Acceptable methods of copyfitting in rigid layouts

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Colin Hartnett's picture
Joined: 28 Jan 2003 - 11:00am
Acceptable methods of copyfitting in rigid layouts

After working on two newspapers, I

brian jaramillo's picture
Joined: 3 Nov 2001 - 11:00am

Colin — a lot of variables come into play, but
as a general rule, don’t mess with the point
size, the tracking, or the character width.

Break the rules for feature layouts, of course.

Not sure what you mean by leaving white space.
Do you have a scan?

You can air out copy but not *too much*.

Also, read Tim Harrower’s book…mentioned
before at typophile.

If you have time, touch the copy, or have
an editor help you touch it. Some of the
most precise editing comes when you are forced
to fit something into a confined space.
You see things you normally wouldn’t see.

among other things:

_ edit widows

_ cut redundant, “no ••••” quotes

_ look at paragraph structure (either tighten or loosen based on reporter’s writing style)

_ increase/decrease size of art

_ increase/decrease # of columns / page layout

_ bust out a pull quote or an infographic

_ as a last resort, run a house ad, or better yet,
set your type in Zapf Dingbats.


Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am

Why not mess with the point size? As long as it’s within reading range it’s fine. Think of fractional increments though.

Frankly I don’t have much experience copyfitting large amounts of text in tight spaces, but in terms of typeface integrity I’d say that tracking is the worst thing you can do. Second worse is horizontal scaling. Changing the word-space is not too bad. Same for leading. Both of those can actually take more abuse than most designers realize.

A good type user can conceivably have a better appreciation for the balance of economy versus readability than some type designers. So if you have reason to believe that the spacing of the font is too lose for example (like in Mrs Eaves), apply negative tracking (just keep an eye on “boundary” glyphs, like the lc “r” — you might need to add some custom kerning pairs). Helvetica for example is too tight for text (assuming you have to gall to use it for text anyway).

Two things I would add:
1) Watch the paragraph breaks for places you can save entire lines.
2) Try to use a MM font with a width axis.