Type Matters Book Review

Our Creative Director Matt Davies takes some time out to review the books that have influenced  and which are influencing him and the studio here at Attitude Design.

This time we are looking at "Type Matters" - a new book by Jim Williams.


Type Matters Book Review


Wow! This book is fantastic! Not only in how it is put together with it's effective design and materials but also in the no-nonsense content which clearly shows what makes good typography. This book is a must for design enthusiasts!

Basic Details

Title: Type Matters Simple tips for everyday typography
Author: Jim Williams
Date Published: 2012
Publisher: Merrell (www.merrellpublishers.com)
Price: £17.95 ($29.95 US)
ISBN: 978-1-8589-4567-5
Purchased from: Nottingham Contemporary Art Gallery

The author

Jim Williams is an expert typographer with a wealth of experience in the advertising industry. He currently lectures part time at Staffordshire University which he has done for the last 18 years and also works closely with the letterpress company Blush Publishing. He is commonly reported to be obsessed with perfect typography and so is an ideal author for a book about typography.
In the Preface of the book Jim Williams explains how the book came about to be written explaining that it was based on a series of talks he gave in Manchester which he made into a handout for his students. This in turn was reviewed by Creative review and due to it's popularity he produced this book.
His philosophy throughout the book is to educate and demonstrate legible and clear typography. His knowledge is based upon years of experience and a great passion for traditional printing.

Purpose of the book and content

The purpose of the book is stated clearly in it's tag line "simple tips for everyday typography". The book attempts ot educate and explain what makes good typography and gives brilliant practical examples to improve how type is used. There are three main areas:

  • 1. Background
  • 2. Setting Headlines and display type
  • 3. Text setting
There is also a fantastic lexicon at the back explaining all the technical terms. All of these items help the book to fulfil it's purpose which is to help the reader understand how to make their type better looking and easier to read.


The book is packed with fantastic tips and examples of how to use typography. It is a must by for anyone who has to use text on a  regular basis - which, lets face it, is anyone who owns a desktop computer. This is a book for the people - but not just any people as it's focused in on people who want to make their type better. It's therefore ideal for graphic designers.
It covers both well known areas of typography like 'weight' and 'letter spacing' as well as the more obscure areas like 'ink traps', and 'hanging punctuation'. Each item is detailed with a example of poorly used type and then effectively used type. It mainly uses short paragraphs of text interspersed with examples so it is easy to flick through as well as read. This makes the style of the book really easy to digest and especially useful to beginners in typography - that is not to say that even experienced typographers will not get things out of it.

Style & Appearance

The style of the book is clear and simple. The appearance of the book is wonderful and it is this which first attracted me to the book whilst I was visiting the Nottigham Contemporary Art Gallery. Any book claiming to give tips on typography must have good typography and this one certainly does.

The cover is set out simply. It is a soft leather wrap cover with embossed white and red text. immeidtaly it screams "I know about great typography" at you. Inside the inner paper cover choice is again well considered. The paper oozes quality with what feels to me kile 120gsm uncoated cream paper. Only two colours are used throughout the book, red and black and the pages are laid out creatively with illustrations, pull out quotes and clear examples. The corners of the book are beautifully rounded and it houses a handy elastic closing mechanism so it's a great book for commuting. Also two ribbon bookmarks have been added to the spine which come in very handy.
Overall then this book looks great, it feels great to hold and it is an inspiration simply in it's design let alone the great content that lies within it's covers!


Would I recommend this book to others? Undoubtably yes! Its so well put together, both in its content and execution that it would make a fantastic gift for anybody interested in design. If you are just starting out in design it is a book that you would never regret reading and even if you have been in the design industry for many years its a great book to flick through to remind yourself of what makes good typography good.
Matt Davies
Creative Director | Attitude Design