In this installment of How to Typeset a Book, we’ll discuss the space between words, the space between letters, the width of letters. If you’re starting to reconsider your decision to typeset a book, don’t worry. Book designers live for this sort of thing.
Word spacing: Word spacing in a book should be fairly close, it’s easier to read. When type is justified so that the left and right margins are flush, any typesetting system will adjust the spacing between words to accomplish this goal. Here is where InDesign and other page layout applications leave Word in the dust. In any page layout program, the built-in justification algorithms are much more sophisticated than those found in a word processor, so that the variations in spacing are more consistent. This issue is generally known as the “color” of the text (even though the text is all black). A page of text should look uniform in color without overly tight lines (which look dark) or overly loose lines (which look light). The “color” should be even. This is accomplished by changing the justification settings.
There are three settings in InDesign’s Justification dialog box: Word Spacing, Letter Spacing and Glyph Scaling. I set the minimum word spacing to 100%, the desired word spacing to 105%, and the maximum word spacing to 133%, and vary the settings as needed (different fonts require different settings).
I set minimum letter spacing to -5%, desired letter spacing to 0%, and maximum letter spacing to 5%. These settings allow InDesign to add space between letters, as well as words when necessary to justify the text, but only by an imperceptible amount that won’t disturb the reader.
The third setting in this dialog box is Glyph Scaling, which allows InDesign to condense or expand the letters. Again, you don’t want this to be noticeable to the reader, so the settings I use are minimum, 98%; desired, 100%; and maximum 102%. Just as you did with choosing a type font and type size, don’t get hung up on numbers…experiment with different settings and let your eyes tell you what looks best.
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Michele DeFilippo, owner, 1106 Design