Using Typography Properly

So, while I’m not a designer, I’m called on a surprising number of times to do a little web graphic, or some kind of visual element for the web. And more often than not, I’m stuck in a quandry of what font to use, or if there’s already a font on the site, how to match it. Worse yet is if I’ve been asked to insert a little graphical element, à la wingdings.

So I’ve got some questions for the designers of the world out there, such as:

  • Is there a good “Intro to web typography” or “typography for dummies” style book out there that could teach me the basics? The sort of real basics as the different types of type faces, where’s appropriate uses of them, etc.
  • How do you all remember all the hundreds of thousands of type faces? I mean, when you’re looking for one. Can you/is it a good idea to print out a character-map of each typeface to keep somewhere for reference? And how would I organize such a thing?

Ok, not so many questions, but they confound me. I can never find the face I want, even if I know I have it, and I’m never sure about whether it “matches” with whatever else is on the page.