The art of placing the proper spaces between words, &c., with a view to securing the best and most symmetrical appearance.—See Composing.


The art of placing the proper spaces bet ween words, &c., with a view to securing the best and most symmetrical appearance. An American writer says:—

“There must be a perceptible uniformity of spaces between all the words in the line, and an approximate uniformity between the spaces in all the lines of the page. The spacing must not be exactly uniform, only apparently so. There must be a wider space between two letters with long parallel body-marks like 1 and h; there must be less between an o and d; more after an f in some cases and less in others. It is only by the exercise of this discrimination that spacing will appear uniform. All this must be done, and yet awkward divisions must be prevented, even if the overrunning of three or four lines is thus necessitated. These niceties are imperative in all book offices, and yet they are all comparatively modern. The early printed books, highly as they have been praised, were grossly defective in spacing. Some of the most famous early books are not even of squared outline on the right side of the page. The ending of the lines is as ragged as in poetry. If a word could not be taken in, the justifying spaces were not evenly divided between the words, but were thrust in at the end of the line. Divisions on single letters, that would now brand a compositor for life, were then tolerated without even consciousness of impropriety. It took many years for early printers to recognize the superior appearance of a squared outline in pages; it took more than three centuries for the trade to learn the propriety of even spacing. Whoever examines any of the books of any of the famous printers, Gutenburg, Jenson, Aldus Manutius, the Stephens, or the Elzevirs, must confess that they did not have the slightest conception of the beauty of uniformly-spaced lines. Even the artistic Baskerville, although greatly in advance of his predecessors in this respect, would not satisfy the requisitions of the modern proof reader.”

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