Is there a word for noticeable empty diagonal space in text?

You included hyphenation in your example, which is the best way to eliminate the problem.

Yes, that’s how I’ve always heard it pronounced, although it wouldn’t surprise me if people do say “leeding.”

True. I thought of that half way through and planned on including a disclaimer at the bottom, but forgot. I had to tweak my wording many times to get the fake justification to look right, and I couldn’t think of a long enough word that meant ‘‘often used.’’

Well, I’ve never heard it pronounced, myself. I’ve only read about it.

Anybody remember Camex machines?


I agree, that is WAY worse!

Ex-printer here, they are called rivers and are bad design. No designer should let them look that way, changing the type set or letter spacing by a small ammount can fix them and not make anything look different. The only time I saw them and they looked good was when the background had designs that flowed through them.

I’ve always heard it as left-justified vs. ranged left. Cry me a river.

I’m such a type geek, I even have my toilet set up that way: “Flush Left/Rag Right”.

[helv italic] ::rimshot:: [/helv italic]

And of course it’s “ledding”, because the extra space between lines of metal type used to be achieved with strips of LEAD.

Nope, ‘Arial Bold’ is the font. ‘12pt Arial Bold’ is the font size.

I vaguely remember hearing that the old rule about inserting two spaces after a period was originally intended to avoid “rivers” in typewritten manuscripts. Is that true?

There’s something strangely beautiful and soothing about this discussion :slight_smile:

Hmm. I shall use this opportunity for a slight hijack:
Why do typefaces need different fonts for bolding and italics? What’s wrong with the computer-bolded (faux bold?) or italicized versions?

Well, sort of. It’s because typewriters used monospaced typefaces, which create odd and large spaces in text – if you think of how a letter ‘m’ and a letter ‘i’ sit in the same width space, you can imagine how this would create odd wide spaces in the text. Putting two spaces after a sentence therefore makes it more obvious for the reader that it’s the end of a sentence, rather than just a weirdly wide space within a sentence.

I’m not sure I explained that right. Hope it makes some sense.

Because they look better. Computer bolding is pretty crude: it just thickens the strokes indiscriminately (or nearly so), whereas a properly designed bold font will have the stroke widths tweaked for maximum readability, and may also subtly alter the letter shapes themselves where needed.

Similarly, computer italics are created by simply slanting the roman letter forms. Proper italics usually have significantly different forms, particularly the letter “a” which in the italic version is usually a “single-storey” form rather than double-storey. The letter “f” is also rather different, and all the letters tend to have a more curvy form, as seen below:

Roman font
Italic font

The differences are usually more pronounced in serifed fonts:

Roman font
Italic font

Because when you use, for example, the computer-bolding thing, it’s a bit like just adding a keyline around the text to make it ‘fatter’ and can create all sorts of ugly blobby effects on certain letters. Whereas a specifically designed bold font will make subtle adjustments to the strokes on certain letters to avoid any blobby bits and type clashes (where two letters touch each other). So the overall effect is much smarter/more seamless.

Similarly, using artificial italics is akin to squashing the font sideways – the font looks crushed and letters start to clash. Specially designed italics will avoid this affect, and also entirely redesign certain letters to make them fit more neatly. Upright (roman) letters are often entirely different from sloping (italic) ones. Here are some examples.

Think of it like hitting a font with a hammer (for italics) or pumping it up with a footpump (bold) and I think you can start to imagine how ugly that could look.


Yeah, I might occasionally sigh a little inside when I think that most of what I do is going to be neither noticed nor appreciated by anyone who reads what I’ve typeset, but if anyone were to notice, I’d really rather it was for something I’d done right. :smiley:

I suppose now I know how a potter feels when he sees people preferring to buy chunky, lop-sided jugs with holes in the glaze, because they “look more hand-made”.

True. But in defense of my love for rivers, I didn’t know until this thread that it was “wrong”, or something that typesetters struggle to avoid. Is it wrong to appreciate a chunky lop-sided jug because you enjoy texture and asymmetry?

No, the font size is just “12 point” by itself.

Family of typefaces = a family of typefaces in various weights and other variations (Arial Narrow, Arial Bold, etc.)
Typeface = a particular member of that family (Arial Bold)
Font = a display of *all *the characters in a specific typeface, weight, and size
(ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz 0123456789 …)

In the world of metal type, both handset and line-cast, you’d have been correct up until ‘font’. A font was/is the physical set of objects that make an entire typeface. So, in terms of handset, you’d have a font of type. For linecasters, you’d have a font of matrices (or mats, abbreviated).

Many of the ‘big name’ typographers working today, especially those that started in the days of lead, consider a font to be the actual computer file that instructs the printer how to draw a typeface. So a typeface describes what you see, the style, or design if you will, and a font us what you need to use that style. There is not 100% agreement on this, but it is the closest analogue to the system in which the terms were developed.

I suppose I learned my terminology in reference to one of the steps that came in between metal type and computerized type … phototypography. That has neither physical objects nor digital code, but rather a display of the type on film.