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Re: [Groff] Letterspacing

From: Steve Izma
Subject: Re: [Groff] Letterspacing
Date: Thu, 27 Mar 2014 00:17:54 -0400
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.21 (2010-09-15)

On Wed, Mar 26, 2014 at 05:15:34PM -0400, Peter Schaffter wrote:
> Subject: [Groff] Letterspacing
> I'm still puzzled by Werner's blanket dismissal of letterspacing.
> Attached is a pdf of side-by-side columns of identical justified
> text.  In the RH column, 14 of the 27 lines of text have been
> adjusted with letterspacing, some loosened, some tightened.  The
> grey is clearly superior to the unadjusted column.
> This kind of line-by-line letterspacing has been pretty
> much stock-in-trade since the earliest days of standalone
> phototypesetting systems, which is why I'm puzzled.

I'm puzzled too. Some discussions I have had lately with other
typographers indicate a general support for letterspacing. One
font designer even suggested that there is a commonly accepted
limit to the amount of kerning or morticing -- unfortunately, I
forget what he said, so I'll have to search for such a guideline.
For type around 10 pt., I try to keep it around .1 pts. Do others
have guidelines? Peter, what were your parameters in this

Doug is right about narrow columns. I've always assumed that the
optimal line length is about 65 characters, typically used in
books. For magazine or newsletter columns, I rarely want to set 9
or 10 pt text on less than about 18 picas. Newspapers, obviously,
are more like 12 picas (never optimum) and that's where a lot of
people end up squeezing too much type on single lines in order to
avoid widows. I'm really not interested in setting type ragged
any more.

This also raises the question of whether a paragraph-at-once
algorithm could handle such single-line adjustments without being
unwieldly or slow. I've never been able to get this kind of
precision in TeX, as I've mentioned before; it's much faster to
do it in groff.

        -- Steve

Steve Izma
Home: 35 Locust St., Kitchener N2H 1W6    p:519-745-1313
Work: Wilfrid Laurier University Press    p:519-884-0710 ext. 6125
E-mail: address@hidden or address@hidden

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