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Adjusting type in a book layout to fall evenly on margin

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3 minutes ago, Wosven said:

Our majors or older publisher try to keep those rules, and it's always a pleasure to look at those books.

I don't know anything about what it is like in other countries but in the US those rules basically do not exist. Maybe it is in part because our oldest publishing houses were started in the early 1800's so there are no older traditional rules to follow, or some sort of cultural difference, or other factors?


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I don't know in other countries, but we have examples and books with rules from the Imprimerie nationale, and there are lot of old or more recent ones (with computer era) about the best way to make books, since a lot of old printers tried to establish rules or give advices, the same way as spelling and grammar do.

Some books are references, and you can learn the rest from more experienced ones or now, roaming Internet that is a good place for. There's specific rules for scientific or research editions, for example, in which there's a lot of footnotes and references, and they need specific datas and rules. There seem to be rules for historical books with references and a lot of quote frm other books, and quote in quotes, for poetry and for  theater play, etc. Even for cooking recipes, since there's always a similar pattern depending of the theme.

I'm sure they didn't print from scratch and use rules they take with them from Europe. Most big newspapers have their how internal chart of rules for spelling or displaying some specific informations, for the copyeditors to adapt texts from authors so today's edition feel the same as yesterday's one, etc.

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17 minutes ago, Wosven said:

I don't know in other countries, but we have examples and books with rules from the Imprimerie nationale...

I don't think we have anything equivalent to the Imprimerie nationale in the US. There are various standards & conventions for government publications (at the federal, state & sometimes municipal level) but I believe they involve meeting various legal requirements for content rather than formatting. 

Regardless, I was referring to the formatting of novels & other works of fiction. In the US it seems like there are no generally agreed on rules for that, even for works from the same imprint of one publisher.


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There are Conventions and then there are Rules. In English we write from left to right and then top to bottom, that is a Rule, nay a Law. Leading and Justification are Conventions, based on what looks good. Some publishers take conventions and make them into rules, those rules apply, as Rules, only in that house.

A Convention is that body text has to be a Serif font and headings have to be Sans Serif. It isn't a Rule, except for a house that says it is, if you want to break that rule in that house print off several copies of your resume/CV first.

Conventions are useful for readers as well as publishers. Rules are generally unnoticed by readers.

I like the same space between each line of type all the way through a book. I dislike pages with widows and/or orphans. And I don't like adjacent pages having the bottom of one page ending at a higher or lower position. As a reader I will experience a twitch when one of these things happens, as a typesetter I do my best to minimize the number of times it will happen, I make a rule that the type will be 11 on 12, I make another rule that widows and orphans are not tolerated (not in real life though, some of my best friends are widows and/or orphans) and I work to avoid the mismatch of number of lines on adjacent pages. A three line paragraph starts at the bottom line or two lines of a page, I have to make a decision about which of my rules I will break. I decide by thinking like a reader, what will make me twitch least.


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1 hour ago, Old Bruce said:

Leading and Justification are Conventions, based on what looks good.

Sure, but there are a lot of different ideas about what looks good, particularly for fictional works. I am an avid reader of fiction (averaging about 70+ books per year) so I can assure you from firsthand experience that everything I wrote earlier about chapters ending with less than 1/3 of page of text, blank or decorative lines added to signify a change of location, the passage of time, etc. within a chapter, & all the rest of it is very, very common.

Since most of the books I read are best sellers & have various literary awards to their credit, I have to assume that these books look good to most of the people that actually are interested in buying this stuff. Surely, that must be the most important consideration for publishing houses, right?


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House can have a good reputation for choosing books and making nice books respecing most of the typographical rules, but it doesn't means they do the best job all the time. For example, a few years ago, the printed version of a book that get a great prize in France had an digital version in which the last typos weren't corrected, (and some in the printed one), and some team than provided illegal digital version had a cleaner version without typos. 

Usually, they do better, but not always. It's when looking at details that you can see the quality. I've got older pocket books with better formatting that today's paperbacks, with finesse in the final product, like french ligatures.

Years ago I stop buying poetry since the last 2 books I bought from the main editor for this sort printed on bad paper where the character were barely visible… This same editor print perfect hardcover books.

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13 hours ago, R C-R said:

Sure, but there are a lot of different ideas about what looks good,

Sometimes, it's difficult to determine if "What looks good is simple" = minimalist design, or if the option was "What is good is fast" = minimalist design. :)

Awards are about the content, not the design, and it's normal for texts.  Or editors wouldn't be able to choose good texts from manuscripts or poorly formatted .doc

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14 minutes ago, Wosven said:

Sometimes, it's difficult to determine if "What looks good is simple" = minimalist design, or if the option was "What is good is fast" = minimalist design. :)

What matters most is that it looks good to potential buyers. Judging from a quick sample of the novels on my 'to read' bookshelf, that often has nothing to do with minimalist design or following any rules or traditions. In short, novelty sells.


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1 hour ago, R C-R said:

o do with minimalist design or following any rules or traditions.

I'll keep my opinion about if rules can be vsisible or not, and how people can see them or not. But a lot of work use them, perhaps without really knowing it, because it's ingrain in what we do.

There can be years or century for some usages, simply because that's the best way to do things and no one pay attention because it looks "normal". Books of old times are really similar to the one we've got today, Times font is a modern version of the Caroline calligraphy Charlemagne ordered hundred years ago to unify and make easily lisible the texts —with copies of the original texts instead of the too modified ones years of bad copies produced. Ponpeiians used to write adds and slogans on walls the same way we keep on today (but with different technologies). We keep on using wheels…

There's  lot of conventions and rules we're not aware until we studies some matters, and it's why we can study the past without being completely lost. What evolve the most is technology and materials and we apply them to old concepts.

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2 hours ago, Wosven said:

Books of old times are really similar to the one we've got today,

"Old times" probably has a considerably different meaning on this side of the pond than on yours. 😃


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48 minutes ago, R C-R said:

"Old times" probably has a considerably different meaning on this side of the pond than on yours.

The US culture is mainly base on European one, so for me it's the same roots and history of books, parchements, etc. since the settlers didn't came empty-handed or erased all they know before.

It's a shame that most conquerors or emperors or whatever in power destroyed other or older cultures and knowledge.

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2 minutes ago, Wosven said:

The US culture is mainly base on European one, so for me it's the same roots and history of books, parchements, etc. since the settlers didn't came empty-handed or erased all they know before.

The US is a mix of many different cultures (the so-called "melting pot of the world" & all that) plus some 'home grown' ones. In my immediate neighborhood alone, customs & traditions with African, Indonesian & Caribbean, as well as European roots are well represented. In the metropolitan area there are many others.

Whatever their roots, they all have been "Americanized" to some extent, which means various aspects of different cultural heritages increasingly become part of the cultural norm, if such a thing can be said to exist. It is also constantly evolving because our country has existed for only about 250 years, so there are comparatively few deep-seated historic precedents that are valued as much as they might be in countries that have existed far longer.

I don't want to spend too much time on this, but the point is the US is still a relatively young country compared to most others, with its own unique culture shaped by many different influences.

In short, we are still trying to figure out who we are as a nation.


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What do you think Europe is made of? It's the same, long ago tribes were united, and their culture absorbed or melted wth the one or the conqueror or unificator, and it keep on today with new influx of people. And from what we know of prehistory, it was already this way. I'm not talking about local culture (but we get it too here, with different local languages, cultural habits, etc.  in a same country, and the same at bigger level in all those countries).

What I mean is, since we were talking about books, that writing and producing books is culturally bound to the extension of the main religion it followed. For us, westerners, it's based on the Bible.

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1 hour ago, Wosven said:

What I mean is, since we were talking about books, that writing and producing books is culturally bound to the extension of the main religion it followed.

In the US, a bit less than 1/4 of the population say they have no religion or identify with no particular religion. The rest mostly identify themselves as Christians, but that includes a lot of people with no cultural or ethnic ties to Europe.


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Oh damn, read a little bit more about history, and you'll understand what I'm talking about from the start: culture, and why the books we make today use basic rules or layout set long ago because their uses and the improvements made like writing every time from left to right, space between words, ponctuation, margins, etc. constitude a cultural trait.

And this culture means that you can show UK and US books, French and Canadian books, Spanish and Mexican books, unless we begin to read them it'll be impossible to distinguish where they come from. And if we're at a distance where we can't read them, we'll see all of them are similar.

Now, if I see a book using Fraktur or Basque fonts, I'll be able to pinpoint a more specific culture inside our larger werterner one.

 

And main culures followed the religious books spread. That's a fact, it doesn't mean everyone is of those religions in the area they spread, but mainly at some point.

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17 minutes ago, Wosven said:

...read a little bit more about history, and you'll understand what I'm talking about...

What I read most are the books on my bookshelf. They are primarily novels published in the US. Most are best sellers. Among them are dozens of examples in which a chapter ends with less than 1/3 of a page of text, chapters begin on both left & right pages, white space is inserted within chapters as a literary device, & so on.

Whatever you think are the main cultural influences on US book publishing or their extent, this is a fact.


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Ok, keep on reading novels and assuming instead of learning, but since this won't go nowhere I'll stop here unless the conversation go back to the main subject.

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35 minutes ago, Wosven said:

Ok, keep on reading novels and assuming instead of learning, but since this won't go nowhere I'll stop here unless the conversation go back to the main subject.

I am assuming nothing. I am literally looking at the books & how they are formatted.


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