How often do we remark on the way a book has been put together – beyond perhaps cursing such things as the smallness or the greyness of the type, the overemphatic display of chapter or section headings, or the eccentric positioning of page numbers? While a typographer’s skill should be largely invisible, the path to a legible, well-articulated text is a complex one. This admirable manual is itself a model of how such things should be done. The niceties it deals with would astonish the ordinary reader. Although a great deal more detail is provided than any but the professional would need to know, many of the main topics covered must be of general interest. A greater awareness of these fundamentals could help us all – and reviewers in particular – to a better appreciation of a well- made book, not least to discover the root of our dissatisfactions.
The authors, Michael Mitchell and Susan Wightman, run the Libanus Press, an outstanding small design studio and publishing house which began life thirty years ago printing fine illustrated books by letterpress. The discipline of metal typesetting is to today’s typographer as sail training is to the modern mariner, and from