Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Typography, a second thought

217 words

While I am in typography-ranting mode – I made the following observation about books, maths books in particular: There are old, say 1960s and earlier, books which are properly typeset and a pleasure to read. Then there are current books, which are mostly typeset in TeX and thus a pleasure to read (well, mostly, some publishers seem to be daft enough to ruin TeX's typography, say, by using Times as the main typeface but sticking with the Computer Modern maths fonts).

However, between those two phases there seem to have been typographical Dark Ages in mathematical publishing. The time when cost-cutting had already kicked in but TeX wasn't widespread yet. This period ranging from somewhere in the 1970s until deep into the 1990s gave us almost unreadable books which are simply typed on a typewriter. I find them extremely hard to read.

One example is Chern's excellent book Complex manifolds without potential theory. I've used both the 1979 and the 1995 edition. The 1979 edition is properly typeset and easy on the eyes, while the 1995 edition is typewritten. This has kept me from buying the book so far, as I won't spend money on something I wouldn't like reading. So, I'll have to keep my eyes open for a second-hand copy of the original edition.

February 22, 2003, 19:37

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Comment by john h: User icon

Thanks

January 2, 2005, 7:54

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