as if there's nothing to do with them but make sure they're in the correct typeface. But it's just not so -- you have more options and more control than you might think.