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Book Review: “The Mac is Not a Typewriter”

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mac In my previous occupation as a graphic designer, the creative team was required to read “The Mac is Not a Typewriter,” which was a blessing and a curse. I was blessed with information which helped me build my skills as a designer, but I am now cursed to be forever aggravated by a never-ending misuse of typography by otherwise intelligent coworkers. Thanks to an age-old rule of using two spaces after periods on typewriters, I am forced to quietly suffer while finding and replacing those two spaces with the appropriate single space for use in published documents.

The author, Robin Williams, focuses on common mistakes made when typing documents, including the proper use of hyphens, en and em dashes, kerning, quotation marks, widows and orphans, and serif versus sans serif fonts. The rules discussed apply to any operating system: Mac, Windows, as well as web and mobile—although they barely existed at the time of publishing two decades ago.

Almost everybody is guilty of typographic errors, even C-suite professionals. I admit, I may have used a hyphen between dates once or twice (the proper punctuation between ranges is an en dash), however, I do my best to remember what I can, and implement what I’ve learned in my own work wherever possible.

Just as it is important for designers and typographers to follow these guidelines, it is also necessary for the everyday computer user. Personal computers have created publishers out of all of us. One can easily create invitations and books online, as well as write a blog post, for example. There may be less control over formatting online, even so, we can definitely utilize at least a few of these standards throughout our works.

This guide is vital to everyday writing. After all, your next blog post could be the one that separates you from the amateurs.

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