setting type

i need help on setting type. i have about 25 cases and don’t know what i’m doing. especially when it comes to leads, slugs, m quads, n quads etc… putting letters in upside down left to right- i understand. it’s the spacing and making everything so even and orderly that i’m not grasping. anyone know of a good - detailed- illustrated book on this that I should pick up?

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Hi Erika,

A really good book is General Printing by Cleeton, Pitkin, and Cornwell. It’s available on Amazon. It’s got just what you need in the way of detailed instructions and illustrations — not only for typesetting, but for most other aspects of printing. Also, somewhat for instruction and also for entertainment since it’s from another time, there’s an industrial education film on YouTube:

To get an idea of how to make your pages look better, you also could look at Better Type by Betty Binns. It’s got lots of examples of the same text set differently, such as with different line spacing — very enlightening!

Keep us posted on your progress and please don’t hesitate to ask specific questions about a particular form you’re working on. Pictures welcome!


Hi Erika,

You might look into getting General Printing: An Illustrated Guide to Letterpress Printing by Cleeton, Pitkin and Cornwell.
It’s a great book and there is some information about typesetting.

Looks like I was a half second too late!

For a general — but rather thorough — lesson on typographic customs and circumstances, check out Robert Bringhurst’s “The Element of Typographic Style”

That reference does a great job defining all of the decisions a typographer must make without standing too strongly for any particular custom. As a hand-compositor, I’ve found that the book is easily applied to the physical lead, though it is not specifically a “composition and typography” reference.

Don Black Linecasting may have some softcover copies available reasonable price for priceless information.They are listed here in the yellow pages.


type setting is not so complicated, Of course, you have to know the point system. I have several good books that are very simple and can teach all about type setting, etc. These two books are the best books for beginners. Many other topics covered also. All about letterpress. Books are $25 each plus shipping. Email for more info.

Best book, or leaflet, I have seen is the one issued by Adana called Type and Typesetting. It goes through the whole process step by step.
Email me and we can talk about getting you a copy.

Mike Willshire Jacobs

everyone, thank you! I’m def. going to get a book on this- mike, i’ll send you an e-mail.
thanks again!