Spacing, Convention, and Layout in General

Subject: Spacing, Convention, and Layout in General
From: DIGEST Bruce Byfield <byfield -at- DIRECT -dot- CA>
Date: Tue, 16 Jul 1996 11:25:21 +0800

David Blyth <dblyth -at- QUALCOMM -dot- COM> writes:

>Frankly, Robert, I don't give a darn. I'm so Victorian that I actually
>believe readers need to understand what they're reading. No amount of
>style ponitification will prevent me from creating readable documents.

The quote you're replying to suggests that Victorian books were NOT
noted for readability. The way type was set in the 19th Century,
extra spaces were needed for readability. So was extra leading. Even
then, readability isn't an outstanding feature of most Victorian

But layout has changed a lot since then, and the question is
what improves readability given modern standards. The consensus
among professional typographers has been single spacing,

Still, that may change. In the last few years, new fonts such as
Stone have been developed specifically for use on the computer.
These fonts, not being limited by the need to put letters on a
piece of lead, greatly reduce kerning problems. Should these fonts
become standard, maybe the eye will appreciate another space between
sentences, just for variation. Or maybe conventions will change for
another reason. It's all contextual.

And for those sick of the subject: yes, in one sense, the subject is
trivial. But, in another, it's important, because it's about
readability. Besides, I imagine that many people on the list are mainly
writers, and are having to learn about layout on the side.

To that end, does anybody care to suggest some basic books on layout and
design? For starters, I'd suggest "The Elements of Typographic Style," "The
Form of the Book," and "The Non-Designers' Design Book." Any others?

Bruce Byfield (byfield -at- direct -dot- ca)
Burnaby, B. C., Canada (604) 421-7189
Technical Documentation, Demos & Instruction

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