Size, weight, font selection, alignment, grids, spacing, hierarchy... these are tools for conveying information through text. Each tool imparts meaning in its own way, and a basic understanding of each tool's subtleties should be part of each information manager's repertoire.
In thinking with type, 2nd Edition, Ellen Lupton has crafted an excellent introduction to typography, sketching out the history of the art form and packing in a host of practical examples, definitions, rules to embrace and "type crimes" to avoid.
Lupton divides the content of her book into three main sections: Letter, Text, and Grid. In each, she gives some historical background, followed by practical rules for applying each element of typography. For instance, in the Letter section, we learn about the development of metal typefaces and their evolution from shapes that emulated the marks that people naturally made on a page, to shapes that were more clearly machine-produced, to those that were created in response to the constraints of digital displays. Lupton then teaches us how to identify parts of a font, how to think about size and scale, how to mix typefaces and how to work with fonts on a screen.
thinking with type is a very readable book, very well written, and beautifully rendered. I highly recommend it either as an introduction to typography, or as a reference work for the casual designer.
(This post originally appeared on The Machine That Goes Ping.)