measure twice, cut once

bowerbird's picture

i've been here on typophile for 8 weeks now!
this is turning into quite a relationship, eh?

***

ok, here's a new question for all of you...

following an unspoken rule, printed books
always use the same measure on every page.

in an electronic-book, on the other hand,
the measure can be set independently for
each page, according to the length of its
longest line (or the second longest line)...

so -- just off the top of your head now --
what would you think of doing it that way?

later i'll show you a book where it's done,
so you can see what it actually looks like,
and make a judgment on the results, but
for now, how does the _idea_ strike you?

-bowerbird

kentlew's picture

I recall noticing this in your earlier sample asking about loose justification and finding it extremely disconcerting. I didn't bother to mention it at the time because it wasn't the subject of your query.

-- Kent.

ebensorkin's picture

Bowerbird I just noticed that you are not using your real name in your registration. Unless you really do have a highly eccentric name. This isn't the end of the world but it does tend to give your profile and certain questionable air. I encourage you to change this.

As to the idea, I don't love it because I don't really like justified text. I like ragged right far better, and particularly on a screen. There are all kinds of complex rendering related reasons for this. Still, I suppose I am open to having mind mind changed if I see something that impresses me.

bowerbird's picture

kent said:
> and finding it extremely disconcerting

can you say why?

***

eben said:
> because I don’t really like justified text

in my e-book viewer-programs, people can
pick ragged-right if they want, or justification.

for those who prefer and choose justification,
there arises this question about the measure...

it's fully possible for me to let the user choose
whether to use a specific or variable measure,
as well, so the question is "which is the default?"

but aside from user-choice as the trump card,
i wanted to see what the experts here think...

a variable measure will yield better spacing...

-bowerbird

bowerbird's picture

i guess nobody has any big objections,
which is a good thing for me to know...

-bowerbird

eliason's picture

i guess nobody has any big objections

? What does "extremely disconcerting" mean to you?

Ricardo Cordoba's picture

i guess nobody has any big objections,
which is a good thing for me to know...

Don't mistake the lack of comments for lack of objections... It could also be lack of interest.

bowerbird's picture

eliason said:
> What does “extremely disconcerting” mean to you?

what matters is what it means to kent, and he didn't explain,
so i have no information to go on. it might very well be that
any violation of an unwritten rule will make him feel that way.

heck, i myself felt a bit queasy when i first thought of it, just
because it seems so unorthodox. but after a while, i decided
that it wasn't that big of a deal at all. of course, any time that
you deviate from pure compulsiveness while laying out a book,
costs must be paid. the question is whether benefits outweigh.
in this case, i think tighter lines outweigh the variable measure.
at least to the degree that i'm willing to extend the experiment.

***

ricardo said:
> Don’t mistake the lack of comments for lack of objections...
> It could also be lack of interest.

certainly. but my experience here on typophile has been that
many of you go out of their way to tell me your lack of interest.

heck, ricardo, you did it just now...

besides, i just wanted to see if there was a mass of objections,
and learn the specific nature of whatever objections there are...
i think it's pretty clear there is no mass. so even if the absence
is due to "lack of interest", it continues to be meaningful to me.

-bowerbird

Ricardo Cordoba's picture

heck, ricardo, you did it just now...

No, for once I was trying to... oh, never mind. Go on being as stubborn as you want to be, pal.

BlueStreak's picture

I have withheld comment on the bowerbird style, but the pretentious attempt at being a pedant and forced line breaks make my eyes bleed, my scroll finger cramp, and make me say "oh, never mind" also.

Seriously bowerbird, you are going out of your way to make your posts more difficult to read than they need to be. If that's your attempt, congratulations. If not... oh, never mind.

Bert Vanderveen's picture

@bowerbird: I object. To all.

. . .
Bert Vanderveen BNO

kentlew's picture

I meant that it was distracting and disruptive. Seemed like the worst of both worlds.

Justification always leads to compromise in internal spacing. The reason one accepts such compromises -- the payoff -- is to have consistent, orderly margins and text blocks, relatively fixed from page to page. A fixed framework removes some of the external variables and allows focus to remain on the internal.

Flush-left/ragged-right exchanges the priority, preferring internal consistency in spacing, and accepting a variable margin.

Your sample had highly variable internal spacing married with constantly changing external margins. The changing margin was actually made more noticeable by the hard line of the alignment.

I can imagine a changing measure working acceptably if the range of variation was kept quite small, so as to be essentially unnoticeable. But I'm not sure you'd gain anything by it.

bowerbird's picture

kent lew said:
> I can imagine a changing measure working
> acceptably if the range of variation was kept
> quite small, so as to be essentially unnoticeable.
> But I’m not sure you’d gain anything by it.

well, in an e-book, any change in variation will be
"noticeable", because of the end-user's ability to
rapidly thumb through the exactly-placed pages.
it's quite easy to actually see the margins shifting.

in a p-book, the normal vagaries of printing will
make any such variation be much less noticeable,
since the margins will be less exact to begin with,
and the inability to compare pages directly means
changes in the margins would be harder to detect.

but e-books is what i'm interested in...

> Your sample had highly variable internal spacing

you will remember that that was due in large part
to the nature of that experiment, which was to test
if justification could be done without hyphenation.

if i'd used hyphenation with a variable measure,
the "compromise" you talked about will not only
not be as bad as usual, it will actually be better,
because most lines are not stretched as much...

but that's really beside the point, because my aim
was to see whether those three factors together --
justification-on, hyphenation-off, variable-measure
-- would balance out. so your conclusion that it is
"the worst of both worlds" is directly relevant to me,
and i thank you so much for sharing your impression.

it's kinda hard to have a conversation amidst all this
hyperventilation, isn't it? thanks for being on-topic.

-bowerbird

Chris Dean's picture

bowerbird,

The forced line-breaks made me think my browser was malfunctioning. And I have to agree with Sorkin. It is a convention to use your real name here. When I first started, I too used a handle. Someone made a similar comment to me, so I changed it to my real name. In fact, I think I contacted Tiffany Wardle de Sousa directly, and she changed it within the hour. It's also possible to keep your username and just add your real name to your profile. Immediately after doing this I got more and better responses to my questions and feedback. I strongly encourage you to do the same.

Nick Cooke's picture

Yawn.

Nick Cooke

bowerbird's picture

nick said:
> yawn.

thanks for your contribution, nick.

-bowerbird

p.s. where's hrant when you need him?

Nick Cooke's picture

Yo_u

're_wel

c

ome.

Nick Cooke

bowerbird's picture

nick-

why did you split your words across lines?

and what do those underscores mean?

-bowerbird

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