I started working on a 10-part series of posts of tips for better typing on a Mac this week. Actually, it began as a single post with 10 tips, but it gradually ballooned beyond my capacity to get it all done before my self-imposed posting deadline. That’s when I changed my mind, thinking I had enough material for ten week’s worth of posts, and decided to break it down to one tip per week.
The 10 tips are from a presentation I did for my local computer user group back in 2004, which was essentially a book review of Robin P. William’s The Mac is Not A typewriter.
However, as I progressed through the old Keynote slide deck and converted the content into blog posts, I realized after a few hours that I had quoted the book directly a number of times as part of that presentation. So I changed my mind again and decided I didn’t need to go to the trouble of creating my own versions of these tips — and risking plagiarizing Ms. Williams — I could just tell you about the book and provide you with a link. So here goes.
As a graphic designer and a self-proclaimed Mac geek I was already familiar with many aspects of typography that this style manual addresses when I became aware of it. But it was (and still is) a delightful read. Ms. Williams approach to writing about design and technology is entertaining as well as educational. She explains why using the typographic principles outlined in her book will help you create better documents. It’s easy to read and can be digested in convenient “helpings”.
My favorite tip — and my most frustrating pet peeve about text I receive to be put into a design — is “Use only one space after periods, colons, exclamation points, question marks, quotation marks — any punctuation that separates two sentences.” Ms. Williams goes on to explain why in compelling terms while bringing historical and technological context. It may be a hard habit to break, but your written words will look so much better.
It may no longer be in print, but it is still available new and used on Amazon and from the publisher, Peachpit. The tips in the book may be subtle, but they can make a big difference if you spend a lot of time writing for any kind of printed publication and even for the web.
Thanks for reading this week. If you have a copy of The Mac is Not a typewriter or get a copy, let me know in the comments what you think of the book. Maybe share your favorite tip.