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4.3 out of 5 stars
The Complete Manual of Typography: A Guide to Setting Perfect Type
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
This book belongs in the pantheon of well written, well presented expertise. If you liked Bringhurst's gem of a book, add this one to your library. The organization, writing and examples are exemplary. Felici's sense of humor is a treat. His sense of fit a balm to the weary.

If you are type & text junkie this will soothe your jones. If you care about type this will make it clearer. Even if you are an oldster with plenty of practice this book will add something to your arsenal. At the very least you will find how to explain all that H&J arcania more clearly to others.

And, as a last thought, I appreciate the restraint in the design of the book. It serves the subject well.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on September 9, 2005
I am only half way through this book (so much in it I have to take it a few pages at a time). The history of type is covered (and should be read to learn vocabulary...but has a great glossary if you just want to learn terms in other sections as you go along...21 pages of glossary.)

Seems like 1/4 of the book is history and the architecture of font AND typeface (yes...the book is so in depth it tells the difference between the two). The final 3/4 is on typesetting good and bad, how to do it with various computer programs (though no program is emphasized as each program will be good at one thing and bad at another and he wants to keep it as generic as possible so you can apply equally). It is written in a fairly straightforward language and you only have to scratch your head a couple of times (Plenty of Visual Examples are included). In fact, seeing how they do typesetting of this review is already causing some agrivation now that I know just a few things to look for. .

As I read in a magazine I use for graphic design...the best advice a graphical designer for what to have a great knowledge of is Typography. Even if your desing work is middle of the road your typography will give it a more cohessive look and feel and is probably the top number one thing to master...and I am beginning to agree. The book is set up to be used as either a reference guide or a textbook...your choice. I recomend this book as your first choice. Another book is "Logo, Font and Lettering Bible" by Cabaraga...if you are into designing, letters, logos and symbols.
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47 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on September 28, 2011
I bought the first edition of this book when it was first published in 2002. I have been reading Felici's articles on typesetting online and always appreciated their clarity and practicality. In the 10 years since the first publication, many technological changes have taken place, and I hoped that these would be taken into account in the 2011 edition. However, I was greatly disappointed. Still a lot of space is given to the discussion of typewriters vs. word processing vs. professional page layout software, or bitmap vs. antialias appearance of fonts on screen. The screen shots in the book date back to Mac OS 9, to a time before InDesign was even on the horizon. The section on print and web resolution issues doesn't take more recent developments into account at all--simply inexcusable for a book on type published in 2011. The glossary and index sections are far too generously spaced and unreasonably take up 80 pages, making them very impractical to use. Unfortunately the design and layout of this book is as stale as it was in 2002, and the poor paper quality is a big turnoff for a book that sells at nearly $35.
Half the content is as helpful and relevant as it was in the first edition, but the other half is dated and has become irrelevant. I don't see any need to buy the new edition.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on January 17, 2003
After searching for sources on typography, I chose this one based on reviews and the index. A+++ decision on my part as it has to be the best reference available. Reading it has been more than a pleasure as it is so complete and well written. Mr. Felici discusses each area of typography with fine detail and clarity. The book is perfectly organized, concise, beautifully typeset. Anyone and everyone who wishes to communicate well with whatever software program available to them and for whatever purpose (graphic design, print, desktop publshing or web) would benefit greatly from Mr. Felici's Complete Manual of Typography!
Thanks, James for all the details in one outstanding source.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2003
I've been aware of Jim Felici's extensive knowlege of typography through his work as a journalist and editor for various graphic arts publications. When I learned he had written this book, I knew it would contain a wealth of knowledge. This book should be the basis of a required course of study for any professional who works with type. We've all struggled to read so many POORLY typeset pages, we're now painfully aware that GOOD typesetting really matters! Anyone who works with type should care about producing eminently readable pages, and The Complete Manual of Typography will teach you how to achieve that goal. A great cover-to-cover read as well as a handy on the spot reference tool. You'll keep it within easy reach right next to your Chicago Manual of Style!
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2003
I always buy books with the idea of reselling on Amazon.com after I'm finished. It's not working in this case: My Felici looks like it's been left out in the rain and attacked by our dog. That's because I've dragged it everywhere while carefully making my way through it, a few enjoyable pages at a time. Very few books get that kind of time and attention. One measure of a technical book, I've found, is the completeness of its index. Felici's runs to fully 35 pages, in addition to a glossary of similar length! What's not there is also telling. Felici doesn't pad his book with type specimen pages or with machine- or software-specific how-to-do-it steps. This one is a winner!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2012
This book was read in the .pdf version on an iPad 3. The quality of the book in .pdf format was excellent, and it worked well for me, the only difficulty being figuring how to get the file to my iPad, as it would not e-mail.

Amazon reviewers have attacked this book for being a bit outdated, and not providing a significant update from the first edition. I have not seen the first version and so cannot make comments on that. The artistic aspects of typography do not seem to change much over time, and so I'm not sure exactly what is being referred to. Felici does provide a rather broad survey of typography, though certainly not a comprehensive discussion of the topic. He engages first in the history of typography, goes on to discuss the nature of hot type, and then the changes that have occurred in the world of cold type. There is much discussion about the nature of typefaces and fonts, with comparison to typewriting. Part II of the book discusses the particulars of how to set type, mostly laboring on how to provide an artistic look to a typeset piece, while elaborating on the conventions foreign and domestic for type. Felici remains mostly program-independent, in that he offers general principles rather than laboring over how to accomplish a task using Quark vs. InDesign vs. anything else out there. The last two chapters were on the use of style sheets (not really typography) and resolution issues for print vs. screen and web presentation.

I appreciated Felici's focus on the art of typography rather than the mechanical principles of producing a page of type. For the mechanics of typesetting, I'll read an InDesign or Quark text. It is unfortunate that typography is so seldom viewed as an art, even among those who take pride in their printed works. I can speak of that first-hand. I entered a typography apprenticeship immediately after high school, and obtained by journeyman's card along the way. With that, I worked by way in various typesetting houses and printshops through college and medical school. Even after becoming a surgical oncologist, I still enjoyed playing with InDesign, reminiscing on my use of the very first edition of Aldus Pagemaker, even though my avocation was elsewhere. My typography days were at the bitter end of the cold type era, and I was trained in the use of linotype and handset type as well as phototypesetters, our shop using an Alphatype machine. This machine was a veritable nightmare, constantly breaking, and rarely accurately providing a smooth baseline of type. Entering type went to a magnetic tape that gave one no clue as to the entry, and mistakes had to be corrected a line at a time, as there was no backspace like on a standard computer. One was so grateful to just get the manuscript in print, that artistic elements were often overlooked. The linotype colleagues were no better in that occasionally a few lines of type were reset to eliminate a river or distracting element, yet artistic elements were more lip-service than actively sought. It is a touch amazing how much more critical one is allowed to be, and how much greater control one has over the type with a program such as InDesign. I lack any sense of nostalgia for the "good ole days". I still have my two volumes of lessons from the International Typographical Union, a union that no longer exists, and soon few if any people will be alive that have any clue about the operation and maintenance of a linotype machine. The two volumes from the ITU sought to instill an artistic sense into the typesetter, and was mostly effective based on the technology of the time.

The Complete Manual of Typography was a joy to read, written in a very easy style, occasionally repeating things in different chapters, but mostly allowing a cover-to-cover read, after which one will have a fairly decent grasp of contemporary typographical art and style.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on June 16, 2005
Although I'm not an expert and therefore cannot comment on whether this really is a complete manual, I can say that the book is very good. It's full of helpful examples (nicely placed in the margins) that help the reader develop good typographical intuitions. It is extremely accessible, even for a non-specialist, and from all that I can tell, it is quite comprehensive.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on September 13, 2003
When type is set badly enough, it can give you a headache -- and type is often set badly enough to be an ongoing annoyance. When it's set well, it becomes transparent, allowing the content to come through without distractions. And when it is set very well indeed, it enhances the content as good music enhances a movie. This book illuminates the interlocking problems involved in maximizing the ease and enjoyment of the reader. It's directed to writers, editors, proofreaders, designers, typesetters, and buyers/managers of their work -- but general readers who appreciate good design will also enjoy it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 15, 2008
Unfortunately, there are lots of really ugly books being published now.

The rise of desk-top publishing, self-publishing and Print-On-Demand has made it possible for anyone with a credit card and blood pressure above zero to act like a publisher.

There are no licensing requirements, and unlike years ago when future printers worked as apprentices to expert printers, anyone can now put words on paper. A lot of those words are just dumped, with little or no preparation, thought, knowledge, or artistic ability.

(The worst-looking book I've seen lately is Best in Publishing & Print on Demand by David Rising. Rising tries to advise authors on self-publishing, but his own book is a great example of what not to do.) Best in Self-Publishing & Print on Demand: Plus Marketing Your Book on The Internet (na)

Fortunately, there's a WONDERFUL book that will tell you what to do.

The Complete Manual of Typography by James Felici is both a beautiful book to look at, and a complete yet easy-to understand reference work that will be invaluable to any self-publisher.

It will help professionals using sophisticated publishing software, and will even help amateurs like me who are trying to make the most out of Microsoft Word.

It will help you avoid stupid mistakes, and enable you to make your books both prettier and more professional. It includes the typographical history, secrets and tricks that used to be passed from father to son (but seldom to daughters).

I had a course in printing back in eighth grade, and a course called Advertising Art Production while in college. I've also worked in advertising agencies, I've designed award-winning websites, and have written several books. But Felici taught me a lot. He taught me so much, in fact, that I revised two of my books. I Only Flunk My Brightest Students

Price is $50 (before discounts) but it's worth every penny if it helps you avoid looking like an idiot. If you buy it from Amazon.com, the price is much less.

Michael N. Marcus, author of "I Only Flunk My Brightest Students: stories from school and real life" http://www.amazon.com/dp/098166170X
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