now that our fiery honeymoon is over

bowerbird's picture

now that our fiery honeymoon is over, and
we've settled into our normal life together,
perhaps you'll answer this question for me?

here are various linebreaks on 2 paragraphs.
in your opinion, which one has the nicest rag?

the first set is a chapter's opening paragraph.
the second set is the epigraph on that chapter.

explain if you like, otherwise just note the winner.

thanks...

-bowerbird

=== #1- === the measure
abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzabcdefghijklm

=== #1a ===
MY FIRST IMPRESSION of East London was naturally a general one.
Later the details began to appear, and here and there in the chaos of
misery I found little spots where a fair measure of happiness reigned—
sometimes whole rows of houses in little out-of-the-way streets, where
artisans dwell and where a rude sort of family life obtains. In the
evenings the men can be seen at the doors, pipes in their mouths and
children on their knees, wives gossiping, and laughter and fun going on.
The content of these people is manifestly great, for, relative to the
wretchedness that encompasses them, they are well off.

=== #1b ===
MY FIRST IMPRESSION of East London was naturally a general
one. Later the details began to appear, and here and there in the chaos
of misery I found little spots where a fair measure of happiness reigned—
sometimes whole rows of houses in little out-of-the-way streets, where
artisans dwell and where a rude sort of family life obtains. In the
evenings the men can be seen at the doors, pipes in their mouths and
children on their knees, wives gossiping, and laughter and fun going
on. The content of these people is manifestly great, for, relative to the
wretchedness that encompasses them, they are well off.

=== #1c ===
MY FIRST IMPRESSION of East London was naturally a general
one. Later the details began to appear, and here and there in the chaos
of misery I found little spots where a fair measure of happiness reigned
—sometimes whole rows of houses in little out-of-the-way streets,
where artisans dwell and where a rude sort of family life obtains. In the
evenings the men can be seen at the doors, pipes in their mouths and
children on their knees, wives gossiping, and laughter and fun going
on. The content of these people is manifestly great, for, relative to the
wretchedness that encompasses them, they are well off.

=== #1d ===
MY FIRST IMPRESSION of East London was naturally a general
one. Later the details began to appear, and here and there in the chaos
of misery I found little spots where a fair measure of happiness reigned
—sometimes whole rows of houses in little out-of-the-way streets,
where artisans dwell and where a rude sort of family life obtains. In
the evenings the men can be seen at the doors, pipes in their mouths
and children on their knees, wives gossiping, and laughter and fun
going on. The content of these people is manifestly great, for, relative
to the wretchedness that encompasses them, they are well off.

=== #1e ===
MY FIRST IMPRESSION of East London was naturally a general
one. Later the details began to appear, and here and there in the
chaos of misery I found little spots where a fair measure of happiness
reigned—sometimes whole rows of houses in little out-of-the-way streets,
where artisans dwell and where a rude sort of family life obtains. In the
evenings the men can be seen at the doors, pipes in their mouths and
children on their knees, wives gossiping, and laughter and fun going
on. The content of these people is manifestly great, for, relative to the
wretchedness that encompasses them, they are well off.

=== #1f ===
MY FIRST IMPRESSION of East London was naturally a general
one. Later the details began to appear, and here and there in the
chaos of misery I found little spots where a fair measure of happiness
reigned—sometimes whole rows of houses in little out-of-the-way
streets, where artisans dwell and where a rude sort of family life
obtains. In the evenings the men can be seen at the doors, pipes in
their mouths and children on their knees, wives gossiping, and laughter
and fun going on. The content of these people is manifestly great, for,
relative to the wretchedness that encompasses them, they are well off.

=== #1g ===
MY FIRST IMPRESSION of East London was naturally a general
one. Later the details began to appear, and here and there in the
chaos of misery I found little spots where a fair measure of happiness
reigned—sometimes whole rows of houses in little out-of-the-way
streets, where artisans dwell and where a rude sort of family life
obtains. In the evenings the men can be seen at the doors, pipes
in their mouths and children on their knees, wives gossiping, and
laughter and fun going on. The content of these people is manifestly
great, for, relative to the wretchedness that encompasses them, they
are well off.

============================================================

abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz (= 10% indents)

=== 2a ===
I assure you I found nothing worse, nothing more
degrading, nothing so hopeless, nothing nearly so
intolerably dull and miserable as the life I left behind me
in the East End of London.
--Huxley

=== 2b ===
I assure you I found nothing worse, nothing more
degrading, nothing so hopeless, nothing nearly so
intolerably dull and miserable as the life I left behind
me in the East End of London.
--Huxley

=== 2c ===
I assure you I found nothing worse, nothing more
degrading, nothing so hopeless, nothing nearly
so intolerably dull and miserable as the life I left
behind me in the East End of London.
--Huxley

=== 2d ===
I assure you I found nothing worse, nothing
more degrading, nothing so hopeless, nothing
nearly so intolerably dull and miserable as the
life I left behind me in the East End of London.
--Huxley

dezcom's picture

I like 1d, it has the nicest rhythm with few hyphenations and no stair-steps.

ChrisL

cerulean's picture

Keep in mind that the rag of these breaks can look different in different faces. As it appears here, this is how I would do #1:

MY FIRST IMPRESSION of East London was naturally a general one.
Later the details began to appear, and here and there in the chaos
of misery I found little spots where a fair measure of happiness
reigned -- sometimes whole rows of houses in little out-of-the-way
streets, where artisans dwell and where a rude sort of family life
obtains. In the evenings the men can be seen at the doors, pipes in
their mouths and children on their knees, wives gossiping, and
laughter and fun going on. The content of these people is manifestly
great, for, relative to the wretchedness that encompasses them,
they are well off.

For #2, 2c is best. 2d would be okay if it didn't have the same word ending two lines in a row.

bowerbird's picture

dezcom said:
> I like 1d, it has the nicest rhythm with few hyphenations and no stair-steps.

good, thanks.

***

cerulean said:
> Keep in mind that the rag of these breaks
> can look different in different faces.

good point. i intend to explore how much
difference it makes, and whether it matters,
in the long run, since in an e-book we don't
know what font the person will choose to use,
but it's good to be mindful of that assumption.

> As it appears here, this is how I would do #1:

very interesting. that one didn't show up with
my routines, and i agree it's rather nice looking.

the exception is the "pipes in" line, where the "in"
should obviously be tucked into the following line,
but i like it, so i'll need to find out why i missed it.

> For #2, 2c is best. 2d would be okay if it didn’t
> have the same word ending two lines in a row.

great point, i hadn't noticed that, thanks so much.

-bowerbird

paragraph's picture


Is it over? Or is that another one of your pronouncements?

bowerbird's picture

some of us have a hard time staying on-topic, don't we?

-bowerbird

eliason's picture

good point. i intend to explore how much
difference it makes, and whether it matters,
in the long run, since in an e-book we don’t
know what font the person will choose to use,
but it’s good to be mindful of that assumption.

If there's any uncertainty also about line length, you really should think twice about breaking the lines at all. Here's what these trials looked like on my iPod:


And in fact this is what all of your hard-return-filled posts look like on it!

William Berkson's picture

As both Bringhurst and Felici note, generally a two and one half alphabet measure is ideal for a single column.

Thanks to my and others' lobbying, that measure--or a little more--is now the standard on Typophile. So please put your posts into the default. That will be a start toward being less annoying.

Narrower columns are fine on a multi-column page.

bowerbird's picture

eliason said:
> And in fact this is what all of your
> hard-return-filled posts look like on it!

apples and elephants.

i'm programming an e-book viewer-app,
so each paragraph must be broken to the
specific width desired by the end-user
(indicated by how they size the viewport)
when the type is at the size they specify.
(this is also sometimes called "wrapping".)
otherwise each paragraph would consist
of a single line that ran off of the screen.

this is completely separate and different
from the hard-returns i put in my posts.

but i will address that point next...

-bowerbird

bowerbird's picture

william said:
> As both Bringhurst and Felici note,
> generally a two and one half alphabet measure
> is ideal for a single column.

yes, thank you for telling me that. but i did know it.
in fact, that is precisely why i put the "measure" line
at the very top of my different paragraph-breakings.

see it up there?

> === #1- === the measure
> abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzabcdefghijklm

as you can clearly see, it's two-and-a-half alphabets...

> Thanks to my and others’ lobbying, that measure
> —or a little more—is now the standard on Typophile.
> So please put your posts into the default.

actually, william, i prefer a somewhat shorter measure.

but what is _really_ interesting here is that eliason was
pointing out that my lines are too long for his ipod screen,
while you're suggesting that i should _lengthen_ my lines...

quite an interesting contradiction there, don't you think?

> That will be a start toward being less annoying.

except i'm not really worried about "being less annoying".

i use hard-returns because that's what i do, and i am
comfortable enough with my artistic integrity in doing so
that i'm willing to be "annoying" to retain that integrity,
especially when doing so highlights a significant issue...

here, the issue is how our reading tools handle breaks,
and more generally contribute to (or retard) readability.

the "holy grail" for some people has been "reflowability".

i think reflowability is very cool, except when it's not...

in general, the modus operandi of reflowability is to
re-break the paragraphs so they will fit the viewport.

however, that approach breaks the very "rule" that
william has cited for us -- the 2.5 alphabets rule...

to abide by that rule, when you cut the viewport in half,
you should cut the textsize in half too. while it's obvious
that approach wouldn't really work all that well, it's also
obvious that -- with reflowability -- we routinely sacrifice
the 2.5 alphabets rule, and thus probably readability too...

some web-designers try to get around this "limitation"
by a sneaky runaround to try to control the viewport size.

you see this often on blogs, where they have a main column
in the middle, in a specific size, and the left and right sides
are flexible "slop" that expands or contracts as necessary...
which is fine, except if you have a cinema-screen, like me,
running at full-screen, so more than half of your screen is
"wasted space". heck, right now, half my screen is wasted,
because this site controls the width of the content shown.

other web-designers set column widths in terms of _ems_,
and try to control the "problem" that way. this is another
case where the user's ability to "reflow" the text is being
compromised because the designer has "pulled rank"...

and a few web-designers do _both_, putting their content
into a single column of a specific size that's based on ems.

these designs are sometimes called "liquid", and they are
a _hint_ of what should be done, but they're laboring under
ground-rules that don't really allow them to accomplish it.

another attempt to deal with this overall problem is seen in
tools that split the screen into columns, where the number
of columns is dependent upon the width of the viewport...
(the new york times reader from microsoft is one such tool.
and bill hill from microsoft is doing research on this strategy.)

in some ways, this is a slick solution, but it has a problem,
and the problem is fatal. it causes most users to get dizzy,
what with these shifting sands of ever-morphing columns,
and it makes the end-user feel like they're not in control...
(because they in fact _are_not_ in control; the software is.)

there are other possible ways we could think about solving
this problem, but that's not really why we are here today, so
i'll just close off this post and hope we can get back on-topic.

as i depart, let me say that i am sorry for the stairstep effect
that my hard-returns cause, at times, when viewing this site
on an iphone/touch. i wish apple let you control the fontsize,
so you could eliminate this problem by downsizing the text...

for those of you using a browser, who think my lines are
"too short", i'm sorry too, although to a much lesser degree,
since your problem is much less serious.

nonetheless, if the hard-returns bother you, i encourage you
to skip my posts without reading them. i'd hate to upset you.
if you get upset for any reason by my posts, stop reading 'em.
you won't "hurt my feelings" by not reading my posts. really.

have a nice day... :+)

-bowerbird

William Berkson's picture

I saw your two an a half alphabet guide, and I saw that you violate it. I was suggesting that it is better typography to follow it.

You think that it is "artistry" to do something different. Frankly, I think that is rubbish: we're writing prose here--sometimes with a nice turn of phrase, but not poetry. The line breaks are not important.

>but what is _really_ interesting here is that eliason was
pointing out that my lines are too long for his ipod screen,
while you’re suggesting that i should _lengthen_ my lines...

>quite an interesting contradiction there, don’t you think?

Except that it's not a contradiction, because if you use the default word wrap it will I believe wrap in both the Typophile window and elsewhere.

bowerbird's picture

william said:
> and I saw that you violate it. I was suggesting that
> it is better typography to follow it.

and i said i care less about the typography of my posts
than i care about my artistic integrity. you cite bringhurst,
and talk about me "violating" the rule that he made, but
my copy of bringhurst says this explicitly in the foreword:

> if you use this book as a guide,
> by all means leave the road when you wish.

you continue:
> The line breaks are not important.

maybe they're not important to _you_. which is fine.
in fact, here's a place where you can unwrap my lines:
> http://z-m-l.com/go/unwrap.pl

just paste the text you want to unwrap in the textfield,
click the button, and the unwrapped text will be shown
under the textfield. or, as i have said repeatedly, you
can just feel free not to read my posts, that's just fine.

> if you use the default word wrap it will I believe
> wrap in both the Typophile window and elsewhere.

of course it will, no "believe" about it.

but, as we have already clearly established by now,
my linebreaks are important to me, and i don't intend
to change them. especially since they bring up issues
that are interesting, which we can discuss elsewhere,
if you feel inclined to start a separate thread on that...

but _this_ thread is on a different topic.

-bowerbird

PublishingMojo's picture

As I wrote in a comment on your March 5 post, "[book] design is a compromise between the convenience of the reader and the limitations of the production process."
The "production process" for ebooks must anticipate a variety of devices that end users will read text on. The "limitation" is that some of those devices are designed to fit in the palm of your hand (and in your pocket), which limits them to about 3.5 inches wide, with a screen no more than 3 inches wide.
3 inches is only enough for about an alphabet and a half of 10-point type (about as small as most of us care to read on screen).
That's where the "convenience of the reader" makes us compromise the two-and-a-half-alphabet rule. Many readers would gladly live with a line length of around one and a half alphabets (less if it's 12-point) in exchange for the convenience of getting content on a mobile device that fits in their shirt pockets (and that they can also use to make phone calls, take pictures, find the nearest Starbucks, Tweet, calculate tips, etc.).

aluminum's picture

"i use hard-returns because that’s what i do, and i am
comfortable enough with my artistic integrity in doing so
that i’m willing to be “annoying” to retain that integrity"

You are truly a troll of the highest caliber. My hats off!

bowerbird's picture

publishingmojo said:
> The “production process” for ebooks must anticipate
> a variety of devices that end users will read text on.

yes, i understand that quite well.

> 3 inches is only enough for about an alphabet and a half

ok. but that doesn't have anything to do with my question.

i used a certain measure -- i could've used _any_ length,
for purposes of this test -- and got several wrappings,
depending on how i tweak certain rewrapping variables.

i asked for feedback on the quality of those rewrappings
in order to help make decisions on how to do the tweaks.

perhaps i should have explained that more clearly upfront,
so as to have avoided some of the false starts -- or maybe
ricardo would've cheekily posted his pictures regardless...

but yes, in case it's not totally obvious, my viewer-program
will wrap the paragraphs to the size of the view-port, and
thus has nothing to do with the unrelated fact that i insert
hard-returns for linebreaks in my personal online posts...

-bowerbird

bowerbird's picture

aluminum said:
> You are truly a troll of the highest caliber. My hats off!

i'm here for discussion, dude, civil honest on-topic discussion.

if you want to be hostile, fine, but _own_ your own behavior;
don't try to pawn off responsibility on me by calling me a troll.

i instruct people -- cheerfully -- to ignore my posts if they
are emotionally riled in any way by reading them, which is
hardly what i would do if i were here _trying_ to start a fight.

-bowerbird

paragraph's picture

Ignoring your posts is about as
easy as ignoring bum rash.
But you know that, otherwise you
would have modified your annoying
presence years ago.

I spoke to your ward supervisor and your internet privileges have been revoked.

bowerbird's picture

because even if you won't own your own behavior,
everybody else knows the responsibility is on you.

-bowerbird

ebensorkin's picture

Ignoring your posts is about as
easy as ignoring bum rash.

Poppycock. Nonsense. Balderdash.

Let me remind you guys as a Moderator that if you don't want to have a useful talk together you can always not reply. It is an option.

Everybody has this option.

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