Book design: your critique welcome

Erik Fleischer's picture

I mentioned in the topic Typographic heresy a few weeks ago that I might try and set Alice's Adventures in Wonderland as an exercise. Well, I did just that, and would very much like to read your comments.

I still have to design the cover and check the whole thing from beginning to end for messed up bits of text etc, but other than that the book is finished -- I think...

I would especially welcome comments on:

  • page and text block format, size and proportions (page is A5, a convenient format in Europe and many other parts of the world);
  • appropriateness of typefaces (Quadraat for text, Quadraat Sans for chapter titles, Poetica for poem on p. 106);
  • size and placement of chapter titles and chapter numbers;
  • optical alignment of left margins;
  • ragged right margins;
  • size and placement of illustrations (I resized most illustrations so they would fit my design);
  • kerning problems (I edited the kerning tables of both Quadraat and Quadraat Sans to improve the fit of comma + single-quote, comma + double-quote, single-quote + several letters [indicating elision], and a few more pairs).
  • running footers (of which I'm not very fond -- they kind of mess up the text block to page proportions);

Any other comments are also very welcome, of course.

I'm making two press-quality PDFs available: one with single pages, the other with spreads (better to examine design).


Important update

If you are new to this thread, please read about the latest revision here before posting comments.

Quick links to latest revision:

Greg Stanton's picture

You asked, so here goes...

Post-modern design (and type) has its place, but I'm not sure it's appropriate for a Victorian novel -- even if the novel is a little "off." Your layout is good, but it makes it look like a textbook rather than familiar fiction.

Running headers, or in this case footers, are little more than dressing. Most people know what book they are reading. They are a tradition in American book typography, much less so in British. It's not an offensive practice, I'm just philosophically opposed to it. Page numbers are sufficient.

If you are going with running footers, it's ok to use them on the first pages of chapers. Headers usually interfere with the title of a chaper, which is why they are omitted. If your page numbers are at the foot of a page, it's fine to number your chapter openings (it's also useful).

Justified type is easier to read in long stretches, which is why all prose books are formatted in this way. There was a movement to set books RR in the early 20th century -- Eric Gill's book was one of the first to push for this "innovation." It never caught on, and for good reason: it's tiring to read. Even though setting justified type poses it's own set of problems for the typesetter, it is nearly always preferable to RR or RL.

Your bastard title is leaded too wide. It's ONE title, and should appear as such.

On the title page, the Illustrator should appear closer to the author's name, and the publisher should appear at the bottom.

Chapters do NOT have to always be on the right. It is an absurd waste of good paper.

You have generally integrated the illustrations with the text quite well. I will point out the the illustration on page 53 is not well-handled. I know how it was originally placed on the page, top to bottom. You should probably at least flow the text down the left side of it, and perhaps bring it to the top of the page.

Placing the illustration for chaper 7 at the bottom of the page of chaper 6 is akward. You should bring it over to page 58.

I don't like the way the insets for "Father William" dance all over the pages. Also, the poem should begin right after "Alice folded her hands, and began:" Instead you've placed an illustration in that spot.

You should use kerned lining figures for the chaper openings instead of oldstyle figures. OS figures SHOULD be used within text, but by themselves it makes your chapter numbers look like they are set in two different sizes. It looks like a mistake.

Your chapters begin with a drop cap, which is fine, but when they are accompained by an open quote you should reduce the size of the quote mark.

All those swashes in the last poem? What possessed you? They are distracting. And where did the page numbers go on this spread?

Line length/type size/leading are good and balanced.

I have not checked your line breaks, spacing, etc. This critique was just for the layout. Hope this was helpful.

kris's picture

I generally agree with what George has to say, except for the justification thing. If it feels right for the text, then let it be. I am not aware of any research that suggests justification is easier to read.

Get rid of Quadraat Sans, just use the serif. The sans is jarring.


Erik Fleischer's picture

Wow, Greg... Squashed me against the floor, dragged your foot and left a trail of green juices... :o)

Now seriously, this is the kind of feedback I'd pay for if I were making any money off this project. Thanks a LOT. As soon as I can find the time, I'll implement your suggestions (at least some of them) and post a link to a new version of the book.

Thank you, too, Kris.

I'm eager to read more comments...

pattyfab's picture

I don't have time unfortunately for the sort of thoughtful critique Greg gave but have a few first impressions.

WHy did you choose Quadraat? I've never been a fan but in particular think you could choose either a very simple and elegant period font or something with more whimsy. I don't think the sans is suited to the material. Particularly don't like it for the chapter number.

Agree the text should be justified. I think the drop cap is a little dull. I'd either give it more presence or eliminate it. Have you considered running an opening line or phrase in small caps? That might give it an old fashioned feel.

Think you give too much space around the running foot. I'd lower it and add a line or two of text or else put more margin at top. I see no reason for the left running foot to be the book title (have NEVER understood that convention). I'd put the chapter title on both, or perhaps the folio only on one and the title on the other?

Agree you don't need to start chapters only on the recto.

Page 12 - why not rag the type around the image as in other places?

Agree re page 53 - move pic to top of page.

Hate the Poetica.

Nick Shinn's picture

Quadraat + engravings = disharmony.
Quadraat would work with a looser style of traditonal line drawing, eg Edward Ardizzone

I like the idea of the rag-right text columns wrapping round the irregular shape of the illustrations.

Greg Stanton's picture

Hey! I wasn't that rough!

One more teeny thing. The title should be broken logically.

Alice's Adventures
in Wonderland


in Wonderland

I know there are a few editions on the market that break like yours -- the title looks more even when broken this way. It is more important to convey information than to create a pleasing shape with the type.

You can learn a lot from, believe it or not, looking at Penguin paperbacks. Hardcover books or collectors editions would have bigger margins, but Penguin is peerless when it comes to clean page design that is completely subservient to the text.

Linda Cunningham's picture

Lots of excellent comments, particularly in setting it ragged, but everyone else seems to have missed my pet peeve.

Perhaps the best (IMVHO) reason to set it ragged is to hose the hyphenation. Books for children to read, or to be used by adults to read to children, shouldn't ever see a hyphen: it's hard on the kids, and invariably means that an adult will mispronounce a word.


Greg Stanton's picture

You still need to hypenate ragged-right text -- perhaps less than you would justified. You cannot allow a computer to break your lines for you.

A book for very young children should not be hypenated, of course, but AAIW is not for little kids, it's approrpiate for children 11-12 (and adults!). Judiciously hypenated texts will not pose a problem for children this age.

I read extensively, and I have to say that reading RR text is very taxing in long stretches. Probably just as taxing as reading text set in Linotype Didot. If you are publishing, say, an art book compristed mainly of photos or illustrations flanked by commentary, RR would not be a problem. It's fine in cookbooks too. Long prose, chapters, short stories, or novels should really be set justified.

Go to a book store or library. Find a novel set RR. Good luck.

Erik Fleischer's picture

Thank you all so very much for your feedback. And I still hope to read more comments from other people.

For now, I'd like to explain why I did certain things. My intention is not to say "I know what I'm doing", but to explain my reasoning so that you can see where I'm coming from and tell me why you think I'm wrong.

(a) I chose Quadraat because I think it's a pretty good text face, and it's also quite quirky, which I felt matched the mood of the text. Also, I don't own a large number of typefaces, and wanted to try and make do with what I already had (considering this is primarily an exercise).

My other choice was Esprit, which I quite like and which would probably suit the text even better, but the version I have (Adobe's) doesn't have text figures and that pretty much killed the esprit.

(b) I agree that Quadraat Sans doesn't look quite right, but I was trying to put little touches here and there to make the book look a little less 18th century for modern audiences. I'll probably ditch it.

(c) I don't like the running footers (see my original post), but felt I'd go with convention. The vast majority of the books I own (including some on book design!) have running headers or footers. But in light of your feedback, I'll be more than happy to do away with the footers.

(d) I went with ragged right because from everything I've read (including His Eminence Robert Bringhurst) RR is a good choice for anything that's not too formal. I personally also find it kind of strange, but I decided to stick with it, maybe learn a new trick. Was not aware of any scientific research about readability of justified v. RR.

(d) I'm all for saving paper, but wanted to give the book an airier feel, which is why I started every chapter on a recto. Guess that was a bad idea...

(e) The use of Poetica with all those extravagant swashes was completely deliberate. I've known this poem by heart ever since I saw a Dutch film (I think) called Malpertuis ages ago, and to me its dreamy and romantic mood called for something over the top. My main concern is if it's too dissonant in relation to the rest of the book.

(f) All illustrations are aligned either within the margins of the text block or to a "blind margin" (just made up this term) near the fore-edge and/or the tail. That's why illustrations on versos are placed to the left of the text and so the text running around them is aligned (not ragged left, which would be absurd). Placing illustrations towards the spine would break the balance of the page, especially because the wider margins are fore-edge and tail.

(g) There's little space at the top because I chose to fit a golden mean (proportions between text block height and width) inside an A5; top and spine margins are the same, as are fore-edge and tail.

Again, I'm not defending myself; if anyone disagrees with anything I said, please show me the error of my ways. And if I didn't comment on a specific suggestion someone made, it's probably because I completely agree with it and cannot think of a reason not to implement it.

Greg Stanton's picture

Hey Erik, if that was the first book design you've done, it was excellent.

If you worked for a major publisher, it would go through 10-20 rounds of revisions before your art director signed off on it. And that's if you had 20 years experience. Then the big wigs would have to approve it too.

I'm looking forward to the revision :)

pattyfab's picture

Greg - I can't imagine a book interior going thru 10-20 rounds of revision! Covers, maybe. In my experience the bigwigs don't much care what the interior of the book looks like unless it's an illustrated book and even then they don't really pay attention to it. In most trade publishing houses the interiors department is more or less left alone.

Erik - running text rag left around an image isn't absurd at all. I find the hard edge on those pages jarring. Agree that the illustrations should be at the outer margins, not the gutter.

There are other dreamy fonts besides Poetica that would be less dissonant. I'm still not loving the Quadraat for this project either.

Erik Fleischer's picture

Thanks for your words of encouragement, Greg.

I'm currently based in Brazil, and the vast majority of books here lack even the most basic typographic refinements. You'd be hard put to find a book published in Brazil that uses standard ligatures; unspaced slanted capitals are routinely used for titles; publishers have a fixation with condensed (mostly artificially compressed) Romantic faces for body copy; no-one's apparently ever heard of choosing text faces that harmonize with the nature of books or newspapers; and it's all downhill from there.

Perhaps one day I'll be able to work someplace where books undergo several revisions with art directors that actually have a clue about typographic design... :o)

Erik Fleischer's picture

Patty, just had a look at your web site. Really like your work.

On the subject of setting text ragged left around illustrations at the outer margin on versos, you obviously know what you're talking about, but doesn't that make it horribly difficult to read unless it's just a couple of lines?

pattyfab's picture


No I don't think it would be hard to read, but why not try it and see.

Linda Cunningham's picture

Greg: If I'm faced with a line that is excessively short in RR, I'd rather mess around (gently!) with word and letterspacing to fix it than insert a hyphen to fill out a line. For me (and my clients), it's a matter of readability.

Erik: This is great for a first go. I've worked on books where the interior has gone through multiple iterations, particularly in nonfiction, where "things change" and the authors decide "the look" has to as well.

I also don't have a problem with you starting each chapter on a recto: it's certainly a good starting place (I'm a Bringhurst disciple as well). That being said, when space has been at a premium, and there's a beautiful spread, I've done projects where each section starts on a verso. As always, it's about learning the rules, and then knowing how and when to break 'em.

Good luck!

rs_donsata's picture

I can't download your samples, I get a message saying they are damaged.


Erik Fleischer's picture

I can’t download your samples, I get a message saying they are damaged.

Héctor, in my experience the problem you're reporting sometimes happens with Internet Explorer on older systems (Windows 98/Me). If that's your case, then I can't think of a simple solution other than using a download manager or a browser other than IE. Otherwise, I don't really have a suggestion, but can tell you that the files are still there, and are not damaged. Maybe it was a mysterious temporary problem in cyberspace and it will work if you try again now? Sorry about that. And thanks for your interest!

timd's picture

I'm with Linda on the hyphenation question, do whatever you can to avoid it with ragged right, btw I don't believe there is any research which has concluded that justified is better than ragged right, putting it mildly ragged right text set with a good rolling rag will outperform justified, both methods require some attention to detail but I think you are on the way.
One area which I haven't seen commented on is the Mouse's Tale, although the idea is nice I think you will need to work on it, given that it is rhyming I think if you start by setting it horizontally a pair of lines at a time and make the pattern from that you might achieve a better effect. Working with text on a curve can be very frustrating and there are a couple of really unattractive spots in your illustration around takes and at the end of the tail where mous e breaks. All that said though it is a very creditable first attempt at a difficult subject.

typequake's picture

I was unable to open the first .pdf, and I use XP with Firefox...

Erik Fleischer's picture

I was unable to open the first .pdf, and I use XP with Firefox…

Weird... Just checked the integrity of both files and they're fine. Downloaded them both without problems. Just in case, I've created two compressed files containing the PDFs; this might solve the problem.

Greg Stanton's picture

I wouldn't mess with the letterspacing, just the word spacing. It's better to violate the margin, or break a few lines in different places to give your last line more heft. Changing letterspacing makes some lines look "blacker" than others. I'm sensitive to it.

Dowding's "Finer Points in the Spacing and Arrangement of Type" is an excellent book on how to set readable type. I like Bringhurst's book a lot, but I disagree with a number of his opinions -- namely that you should let the computer break your lines for you in RR text. This is absurd. Technology will never replace a skilled human.

Nick Shinn's picture

Greg, I share your preference for justification in long texts, but here where it's broken up with a lot of pictures, and quote blocks, I don't mind the rag right so much.

Erik Fleischer's picture

I've already started the first revision, but can only do it during my free time, which fortunately I haven't had a lot of.

In the meantime, I'd like your input on something I forgot to mention previously. Carroll's text is full of dashes -- mostly when characters are speaking, but also the way it's used in this sentence. It seems that in the original text (can't be sure because I don't have access to a copy of the manuscript or the first edition) he even used double dashes to indicate abrupt breaks in dialogue.

I have chosen to use single en dashes with a regular word space on either side in all cases, but keep wondering if I should use em dashes flush with the preceding or following word in cases of abrupt breaks in dialogue (i.e. when what comes before or after is not part of the same sentence).

Greg Stanton's picture

I separate dashes (en and em) with thin spaces on either side.

Linda Cunningham's picture

Greg: I let the computer do the heavy lifting and then manually tweak. :-) And I don't agree with Bringhurst on every point either, but it's easy to trot him out when I get a difficult client who wants me to justify every single decision I've made in setting up a document. Dowding's book sounds like a worthwhile read.

Erik: I use single em dashes to indicate pauses in speech -- this is recommended in Chicago (for long pauses, they put two) and set without spaces.


pattyfab's picture

Dash it all... see this debate:

It's correct to use em dashes for breaks in speech, not en dashes. Definitely not double dashes. Whether or not to put a thin (not a regular word) space on either side I'd decide based on how they look in your font. Some need it (kerned too tight) and some don't.

I too prefer justified text for reading, but I think in a book of this scale a rag is OK. Agree with Greg - start with the computer's rag but then go over it by hand.

timd's picture

For the dashes is there a national preference in Brazil, as you can see from the thread Patty links to there is an Atlantic split on use in English, or would a Portuguese convention be useful here?

Erik Fleischer's picture

is there a national preference in Brazil [...] or would a Portuguese convention be useful here?

Well, seeing as I'm setting the original text in English, I never really thought of following Brazilian or Portuguese conventions. This would be a book for English speakers, even if their first language is something else.

Besides, in Brazil em dashes are used to introduce dialogues, not quotes, so I'm already far from well established conventions.

I'm using single quotes throughout to enclose dialogues, and double quotes within single quotes; this seems to be the British practice, which I chose because the author is English and the lack of a target market gives me some latitude.

As for the dash discussion, thank you Linda and Patty for pointing out that dashes used within sentences should be different from those used to indicate abrupt breaks; that's what I needed to define. I'm going to stick with en dashes with word spaces on either side for the former, and adopt close-set em dashes for the latter.

Linda Cunningham's picture

Well, depending on use, the em dash is probably appropriate for both. It's been awhile since I read "Alice" and I don't have a copy handy, but the en dash has pretty defined uses, and simply using it as a dash within a sentence isn't one of them.

There was a recent thread here on Typophile about dashes: check for an excellent primer on what to use, when, and how.


timd's picture

Since you are already going in the British direction for quotes, I would recommend spaced en dashes, em dashes are rarely used in long copy, spaced en dashes are more usual.

pattyfab's picture

Erik - I'm not sure where you got the idea (either from me or Linda) that dashes within sentences should be different from abrupt breaks. In the US we use em dashes with either no space or thin space on either side in both instances. En dashes are used to indicate a spread either in dates (1958–1962), time (3–5 p.m.) or pages (pages 34–37). They are not used within sentences, at least not correctly.

If you're going for British convention, I suppose you should follow Tim's suggestions. If you're going for American convention you should use the em dash and will need to use double quotes for dialogue.

To add to the confusion:

You won't get a clean consensus. My rule of thumb is that an en dash connects or implies a spread btw two items, an em dash suggests a separation.

Erik Fleischer's picture

Sorry about the misinterpretation, Patty. My bad.

the en dash has pretty defined uses, and simply using it as a dash within a sentence isn’t one of them

Linda, His Eminence The Mighty Guru of Typographers Mr Bringhurst disagrees with you:

Use spaced en dashes rather than close-set em dashes or spaced hyphens to set off phrases. (…) The em dash is the nineteenth-century standard, still prescribed in many editorial style books, but the em dash is too long for use with the best text faces. [Very true in the case of Quadraat.] Like the oversized space between sentences, it belongs to the padded and corseted aesthetic of Victorian typography. ¶ Used as a phrase marker – thus – the en dash is set with a normal space either side.
I guess it's a matter of choosing one set of conventions to follow and sticking to it.
pattyfab's picture

Like I said, you won't find a consensus.

I have twenty years of book design (in the US) and have yet to find an editor who will countenance spaced en dashes to set apart text in a sentence. They use Chicago rather than Bringhurst, being editors, not typographers. So this is where I come from. If you were designing the book for a US publisher you'd be using em dashes.

Aesthetics aside, I don't think they should be used interchangeably since the type of info they convey is different. If you're using en dashes within sentences what do you use for dates and such?

And, aesthetically, doesn't a spaced en dash eat up as much space as an unspaced em?

Linda Cunningham's picture


I've got twenty-plus years of publication design, senior editorial, and writing experience in Canada and the U.S., and have had some articles published in England (where I was very careful to follow British standards!).

On this side of the pond, Chicago rules the style-guide universe (although I've got probably a dozen other popular guides, not to mention custom ones for clients or ones that I've designed). Bringhurst is great for design, but when he wanders into editorial waters, he gets over his head pretty quick.

Given you're on the western side of the Atlantic, I'd likely stick with something based on that side as well....


timd's picture

>And, aesthetically, doesn’t a spaced en dash eat up as much space as an unspaced em?

Probably worth considering a narrow space rather than a full word space, that really depends on the typeface, something as sparkly as Quadraat needs a smaller space than a denser face.
The British alternative to Chicago would be Hart’s Rules.

William Berkson's picture

My experience is that both Brits and Americans tend to think that their practice is definitely the best. Of course they are not the same.

The reality is that in the US and Britain you are likely to have their practice insisted upon by the publisher.

Bringhurst, being Canadian, probably has seen a lot of both and prefers the British. I do also, but nobody is going to listen to me.

Bringhurst is not 'out of his depth'. He understands the issue very well, but he is not going to change American practice. But the Matthew Carter practice of 3/4 em dash with built-in spaces to the em is exactly a compromise between the Brit & US methods. I think it will take over gradually in the US, subversively.

Patty, in British style the n dash is used without spaces for 9-5 --but with spaces for asides. So the difference is preserved.

Though I like the Carter solution, in my view the whole thing doesn't matter that much so long as you are consistent.

Nick Shinn's picture

In the turf war between typographer and editor, the typographer might have a few tricks up her sleeve, such as horizontal scaling and kerning -- Patty, Linda, have you ever cheated a bit?

pattyfab's picture

Hell yeah, as discussed in previous thread on this topic, I have even gone as far as to create a special style sheet for the em dash if I think it's too long. I've also adjusted kerning tables when it's too close to the type. But I still don't think it's (in the US) to just blithely substitute the en dash because you think it looks better.

It's not that I'm such a huge fan of the em, but I think that in general typography/typesetting has gotten sloppy with the advent of the PC and the two dashes do have different functions. Besides I come from a publishing background where sticklers reside...

Linda Cunningham's picture

Tim: I keep meaning to buy a copy of Hart's -- I'll put it on my list for the next time I've on your side of the pond. ;-) (Yes, an excuse to visit London!)

William: Absolutely, consistency is important. As communicators -- and I'm using that term in the broadest sense -- it is also incumbent upon us to make things as clear as possible, and frequently, that means adhering to styles that we may find run counter to accepted norms. Most of my working life has been spent in Canada, and I can tell you that "Canadian Style" is a terrible mish-mash. Mostly British spellings (except for here in Alberta) with American rules (except in parts of Ontario and Atlantic Canada), at least for English. We won't even consider Quebec!

Nick: Since I'm frequently both, it's an internal dialogue I have all the time. I rarely fiddle with kerning unless it's something blatantly awful. Horizontal scaling I might tweak, but only if I'm working with justified text that just *has* to fit on the page.

But 9 times out of 10, I'd probably find an editorial solution and keep the aesthetics.

But that's me....


Greg Stanton's picture

I wouldn't change any puctuation, because this is a classic and well-established text.

If the em-dash in Quadraat is too long for your liking, edit it with a font editor (FontLab or Fontographer), making it somewhere between what it is and an en-dash.

One of the reasons publishers have not used double-f ligatures is that, until OpenType, they had to change the character string to do so. Since they would sacrifice good typesetting to preserve this, I would re-consider replacing em dashes with en dashes. Better to just alter the offending character.

Erik Fleischer's picture

I wouldn’t change any puctuation, because this is a classic and well-established text.

Good point, Greg, but the fact is that I don't know how dashes were used in Carroll's manuscript, or in the first edition (which he probably supervised).

I got the digitized text from Project Gutenberg, and it had all kinds of absurd punctuation glyphs, starting with grave accents in place of left quotation marks, so I doubt it's completely faithful to the original -- as far as punctuation is concerned, that is.

My other source is a 1946 edition published by Zephyr Books, a division of The International Book Company AB, printed in Stockholm, Sweden, with illustrations by Mervyn Peake. I have no reason to believe that it's 100% faithful to the original either, punctuation-wise.

Erik Fleischer's picture

I've just uploaded my first revision, which incorporates many of your suggestions.

Random comments:

  • Sticking with ragged right for now.
  • Changed typeface of poem at the end from Poetica to Esprit Italic. I think Esprit matches Quadraat pretty well in terms of general architecture and colour. Let me know if you think I'm crazy.
  • Tried breaking title as Greg suggested but both alternatives looked bad. Saw that a large number of the books I own, including several on design and typography, don't have titles broken logically, so at least I'll have plenty of company in book design hell.
  • Chapters now start on a new page, not necessarily a recto.
  • Text now wraps around illustrations on versos, something I decided to try but am not entirely happy with.
  • Chapter numbers are not actual lining figures, but small cap figures, because the version of Quadraat I have doesn't come with lining figures.
  • Mouse tale/tail is now in Quadraat (not Sans), but I'd already spent hours on end trying to produce something easier to read without any success. Let people turn the book around -- it'll be fun...
  • Added a foreword.
  • Now that chapters start on rectos or versos, book is 110 pages long, six pages short of the ideal 116, which would be seven signatures of sixteen pages. Could try and reduce it to 108 pages so it would add up to nine signatures of twelve pages, though this doesn't seem to be a common signature size.

Link to revised version:

pattyfab's picture

7 signatures is 112 pages.

pattyfab's picture

A few things:

Foreword - page looks kind of dinky to me.

In general I think you need to work on your rags a little bit - too many paragraphs end with one word on the last line. This happens particularly glaringly on the last page of the text.

I'm noticing that on a lot of spreads (pages 12-13, 18-19, 22-23 for example) the last lines don't line up. I realize you're trying to keep paragraphs together but it looks strange.

Most of your chapters end with plenty of room - have you considered a deeper sink for the opener?

Chapter numbers still look awkward to me. Most of the design is nicely restrained, these in contrast look kind of horsey especially when they get into double digits.

The poem is much improved.

On page 107, there's something off with the spacing of the attributions.

jazzsammich's picture

Also, your typeface attributions haven't been updated to match your revisions.

Erik Fleischer's picture

Of course seven signatures is 112 pages. Duh! Brain has stopped working after a 14-hour work day.

Yeah, the foreword is crappy, but I wanted to put it in place just to see how the whole thing looked.

And I completely forgot to update the colophon; thanks for pointing that out, Jim.

As for getting last lines on facing pages to align, I'd already spent a lot of time trying to improve that. It's a LOT of work with all the illustrations and the problem of having orphaned lines at the top of the following page. I found myself cheating a few times (very few!), reducing word space to get a paragraph to lose a line and thus allow facing pages to align. But obviously need to spend more time on that.

Thanks for your comments; look forward to reading more.

Greg Stanton's picture

You know, the edition with the Mervyn Peake illustrations was originally commissioned by the Folio Society. They are a stickler for adhering to the original texts. Unless something was off with the Folio Society of Alice in Wonderland, it's probably good a source as any to proof with -- barring the first edition.

Greg Stanton's picture

Erik, I think this edition is shaping up and quite on its way. Lovely.

I have not gone through it with a pick, but I have a few comments.

Blank pages do not need page numbers, so I would take them out.

Make the chapter titles 2 pts larger. They look good now, but I think the chapters should announce themselves more assertively.

While chapters do not have to start on the right, it is traditional for the FIRST chapter. Isn't always the case, so call me a hypocrite. I can take it.

It is possible to fit All in a Golden Afternoon on one page? Not by changing the size of the type, but by having it in two columns?

The lone illustration on page 55 irks me.

The dingbat marking the end of the text on page 103 is tiny and weird. It's unnecessary, and I'd ditch it -- especially since there is no precedent for decoration anywhere else in the book.

Maybe for the sake of simplicity (and symmetry, for the book begins and ends with a poem) the final poem could also be set in Quadraat italic.

There’s a blank line before “Properly” on page 105.

I think you’ve proven your point quitely nicely. There’s very little in your layout that interferes with the quality of the text itself -- which is the ultimate aim of book design. Your revision, aside from a few minor bits (above), really doesn’t contain anything that snags the eye. The illustrations work much better in this new layout.

As for breaking the title, try this:

in Wonderland

In other words, line up Alice’s, Adventures, and Wonderland, and hang in. You can also try making “in” smaller, italicizing it, or both. Just a thought.

Erik Fleischer's picture

While chapters do not have to start on the right, it is traditional for the FIRST chapter. Isn’t always the case, so call me a hypocrite. I can take it.

Greg, from your comments, one thing I would definitely not think of you as is a hypocrite. I asked for constructive criticism, and you've given me nothing but that. If some of my comments sound a bit ironic or sarcastic, it's just my sense of humour, not an attempt at "fighting back".

Considering that the book supposedly starts with the introductory poem, which tells the story of how Dodgson went on a boat ride with three girls and told them a story etc etc etc, would you have me start that poem on a recto, or skip the verso that follows it and start the first chapter on the following recto? (If you make me start the first chapter on a recto, I'll wring your virtual neck, because all the pages will move from recto to verso and vice-versa, and I'll have to spend a few more hours re-positioning illustrations.)

It is possible to fit All in a Golden Afternoon on one page? Not by changing the size of the type, but by having it in two columns?

No. I tried that right at the beginning, but using two columns would force me to have a wider text block on just that one page, and I thought that would be a bad idea.

Maybe for the sake of simplicity (and symmetry, for the book begins and ends with a poem) the final poem could also be set in Quadraat italic.

Hmm... From the beginning I wanted to somehow make that second poem different. Also, unlike the first, it's not part of the original book. But maybe you're right. I'll give it some more thought.

timd's picture

>Let people turn the book around — it’ll be fun…

It wasn't that so much as it is letting down the rest of the composition, I think it can be done in the style you are intending, you just haven't got there yet, perhaps starting with two parallel lines would improve it.

On the recto of that spread I have a couple of suggestions in the Old Crab's speech take over 'to', which should also turnover 'your' and in turn 'snap-’. Further down 'Lory' is sitting alone on a line you could turnover 'the'. And the last word appropriately 'alone' needs some work you could try slightly adjusting the measure to take 'bed!' back up.

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