Re: Typography in technical communications

Subject: Re: Typography in technical communications
From: Gladys_We -at- SFU -dot- CA
Date: Tue, 9 Mar 1993 17:08:54 -0800

>I'm very curious about how typography is approached in the tech-comm field.
>I work, among other things, as a freelance graphic designer. The largest
>part of my work is in editing, designing, and publishing technical reports
>and manuals.

>Any special techniques you've picked up or books to recommend?

Hiya, folks!

I work for the writing & publishing program at Simon Fraser University
(Vancouver, Canada). Since I've done some tech writing in the past, and we
offer courses in technical writing, I'm very interested in this maillist.
I'm also interested because I'm working on a Master's degree in
communication, and it's likely that I'll be focussing on electronic
communication technologies/electronic publishing (yes, this is vague, but I
have another year before I have to come up with a title!) for my thesis.
This is tangential to technical writing, but the two do have some relevance
to each other.

In answer to Eric's question, I've just received two excellent books on
typography. The first is called "Stop Stealing Sheep and find out how type
works," by Erik Spiekermann & E.M. Ginger. It's published by Adobe Press &
distributed by Hayden, a division of Prentice Hall Computer Publishing.
(1-800-428-5331 is the telephone number in the fine print.) We received it
from someone at Aldus, so you might be able to get it from them, too. They
cover type families, which ones "get along" together, and have lots of
examples of functional creative typography (as compared to the typography
that's closer to art pieces that's in most creative type books). The title
of the book comes from a Frederic Goudy quote: "Anyone who would
letterspace lower case would steal sheep."

The second book is called "The Elements of Typographic Style," by Robert
Bringhurst (Hartley & Marks Publishers) and is great for a historical
perspective on the evolution of type. (Herman Zapf wrote back to the
writer, "I wish to see this book become the Typographers' Bible.") I really
enjoyed the writing style, but it's certainly not as practical as the first
one if you need to do something fast. Great as an introduction to the world
of type, though, and to some of the concepts that designers try to impress
you with. It's published by a Vancouver publisher; let me know if you want
more information & I'll email you the ISBN number/publisher's telephone
number (I don't have the book handy right now).

- Gladys

Gladys We * Writing and Publishing Program
Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada
we -at- sfu -dot- ca

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