Rivers of white and run arounds

Continuing yesterday’s theme of typography, here are a few more interesting typographic terms I came across today:

River of white
- a column of white space that occurs when word space in quite a few successive lines of type happen to end up below each other, as mentioned by P Terry Hunt in the comments on yesterday’s post.

Run around
- this when you fit the text around a picture or other design element.

Pagination
- this means either arranging the type and other elements so that they will be output in page format, or numbering the pages.

This is a term I heard frequently when I worked in the design department as a lone web developer surrounded by graphic designers. Since then the internet side of the company has expanded considerably.

Gutter
- the white space between columns on a page.

Widow
- either a single short line at the top of the page or column which is the end of a sentence or a paragraph, or a single word or syllable standing as the last line of a paragraph.

Source: http://www.typography-1st.com

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This entry was posted in English, Language, Typography.

5 Responses to Rivers of white and run arounds

  1. TJ says:

    Oh how much you reminded me of my hard days trying to fix things around in Microsoft Word.

    I do hate that program really ……… and I learned most of its options to help others and not myself!!

  2. BG says:

    Going with widow is orphan, the first line of a paragraph appearing alone at the bottom of a page.

    Ironically enough I first saw these two terms (in the typography sense) in Word’s Paragraph formatting under “Pagination”. Microsoft’s programs are annoying, but I use many of them anyway.

  3. Travis says:

    I’m glad to have read the explanation of why rivers, knotholes and their company are weeded out in editing. I figured there had to be some good reason why so many people were in support of it. Terry, thank you for your explanation. The logic seems sound. Is it known what percentage of people are unconsciously disrupted by rivers while reading, and what percentage are attracted to the ‘distractions’? I personally like looking onto a printed page that looks back at me. I like shapes. One of the qualities I notice about Japanese for instance, is the unlikely pairing of kanji and hiragana. They are opposites: one elegant and packed in a box, the other responsive and spilling from its container. The clusters of kanji seem nearly eroded on the sides where hiragana squiggles through. In my opinion, this gives character and topography to the lines.
    I understand that an important principle behind script is to convey communication without undermining its clarity. Something rather interesting occurs however, in spite of its supposed allegiance to unvariedness: rivers and the like bubble up from mathematical places no matter how flat the page. There seems to be some primal element of pattern liberation at play. It must be a difficult job for the editors to subtly rearrange the tracks of spontaneous fractals, without any trace of violence. While the editors are performing a practical service to the readers, I wonder how many pictures have been lost.

  4. rek says:

    Leading — the space between lines of text.

    Kerning — the space between individual letters.

    Justification — how the text is aligned (flush left and ragged right, flush right and ragged left, centred, fully justified).

    Tracking — the uniform increase or decrease of space occupied by text.

    Ligature — when two or more individual letters are replaced with a single glyph custom-designed to avoid overlaps. The most common example is probably when “fi” is replaced with fi (depending on the typeface, the cross bar of the f and the top of the i may be linked, or the dot of the eye replaced by the end of the f’s hook).

    Letter/glyph design itself is full of jargon too.

  5. Jangari says:

    Just quietly, I was under the impression that a widow was at the bottom and an orphan at the top, but I suppose it depends on whether you conceptualise the last line on a page as the mother of the following page, or as the child of the rest of the page it is on.