Balancing red and black

William Berkson's picture

I am designing a book of which I am also the author, to be published by a commercial house. I am pretty happy with the design, but I am worried about whether the red and black type will balance well.

Sayings of the Sages Sample.pdf (86.9 k)

is a PDF of the design, with the title page and two facing pages - they need to be viewed facing to get the idea of how the design works.

I have picked up the dark red of the quote in the side heads. These are a size smaller, bold subhead weight - picking up on an idea of Bringhurst. I think it looks OK on screen; will it balance in print?

Suggestions on layout of the title page are also welcome.

Thanks to you pros for indulging an amateur on this one.

kakaze's picture

I think it's good. You don't want to overdo it on the red, so what little you have is nice.

One thing I would think about however, is are you going to have red all throughout the book? If you can keep it black you can cut down on printing costs.

Little thing I noticed, kinda annoying, that "g" in "sayings". I'd replace it with the "g" in "sages". It just looks kinda ugly to me.

Otherwise, I like it. I love how you're using fleurons in there as well. You don't see them anymore, and it's nice to every so often.

hrant's picture

I think the reds work very well.
And your little touches are nice.

I really like the seemingly leaning alignments!

"Sayings of the Sages": I think the two "g"s should be the same; the "of the" is too light.

I don't like the slanting of "PIRKEI AVOT".

Add a bit of spacing betweem "BEHRMAN" and "HOUSE".

Some of the cap spacing is off.

The alignments are strange. Which doesn't mean it can't work. But I'd put some space between the English/Hebrew quote and the remaining text body.

I'd indent the quoted material (with the fleuron) visibly more than the paragraph indent of the block text. Does this reverb back to the top quote on P2?


hawk's picture

1. red & black text - Absolutely NOT !!!

2. i agree with Hrant. and just looking... reading.... you need to

3. what is your plan for that book? (by plan i mean - grid, layout, typeface, size, etc., etc.,).

David Hamuel

kakaze's picture

How is it I don't see those things? :sigh:

I did notice the "pirkei avot" but figured it would look different when it was printed so I didn't say anything.

I still like the general look, however.

One thing I just thought about for the hebrew quote, could you centre that like you centred the English above it? (I'm assuming that they're the same) It kinda throws things off a bit on that page.

kakaze's picture

Oh, and another thing I noticed, are you british?

I see you're using single quotes instead of double quotes.

fonthausen's picture

You've been very generous with your spacing. How big did you set the type? I think you should narrow down the spacing. And you should have a look at your wordspacing. You have to much big holes.

By getting this right, you'll have less pages, less costs and you might even save enough to print in two colours.

What software are you using?


William Berkson's picture

Thanks for your ideas.

On the two g's in the title: I thought it somehow balanced better, but I guess it is distracting. I was also thinking about shortening the tail on the y for a better fit.

Spacing on title page: Thanks Hrant, I will take all of your suggestions. I was worried about the balance of the deliberate assymetry of the title vs the symmetrical page layout. Glad you like it.

Spacing of quote P2: I didn't proof it enough. There is an extra word space between 'is' and 'admirable' that I didn't catch. The Poetica is set 17/18. I will try to turn on the 'Optical Spacing' in InDesign (which this is set in), and see if this helps.

Spacing of Hebrew. On this page I didn't center it vertically properly - it is too close to the block text. I will fix this. But now I am thinking I should also reduce the leading on the Hebrew. I had it 14pt, like the text. I did the Hebrew very small, to be like a caption to the large English quote, so it wouldn't compete visually.

Jacques, the text is set 11/14. Because Minion has a large x-height and is condensed, the current leading looked better to me than tighter. Any other views?

The block quote with the fleuron is set in 10/13. I did the indent the same at the paragraph indent for uniformity - I will try indenting it more, but I'm afraid it will be too much variation on a set of pages with a lot going on visually.

David, the plan of the book is that, except for introduction and appendices, it is all sets of facing pages like the current p 2-3. The idea is that people sitting around a table can discuss the saying without flipping pages back and forth - everything is there.

The text blocks are aligned with the baseline grid, though the discussion guide blocks only have a half space (7 points) between them - which puts alternate blocks back on the grid. I thought the openness of the discussion guide bit bottom right somehow balanced the openness of the English & Hebrew quotes top left.

On the red. David, you are the only one so far against the saying being in red. Why do you think it won't work? I am concerned that so much text in red might make it less readable, but on screen it seemes to me to work. I was inspired by some gorgeous books by & about Jan van Krimpen. These were very classical in lay out, with plenty of use of a strong red, and they looked great. Because I am dealing with a classical text, I thought this suited the matter.

I'll post more in a few minutes. More comments welcome!

William Berkson's picture

I am concerned about the cost of the red, as it is not a forgone conclusion that the publisher will spring for the extra money. I do think it makes the look distinctive and adds a lot, providing it turns out readable and balanced in print. Also it helps in picking up the quote in the side heads. The text itself is very concisely written, and has a lot of information, so the less intimidating I can make the page the better.

From previous experience, I know that many presses can print two colors in one pass, so that black and a spot color is much less expensive than four color process printing.

Is the red ink itself expensive? Or is this just a matter of how many signatures it appears in?
The whole book will be less than 200 pages.

On the single quotes, I'm American but did graduate school in England. The reason I went for the British convention on single quotes first is to save space and get a cleaner page. There are, because of the nature of the project, a lot of references, and I didn't want the page littered with double quotes.

On the layout of the quotes in Poetica. For three or at most four lines, I centered everything. For more lines I used different approaches, with almost every quote having a custom layout. I will post another example, if there is continuing discussion.

'Fun with fleurons'. Dwiggins I believe went wild with these, especially on title pages, and I've always liked them. I tried to not overdo it.

hrant's picture

William, would you consider using a blackletter somewhere in this project?
Maybe if you end up having to dump the red?


William Berkson's picture

Tiffany, thanks, I will try your suggestions and variations on them. Because most readers of the book will have little Hebrew, I don't want to emphasize it, with red or size. As it is, it is a reference for those who can understand some of it.

Because 80% of the book will be like these facing pages, there is no way I can confine the red to just one or two signatures. I will just have to hope the publisher will spring for it, or do all black.

One concern I have is that offset might not have the density of ink as letter press, and might make the red look weak. The great examples of van Krimpen that I saw I think were done on a letter press. Is this a concern, or does offset make no difference on this?

Hrant, blackletter I think has Christian or German connotations to American Jews, neither of which is appropriate to this project.It is interesting the Goudy, the most American of type designers, thought blackletter is the most beautiful form.

Also I really like Poetica. Of all Bringhurst's stuff, I feel confident that this will definitely last.

hawk's picture

1. first and foremost - you need to talk to your publisher, art/graphic director, editor. ( Gila is your editor?)

2. sorry. but Jan Van Krimpen is not good example. Van Krimpen b - 1898 d-1958.

and as you know - history is not just a number. date.

different time. printing technology. different costs.

3. you really need to explain to your publisher / or graphic director - why do you want red.

4. "also i really like poetica" - sorry again William. you need to think about your audience, your client. self expression is good with Fine Art. not design. that is why you need to talk with the graphic director.

David Hamuel

kakaze's picture

Isn't he, for all intents and purposes the graphic director?

It is, after all, his own book. He just happens to be going farther than normal authors by doing the layout himself.

Since it is his book, he really only has to design it for himself, so doing something for the sake of doing it isn't a problem. Which, if you ask me, it shouldn't be a problem at any time as long as it enhances the design. Audiences don't think deeply about things.

William Berkson's picture

David, as I know a lot more about philosophy than design, I would rather have your design analysis - such as why you think the red is not good - than your philosophy.

Philosophically, your segregation of art and design is simplistic, and doesn't hold up to examination. By beautifying an object - a religious object or sacred quotation - you convey the message that it is a treasure. This is a traditional concept in Judaism - called hidur ha-mitzvot - as well as in other religions. Illuminated manuscripts are part of that tradition. In the case of this design, beautification of the sacred texts suits the design purpose. Both Poetica and the red help the design if they succeed in beautifying, even at the cost of making you read the quotation more slowly and repeatedly. Beauty gives the message, 'Turn it and turn it, because all is in it' - the last saying in Pirkei Avot.

matteson's picture

>many presses can print two colors in one pass, so that black and a spot color is much less expensive than four color process printing.
Is the red ink itself expensive?

From my limited experience on presses, this is also a function of the size of the run. Because (depending on the press/printer) you'll have to pay for a "change-over" to ink your spot red on the magenta head. For smaller runs this can sometimes add to the cost and hassle.

Typically, red ink is more expensive than black. (A quick search for Van Son Oil Base shows Pantone mixing reds to be about twice as much as black.) There's that, and there's also the mixing fee - some presses charge quite a bit just to mix the spot color you want.

But I really do like the red (it's not my money after all ;-) And I agree with Hrant about that block quote (p.3) with the fleuron needing to be indented more. And with M. Le Bailly about the word spacing being too large in spots. Right off hand, the first paragraph under "Discussion Guide" (p.3) seems alternately too loose, then too cramped.

Overall I think it's pretty attractive though. And I think this is a nice point:

>By beautifying an object - a religious object or sacred quotation - you convey the message that it is a treasure.



hrant's picture

I agree that Art and Craft can only be segregated for the purposes of theoretical discussion, and never in critiquing an actual object, but David's main point there was "you need to think about your audience", and that's right on. But I think you're doing that fine, so...


hawk's picture


i didn't insult you...or something like that?

1. i asked you what is your plan for that book. and again - what is your plan:

a. do you know how the book is to be bound? yes - great. no - how do you know that you have adequate outer and inner margins?

how do you know that you need to exaggerate the margin away from the spine?

b. what kind of paper/texture of paper? the paper should support the Typeface and the Style of the book.

c. proportion: the grid of your book need to be well proportioned on the page.

d. the design of your page (you have hebrew text and english) need to be finely weighted. otherwise the reader is going to stare at the page.

e. red: why do you think Van Krimpen used red?

2. book design is book design. textbook is textbook. the art of illumination is the art of illumination.
from where and how - the whole thing about illumination? religious object...?

3. when i said "...think about your audience" - not as a writer. but as a designer. everything is with reason. every line. every letter. dot. mark. there's no such a thing - "well, oh, i want to do that, since.... i want."

with fine art you can say that.

i'll post more......but not now....long day...

David Hamuel

William Berkson's picture

>you need to think about your audience, your client.

David, I have thought a lot about my audience and I as a designer certainly know the wishes of one of my clients, namely the writer, who is also me. Your new series of excellent questions also presumes that I have not thought about them. I do find your presumption of my thoughtlessness annoying. Generalized questions are of not much help to me; the specific suggestions of other posters have been very helpful, and I appreciate them and will try them out.

There will be a second phase of this design, when I again discuss with the publisher - whom I have consulted and who has already specified the general size - the final specifications. The more I know going in, the better case I can make for what I want - the red, sewn signatures, good quality uncoated paper, quality soft binding.

I am looking here for ideas to improve the design, and to acquire more knowledge to make my case. The key here to justifying a classic and 'quality' look is that Pirkei Avot is a classic with numerous editions and commentaries.Design is important in re-issuing a classic, even if it has a lot of new material. I'd like to think that my commentary and guide will make it stand out, but I also want the design to make it stand out, so that the quality message of the design will visibly promise the same for the contents. Then the (I hope small) additional production costs will pay off in more sales for the publisher.

>the first paragraph under "Discussion Guide" (p.3) seems alternately too loose, then too cramped.

Thanks to Jacques and Nathan for pointing this out. I must admit I didn't catch it. I specified the h & j parameters in InDesign following an example in Felici's book 'The Complete Manual of Typography'. His example was also in Minion, but in a narrower column. I will try different settings and see what happens. Will I have to also get in there and adjust paragraphs by hand?

matteson's picture

I've found that InDesign cuts down on a lot of hand tweaking - though not necessarily all of it. Are you using Glyph Scaling in H&Js? In theory I hate it - but if you set it at 98/100/102, it works wonders. You might also tweak the "hyphenation vs. spacing" slider. Generally, setting it on the second or third hash makes for pretty decent spacing results - although at the expense of more hyphens obviously. Hope this helps.


William Berkson's picture

Thanks, Nathan! I hadn't used the slider, which is defaulted in the center. When I moved it left to the third mark, as you suggested, it magically cured the uneven spacing in the whole paragraph. I will set the styles for this, or the second mark, after I test it.

matteson's picture

Yeah, that thing's amazing. At an InDesign seminar I went to here in Chicago, the Adobe fella said they call it "Nigel." Because it goes to eleven.

(If you've never seen the movie Spinal Tap, ignore this post ;-)

William Berkson's picture

Yes, I know the movie - great reference. That's how I felt when I saw how it fixed everything.(My son is a musician,

hawk's picture


i didn't join Typophile to fight/"fight" with people (i know. still owe apology to Chris). i dont have time for that (to fight).

i really enjoy to read and learn from - and just... short list - Hrant H P, Grant H, Joseph D T, Keith T, Tiffany W, Mark S, James M..... - for that i have time.

actually i waited for your answers. since i wanted to post (really rare occasion, and with permission from the design director - samples of a design (book. my design) about:

1.the publisher composition instructions to the printer.
2. (dis)approvals - from the design director.
3. good tips from the printer. and just this morning i asked him about red + black text....

But - i annoy you. so good luck.

This Is My Last Word. about your book.

David Hamuel

kakaze's picture

I don't know about William, but I would be interested to see samples and hear what you have to say.

I and other people may disagree or agree, but that is the purpose of this discussion, to exchange ideas.

I think the problem might be (and this is my own observation, I don't know about other's), David, that you give the impression of "telling" instead of "suggesting" what people may do.

William Berkson's picture


As I explained to you, I already considered the initial directives of the publisher, and worked for a long time on the design with the audience in mind. When I submit the current design there will be a final round of decisions on binding, paper, etc. I may well have to change some features of the design. And I will shortly be sending the printer a sample for comments. Because I am the author as well as designer, the normal relationship of publisher and designer doesn't apply here.

The design I posted was as good an answer as I have to what I know of the publisher's wishes, and I know there will be another round in which I will learn more, but I don't have those answers yet.

That is why specifics will help me, and not general questions about what the publisher wants.

I did get personal and say your comments were put in an annoying way. That is because I thought they were way out of bounds in their high-handed tone.

You can conclude that I am hypersensitive, but if you show your comments to others, I think you will find that my reaction is typical. Chris's comments I think confirm this.

As to the tips from the printer on red and black, I have been asking for more information on this from the beginning, and would be happy to hear them.

hrant's picture

All of you seem to be oblivious to the nature of ASCII communication, especially across different cultures.
Just assume the better. It takes a lot to truly establish that somebody is an arsehole via ASCII.


William Berkson's picture

Thank you, Hrant, a very wise observation about manners on line. (Wow I never thought I'd have occassion to write that sentence!)

David is I'm sure very well meaning, and probably has some good insights to offer, and I hope to hear them.

William Berkson's picture

Thanks again to all who have made suggestions. Here

Sayings of the Sages Sample rev2.pdf (107.4 k)

is a revised version encorporating some of the ideas.

To follow Hrant's suggestion to make 'of the' bolder in the title, I used Minion semi-bold with the larger Poetica. The letter forms are very similar, though Poetica is narrower with a smaller x-height. I think it is an improvement, but I'm still not sure if there is a better solution. (The best solution would be to get Bringhurst to do the title in his calligraphy!)

In response to Tiffany's suggestions on the use of red, I took away the reddened 'heart' which I concluded is annoying. Reddening the subtitle made it compete with the title too much. I tried Tiffany's idea of adding more red for balance by reddening the fleuron. Do you think it works?

I tried to kern the small caps at the bottom, but I'm not sure if I did a very good job. I started with everything tracked at 50 wider, and adjusted from there. Is there a better way to approach kerning caps?

1. This time I tried the InDesign 'optical' option on automatically kerning the quotation in Poetica, rather than using the 'metric' option, as in the earlier post. I think it is better; any views/experience from others?

2. As I wrote above, using the hyphenation slider as Nathan suggested was a great help in fixing the bad spacing pointed out by Jacques. (I also found and eliminated some double spaces left behind from revisions.) On my new pages 4 and 5 you can compare the effects of the slider at 2 (page 4) and at 3 (page 5, as well as 2 & 3). I think maybe 2 is better in spite of the extra hyphens.

3. The formatting of the block quotes needed fixing. I have tried several options. Somehow, in trying hundreds of variations on the basic design of the facing pages, I neglected working on the block quotes. I am grateful to Hrant for catching it.

I concluded first of all that after the block quote I should probably start the new paragraph flush left. I think this was one of the problems. The option of a further indent is on p. 5. The option of cutting the fleuron is on p. 4.

My reasoning behind my currently prefered solution, p. 3 this. The option of the further indent, suggested by Hrant and on p. 5 is best for contrast with the adjacent paragraphs. But in the overall scheme of the facing pages it cuts up the page too much. Already the quotes top left and discussion guide lower right break the grid. So to minimize the break with the grid, on p. 3 I have formatted the block quote 10/14 with no space before and after, and no right indent. There are many other options, but at the moment this is the best I could come up with. What do you think?

4. Use of Red. An important feature of the design problem which is not on this set of facing pages is that there are 76 other sets of facing pages, with varying lengths of quotations and discussion guides. On this page, there is no red on the right, which would be good for balance. In some others the side heads do appear on the right. I also did try red fleurons, but it gave the pages measles. In the end I decided that on the facing pages I would only use the red for the main quotation, and the pick up lines of the same quotation in the side heads. Even though it is a bit unbalanced on one set of facing pages, the whole book repeats the pattern, and it provides a strong marker as guide for the reader.

To David, sorry for overreacting to what seemed to me high handed remarks. Frankly, I think maybe both of us were suffering from what, following Hrant, we might call 'ASCII-itis'.

Here are answers to some of your earlier questions. As far as the binding, most of the publisher's books do, as is typical, have bindings that eat 1/4" from the inner margin of both pages. My layout reflects this. If the publisher's final decision is different, I will change it.

My page block is a pica narrower and longer than 6" x 9". (=35 x 55 picas). The text block is little taller than Golden proportions. I am following Bringhurst in the idea that generally the narrower rather than wider proportions give a more classical look, which I what I am trying for here. The deeper text block I think still balances up because of the open space at the top left and bottom right of the facing pages.

As to the question of whether this is a text book or monograph or what, I thought a long time about that and decided that it was a guide book -a kind of sui generus as a classic text with commentary and discussion guide. The design has the red as resonance with illuminated text, and the textbook element of discussion guide

There are many editions in Engligh of Avot with commentaries. The designs vary from ok to awful. You can compare them to this to have a very good idea of the design challenge.

As to why van Krimpen used red. The book I saw was a showcase for his Romulus. As it has a classical beauty, he was also showing classical design -very much his taste - in the book, and making the most of the traditionally available and classical look black, red and ivory paper. Dreyfus's book on van Krimpen does the same.

hrant's picture

> I used Minion semi-bold

Now the contrast is a bit high! :-/
If you have Minion MM (or OT) you could try a lower optical size of it.

Your cap spacing is better, but still needs some tweaks.

> after the block quote I should probably start the new paragraph flush left

Good idea.


kakaze's picture

The first page looks much better now, I think.

The bolder minion helps to balance the page with the title.

Also, the red fleuron looks much better than making "heart" red. Pirkei Avot looks much better now that it's not italicised too.

I agree with Hrant that some of the spacing needs tweaking. Are you using optical spacing on it or metric?

matteson's picture

I'm in class, but a real quick post: have you tried InDesign's Optical Margin Alignment? I mention it because page 4 (where you've set the hyphenation slider on 2) could use it, as could page 5 (at the bottom, the 2 hyphens in a row). Select all your type, in your Type menu choose Story, check the Optical Alignment box, and select your type size. It should overhang your hyphens/quotes/etc so the edge of your copy doesn't have divots in it.

William Berkson's picture

Hrant, the Minion Pro (OT) weight for 'of the' I used is semi-bold display. This is the lightest and narrowest of the four semi-bold weights. I tried reducing the size by a point to lighten it after your comment, which I think helped, but aside from that I'd have to get in and start messing with the outlines.

On the spacing of the small caps, I started kerning, but I got tired and didn't finish. I found it fun with the title, but with more extended text I get dizzy, and don't feel sure-footed about what to do. I will try the optical spacing, as Chris suggests, then track wider, then kern. Or is there some better way to proceed?

Thanks Nathan for the 'how to'; I wanted to try that feature of hanging the dashes out in the margin. I notice both Bringhurst and Felici mention it, but don't do their text that way. What is your experience with it. It sounds like a good idea to me in theory. I guess the issue is dimples vs. whiskers.

Though I don't think Felici chose the best typeface/paper combination, the typesetting in his book rests beautifully on the page. I would like to go that direction, but what with the challenge of finishing and then revising the text, whatever I can get the smart programs to do for me I am very happy about.

hrant's picture

> semi-bold display

So try a lighter Caption weight, or if that's too clunky (low-contrast), try a Regular cut. And then you have the Subhead cuts between Regular and Display.


William Berkson's picture

I've already tried the regular caption weight. The caption weight is way wider, so much so that it looks funny and clunky next to Poetica. I will try all the variations to see what looks most reasonable. I won't be able to get to it, and the overhanging hyphens for a few days.

seg's picture

Berkson, the seocnd version looks very nice (and better in my opinion then the first).
Im not so sure the hebrew type (is this Shokan? i hardly see it used) suits the english, its pretty anemic and unlike the english style-wise. Is that intentional? you said that becuase many readers dont know hebrew, you dont want to over-emphasize the hebrew qoutes. Even so, maybe a diffrent font will look better. Perheps one with less contrast, because this font makes the text look funny. I'd suggest Narkisim, it would look fantastic with Minion Italic. Another option is Rolit, which is very calligraphic, and will look nice & gentle on the modern Minion. Im thinking of a font by Yaredna, but i cant remember its name, that would look good too. I can check it out if youre interested.

William Berkson's picture

Itay, yes the suggestions of the designers here have been extremely helpful.

As to the Hebrew typeface, I have never been satisfied with it, and was settling for just being discrete.

My problem is that I am using the English/Hebrew program Davkawriter, which has its own coding system and limited typeface options. The face you see is Guttman Hadar. Earlier I used Davka's David, which looks more modern, but was a bit bold relative to the Minion.

I would be delighted to get something better, if I can get it into InDesign. In an earlier conversation on using Hebrew fonts, John Hudson recommended using InDesign ME, which I guess will use all the fonts you use in Israel. He said that regular InDesign will not do right-to-left text and nekudot. Davkawriter does have a functionality of pasting Hebrew into English programs, switching the direction and placing nekudot correctly. That is what I am using currently.

I don't know whether Dagesh, the other English/Hebrew program used widely here can use the regular Hebrew fonts. If there is another Hebrew font that will work a lot better, I will also check on the cost of upgrade to InDesign ME, now that I have InDesign anyway.

In any case, if you can give me URLs to look at the fonts you mention, I would appreciate it. I'd love to consider them.

Also if you have info on the problems of compatibility of Hebrew fonts and U.S. programs, that would be great. Nobody has given me an overview of this.

William Berkson's picture

In talking about the mediocrity of the design of earlier versions of Avot I neglected to mention the 1960 Heritage and Limited Editions Bookclub editions of 'The Living Talmud' by Judah Goldin.

In spite of the title, this is an edition of only Pirkei Avot. The editor was a first rate scholar who selected and translated the classical commentaries. It is a wonderful book; all editions, including paperbacks, are out of print.

I haven't had the Limited Edition version in my hands. It has illustrations, leather and vellum binding and is signed by the illustrator. I believe it has the Hebrew in red. (The paperback is missing the Hebrew.) I don't know whether the Heritage edition is just different in binding, or size and printing as well from the Limited Edition. I am curious to look at these, but the Limited Edition costs between $100-200 now on the internet, and I have been too cheap to spring for it.

matteson's picture

Hrant said: >So try a lighter Caption weight

I like that idea. Something about the display weight does look too spindly in this context.

>the InDesign 'optical' option ... any views/experience from others?

On the occassions I've used InDesign's optical spacing, I've found that it tends to space way too tight. But I think your second version does actually look better - more even.

>but don't do their text that way. What is your experience with it.

I'm a sucker for optical margin alignment. My feeling is that, whenever I'm in a situation where I have a lot of hyphens (to optimize my spacing) and punctuation (it seems that the nature of this text is to have quotation marks), I use optical alignment. I find the dimples less disturbing than the divots. You can also optimize for a smaller type size to overhang less.

I lent my Bringhurst (stupid! stupid!), but looking at Felici I think the sidebars may have had some influence on not using optical alignment. IIRC, Bringhurst utilizes the sidebar quite a bit as well. Perhaps overhanging would've made the gutter too raggedy.

Two other things: (1) I think that I like the block quote on page 3 also; (2) How much space do you use around your en dashes? My eyes are saying it's too much - maybe try InDesign's thin space?

William Berkson's picture

>I've found that it tends to space way too tight. But I think your second version does actually look better - more even.

It looks better to me also. A guess about what may be going on here is that Poetica is not really meant to be used at small sizes, and at the bigger sizes the tighter 'optical' spacing works, but not at smaller sizes.

Optical margin alignment. Yes, your explanation that Bringhurst has a lot of material in the margins, so the hypens would interfere, make sense. I will definitely try this, and expect to prefer it.

>maybe try InDesign's thin space?
I ignorantly assumed that the thin space and word space were the same thing. When I tried the thin space - way better!

Your tutorial on InDesign has really improved the text setting enormously. Thanks so much for taking the time to help me out!

matteson's picture

>Thanks so much for taking the time to help me out!

It's been my pleasure :-) I think it's a really attractive book - can't wait to see another pdf!

seg's picture

Im sorry (for mainly myself) for not knowing enough about the compatibility of hebrew fonts and programs. I'll tell you the little i know -
Usauly middle eastern (ME) versions of the popular programs work fine with right-to-left languages. I suppose that once you'll have InDesign ME you'll no longer need the DavkaWriter. Maybe you'll need some kind of hebrew support in the operating system, i'm not sure about that because, well, i sort of take it for granted that hebrew works on my computer, and im not sure why it's like that. I think i remember how the DavkaWriter fonts work - it has fonts with the hebrew set in the english part of the font. Its a very weird program.

I read that you get only 10 fonts by Guttman with DavkaWriter. Guttman digitalized some very nice designs, but you'll might wanna check some commercial fonts..
you can get most of the good & famous designs on MasterFont, who pulled the plug on their old website and the new wedsite has been in construction for years. I'm guessing you can't read hebrew, so this is their contact information:
Tel: 03-6956311
Fax: 03-6956322
Address: Igal Alon 159, Tel Aviv 67443, Israel

another place to look is FontBit, which have a hebrew-only website(how stupid of them!!!)..
I hope you would find your way to the fonts section in the annoying flash maze.

> The face you see is Guttman Hadar. Earlier I used Davka's
> David, which looks more modern, but was a bit bold relative
> to the Minion.
Looks so much like the old Frencheska design 'Shokan'! David [Regular] is good, it didn't look good with it?

p.s. why is everybody saying 'nekudot' (=dots)? i think 'nikud' is the right term..?

Good Luck. I'll be inquiring about the hebrew support.

William Berkson's picture

Thanks for looking into it Itay.

The upgrade to InDesign ME is very expensive (over $600.00 US), so I may just stick with using Davkawriter. I do prefer the look of the David typeface, but I had problems with the weight. Now before I was also dissatisfied with Minion until I switched to the open type version, which I like. So maybe now that I've switched the Minions I'll try David again and see if it works.

As I understand from an earlier thread with John Hudson, beginning with Windows 2000 you just need to install the Hebrew keyboard in Windows, and then you can use regular Hebrew fonts in Word - but not so in regular InDesign. For that you need InDesign ME. (Before Windows 2000 I believe you needed the special Hebrew Windows, which you all had in Israel, but not us here in the US - the reason for the creation of Davkawriter.)

The Davkawriter pasting from Hebrew to English does work in InDesign.

Sorry for mixing up 'nekudot', dots, and 'nikud', voweling or dotting. I think my Hebrew teacher referred to the vowels sometimes this way, or I just mixed it up. My Hebrew exists, but is weak. A fine Israeli scholar, Menachem Fisch, has helped me with the new translation of Avot used in the book.

kakaze's picture

Windows 2k and XP are unicode complient and they do have support for right to left languages. Word has been unicode for a long time, but I think only the newer versions will do right to left.

kakaze's picture

I just did a little checking to see... I can't find an option for right to left in Word 97, I don't have a newer version to try.

But, and this floored me, notepad

William Berkson's picture

Chris, I know the most recent versions of Word support Hebrew. And I think John Hudson also mentioned Wordpad as supporting it, as you note.

The vowels (used only exceptionally, but I need them for my text) are I believe the reason that old Windows couldn't handle Hebrew natively. The new Windows I believe allows more 'bits' per character.

The Word and Wordpad capabilities I don't believe help with InDesign, though. My understanding now is that to get Hebrew into it the only option is the pasting from the special programs, or InDesign-ME.

kakaze's picture

Not wordpad, Notepad...the plain text editor if you can believe that! hehe

There was a thing on the Adobe Typography forums and they concluded too that without being able to convert the text from right to left that you would need the ME version of InDesign to use it...which sucks. I mean, if they go through the trouble to make InDesign Unicode compatible, it shouldn't be too hard to add other language features.

seg's picture

Chris, can you point me to that thread? im very interested.

kakaze's picture

I'll see if I can't find it, can't remember what it was called...

kakaze's picture

Heh, I actually posted a typophile link in that thread:

Um...I don't know how to fix this link, so you'll have to C&P it.

matteson's picture

>Not wordpad, Notepad...the plain text editor if you can believe that!

AFAIK, the fact that Notepad supports RTL text and Hebrew (and other non-Latin scripts) has to do with the Uniscribe DLL. Despite the fact that Uniscribe is in 2000 and XP, not every app can use it. I'm sure John Hudson, Hrant, et al are more informed than I...

>And did you know, that Arial, Times New Roman, Comic Sans, and several other Windows fonts have Hebrew in them?

I don't know about TNR and CS, but MS Arial Unicode is around 25MB - it has glyphs for most codepoints in the Unicode spec. I believe Tahoma is also like this. In a way it's not all that surprising since Microsoft's OpenType strategy seems to be oriented more towards complex script support than Latin typographic niceties.

Although I have a feeling (I haven't looked at all & I know nothing about Hebrew) that the Hebrew support in Arial, TNR, etc. doesn't support the typographically complex things like nikuds(?).

William Berkson's picture

Here is a third revision encorporating further suggestions:

Sayings of the Sages Sample rev4.indd (380.9 k)

Here are the changes:

Title page: I used the semibold italic subhead weight of Minion for 'of the' in the title. This seems to balance the best of the options.

I reduced the size of the title and took away the bold on the author info; these looked too bold when I printed them out.

I tried using the optical spacing and then tracking 50 the small caps at the bottom. Then I just changed the tracking on a couple of them. Do they look even now?

p 2.
As a test I changed the Hebrew font to David. I like it better as a font and it is, as Itay says, more readable as Hebrew. But it is a little bold to my eye in relation to the Minion. I might try to see if I can get a bargain on InDesign ME, and try other fonts. Short of that, I am inclined to stick with the old font (Hadar) for balance. What do you all think as far a balance?

I saw somewhere in looking at Hebrew fonts on an Israeli site one called Poeta. Ok, a little too obvious as a match to Poetica, but it did actually seem to harmonize with Poetica. Do you know what I am refering to Itay?

I put the thin space around the dashes on p. 2. Is this better than word spaces? Bringhurst recommends word spaces - I guess to avoid confusion with a hyphen - but I like Nathan's suggestion to use thin spaces instead. What do you all think?

p. 3. The 10/14 block quote in the last post looked a little bare to me, so I tightened it to 10/13 (vs the 11/14 of the main text), and added an extra 2 points top and bottom. This puts the next paragraph on the baseline grid. Both Bringhurst and Felici recommend at least a half space above and below block quotes, but to me this flows better, as I have so much other stuff that breaks the grid.

Thanks again to all for the help.

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