No End of Ways to Go Wrong

A great post by Dan Visel over at if:book: Dan learned to set type this weekend, and in the process learned a whole lot about the haptics and temporality of the most persnickety aspect of book production, getting the letters and spaces on the page in the right order. Legibility being just about the most basic condition of possibility for any book of the usual sort (leaving art books and their ilk out of it).

Visel: "There's no end of ways to go wrong with manual typesetting. With a computer, you type a word and it appears on a screen; with lead type, you add a word, and look at it to see if it appears correct in its backward state. Eventually you proof it on a press; individual pieces of type may be defective and need to be replaced. Lowercase bs are easily confused with ds when they're mirrored in lead. Type can be put in upside-down; different fonts may have been mixed in the case of type you're using. Spacing needs to be thought about: if your line of type doesn't have exactly enough lead in it to fill it, letters may be wobbly. Ink needs attention. Paper width needs attention. After only four days of instruction, I'm sure I don't know half of the other things that might go wrong. And at the end of it all, there's the clean up: returning each letter to its precise place, a menial task that takes surprisingly long."