RE: OT: A Note on the Type

Subject: RE: OT: A Note on the Type
From: "Janoff, Steve" <sjanoff -at- illumina -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 21 Oct 2010 11:44:34 -0700

This is a nice one, Tammy -- thank you for posting.

Continuing on the topic of front matter, this is one of my favorite
excerpts from front matter, from the Preface to Merriam-Webster's
Dictionary of English Usage (that Preface being written by E. Ward
Gilman, the volume's Editor):

"It is the fate of most of the harmless drudges in the lexicographical
world to receive their most material tribute in the unread front matter
of a book. This time-honored tradition will be continued here." (He
then goes on to list the contributors.)

Sometime in the distant past I was inspired to read selected front
matter, and less back matter, of writing reference books (agh!).

The payoff can sometimes be great. In the front matter of
Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, I think 9th Edition (the 11th
is not as well stated on this one), they explain how two pronunciations
next to each other in the dictionary entry for a word do not necessarily
imply that the first is more "proper" or "acceptable" than the second
(there are other symbols to indicate hierarchy). I think they state it
as something about the physical constraints of the printed book require
that one be placed before the other. Up to that time, I had always
thought that the first pronunciation ruled. They give more
discrimination than that, but the gist is that unless there's a
qualifying symbol or word (such as "also" or "sometimes" or a symbol
denoting what is often considered incorrect pronunciation, such as
"nookyoolar" for "nuclear"), then both (or more) adjacent pronunciations
are used about equally (and legitimately) by educated speakers of the
English language.

I always thought that was fascinating.

Oh, and for literary flavor, let me give you the ending paragraph of the
7-page Preface from Frank J. Wilstach's "A Dictionary of Similes" from
1916 (my linebreaks):

In conclusion I would quote the final passage of Thomas Fuller's
preface to
John Spencer's "Things new and old, or a store-house of Similes":
"But the reader will catch cold, by keeping him too long in the
porch of the
Preface, who now (the door being opened) may enter into the house

(Another writer ended his Preface with something like, "As we stand upon
the threshold of the first chapter...." Beautiful stuff.)


-----Original Message-----
From: On Behalf Of Spectrum Writing
Sent: Thursday, October 21, 2010 6:31 AM
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: OT: A Note on the Type


I am an avid reader (Grisham, Cornwell, Turow, Crichton, etc.) and an
historian as well and generally pay little attention to all the
matter in the book that talks about whom the author wishes to thank,
but this one note that was in the back of a book that I am currently
(Lucy, by Laurence Gonzalez) really caught my eye! Evidently, the
really likes all aspects of being a writer and it really illustrates the
lineage of our profession.

A Note on the Type:

This book was set in Adobe Garamond. Designed for the Adobe Corporation
Robert Slimback, the fonts are based on types first cut by Claude
(c 1480-1561). Garamond was a pupil of Geoffry Tory and is believed to
followed the Venetian models, although he introduced a number of
differences and it is to him that we owe the letter we know as "old
He gave to his letters a certain elegance and feeling of movement that
their creator an immediate reputation and the patronage of Francis I of


Tammy Van Boening
Spectrum Writing, LLC
info -at- spectrumwritingllc -dot- com


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OT: A Note on the Type: From: Spectrum Writing

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