Perhaps a slightly oblique answer, but I recommend you buy The Non-Designer's Design and Type Book by Robin Williams. There is no better resource, and you'll find all the answers you need to get you rolling, both for typography and layout. This is especially true for the "instructions on how to use these typefaces" -- that's a book length answer inappropriate here.
That said, you don't need as much as a dozen. If you sift out a couple of sans, a couple of serifs and a couple of scripts, you'll do better. You can always expand your type "vocabulary" as you gain experience.
If you're working with one of the Adobe Creative Suites you have Minion Pro, a great workhorse serif face and Garamond or Caslon for a traditional look. Bernhard Modern also works very nicely for more decorative work. For your second sans, Futura is probably a good choice with a multitude of uses; its close relative, Century Gothic, comes with your computer. Myriad Pro is a highly readable workhorse sans that's also good for headings and works well with Minion. Bickham and Caflisch are two very different scripts with a broad range of uses.
On the Mac, you have Helvetica (not great for extended reading, but very respectable for headlines) as a second sans, and Lucida Grande (similar to Lucida Sans Unicode on Windows) as good sans choices if you don't have the Adobe fonts.
Behind these suggestions is another consideration. Your workhorse typefaces should come in a good range of weights, which makes them much more versatile. It's best to have a Light, Regular/Roman, Semibold, Bold and if possible Black/Ultra-Bold in any one sans. For serif faces a semibold is very useful, and an extra-bold is occasionally handy. Condensed, and occasionally Extended versions can also be very useful (please don't stretch or compress a regular typeface!).