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Subject: justification
From: Jean Lee Cole <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:TYPO-L Discussion of Type and Typographic Design <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 17 Apr 1998 15:21:16 -0500

text/plain (32 lines)

Dick Weltz wrote,

>Aside from esthetic preferences with respect to page and columnar layout
>grids, and a very long tradition going back to the earliest days of printing,
>you will also note the practical fact that justified setting (properly spaced,
>of course) allows for more text matter to fit in the same amount of space.

What I was asking about was the "very long tradition." How did it start out
that way? Did scribes "justify" illuminated manuscripts before the advent
of the printing press? (I.e., does the tradition reach back further than
printing?) Or was it the hegemony of axial symmetry that made justification
"look better" to early printers?

Or, as you've pointed out, it could have been because justified text fits
more characters per page. But would the savings in pages/paper have
outweighed the extra time needed to justify rather than set rag right?

Your post also makes me wonder ... why is it that justified text takes up
less room? I see it happening on screen but I don't know why it works. (Is
this a stupid question?) Would this aspect of justification been a factor
in the metal days? When I've set type (real metal type, that is), I've used
the same word spaces for rag right and justified text. Was the convention
to use smaller spaces for justified text, and then use thins & brasses &
coppers to fill out the line? I suppose that would have allowed more
characters to fit ...

still curious,

P.S. I hope these questions aren't "pedantic" or "antiquarian"-- I think
it's important to understand the history of the medium, but that could just
be me. :P

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