Re: What's a widow?

Subject: Re: What's a widow?
From: Bruce Nevin <bnevin -at- CISCO -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 16 Sep 1996 13:55:36 -0400

[I am reposting this because I received a message saying it wasn't
distributed. May have been the date ;) See the excerpt appended to the end
of this message.]

[As an aside on another thread, "appended to the end" is the antonym of the
neologism "prepend," and "appended to the beginning" is the synonym.
"Append" by itself does not specify location, as witness "appendix" and
"appendage" in biology.]

A widow is a short line at the end of a paragraph which slips over a page
break to the top of the next page. _The Chicago Manual of Style_ 19.40 (p.
802) says a "short line" is "one word or two or three little ones (some say
anything less than a full line)". (It is also mentioned in 3.46 on p. 120
in a sentence which, ambiguously, might be construed as saying any short
line at the end of a paragraph is a widow, but 19.40 is unequivocal.)
_Words Into Type_ discusses widows on p. 75 and p. 271 as a line of "less
than full measure" at the top of a page.

In a past life writing macros for nroff/troff we referred to the converse
case--a single line stranded at the foot of the preceding page--as an
orphan. I remembered orphans as being left behind, and widows as going
ahead without their consorts. However, this use of "orphan" is not in any
reference that I can now find.

In the same past life, any single line at the top of a page, however long,
was termed a widow, probably because it was too much work to hack a way to
count words or reckon line length. And even though word processors and
desktop publishing systems can handle these measurements, so far as I know
they nonetheless keep two or three lines together either side of a page
break, regardless of line length.

Bruce Nevin

-=+=-=+=-=+=-=+=-=+=-=+=-=+=-=+=-=+=-=+=-=+=-=+=-=+=-=+=-=+=-=+=-=+=-=+=-
Here is the notice that my first try didn't get through:

>From: ALLIED/PHXMP990/POSTMASTER
><IMCEAMS-ALLIED_PHXMP990_POSTMASTER -at- alliedsignal -dot- com>
>To: Bruce Nevin <bnevin -at- cisco -dot- com>
>Subject: Mail failure
>Date: Fri, 13 Sep 1996 16:03:00 -0700
>Encoding: 59 TEXT


>[005] Mail retry count exceeded sending to:
> ALLIED /PHXMP023

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