Monthly Archives: April 2011

Widows and Orphans, avoiding paragraph tragedies

A widow, typographically speaking, is a word or part of a hyphenated word that is alone on a line in a paragraph. The text comes to the end of the line and one word or part of a word wraps to the next line like

An orphan is the last word or part of a word of a paragraph that jumps to the top of the next column or the next page.

How best to avoid them? Designers often use tracking and kerning to fix. (If these terms are not familiar to you, good.) How should you fix them? Add or eliminate word. Seriously, add or eliminate words. I track or kern because I usually don’t have the authority to alter content. When I can alter the copy, usually because I wrote it, I alter the copy and you should too.


The equivalent of what?

The decimal equivalents of an inch. You think one-eighth and computers think 0.125. Every designer worth her salt has a decimal equivalent chart. Most of the conversions we know by heart. Every so often, however, we have to check. And since we can layout things in our programs to the thousandth of an inch, we get pretty precise. I would say anal, but this is a G rated blog. I’ve made a decimal chart for you. You can view it below and download the pdf. It is not fancy, no pretty graphics, not even my web site address or a pitch. Print it, trim it and enjoy.

Decimal equivalent of an inch

Decimal equivalent of an inch
Fraction Decimal to 2 places Decimal to 3 places
1/16 0.06 0.062
1/8 0.12 0.125
3/16 0.19 0.188
1/4 0.25 0.250
5/16 0.31 0.312
3/8 0.38 0.375
7/16 0.44 0.438
1/2 0.50 0.500
9/16 0.56 0.562
5/8 0.62 0.625
11/16 0.69 0.688
3/4 0.75 0.750
13/16 0.82 0.812
7/8 0.88 0.875
15/16 0.94 0.938
1 1.00 1.000

The new kid on the block, web fonts

While this pretty much will not affect you it isn’t a bad idea, in this case, to have a little knowledge. I’ve written before about typefaces and how you might use a certain typeface or font (same thing in this conversation) for a document only to find when the document is opened on someone else’s computer the typeface defaults to Courier. That’s because the other computer does not have the typeface on it’s system. The web works in a similar way, a web page, ideally, will use a typeface that is likely on the viewer’s system. If the viewer does not have the typeface the text will default into again, the dreaded Courier, Arial or something like that. The only way to get around it was to treat text as if it is an image, that is until now. With the introduction of web fonts and web font services any typeface can be used for any web page. The typeface is temporarily downloaded via the web browser to the page, never being loaded onto your system, so the page can be viewed as intended. It also makes the text searchable and can easily be edited. The typefaces live out on the web on servers and are managed by web font services available by subscription.

Dot gain, weight gain, all things we want to avoid

Short and sweet today. Dot gain is what happens when ink soaks into paper and spreads. Think of a drop of coffee on a paper napkin. Now think of that drop of coffee on a table, it just sits on top. With uncoated paper ink will soak in and spread, how much depends on how much ink and the type of paper. Dot gain will be less with a coated paper since the ink will sit on top of the paper. So if you are using an uncoated paper, thin small text is something to avoid or least take into consideration. Large color areas with heavy ink coverage is something to consider too, never hesitate to talk to your designer and/or printer about these issues. It may be a simple as changing a typeface or switching to a paper with less dot gain properties.