The Mac is Not
a Typewriter, 2nd Edition
By Robin Williams
Published: APR 21, 2003
88 pages, Price $11.69
- What the Book is About
- This is a bible for anyone
who writes anything. While it may seem obvious that a typewriter has equally sized
letters, numerals, and punctuation, the differences that a Mac makes in transitioning
to a more typeset-like environment where these sizes may vary are astounding. This
book has many practical grammatical and typing rules, phrased simply and with examples
that are easy to remember. From a simple letter to major publications, the role of
the Mac in bringing all of your best work to each is described in enough detail to
set your work far above others.
- Target Audience
- Since the book deals more
with how we use and write the English language on a Mac, and how to make our creations
more visually appealing, it makes little difference what level of computer proficiency
one has. The grammatical content you may have learned by the eighth grade, or maybe
never, based on some of the examples given. The keyboard proficiency is primarily
applicable to common text documents, with which anyone with an interest in this book
should have adequate experience already.
- What to Expect
- In reading the book, I learned
things that I should have known years ago. I learned that with a Mac you have an
infinitely broader palette from which to present the subtle details of documents
in a way that brings to them a high level of professionalism. You have choices when
you create a document. If you know the subtleties necessary to create a document
that will really look good, you might as well make that choice. It will definitely
affect the impression it gives people that see it.
- There are many highlights
in this book. The first thing the book says is don't use two spaces at the end of
a sentence! How can this be? I've done it all my life. Well, in typesetting, it just
doesn't work. Check out anything that has been professionally published for the last
many, many years. It's true.
Remember indent markers and tabs? They never seem to do exactly what you think you
are asking them to do. Well, no more! There is an excellent explanation of just exactly
how and why they work, and they really do.
Simple things, like all caps, are discussed with some simple logic that works.
Accent marks are always a problem. With the pointers in this book, it's a cinch.
The next time you update your résumé, you will know how to add the
Don't use a double return for paragraph spacing. Find the paragraph format control,
and add 6 points or so after, depending on the font size. It tightens up the presentation,
and doesn't leave excess white space.
Lots of common sense items are included, like don't use both extra space and indents
to separate paragraphs. Either one is adequate.
There is a discussion of font selection based on readability and legibility. These
criteria don't give the same results.
Don't use five (5) spaces to indent the first line of a paragraph, as we did with
a typewriter. Something much smaller, like an em space (the width of the letter M),
To be fair, many of the items discussed in the book have an equivalence in the PC
world, but since most of my work is done on a Mac, I really don't care.
- Mac Guild Grade
- B+ (Great)
- Final Words
- This book is a great reference
book, and is actually fun to read.
It is difficult to give this book a letter grade. Many of the books we look to are
overflowing with technical details that took the author many hours to develop and
to substantiate. Books like that which are done well deserve high marks. This book
is fairly simple, yet that may be its strength. If it were 500 pages long, perhaps
no one would read it. As it is, it is a fairly easy read, and is a great book to
have on your shelf for reference.