Magazine Columns

How do they get their columns so straight? It would be a little tricky even with a fixed-width font. But it looks more like a Times New Roman than a Fixedsys or Courier, which never aligns straight for me. And I’ve counted the characters, including spaces, and they vary from sentence to sentence. So it’s definitely not monospaced. Am I missing something obvious here?

They adjust the width of the spaces between the characters.

actually with some computer programs there is a button that allows you to allign the text in your collumns. the button look something like this:

hope this helped some…


The spaces between the characters and the words are adjusted to the text lines up on either side. Your word processing program has a function to do this for you, as well.

In something with relatively skinny columns, such as a newspaper, you sometimes end up with a single word stretched very thinly accross a single line, because the next word is too big to fit. That’s kinda funny.

There is also a lot of finessing. At my magazine, I note when columns’ words are too spread-apart or too tight, and the production manager has to go in and re-kern them (I think that’s the right word).

Some of our columns are also “rag-right,” where the right-hand side is, well, ragged. Problem there is you can’t break a word to continue on the next line, which leads us into other “need to fiddle with this” problems.

It’s called justifying.

Here’s an article from that talks about the process.

Is that the justify function, CJo?

I’m at a magazine here, anyway, and I don’t know the name of the trick, but what we use is a “soft return,” which also changes the spacing so that the words will fill up the entire space in the column. I hope that makes sense, and I hope I’m answering what you’re asking. I guess the width isn’t fixed: you can futz with it if the column is going too long, or if you have an awkward break. [It’s considered aesthetically bad to leave a line with only one word, or sometimes two short words, in it. It’s called a “widow.” That’s why you do the aforementioned trick; to get rid of them.]

please don’t hurt meeee!!! :frowning:
thats the function i used when i was working on the NYTimes. microsoft word is my prosessor…others might have diffrent ones…