My Pet Peeve

Primary tabs

29 posts / 0 new
Last post
Greg Stanton's picture
Offline
Joined: 5 Aug 2006 - 12:32pm
My Pet Peeve
0

Maybe the definition of the word has changed.

A WIDOW is the last line of a paragraph that has found itself all alone at the top of the following page.

It is NOT a single word at the end of a paragraph on a line by itself.

Yet it continually amazes me that art directors, professional designers, and professors who teach graphic design do not know this. I encounter daily young designers who will take great pains to ensure words like "combustible" and "nationality" are not without company.

Of course, lone words less than four letters -- please don't call them widows, as they are not -- should find their way back among their friends, if possible. Otherwise, stop spending precious time trying to solve something that is neither an error or a problem. And when I ask you, "where's my ad?" don't whine and look pleadingly toward Heaven (or the pigeons mating in the rafters) and mumble, "just fixing a few widows; it will only be a minute." There are no widows in a one-page ad!

There. I've said it.

David Somerville's picture
Joined: 1 Feb 2007 - 12:13pm
0

Speaking as the local ignoramus, aren't those lone words called orphans? That's what I've been calling them all this time.

Simon Daniels's picture
Offline
Joined: 11 Apr 2002 - 6:37pm
0
Simon Daniels's picture
Offline
Joined: 11 Apr 2002 - 6:37pm
0

They need their own name. Out here maybe "republicans" or "war-supporters" might work. ;-)

David Somerville's picture
Joined: 1 Feb 2007 - 12:13pm
0

See, so I learned something today! How awesome is that?

J. Edward Sanchez's picture
Joined: 10 Sep 2004 - 2:47pm
0

How about "straggler"?

Simon Daniels's picture
Offline
Joined: 11 Apr 2002 - 6:37pm
0

I like straggler, but that suggests it got left behind - maybe "scout" or maybe "Billy no mates"

Stephen Coles's picture
Offline
Joined: 14 May 2001 - 11:00am
0

> There are no widows in a one-page ad!

What if there are multiple columns in the ad?

Mike Koppa's picture
Offline
Joined: 29 May 2007 - 11:43am
0

I'm intrigued, because if you're right, Mr. Stanton, I've been an offender.

So I checked that Wiki definition, and with a credit to Rob Carter, doesn't it say that the term "widow" can "also be used to refer simply to an uncomfortably short (e.g. a single word or two very short words) final line of a paragraph?"

Chris Lozos's picture
Offline
Joined: 25 Feb 2004 - 11:00am
0

or perhaps it means that those tiny extremities of paragraphs should be called "in need of enlargement spam" :-)ChrisL

William Berkson's picture
Offline
Joined: 26 Feb 2003 - 11:00am
0

See the recent discussion of widows and orphans on another thread, with contributions by three experienced and excellent book designers...

Patricia Fabricant's picture
Joined: 23 Mar 2004 - 9:40am
0

I think that the accepted meaning of the term widow has changed over time to refer to the one word last line, and you have to accept that. Or else be the annoying designer who lectures all the editors who mark them as "widows". Therefore becoming someone else's pet peeve.

MY pet peeve is when you call someone on a cell phone instead of just the message and the beep you get: "to leave a message just wait for the tone (yup, got that). When you have finished recording you may hang up (um... we know that too) or press 1 for more options (does anybody ever do that?). To leave a callback number press 5 (um... isn't our number already stored under received calls?) To page this person press pound (anybody EVER do that???)" Meanwhile wasting our precious minutes.

Another pet peeve? Friends who sit across from each other on the subway instead of next to each other, meaning they have to talk very loudly to communicate.

And... people who don't use bcc for all the names in the email, instead putting them all in the To line, which results in lots of unwanted emails from people hitting "reply all".

Dan Gayle's picture
Offline
Joined: 17 May 2006 - 7:00pm
0

I'm pretty sure that the excepted newspaper term for the one word last line is a "runt".

My Editor hates them, says they have to go. And yet, there's a gigantic apostrophe error in the 72 point bold headline that gets no mention.

How about the "Masthead"/flag/nameplate pet peeve? That one gets me all the time, because you almost *have to* refer to it incorrectly to get someone to understand what you are talking about, and correcting other people almost has zero effect.

The best line I ever heard from the Ad Manager talking to an Ad Rep about the "difficulties" she was having with one of the designers was "Just tell him to set everything in Arial. It's the most legible font of all time. That's why Microsoft uses it."

Oi!

Eric Hague's picture
Offline
Joined: 16 Feb 2007 - 10:31am
0

My pet peeve is when people who don't "get" paragraph and character styles (in ID) are allowed to work on the files. Their ignorance wastes their time, and the time of everyone who touches the files after them.

Chris Lozos's picture
Offline
Joined: 25 Feb 2004 - 11:00am
0

My pet peeve related to type is that Adobe Illustrator does not have Contextual Alternates on by default (InD does though).

ChrisL

Mark Thoni's picture
Offline
Joined: 18 Oct 2006 - 4:54pm
0

OK. My pet peeve is you're allowed to scroll through type in AIllustrator using the up and down arrows on a Windows machine but it doesn't work on a Mac. UGH! All the years of I've been using both platforms and this is honestly the only plus I will give a Windows over Mac OS.

You don't know how hard that was for me to admit.

Greg Stanton's picture
Offline
Joined: 5 Aug 2006 - 12:32pm
0

Well, OK. A widow is a lone word at the end of a paragraph that has found its way onto the next page or COLUMN.

I like the word "straggler". I also think stragglers over 4 letters long are just fine!

Patricia Fabricant's picture
Joined: 23 Mar 2004 - 9:40am
0

Like I said, I think it's simpler to just accept that editors will mark short last lines (whether just at the end of a paragraph or at the top of a new page) as widows than to try to re-educate them all.

FWIW Dictionary.com lists both meanings:

3. Printing.
a. a short last line of a paragraph, esp. one less than half of the full measure or one consisting of only a single word.
b. the last line of a paragraph when it is carried over to the top of the following page away from the rest of the paragraph. Compare orphan (def. 4).

American Heritage Dictionary:

Printing
a. A single, usually short line of type, as one ending a paragraph, carried over to the top of the next page or column.
b. A short line at the bottom of a page, column, or paragraph.

Tiffany Wardle's picture
Offline
Joined: 13 Jul 2001 - 11:00am
0

I think stragglers — I like this word too — are especially ugly in advertising. Seems to me a copywriter can see what the designer has done and chop a word or two. No?

I have no pet peeves. I love all things. ;^)

James Mark Hatley's picture
Joined: 13 Jul 2004 - 11:00am
0

I started to suggest loiterers.

Chris Lozos's picture
Offline
Joined: 25 Feb 2004 - 11:00am
0

"I have no pet peeves. I love all things. ;^)"

It must be nice living in a perfect world :-)

ChrisL

Tiffany Wardle's picture
Offline
Joined: 13 Jul 2001 - 11:00am
0

That is why I winked. :^/ Or I should say I winked because I was being sarcastic and/or sardonic.

Greg Stanton's picture
Offline
Joined: 5 Aug 2006 - 12:32pm
0

Miss Tiffany, what if the straggler in question is a word like "ambidextrous" and your column is only two inches wide? I can't imagine this would annoy anyone.

Tiffany Wardle's picture
Offline
Joined: 13 Jul 2001 - 11:00am
0

No, I guess in that instance the straggler wouldn't bother me. :^)

Don McCahill's picture
Offline
Joined: 30 Mar 2006 - 7:55pm
0

> How about the “Masthead”/flag/nameplate pet peeve?

Oooh, oooh, is this the peeve venting thread? I want to add headline/heading to the list. There is no headline on the story at the bottom of page 5. There is only one headline in the newspaper. At best you can call the top heading on a section front a headline, but no others.

I agree with Patty on the fact that widow technically is any short line, and has only come to mean the first line at the top of a page over time. Donald Knuth, in the TeXbook, also talks about something called a club line (along with widows and orphans). I have never run across that anywhere else.

Mike Koppa's picture
Offline
Joined: 29 May 2007 - 11:43am
0

I was just reminded that (what I think is) the misuse of the word font is a pet peeve of mine.

Chris Rugen's picture
Offline
Joined: 19 Aug 2003 - 11:00am
0

It's funny, it never occurred to me that I didn't have a name for those. I think I just call them "stray line" or "stray word", but not in any formalized way. Usually in a sentence like: "Adjust the tracking to get rid of that stray line."

Chris Lozos's picture
Offline
Joined: 25 Feb 2004 - 11:00am
0

How about "Members of Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club"? :-)

ChrisL

Bruce Schneider's picture
Offline
Joined: 20 Apr 2006 - 11:59am
0

I have always called those words left over "loners," but stragglers might be a better term.