What would you do? (body text, formats, and you)

dcastillo's picture

So I've just ran into a predicament.
I'm placing a block of text into a booklet, in a template that was used in previous booklets (where I've seen some fractional inconsistencies in text sizes from booklet to booklet), and everything is working so great. The paragraphs of text on the first page are magically ending at the bottom of the page using the maximum number of lines allowed, but I run into a problem with the 2nd, final page of this copy. The last paragraph ends at the bottom line, but there still needs to be author credits below, placed a line-spacing below the last paragraph. I certainly don't want this one-line credit to be on the following page all alone and crying for company, so I am faced with some decisions.

What would you do?
a)edit the copy (and make it 2 lines shorter (which is very difficult since it's such a short body of copy)?
b)change the point size of the type by fractions (making it a slightly different size than the rest of the type used in the booklet)?
c)pose this question on typophile.com?
d)something that I'm not thinking of at the moment?

In desperate need of advice,
-David

Quincunx's picture

Option c is probably a very bad idea. ;)

I have the same problem every now and then. In this case changing the pointsize of that last line sounds like a viable solution, especially because of the nature of the line. But sometimes I ask if the writer can cut the copy if it really doesn't work out.

Gary Long's picture

If it isn't critical that the type size and leading be precisely the same in each booklet, you could simply reduce the point size and/or leading slightly for both pages of copy (you don't want to adjust just part of it in this manner). Not knowing the design, I can't say whether it would be better to let the first page run a couple of lines short, or whether a couple of lines of the first paragraph on the second page should go to the bottom of the first page.

Editing to shorten by two lines is hard with brief copy, though if you have a couple of paragraphs where there are only a couple of words on the last line, you can probably edit those paragraphs sufficiently to eliminate the last lines.

dcastillo's picture

Yeah I think changing the point size was the best route. Since this was only 2 pages of copy, I reduced the point size of the text on the last page by .4pt (7->6.6), keeping the line spacing the same, and it looks A-OK.

I did initially try to edit out a few filler words, and while I didn't butcher this fellow's essay nor find anything to delete, I discovered a few grammatical errors that I will never be thanked for correcting.

Thanks for the 2nd opinion! I don't feel as guilty doing what I did.

Right on. I'm working too late (again).

Black Sabbath 4!

dcastillo's picture

If it isn’t critical that the type size and leading be precisely the same in each booklet, you could simply reduce the point size and/or leading slightly for both pages of copy (you don’t want to adjust just part of it in this manner). Not knowing the design, I can’t say whether it would be better to let the first page run a couple of lines short, or whether a couple of lines of the first paragraph on the second page should go to the bottom of the first page.

Just saw this now. The problem with adjusting the type size for both pages equally wouldn't resolve in such a nice ending of paragraphs as they are. Since page one ends right at the end of a paragraph, the size adjusting would need to be more severe, since a fractional change would end up not bringing the next paragraph up from the proceeding page, but just creating the dead space that would naturally be between the paragraphs had it been a larger text box, and I'm already pushing it by moving the type below 7pt.

One question though: Do you hold leading or type size to be more sacred? My opinion is that having the same number of lines, and having the lines line up with one another is most important, as it would be the most noticable adjustment and can potentially throw everything else off-kilter.

Ricardo Cordoba's picture

To me leading is more sacred, for the reason you state: having the lines line up with each other.

I, too, would have changed the point size minimally, or done some very tiny negative tracking.

Last but not least, Black Sabbath 4 rocks! :-)

Steve Tiano's picture

As a book designer, if this is one of a series of booklets, I’m always going to keep it in the exact style of the series.

My first choice is to try adjusting the number of lines on earlier pages—first a line long for a few spreads; then a line short. See which gives the best, balanced spreads.

If there's no way to make that work, I adjust the tracking negatively. See how little I can use to make the copy fit.

Last thing I'd try, if there is time, is to ask whether the author or editor would consider editing the copy.

timd's picture

If .4 of a point makes the difference I would imagine that you could minimally alter the measure. Are you setting ranged left, right, centred or justified? Inserting a space after paragraphs? Other alternatives might be author’s credit in italic ranged right or, if there is space, use the margin – these might not be possible within the styles of a series.

Tim

Don McCahill's picture

Can the credit lines appear as marginalia?

Jackie Frant's picture

Now a typesetting rule of thumb - is to leave it all alone... and contact the customer and ask if you may work with it to improve upon the original.

Personally, I'd reset the copy to match what is going on in the booklet. Then let the customer know and ask the customer for suggestions -- after he/she saw the reset. It's happened a lot - and I've found that once reset the customer was not as likely to "go back" and even has a thank you for taking the time to make sure their work looks right.

dcastillo's picture

thanks for all the responses!

If .4 of a point makes the difference I would imagine that you could minimally alter the measure. Are you setting ranged left, right, centred or justified? Inserting a space after paragraphs? Other alternatives might be author’s credit in italic ranged right or, if there is space, use the margin – these might not be possible within the styles of a series.

It is set to be justified with a line space between paragraphs. The format for the author credit is etched in stone as far as I'm concerned.

Steve, I haven't thought of adjusting the tracking on this. That may be even less noticeable than a .4pt size reduction. I think adding or reducing lines would intrude with the top/bottom margins at this point, either cutting into them too much or adding an extra page for half a paragraph.

Again, thanks. All your responses are much appreciated. I don't have many people around me to bring these types of topics to.

timd's picture

More alternatives – adjust the H&Js for your long page, reduce the space after (if there are enough paras). Can you post a pdf of spreads without interfering with client confidentiality?

Tim

dcastillo's picture

Here's a good idea of what I'm working with right now. I have the tracking on the 2nd page of copy at -10 right now, and the point size at 6.85pt (-.15pt reduction). In my eyes it looks good, but am interested to hear what you think:
017-intro.pdf

Quincunx's picture

I think it's fine. I can see it, but I doubt that anyone who is not a designer or typesetter will. :)

Gary Long's picture

I find the measure too wide for comfortable reading on the first page of text. I realize this formatting is probably carved in stone with this series, but it's something to consider if you're designing a new one from scratch. Generally around 60 characters per line should be the maximum, though with very generous leading you can increase that a bit. Your character count is over 100. The eye has to make too many hops to get across, and then has trouble efficiently picking out the beginning of the next line.

dcastillo's picture

I could not agree with you more, Gary. Unfortunately that's out of my hands. I myself, patting self on shoulder, try to keep my words-per-line average somewhere around 8-13. Luckily this is the only page with a text block that wide. I can try to propose 8pt type with an overall line-spacing of 11.25pt (I think that just might be able to line up if the lines are in multiples of 4).

Just out of curiosity, and not to throw too many topics around in one thread, but what do you lot think about MrsEaves at such a small size, or even in general? I don't know if it's just me, but the x-height seems to be a bit too low for small point sizes.

Gary Long's picture

You wouldn't want to use Mrs. Eaves as a text workhorse (if you like Baskerville, there are other versions that would do better for that), but for purposes that suit it, I think it's great, and it seems to work here. Mrs. Eaves doesn't have high contrast or exceptionally thin strokes, and it has generous letter spacing, so it survives small point sizes better than many typefaces. As long as you give it plenty of leading, the small x-height is not a drawback.

By the way, the pdf I downloaded shows a slanted roman rather than the true italic on the last page for "The Outskirts of Deep City." Is it supposed to be that way, or is it a pdf problem?

dcastillo's picture

By the way, the pdf I downloaded shows a slanted roman rather than the true italic on the last page for “The Outskirts of Deep City.” Is it supposed to be that way, or is it a pdf problem?

That's the one other thing that was in the template that bugs me. I have stated my reservations with the slanted type, and from now forward it will only be used for LP titles.

Don McCahill's picture

> Luckily this is the only page with a text block that wide.

Were two columns considered. I was also hit by the extreme width of that column.

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