| BOOK EXCERPT
The school of close spacing
typography is distinguished by close and even spacing of words and this
is always to be preferred to loose or excessive word-space, even if it
means numerous word-breaks in a paragraph or on a page. This is not a
heretical idea but, as Geoffrey Dowding shows in Finer Points in the
Spacing and Arrangement of Type, an 'established practice for over
five hundred years':
An examination of
the best work of the most famous printers since the mid-fifteenth century
seems to indicate that one belief was held commonly, and adhered to consistently,
by them all: they believed, as all good printers nowadays believe, that
when words are set for continuous reading they should always be closely
spaced and not en or em quadded! 1
first Penguins were published in 1935 and in a year over three million
were sold. Owing to the great production volume the composition was always
done by many printers scattered throughout the country (among them Cox
& Wyman at Reading, Hunt, Barnard & Co. and Hazell, Watson &
Viney at Aylesbury, Clays at Bungay, Suffolk, C. Nicholls & Co. at
Manchester, the venerable R. & R. Clark of Edinburgh) and no consistent
style existed before Jan Tschichold was put in charge of typography in
1947. Before Tschichold, by Gerald Cinamon's account, 'the design and
production for the first 12 years varied from the shoddy to the ingenious.
'2The Penguin Composition Rules (originally
four pages, expanded to eight pages after Tschichold's tenure) were over
time adopted by most of the British book printers and their influence
continues to the present day. The first words read: 'All text composition
should be as closely word-spaced as possible. As a rule the spacing should
be about a middle space or the thickness of an "i" in the type
note here that while much of book typography produced at present is poor,
the history of typography is chequered and the present situation is not
the result of continuous or inexorable decline. But that is cold comfort,
for unfortunately the basic tenet (the 'absolute principle', as Ruari
McLean calls it) of close word-spacing is not very well observed today,
even at the better houses, and slovenly composition with excessive word-space
and the deplorable rivers of white which occur as a consequence
is now quite common. So common that perhaps there's now a taste for it.
The reason for this is a matter of much debate and of course there are
the usual suspects: faults of technology, corporate cost-cutting (by outsourcing
and other means), a change of ethos in the industry and the craft and
in society, democratisation of printing arts brought about by desktop
publishing, lack of traditional training and so lack of appreciation for
standards of quality.
of quality are seen to suffer during periods of technological transition
and in the graphic arts industry the past fifty years have been a period
of constant technological transition. And it is true that hyphenation
routines have been faulty and parameters defining middle word-space,
The perils of outsourcing. In the 1990S many of John Murray's
books were typeset by Pure Tech India Ltd (now called Kolam Information
Services Pvt Ltd), at Pondicherry, and though the publisher's costs may
have been reduced, the quality of typography was severely diminished so
that only a handful of divided words are found in Ancient as the Hills
by James Lees-Milne (1997) but there's no shortage of wordspace. It may
have been that directions were given to hyphenate as little as possible
to keep reading and correction costs down. The reference marks (which are
doubled here - figures should have been used) are set in smaller point-sizes
than the text and positioned higher than the ascenders. Proper Bembo italic
non-lining or 'old style' figures appear in the italic date-lines only after
p. I 19; until then they are Baskerville italic lining figures (in the first
two entries on pp. 3-4), as can be seen here, and then they are Baskerville
italic old-style figures, but once, on p. I I 5, just before they're correctly
set, they are roman Bembo old style! This oddity is all the odder
because Bembo old-style figures are properly set in an earlier book of Lees-Milne's
diaries of the same style, A Mingled Measure (1994), also produced
by Pure Tech.
It is a challenge to read such a book (worthy as the writing
is) but the good news seems to be that the publishers have now restored
or much improved their standards. It was discovered by many publishers that
the costs of correcting an outsourced job could make it more dear than if
it were done at home. Typesetting has lately been done at Servis Filmsetting
Ltd in Manchester. Reduced from 234 mm deep.
called 'normal', 'desired', or 'optimum' space, have been unsatisfactory.*
In 1991 Lawrence Wallis took a particularly poor view of'optimum space'.
word spacing is a modern malaise afflicting much composition and emanates
principally from computer line justification algorithms targetting on
a socalled 'optimum' space, instead of on a thoughtfully-established minimum
space appropriate to the typeface in use. . . . Opening up the text to
a wider optimum space induces an ugly and discomforting gappiness which
deprives a page of colour and cohesion. The Seybold organisation in the
U.S.A. has been vocal and prominent in encouraging software developers
to incorporate an optimum space in line justification algorithms and to
the detriment of fine composition. Optimum, as a description, is a scandalous
misrepresentation for a wider than necessary average interword space.4
one wonders if poor hyphenation routines weren't a greater problem. In
any event, the width of the 'optimum' space which was found in desktop
page-layout applications in 1991, such as QuarkXPress, was relatively
easy forthe user to adjust (or specify) - as it is now. Indeed that was
the idea. The 'optimum' space can be rendered identical to the 'thoughtfully-established
minimum space' if you desire, and even if it is wider than the minimum
it can be adjusted in such a way that it will not induce any gappiness
- indeed to the thickness of an 'i'.
If truth be told, the normal or 'middle'
word-space of both the Monotype metal-cast typesetters and the Monophoto
filmsetter was a little on the wide side also and actually very near the
width of the QuarkXPress wordspace when adjusted to 100 per cent.
An adjusted optimum space of 80 per cent was used for the text of this
composition should be as closely word-spaced as possible.
Optimum word-space 110 per cent (QuarkXPress default
composition should be as closely word-spaced as possible.
Optimum word-space 100 per cent
composition should be as closely word-spaced as possible.
Optimum word-space 80 per cent
greater mischief perhaps was that the Quark defaults allowed for (or caused)
automatic adjustments of character-space (see fig. 3 on page 13). Adjustment
of character-spaceincreasing or decreasingby various methods
to mitigate the excessive word-space which occurs when an inappropriate
measure is used, or when hyphenation is inadequately applied, is an expedient
which has been practised since the early 1960s when second-generation
filmsetting made it possible, but it has never been done to good effect.
There seems lately to be a trend in this direction notwithstanding and
automatic modification of character-space and also of character widths
(to reduce hyphenation and render closer word-space) are featured in one
of the newer but already very popular applications ('poised to take publishing
into the new millennium'5): Adobe InDesign
(introduced in 1998).
'normal' in later versions of the Corel and Xerox Ventura page-layout
applications (user-modifiable h&j's did not exist in earlier versions),
'desired' in Aldus (later Adobe) PageMaker and InDesign, and 'optimum'
4,5, or 6 units of an IS-unit
em (a lower-case i had a width of 5 units); a facility for 3unit space
was available only as a special attachment.
In slovenly typesetting a collateral damage is done by the great contrasts
which occur between lines with excessive word-space and lines with normal
wordspace. In the caption to fig. 1 I impute the poor state of recent book
typography to outsourcing but shoddy work can just as easily be produced
at home, as can be seen in Rayner Heppenstall's journals, The Master
Eccentric, published by Allison & Busby in 1986, typeset at All
Print Services, Bromley. The main text, set in 11/13 Bembo, has suffered
letter-spacing (or 'positive tracking') and, as in the example of fig. I,
hyphenation is nearly non-existent and so great splodges of word-space are
found in every page. Note also the tightlyspaced headline, folio set smaller
than text (the size of the footnotes), the entry dates drifting above the
entries, the want of nonlining figures, f-ligatures, the curious treatment
offootnotes set with reverse indents, full figures and unnecessary mutton.
whiting-out (spacing of paragraphs) which has got to be done in any diary
is here however done rather sloppily with the entry for 26 March too close
to the footnotes. It
would seem that desktop publishing was not the cause of the 'modern malaise'
as this job was produced long before desktop publishing applications existed
and there are many such examples. Reduced from 234 mm deep.
'Edit Hyphenation & Justification' dialog box for QuarkXPress version
4, showing the default settings. In the box
under 'Name:' the user labels his/her customised parameters. When 'Break
Capitalized Words' is unticked it is not possible to
divide any word which is capitalised. Automatic modification of character-spacing
by 4 % is allowed.
(a) The Hyphenation dialog box for Adobe InDesign version 3, showing
default settings. If indeed 'words longer than 5 letters' is the default
(as it appears to be on the particular application I've used) that is
well (longer than four would be better), but other examples in Adobe's
own literature show the number as set at seven. Note the 'Hyphenation
Penalty Slider' and the choice of 'Better Spacing' or 'Fewer Hyphens'.
(b) The Justification dialog box with 'Glyph Scaling' for automatic
condensing or expanding of letter-forms (horizontal scaling). The default
settings in both programs (Quark and InDesign) concern us because they
suggest to the user a desirable standard of style.
the idea of modifying character-space and design of characters would have
less currency if a better approach to word-division were taken. It may
want some undoing of certain cherished prejudices. Of the matter of specifying
a minimum number of letters of a divided word to follow a hyphen, a user's
guide for InOesign counsels: 'Some people don't mind if the "ly"
in "truly" sits all by itself on a line. You care about type,
so you set this to at least three.,6 And
this seems to have become an idée reçue.
InDesign provides two devices for control
of hyphenation which are not featured in other applications: (I) the Paragraph
Composer which, according to the company's literature, 'considers the
implications of breakpoints across an entire paragraph' and evaluates
'the downstream implications of a line break' and so adjusts 'earlier
lines in a paragraph to eliminate unattractive spacing later on' in order
to render 'more even spacing and fewer hyphens - desirable goals in any
publishing context',7 and (2) a 'Hyphen
Slider', which 'recalculates the hyphenation for the paragraph',8
'so you can strike a balance between even text spacing and minimal hyphenation;
if you select the Preview option, you can see the results interactively'
9 (fig. 4), because 'when even spacing is
achieved by an over-reliance on hyphenation, the resulting "ladders"
or stacked hyphens are equally undesirable' .
This sentence appears not in the original
Penguin Rules but in the expanded Rules of 1972: 'An effort should, however,
be made to avoid more than two successive hyphens and hyphens at the end
of pages, particularly recto pages. 10 This
is obviously a right and proper principle which accords with every book
printer's principles, but unfortunately it is nowadays often invoked at
the expense of proper spacing.
One of the illustrations in Geoffrey Dowding's
Finer Points is a detail of the 42-line Bible of Gutenberg, printed
in Mainz, c. 1455. In this particular detail there are seven hyphens
in succession. On page 15 he writes:
is a most unfortunate fact that many apprentice compositors are still
being taught that to have more than two successive break lines, i.e. lines
ending with a divided word, is bad practice. This kind of training encourages
the easy, slovenly solution: it is infinitely preferable to have a number
of break lines succeeding each other than to have openly spaced lines.
school of close spacing demands firm adherence to its principles; it does
not allow for ambivalence, diffidence, indecision; it views with suspicion
the sliding of Hyphenation Penalty Sliders.*
If it's a choice between an 'awkward' but permissible break (at ly,
er, ed (if pronounced as a syllable" and a conspicuous
increase of word-space in a given line, it is better to break.
'And in ease of reading we tend to gain
more by the close spacing of words than we lose in the momentary pauses
occasioned at the ends of lines by word-division: one pauses at the end
of each line in any case.' (Geoffrey Dowding, Finer Points, p.
There are two principles of word-division:
the etymological (or rootbased) and the phonetic (or syllabic), the latter
long-established in the US and now widely adopted in Britain (though it's
been vigorously resisted especially in the old groves of Academe). An
example: etymologically: omnipo-tent; phonetically: om-nip-o-tent.
There are, depending who you ask, 350 to
480 million speakers of English in the world at present but not as many
who are are well-versed in etymology; when the majority of people read,
however, they are cognisant of the
But in favour of the idea we may refer to this passage from Ronald McIntosh's
Hyphenation: 'Some years ago, when the old technology still ruled,
a famous dictionary was set by this dedicated breed of workers. In the
printed product only four or five hyphens showed on a double-column page.
When the same text had to be reprocessed by a powerful computer, every
page displayed as many as 20 or 30 hyphens. The new method could not match
the quality of the old because of the limitations of the computer program,
which had not been instructed how to "cut and try again" for
a better result. Happily, automatic justification is now getting better
all the time.'
QuarkXPress it is often possible to bring an 'Iy' up (if it's not followed
by a punctuation) by placing the cursor just before the offending word
and keying 'command-hyphen'.
The deplorable ly-break is sanctioned
on p. 58 of The Editor's Manual of Penguin House Style (1973):
'Do not leave behind or take over a syllable ofIess than three letters
except such common prefixes and suffixes as: a- de- re- in- un- -Iy (not
-es -ed -er)'. I have yet to leave behind a solitary a, but I'll
suffer no qualms if I must take down er or ed and even es.
the words they're reading. When a word is judiciously divided by the phonetic
method the end-part is foretokened by the fore-part. The phonetic method
naturally deals in inconsistencies (photo-graph, photog-raphy,
psycho-path, psychol-ogythe short o in photography,
biography, etc., is an ectasis, a lengthened syllable: one says
pho-toh-graphy, bi-oh-graphy, *
but the only way to indicate this (phonetically) is to break after the
g) and it is disdained mainly for this reason, but the etymological
method seems to have similar shortcomings. Ronald McIntosh, the co-inventor
of an algorithmic program for hyphenation of 'forty to fifty languages
depending on how you count language' called Hyphenologist, wrote an excellent
book (Hyphenation, 1990) and of the etymological method he says:
'There are so many cases of uncertainty and unhelpfulness generated by
the etymological method that one must question both the validity and the
utility of this approach.
It assumes more knowledge in the reader than can reasonably be expected.'
In some houses both the etymological and
phonetic approaches are taken (or neither is shunned). Hart's Rules,
on page 14: 'divide according to etymology, where this is obvious: atmo-sphere,
bio-graphy, tele-phone, transport, un-equal. Otherwise divide according
to The Oxford Spelling Dictionary. 12
The etymologico-phonetic approach which
has been advocated also at Cambridge and Penguin, and which is still advocated
in the thoroughly revised and modernised Hart's Rules, now called
The Oxford Guide to Style, will not mean fewer inconsistencies
- the etymological proponents' main complaint about the strictly phonetic
approach. We should note here that the phonetic method, this 'frowned
American infiltration into British practice 13
has been employed in the UK for decades. Cox & Wyman, in Types
at Your Service in 1962, recommended a strictly phonetic method (interesting
that their house style then was different to Penguin's, their main client),
as did Cowells in 1952 and Mackays in 1959.
Long before the etymological principle of
word-division or the American phonetic method of hyphenation prevailed,
words were divided at the printer's (the compositor's or proof-reader's)
discretion. In Hyphenation Ronald McIntosh observes:
recently as ten years ago there was still at work a legion of grizzled
compositors, journeymen who answered to the Imperial Father of the Chapel
in their trade union devotions, and to the pernickety proof-readers and
editors for their spelling, their adherence to house style, and their
word-breaks. They were the inheritors of the once jealously guarded know-how
of the art of priming, which had changed remarkably little since Gutenberg,
and they served as a discreet but vital interface between the author and
Following the custom of their craft, sometimes
also described as their commonsense, the comps placed the hyphens where
they seemed necessary and where they looked right.
that is more to the point. The method by which the best typography can
be achieved is the one which should be used.
a variation of this pronounciation. In any case, the 0 is the stressed
With David Fawthrop. Ronald
McIntosh was also the co-inventor (with Peter Purdy)
of the Linotron 505, the first widely-used CRT typesetter, manufactured
1967/3 by Linotype-Paul.
Judith Butcher, Copy-Editing,
2nd edn (Cambridge, 1989), p. 64
the problem of inconsistencies or 'cases of uncertainty and unhelpfulness'
in either approach lies the problem of 'bad breaks' which are computer-generated.
If the phonetic is more reader-friendly than the etymological it is not
necessarily more computer-friendly and such breaks as 'Be-mbo' will occur
even with advanced versions of Quark.
'The break-hyphen, both British and American,
is not so robust as it once was, partly because of its propagation by
untutored computers in the early days of electronic composition. These
produced word-breaks by the million, but since they relied on elementary,
even simplistic, algorithms they very often generated "idiot breaks"
'(McIntosh). This might have been the reason for the execrably unhyphenated
texts shown in figures 1 and 2.
The version of QuarkXPress which is used
for this book has however seldom wanted its hyphenation corrected ('Be-mbo'
was one of the few anomalies) and InDesign seems also to have a reliable
hyphenation routine. The user of modern programs can choose American or
British (RP) routines and spelling dictionaries with confidence to divide
such words as 'pro-gress' or 'prog-ress', 'con-troversy' or 'controv-ersy',
and Anthony Po-well, Co-lin Pow-ell. These are brighter days. *
Even when a hyphenation routine to ensure
close word-spacing is maintained there are now and again some disobliging
or words attached to abbreviations, numbers, dates. It's bad form to take
down ble or que, and proper names should never be broken between first
and middle initials, nor between forename and initial, nor should VIII
be separated from Henry (though any single name, forename, surname, compound
surname, should be broken when the situation warrants). It is never pleasant
to have to separatea title (Dr, Mr, Sir, Pro[) from its holderorthe initials
of orders, affixes, etc. (C.H., a.B.E., M.D.), or Jnr,Jr, but when it
must be done it won't do to be squeamish. It is also never nice to bring
a.m. or p.m. down to a new line, and it's even more vexing to leave p.
or pp. (or fig., vol., etc.) at the end of a line. And what of dimensions
or dates? Whoever desires to produce good typography will deal with such
details carefully, rather than invoke simplistic and ineffectual rules
which forbid the -ly etc.
In his Finer Points Geoffrey Dowding
also advocates, as Eric Gill did, for the use of an ampersand to replace
'and' in any line of a text where it can effect better spacing of the
line. He cites these words from Gill's An Essay on Typography:
absurd rule that the ampersand (&) should only be used in 'business
titles' must be rescinded, & there are many other contractions which
a sane typographer should encourage.14
Hyphenologist program is '''data driven" from rule bases that are
specially developed for each language taking into account "custom
and practice". We find however that "custom and practice",
dictionaries and published methods are substantialIy different from each
other, and often internally inconsistent. Hyphenologist does not therefore
reproduce any specific system of hyphenation.'
Disobliging typographicalIy: internet addresses, unspaced proprietary
names (HarperCollins, InDesign).
ampersand may be used or not used in resettings and it would not be necessary
to use the symbol when quoting from printed texts in which it is used:
it is a typographical element, such as a double eff, rather than a textual
Geoffrey Dowding shows a detail of a page
of Francesco Colonna's Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, printed by Aldus
Manutius at Venice in 1499, containing a great number of ampersands which
'despite the frequency of their occurrence. . . do not obtrude themselves
15 Indeed a very good case is made for the
use of ampersands 'in a sensible & logical way' but it is so much
at variance with the practices and tastes of the present day and also
ofDowding's day that it doesn't look like ever gaining acceptance. It
was obviously not very easy to follow this practice even in hand-composition
but, save for a special function such as InDesign would offer, the job
would be scarcely less difficult nowadays.
On pages 32-3 of Finer Points, Dowding
says that 'The indention of the first lines of paragraphs often produces
an ugly serration of the left-hand edges of pages or text columns especially
when the matter consists of very short paragraphs, e.g. in conversational
passages.' He suggests therefore that 'well-designed paragraph marks,
either set flush or overhanging the text, should be considered as an alternative
means of marking the beginnings of paragraphs.' Gill used such paragraph
marks in his Essay; they are not used in Finer Points (which
featured for didactic reasons a 'traditional method of setting') but are
used to good effect in Dowding's second book for the Primers for Students
of Typography series, Factors in the Choice of Type Faces (fig.
5), which is also set ragged-right (or with fixed word-space), as Gill's
of our first volume [Finer Points in the Spacing and Arrangement ofType]
may remember that ragged-edged setting was advocated for work in narrow
measures, and also, on occasion, for work in normal measuresas a
means of securing a high standard of composition from an indifferent printer.
In this book the pages have been set with an uneven right-hand edge for
three reasons. First, to achieve with maximum economy what the best printers
of the past insisted on, and those of the present still insist onclosely
word-spaced lines of text matter; and second, to obtain this spacing consistently
on a normal Monotype keyboard, that is, without special keyboard attachments.
And lastly, to give students an opportunity of comparing the traditional
method of setting text pages, as in Finer Points, with those set
with an uneven right-hand edge.16
ragged-right setting would look well in a book with a type area exceeding
customary depth and the only reason this book is not set ragged-right
is to show our h&j's in action.
Geoffrey Dowding's Factors provides
us with a superb example of Monotype Imprint. He uses stemless paragraph
marks from Monotype Lutetia in the manner of Caxton. It is a pity that
special paragraph marks are seldom found in the character-sets of digital
typeseven the unique paragraph marks of Octavian have been replaced
with the common-or-garden kind, alas! It is interesting that the paragraph
marks in Factors are never used for 'running-in' the paragraphs
and are only occasionally used in this manner in Eric Gill's Essay.
For the right edge (as well as left edge),
Geoffrey Dowding also advocates
Geoffrey Dowding's Factors in the Choice of Type Faces (Wace,
1957), set ragged-right in 10/12 Monotype Imprint and 'printed on
Wiggins Teape Dover Opaque Offset Snow White paper D/Mediurn 701b'
by Benham & Co. Ltd at Colchester. Paragraph marks from Lutetia,
ampersand (on p. 97), no points after No (for number) and p (for
page) and no space between 24 and pt; 'contained' is broken at the
ed (p. 96), the inverted comma (open quote) in note no. 2 on p.
96 overhanging to avoid 'untidy' indention (as prescribed in pages
21-2 of Finer Points). It is a first -rate job of design
and composition. It is also a very good example of this excellent
Monotype face, the digital form of which is regrettably unserviceable.
Reduced from 187 mm deep.
punctuation and this is something which Adobe InDesign advocates and offers
as an 'option' they call Optical Margin Alignment. It is described in
their literature with their special terms'frame' and 'story', meaning
text area and total continuous text of a document.
selected, it can adjust the position of characters at either end of a
line in order to make the margins of a text frame appear more even; while
the effect is most pronounced for punctuation marks, such as quotes and
hyphens, the positions of other characters are subtly adjusted as well.
The amount that characters adjacent to the frame edge move depends on
the point size you enter in the Optical Margin Alignment field of the
Story palette; the value you enter provides a target baseline point size
to use when adjusting characters at the margins of frames in the story.
Because this attribute applies to an entire story, you'll get the best
results if the value you enter matches the point size of your body text.17
in this and nearly every other of its features, InDesign tends to be over-zealous
and the option causes disconcerting misalignments (or undesirable adjustments)
when 'the positions of other characters are subtly adjusted as well'.
Although one can specify the degree to which the hanging occurs (partially
or fully outside the measure), one cannot specify for which characters
or which edge (e.g. only the punctuation on the right edge and not the
letter A on the left).
marketing of filmsetting to printers in the 1950S and 1960s was owed in
large part to the pains taken to make the product resemble as closely
as possible the metal technology it proposed to replace.* This
was true not only for the designs of the letter-forms of types but also
for the sidespaces or side-bearings peculiar to a type which determine
fitting or character-space and thus the 'colour' of composed
text. Some significant discrepancies occurred none the less when the designs
of metal types were adopted for filmsetting types and usually the spacing
of certain letter combinations of the latter was greater than the former:
in film setting types a single type design and character-space was often
used for all sizes of setting and so an 'optimum' spacing (not too close
for small sizes) was needed. The design and character-space
of the digital versions of Linotype and Monotype faces usually followed
the filmsetting types with only occasional and mostly negligible deviations.
Digital types (or 'fonts')§
are supplied with pre-programmed values for side-bearings, and also for
special character combinations known as 'kern pairs', and these values
are called 'metrics'. All the characters of a font must have values for
side-bearings whether or not kerning (or 'pair-kerning') values are additionally
specified. Generally the character-spacing of a digital type is determined
by the side-bearings values but in many cases the characters are fitted
with rather rough-wrought side-bearings and the manufacturer will then
modify the spacing of certain character-combinations by
By 'metal' I mean machine-cast types (Monotype or Linotype), not foundry
Also called letter-fit. Character-space is also called intercharacter-space,
letter-space; side-bearings are also called side-walls.
Monotype produced proportional designs for display or text sizes for many
of their 'Monophoto' faces.
Character-sets of any size of a particular type.
(a) Some lines of text from the third volume of Sir John Rothenstein's
autobiography, Time's Thievish Progress (Cassell, 1970), set in
machine-cast 11/12 Monotype Ehrhardt and printed by Ebenezer Baylis &
Sons Ltd (The Trinity Press). (b) The lines set by myself using
QuarkXPress and the
PostScript version of Monotype Ehrhardt with character-spaces adjusted
in Fontographer to emulate those of the metal version; (c) with
the character-spacing as supplied. In both b and c the headline
is tracked with 20 Quark units; the em-rule was condensed 10 per cent
to match the rule in a.
kern pairs. * When the type is used
with an application that 'supports kerning' (QuarkXPress, InDesign) the
kern pairs will, by default or by operator's action, override the side-bearings
values. This is known as automatic kerning; when automatic kerning is not
applied the spacing is determined entirely by the side-bearings values.
The character-spacing of the type used for
the main text of this book was
adjusted, using a program called Macromedia Fontographer, to render it more
like the original metal version. The machine-cast type which I used as a
model is considerably better
than the digital version as supplied for having a closer character-spacing
generally (the digital version's kern pairs notwithstanding), but it has
not got the tucked-in points and commas and other closed-up character combinations
which are often seen in digital types and are effected by pair-kerning.
The unclosed-up spaces in such combinations as Fa, T e, V 0, y., etc., of
metal types were owed to the verticali ty of side-bearings; to bring the
characters closer together they'd have to be kerned (in the method used
for metal types) and that would have rendered them vulnerable to breaking,
or special sorts (logotypes) would have to be made, but it is questionable
whether or not they should have ever been altered.
It is of course now possible to specially adjust every conceivable combination
of characters but it was also possible to do that in pre-digital filmset
This is often done in order to provide optimum spacing when the type is
used at small point-sizes.
A PostScript version of Mono type Ehrhardt set in I I -point.
From the manufacturer's specimens.
and in the 1960s David Kindersley advocated for a complete reworking of
the character-spacing derived from metal types:
has brought us an entirely new set of circumstances. No hard and fast
barrier need exist between letters. Letter-spacing can once again reign.
Each space can be the direct expression of each character. 18
letter should appear to be exactly in the centre (i.e. in a passive position)
between its two neighbours. To me this is the only criterion.' 19
I rather believe this theory is better applied to new designs than to
types derived directly from earlier versions. Not everyone, moreover,
believes as Kindersley did, that the machine-cast metal types were so
fraught with error. In Letters of Credit Walter Tracy writes:
there is the London typesetter who was heard to say, 'Before the introduction
of the adjustable spacing program filmsetting looked like metal setting'
- as if the printing of the past, from Aldus and Estienne to the Elzevirs
and on to Whittingham, Rudge of Mount Vernon, the Doves Press, Nonesuch
and Curwen, to omit many, lacked a desirable but unattainable improvement.20
of the digital versions of formerly metal book faces feature such closed-up
character combinations as mentioned above; there seems now to be quite
a preference for them; they are considered to be correct and desirable;
allegedly it is the 'cheaper' or inferior digital types which do not feature
them. This view accords with Kindersley's:
schools used to teach 'students' that their compositions should either
pass beyond the frame or be kept well within, but never finish just touching
the frame. I think this is a valid statement. In the same way a letter
should ideally override its neighbour if the square law dictates. However,
there are purists who speak of letters as sacred. They say no letter should
violate another by lapping over it. To meet this somewhat dreary concept,
true spacing must at that point be abandoned.21
let us consider Walter Tracy's remarks about the'" kerning"
routine' used in electronic or digital typography, 'which allows a letter
to intrude into the "air space" of another':
often the program reduces the space between the letters by too much, diminishing
the identity of the letters and causing a clot of congestion. One reason
for this may lie with a precedent - the logotypes To, Tr, Ye and so on
which Linotype used to make for some of their book types.22
'logotypes' were produced in great variety because of the slug-casting
Linotype's inability to cast single kerned letters. They were mainly combinations
of the f and a following letter but the technique was applied to some
other letters in doubtful need of closing up. Walter Tracy refers to Bruce
Rogers's view that 'the cutting of such letters as V, W, to make them
set closer than their natural width is usually very much overdone.'
new logotypes cut for this purpose are equally faulty in this respect.
The resulting effect is more noticeable and more objectionable than the
natural setting of the type would be. Anything that strikes the eye as
strange or unusual in a line of type is to be avoided.23
'natural setting' of a letter is defined by its side-bearings which are
vertical as plumb-lines. Each letter or character of a roman type in its
natural relation to an adjacent letter implies the existence of a straight
line between them. If an r is tucked under a T, or a comma under a P or
an F, an
problem is created: the natural spaces between T and i, F and 1, P and h,
now seem unnaturally excessive. * This should be enough to put paid
to the cult of closing-up but the sad fact is that their name is Legion
and the side-bearings preservationists are few.
the f and J (and often the j) of a digital font are sometimes called 'vestigial'
kerns, owing to placement of their side-bearings, the term now usually
applies to the adjustment of font metrics as we've described and also
(usually as kerning or kerned) to any decreasing of space
between any two characters which is done in the process of composition,
thus affecting the setting rather than the type (or the 'fone). The word
is also often used for the practice of increasing space, hence 'negative'
and 'positive' kerns. This species of character-spacing existed in the
phototypesetting technology of the early I 970S and, owing especially
to the fashion of extra-tight letter-spacing done on the drawing-table
with Letraset, it proved immensely popular in commercial typography. It
was practised with great zeal by advertising typesetters, not only with
display type set large but (by some over-zealous folk) also to smarten-up
the apostrophes, dashes, brackets or even the spaces between certain letters
(v and e for example and other such combinations as were mentioned earlier)
of I I-point text.
The practice is different to tracking
(or 'range kerning') which is usually to increase or decrease the character-spacing
of groups ofletters, lines of text or entire texts. Words set in capitals
(e.g. running heads) are thus treated to increase the letter-spacing (typically
zo units of a zoo-unit em in QuarkXPress), but otherwise the practice
should not be applied to the texts of books. Nor for that matter should
most letter-pairs ever be kerned or spaced in the manner described above.
There are however certain anomalous combinations which occur in digital
type which, if the type itself is not modified, will want added space
in the setting, such as between round brackets and the letters J and f
and between roman brackets and italic letters where the characters may
even overlap. Also the space between letters and colons, semicolons, question
and exclamation marks is usually too little in most digital types; they're
given 20 Quark units in this book.
We should note that the italics
letters d, g, j, i, y, and often A, T, V, W, have traditionally been kerned.
semicolons, quotation, exclamation, and interrogation marks should be
separated by an extra hair space from the words they adjoin; this also
applies to the spacing between parentheses and the first and terminal
letters enclosed when these letters are lowercase ascenders or descenders
or capitals with upright stems, e.g. (liberated) not (liberated).' (Oliver
Simon, Introduction to Typography (Faber and Faber, 1945), p. 30.)
'Colons and semi-colons are often carelessly
spaced also. Only a hairspace is necessary before them, that is,
between them and the words they follow, and this can be omitted if the
letter preceding the colon or semi-colon happens to be f, k, r, t, v,
w, x, y, or z.' (Geoffrey Dowding, Finer Points in the Spacing andArrangement
of Type, p. 20.) Rather curiously he does not say anything about question
or exclamation marks.
See also Walter Tracy, Letters of Credit
(Gordon Fraser, 1986), pp. 76-7, and Bruce Rogers, Paragraphs on Printing
(New York, William E. Rudge's Sons, 1943; reprinted New York, Dover, 1979),
p. 94: 'Colons and semicolons have traditionally been set apart from the
word they follow, whether in capitals or lower case. In old books they
are frequently centered in the space between the words where they occur.
Exclamation and interrogation points should if possible be set off with
thin spaces because they often form disagreeable and confusing combinations
with the last letter of the word, such as ill, 11! f?, etc.'
variation on the theme of the three methods of character-spacing we've
described is InDesign's Optical Kerning, of which they say:
calculating the area between two adjacent character shapes, the ideal
spacing between two characters is determined based on their optical appearance.
Because the approach is visually based, different point sizes or font
changes are easily accommodated. Automatic optical kerning is essentially
on-the-fly, and it makes short work of what can be a time-consuming manual
Adobe Corporation call it 'a major innovation in desktop typography' but
the idea of it is not new; it has many forebears (among them the hz-program
described below). 25 It would seem an agreeable
answer to the problems created by optimum character-space but let us take
note of the first part of the last sentence. Automatic optical kerning
is essentially on-the-fly. This means that character-space is adjusted
not just according to typeface and point-size (so that, for example, every
combination of e and v of a particular type set in I I-point would be
treated the same) but that it is also variable in the way that word-space
is variable. The optical kerning option functions then in much the same
way as tracking (if tracking were automatic) or a variable character-spacing
value (other than 0%) in the justification routinethough less crudely,
purportedly. 'Ideal spacing' is thus the spacing of a particular
setting (particular line, paragraph, etc.) rather than that which was
determined by a type's designer. And so it is unsuitable.* We want
to confine variable spacing to word-space. There really seems no alternative
to producing special designs for common text sizes along with appropriate
InDesign also has a Metrics Kerning option,
which alternatively renders character-spacing to the type's pre-programmed
values; it is essentially the same thing as 'auto kern' in QuarkXPress
except that it can be applied selectively to any part of a composed jobone
size of one typeface, for examplerather than affecting all of a
the pair kerning metrics in a font offers an alternative, font-based solution
to the problem of automating kerning. As part of their design, most typefaces
include a table of kern pairs, which contain instructions for adjusting
the space between two characters. Some fonts include robust kern pair
tables; if you specify those fonts, InDesign uses all of the kern pair
metrics in the font.26
'robust kern pair tables'27 means such tuckings-in
as are viewed dimly by the side-bearings preservationists, a type such
as the Monotype Ehrhardt used in this book, with untucked-in commas, points,
etc., would accordingly want the optical kerning option while a type such
as Adobe Minion
'The design job - as any reasonable
designer knows - includes an anticipation of the thing in use: this has
to be built into the drawings or the computer program.
'At least as important as the printing process
for this view of a typeface is the typographic treatment of the text:
how long is the measure, how much space between the words and between
lines. All this affects our perception of the typeface, though these factors
lie outside the sphere over which the typeface designer can have any influence.
But there is one area of space that the designer of a typeface may dispute
with those in charge of the composition of letters, and which has a vital
effect on the appearance of the typeface: between the letters.
One can state without much fear of contradiction - certainly not from
any typeface designer - that the space around the letter, between one
letter and the next, is an essential factor in defining the appearance
of those letterforms.' (Robin Kinross, 'What is a Typeface?' Baseline,
no. 7 (1986), p. 17.)
require it. * But it would seem likely that the user of the new-millennium
InDesign would also use a twenty-first century type with a robust kern
pair table and so should have little need the 'major innovation' of optical
kerning. The user's guide isn't clear on this point.
There is also in the InDesign repertory
the Glyph Scaling option for automatic modification of character widths.
Word Spacing and Letter Spacing options allow you to control how much
the text composition engines can deviate from the spacing designed into
the font. The Glyph Scaling option works a little differently: rather
than changing the spacing for a line of text, glyph scaling subtly adjusts
the widths of the letters to lengthen or shorten a line of justified text.
You can fine-tune the behavior of the composition engines by adjusting
these values in the Justification dialog box.28
am confused by' lengthen or shorten a line of justified text' but obviously
one would expect the option to cause a distortion of each character of
an affected line of justified text and perhaps the characters of the preceding
or following lines to also suffer distortions, though differently, as
widening or condensing will occur according to the amount of word-space
which wants either reducing or increasing. Only the slightest distortions,
This is the idea that informs the hz-program
conceived by Hermann Zapf (hz) for URW in 1988, and in his words:
is partly based on a typographically acceptable expansion or condensing
ofletters, called scaling. Connected with this is a kerning program which
calculates kerning values at 100 pairs per second. The kerning is not
limited only to negative changes of space between two critical characters,
but also allows in some cases positive kerning, which means the addition
is regrettable that the venerable designer of some of the best types of
the twentieth century should say that such a distortion ofletter-forms
is 'typographically acceptable'. It may be argued that the distortions,
because they are ever so slight, won't be noticed but that
is not true: I can see them very well in Hermann Zapf's example (fig.
This is all to do with a loathing of hyphens
which has bedevilled typographers for many years. Among them
was Richard Clay IV in 1966 (as we learn from Andrew Bluhm, Photosetting,
Clay (the Chaucer Press) Ltd. of Bun gay, Essex [sic], a large book-printing
house, became one of the first Linasec users in 1963; an account of the
system based on 21/2 years' experience has been
written by the company's chairman, Richard Clay. He emphasizes the importance
of operator selection and training, and considers the possibility of eliminating
word-breaks altogether (for books) through variations of set-width or
letter-spacmg on suitably equipped photosetting machines.
the Glyph Scaling option ofInDesign, the hz-program, and all ideas
of the kind are extravagant and extreme. The problem itself is not extreme
and a satisfactory treatment of it is one which will not disturb or distort
But oddly the optical kerning
option opens up such 'robust' kern pairs as 'r,' see fig. 13).
the glyph scaling values you enter define a narrow enough rangesay
98% for Minimum and 102% for Maximumthe differences in the letterforms
will be noticeable only to the most attentive expert.' (Adobe Systems,
'In Depth: Text and Typography.', p. 8.) .
The hz-program 'is a complete aesthetic program for micro-typography
with a maxImum of two consecutive hyphenated words. Good typography allows
us up to three hyphenations.' (Hermann Zapf, 'About micro-typography and
the hz-program', Electronic Publishing, vol. 6, no. 3 (September
1993), p. 288.)
A 'regular setting' in the left column and 'composition using the URW hz-Program'
in the right column with distortions of letters which Hermann Zapf has deemed
to be 'typographically acceptable'. The typeface is Antiqua 2015, designed
by Hermann Zapf and issued by URW in 1988. (From 'About micro typography
and the hz-program', Electronic Publishing, vol. 6, no. 3
(September 1993), p. 287.)
In these pages, and in other careful jobs of typography where the simple
principle of close word-spacing is observed, hyphenation is controlled
by using numerous h&j's of incremental variation (trying first one
and then another); the hyphenation which does occur is not excessive
and it is, in accordance with our principles, an acceptable trade-off
Monophoto filmsetters featured 'differently-proportioned sets of matrices':
'A' sets designed for 6 and 7 point and 'B' sets for 8 to 12 point.
A 'C' set for 14 to 24 point was also produced for the Bembo series.31
The designs were taken from the metal versions. * There are no
such sets for most of the digital types currently produced and many
of the best text types (Bas-
But strangely and sadly the
'B' set for Imprint was derived from the designs for the smallest sizes
(6 to 9 point) and as these designs were considerably different to the
designs for the larger sizes the type was rendered unserviceable as
a text type (the digital version suffered the same fate).
Garamond, Perpetua, Ehrhardt) are much too light, anaemic and spindly,
for being designed to do double duty as text and display types. *This
is a greater problem than the problem of optimum letter-fit and it is
amazing that after so many years it is still not put to rights.
The 'A', 'B' and 'C' sets for Monophoto
proved a good compromise in the circumstances but nowadays when production
and use of type is quite more affordable there isn't any reason why appropriate
designs taken from metal designs (e.g. 6-<), 10, II, 12 point, and
then display sizes) cannot or should not be produced. (The price of additional
types would gladly be paid by serious typographers; there would be no
difficulty in using them; an operator could select a particular size of
a type easily as select roman, italic, bold-face.) Until this is done
it hardly makes sense to alter character-pairs which were considered optimum
for the range of sizes a single design would be set in.
The following is from Robin Kinross's article,
'What is a typeface?', in Baseline, 1986:
one may speak, as Harry Carter did, of an 'optical scale' in typeface
design. The logic of this, as every punchcutter knew, and as every good
software designer is trying to reassert, is that the letter-forms of a
typeface must be adjusted for every size at which they are to be used.
So again, the simple, single typeface comes into question. The best, most
sophisticated typeface cannot be represented by a single set of drawings
or images, but consists of modulations on some perhaps notional standard.32
1992 the Adobe Corporation issued a series of types called Multiple Masters
and this was near as we had ever come to having digital types appropriate
to size.33 It was a clever and complicated
idea whereby a typographer could choose different weights and different
widths (condensings or extendings) of a typeif it was a Multiple
Masterto achieve the effect which would obtain with a type specially
designed for a particular size. But it missed the point; its failings
were obvious: to condense or extend letterforms is to distort them; the
purpose-built metal types were made from special drawings for each size
in which the shapes and slopes, twists and turns, curves and corners were
Adobe currently offer a new kind of type
in their Open Type format which features 'opticals' (or 'optical variants')
which are designs based on the principle of the purpose-built metal types
and which can be used at any pointsize but are intended and designated
for 'Caption' (6-8 point), 'Text' (9-13 point), 'Subhead' (14-24 point)
and 'Display' (25-72 point)a variation of the Multiple Masters idea
but with special character-spacing, heavier or lighter strokes and serifs
(depending on which 'variant'). 35 This is
very good news indeed and any of the new types, such as Adobe's own Minion,
should prove very satisfactory. The designs were approved if not actually
done by the designer himself (in the case of Minion, Robert Slim bach)
and thus there is no reason to question their quality or appropriateness,
but it seems they are variations specified by algorithm and such an approach
applied to types which are digital versions of metal designs will produce
mutant forms the likes of which we have never seen.
Not helped by current printing methods, paper, absence of ' ink squash'
Two of Pascal's Pensees set in II/IJ Adobe Minion Pro Caption (a),
Text (b), Subhead (c) and Display (d).
QuarkXPress default hyphenation settings: smallest word (which
can be broken): 6 letters; minimum (number ofletters of a word which must
stand) before (it can be divided): 3; minimum after: 2;
hyphens in a row: unlimited; the 'justification method': minimum
word space: 85 %; optimum word space: 110%; maximum word
space: 250%; minimum character space: 0%; optimum character
space: 0%; maximum character space: 4 %. Capitalised words (such
as Tschichold) cannot be divided.
Fig. 10 QuarkXPress
with adjusted h&j settings: smallest word: 5 letters; minimum
before: 2; minimum after: 2; hyphens in a row: unlimited;
the 'justification method': minimum word space: 45 %; optimum
word space: 80 %; maximum word space: 100 %; minimum character
space: 0%; optimum character space: 0 0/0; maximum character
space: 0 %. Division of capitalised words is allowed.
Quark and InDesign
The following examples are set 10/12 Sabon
(Adobe) to a measure of 26 picas. The first (fig. 9) was produced by QuarkXPress
4 (as was the balance of this book), using the defaulth&j parameters
shown in figure 3 on page 13;
the second example (fig. 10) is set with the h&j's which are used
in the text of this book generally. In both examples 'auto kern' is applied
and the program's hyphenation exception dictionary is used as supplied.
The examples shown opposite (figures 11-13)
were produced by Adobe InDesign. The default h&j parameters shown
on page 13 (fig. 4) are used in the first example (fig. II) with 'metrics
kerning' applied, and also in the second (fig. 12) with 'optical kerning'
applied; the third example (fig. 13) shows metrics kerning with adjusted
word-space and word-division parameters. The program's hyphenation dictionary
was used without modifications. The Paragraph Composer and Optical Margin
Alignment were used for each setting but not the Hyphenation Penalty Slider.
Any type could have been used for this demonstration;
Sabon (the typeface designed by Jan Tschichold and issued in 1967 by Stempel,
Linotype and Monotype) is used here to go with the quotation which is
from 'The Printer', an article written by the printer Elliott Viney for
Penguins Progress 1935-1960 (pp. 24-5).
Adobe InDesign with 'metrics kerning' applied. The default hyphenation settings
Words Longer than: 5 letters
After First: 2 letters
Before Last: 2 letters
Hyphen Limit: 3
Hyphenate Capitalized Words.
The default justification settings are: Word Spacing: 80% minimum; 100%
desired; 133 % maximum
Letter Spacing: 0 %
Glyph Scaling: 100 %.
Optical Margin Alignment is set to the point-size, as recommended, affecting
undesirably the situation of the initial A.
Fig. 12 Adobe
InDesign with 'optical kerning' applied. The default hyphenation and justification
settings are used. The optical kerning option tends to increase the spacing
of characters as it moves them rightways or leftways and so the user's
guide recommends that after the 'kerning' is applied some negative tracking
should be applied generally to compensate for this. The literature does
not say how much tracking might be needed but7 seems sufficient
for this example. Note that the r and the comma in 'matter,' (in the tenth
line) are now agreeably spaced.
Fig. 13 Adobe InDesign
with metrics kerning and modified hyphenation and justification settings
Words Longer than: 4 letters
After First: 2 letters
Before Last: 2 letters
Hyphen Limit: unlimited
Hyphenate Capitalized Words.
Word Spacing: 50% minimum
80 % desired
Letter Spacing: 0 %
Glyph Scaling: 100%.