Re: What's a widow?

Subject: Re: What's a widow?
From: DIGEST Bruce Byfield <byfield -at- DIRECT -dot- CA>
Date: Sat, 14 Sep 1996 13:58:21 +0800

Eileen Foran <eenie -at- EXECPC -dot- COM> wrote:

>I mentioned to this writer that although widows consisting of one word
>are generally forbidden, if a word has four syllables or more
>(installation, application, etc.), it can "legally" stay on a line by
>itself . . . . Does anyone know of, and adhere to, this rule, or am
I crazy, spouting off these pretend rules?

The closest thing I can find is on page 40 of Robert Bringhurst's
"Elements of Typographic Style," which is not so much a rule
book but a list of the conventions used by professional typographers.
Under "Etiquette of Hypenation and Pagination," he states: "Avoid
leaving the stub-end of a hyphenated word, or any word shorter
than four letters, as the last line of a paragraph."

My understanding, by the way, is that "widow" refers to the last line
of a paragraph which appears as the first line of a new page. What you
are referring to is obviously a related problem, but I don't know if it has
its own name.
Bruce Byfield (byfield -at- direct -dot- ca) Technical Writing
Burnaby, BC, Canada Computing & Training Manuals
(604) 421-7189 On-Line & Paper Documentation

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